June 15, 2023

Q&A: Richard Demarest Yant on Transactional Law

With over 40 years experience in a broad range of commercial real estate and business law, Richard Demarest (R.D.) Yant is one of the most competent and respected attorneys in his field of work to join MPS in the KSVB acquisition. With that in mind, we recently asked him to reflect on the law, his career and what he sees ahead with MPS Law.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into law?
I originally came from a biology and sciences background. I grew up in northwest Indiana and attended Purdue for my undergraduate studies, as did my father. He studied entomology, and my brother and sister were both biologists as well; hence my initial academic interest in the sciences.

Law wasn’t a career I’d even considered until I was in the middle of work on my master’s degree. I was helping a friend study for the LSAT and found the prep work interesting. I decided to take the test, and ended up doing very well on it. I applied to three law schools, and chose the University of Illinois on a full scholarship.

Give us an overview of your career.
My first job out of law school was as an associate at a mid-sized firm, where I worked for two and a half years. Then I worked as a partner at a large national firm for nearly 20 years (with a brief 18-month interlude in an in-house counsel role for a private client). From there I went to Kaplan Saunders Valente & Beninati, LLP,, where I was a partner for 20 years, until the recent acquisition by MPS Law.

Can you describe your practice?
At the beginning of my career, I was working in litigation, which wasn’t a great fit for me. I eventually found that I enjoyed transactional work more. In litigation, both parties are typically ‘pulling apart’, whereas with transactions, the parties are trying to come to an agreement ¬– which is satisfying for both the client and myself as the attorney.

While I am active in a broad array of business transactions, including middle market M&A, corporate and finance, the majority of my work currently falls into two core categories. One is commercial real estate: I’m deeply experienced in all aspects of commercial real estate transactions, specifically lending work, acquisitions, and sales. The other is the railroad equipment financing and leasing space, where I’ve established a pretty good niche. I assist various rail businesses in all aspects of equipment and related contract rights, including acquisition, financing, leasing, management, and general disposition.

Speaking from your experience, what makes for an effective attorney in transactional law?
I think pragmatism is the most important principle for getting things done in transactional law. It’s imperative to figure out what is important to your client and what is not – especially in the early stages – and thoroughly advise your client down to the smallest details. But you still need to keep the ultimate goal in mind, which is getting the deal done. That being said, I find it frustrating when the other side believes ‘their way is the only way’ – that mindset is an impediment to accomplishing the goal.

At the end of the day, what motivates you? What’s the feel-good moment for you in the type of law you practice?
When you complete a transaction successfully, generally people on both sides are happy. And that’s a fulfilling feeling for me, regardless of the size of the firm or the transaction.

Finally, let’s talk about the move to MPS Law. What does it mean to you and your practice?
When we (the partners at KSVB) first began discussing the possibility, the consensus was quite positive. MPS was very attractive because we knew the firm had the resources to serve our clients. And the people here really made a difference in our decision – we value personality as much as excellence.

I see a lot of synergy between the KSVB group and the MPS team, and I believe the acquisition broadens both sides’ offerings. Personally, I’m very happy to be here. I’m hoping to flourish in my practice and that the firm benefits from my being here.

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