Jackson — John England’s career path into the legal field may not have been traditional but has earned him distinction. A native of Jackson, England attended the University of Mississippi, where he earned a B.A. in accountancy, cum laude, in 1984, and went on to earn his certified public accountant designation.
England was employed as a CPA with a national public accounting firm and was employed in the banking industry when he decided to return to school and study law. He earned his J.D. at the Mississippi College School of Law in 1990, graduating with distinction. England then attended the University of Florida where he earned his master of laws in taxation in 1992.
With his accounting background in tow, England joined Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada, PLLC, the largest Mississippi-based law firm, as a member of the Public Law and Finance Group in August 1998.
He has 15 years experience helping a broad spectrum of clients with public finance transactions. He has served as bond counsel and underwriter’s counsel in connection with bond issues for cities, counties, school districts, hospitals, 501(c)(3) organizations and for industrial revenue bonds.
And, his work has not gone unnoticed. In March, The American Lawyer magazine named him a “Dealmaker of the Year,” a designation given to only 12 attorneys nationwide for their work in negotiating and structuring some of the largest and most important transactions of 2005. England, the only Mississippi-based attorney to earn the designation, was named to the listing for his work in accelerating issuance of quasi-governmental bonds to finance the reconstruction of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
The Mississippi Business Journal recently caught up with England and asked him about his journey into the legal profession, what it means to him to be named a “Dealmaker,” his work on the Coast and work that is still left to be done there.
MBJ: Why did you choose to enter the legal field after beginning your career in accounting and banking?
JE: During my years in accounting and banking, I learned how legal and financial issues intersected in the business world. Every aspect of business — hiring, contracts, expanding, raising capital — has legal ramifications. Law school seemed a logical next step for me — to broaden my skills and deepen my experience. Butler Snow prides itself on client service, and you can meet client needs better if you understand their business. My financial and legal background helps me do that
MBJ: What did it mean to you to be named a “Dealmaker” by The American Lawyer?
JE: I am honored to be one of the “Dealmakers of the Year” in the company of attorneys from some of the largest and best law firms in the country. This award is a result of many hours of hard work by many individuals that helped make the loan program a success following Hurricane Katrina. It feels great to be able to help in what was such a time of crisis for so many people in our state.
The “Dealmaker” award was very unexpected. It is really recognition of Butler Snow’s growing prominence as a regional and national firm.
MBJ: Tell us about your work on the Coast that led to your selection as a “Dealmaker.” What work is still left to do as the Coast recovers?
JE: Butler Snow worked with the Mississippi Development Bank and local government officials to structure and implement a loan program meeting the immediate needs of cities, counties and other local governmental units in Mississippi. We knew the federal funding was on the way, but these areas needed help, and couldn’t wait. The goal of the loan program is to provide a lifeline for Mississippi Gulf Coast communities, helping those with diminished tax base pay their bills, fund clean-up costs and rebuild public infrastructure and public buildings damaged as a result of Hurricane Katrina. It was the first phase of the recovery for many businesses and municipalities.
While the bond work with the Mississippi Development Bank provided, and continues to provide, the short-term relief to help cities and counties to get by, there is still much more that has to be done to help South Mississippi recover from the damage caused by Katrina. To that end, Butler Snow has also worked closely with state officials to help develop the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005, which offers business incentives to invest in hurricane-damaged areas. Butler Snow’s “GO Zone Team” is helping business clients take advantage of the incentives, including $4.9 billion in tax-exempt bonds for the 49 Mississippi counties in the GO Zone.
Any business considering investing in the GO Zone should take a look at these powerful incentives. The bonds and other incentives under the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 are available to many all business sectors. Depending on the transaction, borrowers may save significant interest costs through the issuance of bonds under the GO Zone Act. The incentives within the GO Zone will put the Mississippi Gulf Coast on the road to recovery.
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at email@example.com.