Business Q & A

5 questions with ... Jeff Peier, attorney specializing in aircraft finance transactions, Klenda Mitchell Austerman & Zuercher

Jeff Peier isn’t your typical corporate lawyer, although he does get involved in finance, mergers and acquisitions and securities law.

An attorney with Klenda Mitchell Austerman & Zuercher, Peier spends most of his time handling aircraft finance transactions, helping clients buy, sell or finance corporate aircraft.

Peier joined the firm 27 years ago after he graduated from law school.

About two weeks after he started, he assisted another attorney with the acquisition and financing of aircraft for one of the firm’s regional airline clients.

“One transaction led to another,” Peier said.

He figures he’s now handled well over 1,000 aircraft transactions involving parties in 45 countries.

Peier became interested in law in high school after vocational interest testing showed he would be likely suited to the career.

And he was impressed when a family friend responded to his request for information about the career with a long, detailed letter, which he keeps as a reminder to help young people who express an interest in law.

Peier, who grew up in Hays, graduated from Fort Hays State University with degrees in finance and economics, and from the University of Kansas School of Law.

In his free time, he likes to scuba dive with his son, snow ski and play basketball. He also works on charitable and community activities

1. What do you like best about the work you do?

“From a professional stand-point, I like the fact I get to deal with unique transactions all over the world. I get to deal with . . . sometimes very colorful people."

2. What is your biggest challenge?

“One of the most difficult things to work on is not so much a particular transaction or a particular deal. But what I find, many people come to us with preconceived notions that are incorrect about how a transaction should be structured. . . . We have to overcome the impact of so-called legal advice that’s disseminated in the corporate pilots lounges around the world.”

3. How do you overcome that?

“On almost a weekly basis, someone says, ‘Everyone else I know structures their deals this way.’ My usual reply: ‘Everyone you know is doing it incorrectly.’ ”

4. What do you like best about aviation law?

“I like the fact that most of the projects I deal with are very positive in nature, and everyone involved, even though they have conflicting interests, are working toward the same goal. . . . It’s unlike other areas of the law where there are clear winners or losers . . . or a lot of controversy.”

5. Your interest in aviation goes back to your childhood watching the Blue Angels and viewing the early days of space exploration. Did you ever consider a career in another aviation field?

“In high school, I . . . gave some serious thought to seeking an appointment to attend the Air Force Academy, until I learned that it was unlikely that a 6-foot-6 guy was ever going to sit in the cockpit of a fighter plane.”

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