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Morgan Burns is a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels. (Submitted photo)
Morgan Burns is a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Advising means putting opinion on the line

Name: Morgan Burns

Title: Partner, Faegre Baker Daniels

Education: A.B., government, Dartmouth College; J.D., University of Virginia School of Law

Morgan Burns, partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, has led more than 100 merger-and-acquisition transactions and more than 100 capital markets transactions.

He’s seen how lots of companies operate and knows clients want his opinion not just a listing of issues and what could go wrong.

“One thing that’s really important is to not be shy about giving clients the benefit of that experience and insight,” Burns said. “A lot of lawyers are so nervous about not getting out of their lane, so to speak, that they hesitate or fear putting their opinion out there and putting their butt on the line.

“I’ve always tried to resist that. People pay us a lot of money to advise them, and they don’t want you to tell them what to do, but they do want your opinion.”

Burns’ busy 2018 included a role in advising Winnebago on the purchase of the Chris-Craft boating brand.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. Asking about my kids. I’ve lived in Minneapolis a long time but still think of Duluth as my hometown, so asking about Duluth is good. I’m a big sports fan so any of the sports teams I follow, that’s good as well.

Q. What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A. Growing up with a dad who was a business lawyer and who loved what he did was a huge influence. His father did the same thing. … [My dad] enjoyed it so I thought there was a pretty good chance I would too.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. People who don’t treat others the way they want to be treated. That’s probably No. 1, especially if it’s because of their position relative to that person or some other characteristic.

Q. What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A. I’m definitely a people person. Any time I’m having a good time in what I do, it generally involves enjoying the people that I’m doing it with here at Faegre or my clients.

Q. Least favorite?

A. Being on call 24/7. Lots of times I don’t mind it. But as probably anybody in my position would say, there are times when the need to jump on a client call or work on a deal or go somewhere to do that doesn’t come at the most convenient time. …  My kids are not big fans of my cell phone.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. I’ve got three young kids so spending time with them is probably No. 1. I was an alpine ski racer growing up. That’s something I share with my family now. I have one daughter who is a ski racer, and the rest of my family likes to ski. I grew up fishing and hunting with my dad, skiing, snowmobiling. I love the outdoors. Canoeing in the Boundary Waters. We have a cabin now in Hayward, Wisconsin, not too far from Duluth.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. I grew up by Chester Bowl, a park that Chester Creek rolls through. There are waterfalls and woods. Hiking trails. There’s even a ski hill with a little lift. … It’s an awesome spot right in the middle of the city.

Q. What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A. From outside the legal profession I’m always amazed that people think that because a lot of the way we get paid is based on hourly billing that somehow we’re going to take more time than we need to with things for the purpose of making them more expensive. I’ve always thought to myself when somebody said that, “I wish I had that kind of time.” Because I don’t and I don’t really wish I had it because I like being busy. Almost any busy accomplished transaction lawyer I’ve run across is looking for ways to get things done more efficiently not less.


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