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Maggie Tatton
Maggie Tatton

Breaking the Ice: M&A attorney connects firm with entrepreneurs

Name: Maggie Tatton

Title: Partner, Ballard Spahr

Education: B.A., communication and political science, Augsburg College; J.D., William Mitchell College of Law

Ballard Spahr partner Maggie Tatton is preparing to serve for a second time as a judge for the Minnesota Cup (MN Cup) startup competition as she continues in her role as co-leader of the 15-office firm’s mergers-and-acquisitions group.

Tatton also is among the firm’s attorneys who offer pro bono legal advice through the firm’s Ballard Academy for Student Entrepreneurs. Her opportunity to judge the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management’s MN Cup program, which helps entrepreneurs launch and accelerate new ventures, comes as Ballard renews its sponsorship of the event, which runs from April through August.

“We wanted to get involved in the community and get to know local entrepreneurs better and find a way to appreciate what they deal with on a day-to-day basis, so we got involved in MN Cup,” Tatton said.

As M&A group co-leader, Tatton helps partners with staff transactions and makes sure associates keep a full workload and receive training. One of the best parts is mentoring M&A attorneys who are at earlier stages of their careers.

Tatton’s M&A practice focuses on middle-market deals, often involving private equity firms.

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

A: Ask me for a restaurant recommendation. My husband and I, one of our favorite things to do is to go out and try a new restaurant and to stay up to speed on the local restaurant scene. I like to say I was a foodie before it was trendy and then eventually not trendy.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: In high school I was very competitive in debate and speech, and it felt like a natural progression to go to law school. What appealed to me the most was that a legal career was a chance to have a fast-paced, successful career while still doing something that helps people.

Q: What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A: I decided to use some of the time that I saved not having to commute an hour to work every day to try to brush up on my French. So literally the book on my bedside table right now is a workbook called “French Verb Tenses.”

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: People who talk politics at a dinner party.

Q: What’s the best part of your work?

A: I love the feeling of closing a deal after months of hard work and negotiating. That’s the best the celebration you get to have when it all comes together.

Q: What do you least like about it?

A: That we’re still mostly working remotely. I really miss the social part of my job. I have a lot of really great partners in the Minneapolis office.

Q: What’s a favorite activity away from work?

A: Planning vacations, particularly adventure vacations. I love to be on a vacation but sometimes I think that the planning and the lead-up to it is more fun than the actual vacation. I’ve summited Kilimanjaro and Mount Rainier. We’ve gone spelunking and skydiving and taken surfing lessons.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge whom you most admire? Why?

A: I truly admired Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She paved the way for me and women like me to have the career I have.

Q: What’s a misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?

A: That I go to court. No matter how many times I tell my friends and family that I’m a mergers-and-acquisitions attorney and help clients buy and sell businesses they still think I spend my day making objections in front of a jury.

Q: What’s a favorite novel, movie or TV show about lawyers or the legal profession?

A: My favorite has always been “A Few Good Men.” I can recite Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” monologue and still do if I’m doing a plank at the gym or something else where I need to take my mind off of something for a minute.

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