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  • Powerhouse Q&A: Robert "Bobo" Gilpin

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    Bobo Gilpin is a Partner at Montgomery’s Gilpin Givhan law firm where his job is to help businesses navigate the often-tumultuous waters of tax law. Both the capital city native and his clients are buoyed by his work to assist them in finding and riding the rising tide.
    What first got you interested in being a lawyer? I knew when I was 14 that I wanted to be an attorney. I grew up in a family business, and my older brother was interested in going into it, but I was not. But being around the business, I was often mediating between various other family members/owners of the business, and I learned I was skilled at that. Also, my mother was a legal secretary and that influenced me and pointed me in that direction. I went to the University of Alabama and decided to get an accounting degree in case I didn’t get into law school. An accounting professor got me interested in tax law. I did get accepted to law school at Alabama, and then I went to tax school at NYU after that.
    What are your practice areas? Taxes and business transactions, including buying and selling businesses and consulting businesses on all kinds of tax issues. Almost everything has some tax wrinkle to it. Who are your primary clients? Mostly corporations, and typically family businesses. We practice all over the state and all over the Southeast.
    What’s been trending lately in your area of the legal industry? Things have been extremely busy in the tax world for the last few years, primarily because there’s been talk of tax rates going up. And really, we’re always busy. Lawyers are needed when things are going great, but when things are going bad or get rocky, businesses need us too. We get it coming or going, but we were exceedingly busy last year due to the pandemic and the PPP program. Our clients had a lot of questions about it and needed our help working through it. What is the most rewarding part of your work? I get paid to help people, so that’s very fulfilling, particularly when working with our family business clients. A family business is like a baby, somebody didn’t just start it; they birthed it. It is not just important to the family’s livelihood but to their life, so any issues that impact it are big deal. And where litigators are in win-lose situations, business tax law is really a win-win area.
    We are helping people solve difficult problems. I also enjoy the creativity of my work. I enjoy taking black and white tax law and pushing it to its boundaries.
    What is your impression of Montgomery’s current business climate and how does it affect your work? The city is in a transition period right now, like most everything else. I’ve been practicing here for 40 years, and our business community has become more focused on middle-market and family business. The big publicly traded corporations like Kindercare and Russell Corp, which were our biggest clients back then, are gone. But there is more diversity in our businesses now, and we spread our work over smaller, but more, businesses.
    What, in your opinion, could Montgomery do better? It is a positive place to start a business and do business. Entrepreneurship is key for growth, and I believe we have a good atmosphere for that, and I know the city is putting emphasis on that. We have some staffing challenges right now, but so does every place. A big positive is how many really good people are here. I’ve always felt that Montgomery is not cliquish like some other cities our size. Relationships really matter here.

    Why do you and your firm choose to be so involved with and supportive of the Chamber and its work? We see the Chamber as the leadership for and the voice of our local business community, and we want to support the development of that community, so we’re engaged with the Chamber and its efforts. It’s also the economic development engine for the region, not just the city.
    What are your interests outside of work? I have fun attending Montgomery Biscuits games; the firm has been a sponsor of the team from day one. And I work a lot, but that’s because I love it. I do like to cook, too. I like to smoke meat on my Big Green Egg and bake pizza in the wood-fired pizza oven that I built myself.
    Suffer the Little Children:
    For almost four decades, Bobo Gilpin has faithfully devoted time to pour into Montgomery’s littlest locals, describing it as one of his favorite activities. “For 38 years, I’ve taught the preschool Sunday School class at First Baptist Church on Perry Street,” he says. “I love it, and I guess it’s not a hobby, but it is one of the most enjoyable things I do.”
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