Name: Lance Bonner
Title: Associate General Counsel, M&A & Securities, Pentair
Firm Background: Lance was an associate in the Corporate group in the Minneapolis office from 2017 – 2021.
What have you been doing since departing the firm?
In November 2020 I joined Pentair as the associate general counsel of M&A. I also am responsible for our corporate secretary function for our North American subsidiaries and support our tax, treasury and communications groups and the company’s ESG initiatives. I recently added securities as an area of responsibility as well. We have had four announced acquisitions since I joined Pentair, including our recently closed acquisition of Manitowoc Ice, and I have had the opportunity to work with Faegre Drinker attorneys on all these projects.
What is the most challenging and/or most rewarding part of your work?
Understanding the business and learning parts of the organization that I didn’t have many touch points with as outside counsel. When I was in private practice, my main contacts were typically the in-house lawyers, or if it was a smaller organization, the chief financial officer or another business leader. I now have the opportunity to work with many business leaders across functional areas and product/service categories. This has allowed me to have a better understanding of Pentair’s business, strategic initiatives and organizational structure and how all the various pieces fit together. Learning the business and organization has been the most challenging, but also the most rewarding part of my work.
What made you want to become an attorney?
I didn't grow up around any lawyers. I didn't have lawyers in my family or within my friend group. When I was in high school, my dad mentioned law school because he knew I liked to read, write and think analytically. I attended the University of Pittsburgh and took some law-related courses and was also a general office clerk for Lindquist & Vennum during the summer before attending law school at Washington University in St. Louis. All of these experiences affirmed my understanding that the practice of law would lead to a dynamic, challenging and rewarding career, and after almost 10 years of practice I’ve certainly found that to be true.
What is your fondest memory/best experience/what do you miss about Faegre?
I worked with some really great people like Kate Sherburne, Mike Stanchfield, Matt Kuhn, Keith Radtke, Jon Nygren and many others. I also had a great experience being an active member of the Diverse Lawyers Resource Group (DLRG - now known as the Diversity Collective). I was able to forge strong relationships with lawyers across offices. The highlight of my DLRG involvement was certainly the retreats, where we were able to collaborate and share common experiences and purpose across offices and also interact with senior leaders at the firm.
What would you change about the legal industry if you could?
It is challenging to be successful as an M&A lawyer in private practice and have time to dedicate to yourself and to your interests outside of work. With three young children, I decided to make a change that provided me more time and energy to dedicate to my family. In my view, law firm practice would benefit from greater focus on quality of life improvements for attorneys that would help retain talent, including new approaches to staffing matters, valuing associate contributions with measurables other than billable hours (which incentivize quantity above quality), etc. to address the demands of private practice and the “always on” responsiveness required to provide excellent client service.
We also need to do a better job of promoting and retaining diverse leaders in law firms and in-house positions. When I left the firm there was minimal BIPOC representation in the partnership. There is still a lot of progress needed.
How do like to spend your time outside of work?
Most of my free time is spent with my wife and our three young boys. They are now involved in sports and I enjoyed being a coach for my oldest son’s baseball team. We also joined a boat club this summer and have explored a few of the lakes in the Twin Cities metro. I also enjoy completing projects around the house and built our kids an outdoor playset during the first summer of COVID.
What’s next for you personally or professionally?
I just added to my role at Pentair and am supporting our securities work, so I will be focusing a lot of my efforts in the near-term on learning and growing in this new, expanded role. I also recently hired another attorney on my team, and so will be onboarding and developing her so she can flourish in her transition. Personally, we are looking forward to the start of the school year with our oldest son starting second grade and our middle son starting Kindergarten.