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Oct. 25, 2022

Introducing the Women of NM: Transactions

Featuring: Sally Caver

Sally serves as managing partner of the Columbia office and concentrates her practice in the areas of complex commercial contract negotiations, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate counseling and advising, for a multitude of businesses but with a particular focus on motor vehicle manufacturers and distributors. Sally has extensive experience representing both established and start-up motor vehicle manufacturers and distributors of all types, from automotive to powersports to farm and construction equipment to heavy truck. The array of services Sally has provided to these clients includes drafting and negotiating supply agreements, strategic commercial agreements, joint ventures, and other contracts. She also advises clients with respect to franchise and distribution matters, including developing marketing representation policies and programs and other strategic legal issues.

Why motor vehicle transactional work?

For the first 10 years of my career, I practiced primarily in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), representing clients in all different industries when they seek to acquire or sell companies, and in complex commercial contracts. As a young partner, I started focusing on my career path, the type of practice I wanted to have, and what I needed to do to get there. With support and guidance from some incredible mentors and sponsors, I started shifting my practice away from M&A and started working with the firm’s nationally-recognized motor vehicle team, which represents manufacturers and distributors throughout the U.S. on a variety of legal issues, from business litigation to regulatory compliance to dealer relations and product liability claims. Over time, I have been able to blend my corporate practice with the needs of manufacturers and distributors in the various motor vehicle industries and develop a practice that is focused on advising and counseling them on transactional matters, including drafting and negotiating complex contracts with dealers, suppliers, and other commercial partners. While I may not have gotten into this industry initially because of my love of cars, I have developed a healthy obsession with them now!

What trait do you admire the most among your peers?

Resilience. The legal profession is challenging, and the work we do is demanding on many levels. The fact that I am able to practice law alongside partners who have practiced 20 and 30+ years is inspiring to me. Many of these colleagues have worked through difficult times – family and personal struggles, economic downturns, industry upheavals – but they have grown and adapted through them all. Of course, the pandemic has tested all of us in different ways. I continue to be inspired by the resilience it has taken and continues to take to work and live through the pandemic and the choices and changes we have made to adopt to the “new normal”.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

It’s a cliché, but true, my family is my biggest inspiration. As much as I love what I do – working with clients and colleagues to solve problems, big and small – the primary motivation for everything I do is to enjoy life with the people who mean the most to me.

What are the biggest foreseeable challenges in your field?

The motor vehicle industry is incredibly dynamic and always changing. Whether it is electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, or the next new technology, our clients are on the cutting edge of developing new products and new customer experiences. An innovative client requires an innovative legal team who must be skilled in not only analyzing the various legal and regulatory schemes affecting the client but also in understanding the business considerations and anticipating the ramifications on different aspects of the client’s business. Continuing to be prepared for the next technological advancement and being able to advise the client on new and emerging issues is a constant (but fun) challenge in the motor vehicle industry.

What’s one piece of advice that greatly impacted you and your career trajectory?

When I was at a crossroads in my career and weighing the pros and cons of continuing my path in M&A or forging a new path in the motor vehicle industry, I sought out and received a lot of advice from people I admire. The best advice I took from those individuals was to trust myself and follow through. I determined my best path to partnership, to greater client relationships, client development, and to greater control over my career laid in the motor vehicle industry. I was still pulled to the M&A practice because of loyalty and a sense of duty to the individuals who had trained and developed me to that point in my career. Those individuals that I felt a sense of loyalty to were actually the same individuals who gave me the push I needed to carry through with the decision I knew was best for me and my career.