Cardinal Cadence Spring/Summer 2012
The success that Bob Dyer ’66 has enjoyed in his legal career is backed not only by his experience and education in the law but also by his business education at Lamar, where he majored in accounting. A partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in Dallas, Dyer has built a reputation as a valuable legal counselor to a variety of corporations. With a client list that has included the Trammell Crow Company, CompUSA, SBC Communications and Dynacraft BSC, he has been recognized multiple times as one of the best business lawyers in Dallas by D Magazine and as a Texas Super Lawyer in Texas Monthly.
“If you can read a financial statement and understand it, then you can go a long way toward understanding what’s going on in the business and become more than a technical advisor,” Dyer said. His accounting education at Lamar gave him the tools he needed to synthesize financial statements and business operations for a variety of companies and provide them with added value. “You can become a consultant for the business. You can help the client evaluate options that are more subjective.”
Dyer distinguishes his role as a business lawyer from that of an advocate or litigator. “As business lawyers, many of the things we do are as legal counselor. The legal counselor is the person who sits with you, the client, and understands your issues. They can explain to you the legal consequences or the best course of action or the things that need to be evaluated. After all that’s done, you can draw a conclusion and make a business decision.”
Some might say that Dyer’s knack for business runs in the family. His parents, Woody and Jackie Dyer, operated Lane’s, a budget department store in downtown Beaumont, for many years. Now 90, they still live in Beaumont. Growing up, Dyer sometimes assisted with inventory, sales on weekends and later some accounting for the store. Family remains important to Dyer. He and his wife, Ann (Williams) Dyer, who also grew up in Beaumont, enjoy spending time with their two adult sons and three grandsons at home in Dallas and at their vacation home in Taos, N.M. Dyer said the Taos home offers a welcome respite from the Texas heat in the summer and a wonderful opportunity to pursue one of his favorite hobbies, skiing, in the winter. His five-yearold grandson already has started joining him on the slopes. “It’s a nice family gathering place,” Dyer said. “It gives you a chance to renew relationships with your family and your friends.”
Like many of his Southeast Texas contemporaries, Dyer credits Lamar with providing him an excellent education that would have been difficult to obtain otherwise. “In those days, it would have been a stretch for my parents to have financed sending me away to school. It could possibly have happened, but Lamar provided an option that was within the economics of my family’s financial structure,” said Dyer, the oldest of six children. Lamar also proved the right option for his brother, Joe Dyer ’68, who majored in management. Dyer lived at home while attending Lamar, but still enjoyed the challenge of classes and, as a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, the fun of fraternity life.
Dyer decided while in high school that law school would be his next step after college. Although he can’t pinpoint what attracted him to the profession, it has suited him well. “I like problem solving, and I like getting to know in relative detail the intricacies of a particular client’s business goals and transactional goals,” Dyer said. “It’s almost like the more complicated the problem, the more interesting it is.”
Over the years, Dyer has been successful in guiding his clients through any number of problems and in connecting them with specialists within his firm through a team approach when particular types of problems arise. In general, Dyer said he tends to see most matters in shades of gray, rather than as black and white, and likes to help parties find a way to compromise to solve problems rather than litigating disputes.
“You continue to learn something every day, whether it’s some substantive issue that you’re interested in, or maybe it’s about human nature and how you deal with people in a way that’s positive. I like to say that any time you’re in a relationship that generates more heat than light, you need to be doing something else.”
by Beth Gallaspy