X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
When Scott Sessions, general counsel of On-Target Supplies & Logistics, met his company’s entrepreneurial founder, Albert C. Black, for an informal job interview three years ago, the two men talked over breakfast at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas. The posh and historic location scarcely resembled the haunts of Black’s youth growing up in the south Dallas Frazier Courts housing projects as the son of a doorman to the now-closed Baker Hotel. But the gilded interior could have easily fit into Sessions’ upbringing in the prestigious Highland Park, Texas, enclave as the son of a doctor. Sessions and Black might not ever have become acquainted if Black hadn’t nearly two decades earlier launched OTS&L, a Dallas-based commercial warehouse and trucking operation. Today the company, lauded by Inc. Magazine as one of the nation’s top 100 inner-city businesses, employs 96 people and earned $16 million in revenues in 2001. Subcontracting with corporations to help fulfill their warehouse and trucking needs, as well as supplying them with such products as copiers, computer paper, custodial supplies and telecommunications, OTS&L lists on its client roster corporate names that dominate North Texas, including Ericsson, TXU and Alcatel. At the Adolphus in November 1999, Sessions, then a litigation partner in Dallas’ Touchstone, Bernays, Johnston, Beall & Smith, says he began to recognize that Black — gregarious, articulate, enthusiastic and the first black president of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce — was presenting the career opportunity that he had been seeking. “He had an infectious personality. You could tell he was an entrepreneur. He really wanted to create something special with his business, and he was looking for someone to more professionally manage it,” Sessions recalls about Black. Within six weeks after his breakfast with Black, Sessions had left Touchstone Bernays. He had worked at the firm for nearly a decade — since graduating from Baylor Law School in 1989 — handling litigation defense for insurance companies. As other notable Dallas lawyers had done before him, Sessions wanted to use his legal skills to hitch up with a fast-rising entrepreneur like Black and then segue that relationship into a successful and lucrative business career for himself. “Scott took a bit of a flier when he went with Albert. But with big risks come big rewards,” says Kenneth K. Bezozo, a Haynes and Boone partner and corporate tax expert who advises OTS&L. “We gave him the opportunity to participate with a bunch of gleamy-eyed entrepreneurs. He was either going to break down or break through to management,” says Black. While neither Black nor Sessions have entered Forbes‘ list of the wealthy yet (OTS&L’s fortunes have skidded with the recent recession), the lawyer’s gamble on the entrepreneur might still pan out, Bezozo says. Black says Sessions “has already taken a leap toward a comprehensive understanding of our business.” From the outset at OTS&L, Sessions knew he was taking on a different assignment than he would as a general counsel at a big corporation. Sessions says he knew, for instance, that he wasn’t going to practice law exclusively or, alternatively, only play an oversight role for outside counsel. “Most companies this size don’t have a general counsel,” says Sessions. Because OTS&L was so small, to make economic sense for a lawyer’s permanent spot on the payroll, Sessions expected to have to jump in and deliver across-the-board legal services. At OTS&L, by his own and Bezozo’s accounts, Sessions has had to become a legal handyman of sorts. In his three years on the job, Sessions has handled everything from the initial stages of debt collection, to drafting contracts, to putting together (almost single-handedly) a private-placement offering. With Sessions as general counsel, the company rarely turns to outside lawyers. Occasionally, Haynes and Boone handles labor issues and other odds and ends. The Dallas firm has a historical relationship with Black. Bezozo, who considers Black one of his closest friends, initially began in the early ’90s providing the entrepreneur — the first in his family to go to college — with pro bono legal advice. Bezozo recalls he got roped into the task by another partner who had, as part of a Dallas Chamber effort, agreed to help minority-owned businesses. Bezozo says he helped Black fix state and federal tax problems and labor issues. These days, Bezozo says, Sessions still will tap him for a little free help. “Scott will call and say, ‘I’m gonna be doing a joint venture. Do you have a form of agreement,’” Bezozo says. “And I’ll send him over an agreement.” But most of the time Sessions has to roll up his sleeves and go it on his own. “When you work with Albert, you have to be willing to do things more on the fly,” says Bezozo. Black often extols his employees about the virtues of hard work, reminding them not infrequently that when