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Joe Green
Joe Green, formerly general counsel at TCF Financial Corp., now works with Faegre Drinker’s Minneapolis office. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Bringing in-house experience as outside counsel

Name: Joe Green

Title: Counsel, Faegre Drinker’s Minneapolis office

Education: A.B., political science, University of Michigan; J.D.

Joe Green understands what banking and financial services clients need after more than two decades as an in-house banking general counsel.

Green, formerly general counsel at TCF Financial Corp., now Huntington Bancshares Inc., began working with Faegre Drinker’s Minneapolis office after the banks’ June merger.

“That makes me perhaps a bit more adept at gauging what clients might want and how those messages might best be delivered in a cost-effective way,” Green said. “I think I have some insight there that’s fairly unique.”

To enhance his business practice, Green earned an MBA with a finance concentration. He completed the degree in a decade, taking one class at a time while working full time. “I finished just as we were starting to have children, which was very convenient,” Green said.

Green, board chairman of the Minnesota Orchestra, said September’s first live full-house performances since the pandemic were “so powerful and so meaningful.”

A dedicated runner, Green has completed more than 40 marathons.

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Ask me, “How was your run today?” I’ve been running every day for 643 days in a row. I run 3 miles a day, outside, rain or shine. I typically run around Lake Harriet. I started pre-pandemic, but especially during those early days where everybody was questioning their sanity, it was wonderful to have a habit like that that got me outside.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: I liked the idea of gaining the skills that lawyers have. It struck me that I would lots of options to consider for a career with a law degree. I like to read and write and the analytical skills that are required of lawyers felt like a good fit.

Q: What books are you reading?

A: I just finished Herman Wouk’s two-part series on World War II. Our book club just read, “A Woman of No Importance,” about a woman spy during World War II.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: When somebody wants to get from point A to point B, your job is to help them get there. When you can bring your knowledge and experience to help somebody get there faster and more effectively, perhaps anticipating pitfalls before they materialize, that’s very satisfying.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: I enjoy music a lot. I’m board chair of the Minnesota Orchestra. I love to write, and I love words, and I love reading but music is there when words fail us.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A:  I’m from the Detroit-area suburbs. I’d take them to downtown Detroit, some of the old restaurants, historic buildings. In the Twin Cities, Minnehaha Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge, places that are unique to where we live.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: My former boss at TCF, a mentor to me, Greg Pulles. Attorneys we worked with as outside counsel: [the late] Ralph Strangis, a corporate attorney on [TCF’s] board; Timothy B. Kelly, a litigator. Both impressed me for their ability to take something complicated, quickly size it up and get to what was important.

Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?

A: A lot of people assume if you’re a lawyer working for a bank that you’re out to help the bank, do things that maximize profit. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Lawyers in banks, in a lot of organizations, inside and outside counsel, have a much more nuanced view of their role, and that’s trying to help their clients do the right thing.

Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?

A: I like things like “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s a wonderful image of the lawyer as a humble, truth-seeking force. “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, who worked with wrongfully convicted folks, victims of a defective advocacy system and figured out ways to try to help them.


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