Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Law Degree Fills Food and Beverage Niche

the spirited lawyerWhat to do if your first law job doesn’t work out as planned - and your first love outside the law doesn’t either?

One option: combine the two and take off.

That’s what attorney Laura Collier of Raleigh did. When her biglaw career stalled, she shifted gears and started The Spirited Lawyer – a Wake County law practice that provides legal services for food and beverage businesses. There, she uses her law degree to fulfill her dream of working in the wine and cheese industry.

“[I]t’s incredibly satisfying,” Collier says in a News and Observer business profile.

A Spirit for the Law

Collier’s law journey started the usual way: as a 1L. After graduating from Georgetown Law School, she went to work at a large international law firm handling corporate litigation. Then came several rounds of associate layoffs. Though spared the ax, she was left with a massive caseload and a work-life balance severely out of whack.

That’s when she began thinking seriously about combining her law experience with a longtime enthusiasm for food and beverage – specifically wine. The latter grew out of her time spent in Europe and her connections to the Alsace, Rhone and Loire Valley wine regions.

She and a friend explored the possibility of opening a wine and cheese shop. While that didn’t pan out, it planted the seed for  a law practice assisting others with similar interests did.

“A lawyer working with small-business owners isn’t anything new,” reporter Andrea Wiegl writes in the N&O. “Lawyers have been helping restaurant and bar owners navigate alcohol laws for as long as the government has regulated these beverages.”

What makes Collier’s story unique is that she comes from a family of wine lovers, she worked for a wine company before starting law school and she understand the local food scene (her husband is also in the restaurant business).

All of which made her a natural as The Spirited Lawyer.

“She’s able to help businesses in a really unique way because she actually gets it,” says a friend in the N&O piece.

Food and Beverage Niche Practices

Bars, bistros and bed-and-breakfasts need lawyers just like any other business. Their legal needs cover everything from corporate governance to liquor licensing.

Do a Google search for “restaurant law” or “wine law” and you’ll get lots of hits for niche practices across the country. Their clients: restaurants, motels and hotels, nightclubs, food wholesalers, manufacturers, importers, distilleries, ad agencies and individual growers.

Services a restaurant/food lawyer might provide include:

  • Intellectual property
  • Trademark and patent registration, protection and litigation
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Health and safety code compliance and enforcement
  • Premises liability
  • Personal injury and product liability defense
  • Import/export issues
  • Website, branding and e-commerce assistance
  • Corporate formation, succession and planning
  • Food and beverage regulatory matters
  • Product and label packaging
  • Advertising campaigns, marketing promotions, sweepstakes, games and contests
  • International and cross-border transactions
  • Product distribution and licensing
  • Environmental compliance
  • Investments and assets management
  • Trade compliance 

Are you a foodie? Perhaps there’s a sweet spot where passion and professional training meet.

Source: News and Observer

Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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