OTS&L began, resources were so tight he and his wife labored full time and earned less than minimum wage for their efforts. MAN OF MANY HATS Sessions does not always exclusively perform legal work. His first assignment at the company, a few weeks after he started, had refreshingly little to do with lawyering, he recalls. “One of my first tasks was to sell real estate, a warehouse,” the lawyer says. Later, he took on the supervisory project development role for the construction of the company’s new 45,000-square-foot warehouse adjacent to its Oak Cliff red-brick headquarters. “I had not built a building before,” Sessions says proudly. As part of his job description, he also offers investment help to Black and his other company, TreCo. LTD, which has a stake in OTS&L as well as other real estate including warehouses used by OTS&L. “I’m here as a counselor to Albert, a confidante and a planner,” Sessions says. Whether he calls on him for his legal or business advice, Sessions says, Black always expects high-quality service. “I have a very demanding boss,” the lawyer concedes. For Sessions, the initial decision to exit Touchstone Bernays was not one he made lightly, the lawyer says. The 39-year-old lawyer, whose wife, Ellen Sessions, is an associate with Dallas’ Jenkens & Gilchrist, knew that exchanging a variety of clients for one boss meant forsaking some flexibility. “It was a consideration,” Sessions says about going in-house. Jeffrey L. Curtis, of counsel at Haynes and Boone, served as general counsel to OTS&L for about 16 months before Sessions started. But Curtis left because Black asked him to perform multiple tasks, Bezozo says. “[Jeff's] a good lawyer. But he lacked what it takes to work with Albert,” Bezozo says. “I don’t think he was interested in the type of rigor that was necessary to work for Albert Black,” says Black about Curtis. Curtis puts a different slant on his short tenure at OTS&L. “I missed practicing law,” he says, adding he wasn’t interested in taking on new business responsibilities. But, for Sessions, Black represents his chance to follow the example other Dallas lawyers have set. They exploited in-house opportunities to establish business careers for themselves — and lucrative ones at that. Indeed, it was a lawyer who followed such a path who introduced Sessions to Black. J. McDonald “Don” Williams, the chairman of Trammell Crow Co. and a high-profile Dallas civic leader, had invited Sessions and Black to the downtown hotel that November. Sessions knew Williams from a personal connection. He had shared a room with Williams’ eldest son as an undergrad at Baylor University. “I had approached Don and told him I wanted to pick his brain about how to do what he did,” recalls Sessions. When Sessions asked Williams how he could follow his example, Sessions recalls, “one of the first names he came up with was Albert’s.” Williams then invited the two men to breakfast with him at the Adolphus. HARD WORK PAYS When Sessions started in 1999 at OTS&L, the company was enjoying one of its best years financially. But the economic downturn has hit OTS&L, with many of its clients in the suddenly stagnant telecommunications sector. The company’s revenues dropped about 30 percent in 2001, according to Sessions. OTS&L has pared down its employee roster by about a dozen workers, the lawyer says. But Stephanie Grimes, the company’s director of marketing and publicity, credits Sessions’ most recent work with improving OTS&L’s economic outlook. “There is great optimism because of the work Scott and his team are doing,” she says. Specifically, Grimes references a private placement offering circular that Sessions pulled together this past February and March. Sessions’ draft helped attract two unnamed investors who injected nearly $1 million in cash into the company. “There is a lot of interest in doing business with Albert. It’s appealing — the story of his company, the historical performance of the company — and so is the customer base.” Haynes and Boone partner Bezozo concedes that Black did call him and ask if someone at the firm could look over the offering circular after Sessions completed it. “For the dollars you want to spend, Haynes and Boone can’t put its imprimatur on that document,” Bezozo recalls he told Black. So Sessions had to make it on his own — not an unusual happenstance for the general counsel at the small company with big aspirations. Once he realized using Haynes and Boone to help draft the private-placement circular would not be cost-effective, Black says he went to Sessions. The CEO says he instructed his general counsel to produce the document in 24 hours. “We need the money raised fast and I want to create a performance legend,” Black says he told Sessions. Asked if he worried about Sessions working so hard, the CEO makes it clear he doesn’t. “I don’t feel sorry for a professional like Scott. The bonuses he will be paid when the placement is fully funded will be handsome.”

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.