Alumni Profiles - Lauren Lonergan Taylor
Lauren Lonergan Taylor spent two decades in the Business Reorganization and Financial Restructuring Practice Group in Philadelphia. In 2016, she joined TD Bank, N.A., as the Head of Commercial Lending in the Legal Department. Lauren reflects on her time at Duane Morris and provides insight on the move from lawyer to client.
Lauren Lonergan Taylor
Describe your role at TD Bank, N.A.
As the Head of Commercial Lending in the Legal Department, I lead a talented team that is responsible for providing legal support for all of the Bank’s commercial lending originations, operations, servicing and control matters in the United States. Our team supports the Corporate and Specialty Banking, Regional Commercial Banking and Corporate Products & Services groups. Among other responsibilities, we provide advice to our line of business clients on documenting commercial loan transactions, update and quality control our standard commercial loan document forms, collaborate with our control partners on digesting and implementing regulatory requirements, and evaluate new business products and processes. We endeavor to assist our lines of business with delivering a legendary experience to our customers, while also operating within the Bank’s risk appetite.
What’s different about being a Duane Morris lawyer versus being a Duane Morris client?
As a Duane Morris lawyer, I had the resources to provide comprehensive, exhaustive legal analysis and counsel to clients. In-house lawyers have more limited tools at their disposal and must frequently provide advice on a short turnaround. In many cases, that compels us to simply exercise our best judgment when making recommendations to the business. It’s very beneficial when we can leverage our client relationship with Duane Morris to gut check that judgment. The Bank really values the close relationship that it has with the Firm.
What do you look for in outside legal counsel?
Obviously, we place great importance on quality legal services from reliable and trustworthy counsel. Beyond that baseline, our most effective outside counsel can do the following:
- Communicate succinctly. In-house communications are different. They need to be crisp and to the point. Lengthy emails or memos from outside counsel are less useful and we will, in turn, have to distill them in order to convey your advice to our business partners. If it’s absolutely necessary to send something lengthy, include a summary section that highlights the salient points of your advice.
- Provide practical advice reflective of business realities. The better you know our business, the more well-informed your advice will be. That means understanding the unique structure, preferences and challenges of the particular area of the Bank that you are servicing. But it also requires an appreciation of how we fit into the larger marketplace and of the pressures on the banking industry as a whole.
- Be flexible on billing options. It’s no secret that the billable hour is losing ground as the billing construct of choice. Like most other financial institutions and corporations, we value flexibility and creativity in crafting alternative fee arrangements. When used in the right circumstances, an AFA can provide greater predictability for both the Bank and outside counsel. Additionally, the provision of value-added services is a real boost to the relationship we have with any firm. Sharing guides and sample agreements, offering CLE programs, partnering with us on our diversity and inclusion efforts, etc., all go a long way to strengthening our partnership with outside counsel.
In spring 2017, Lauren and other TD lawyers partnered with Duane Morris lawyers for the firm’s Naturalization Training and Clinic.
How did your time at Duane Morris prepare you for the transition to being in-house?
There is no substitute for excellent work product. It is the foundation of all effective legal support. It even transcends profession. The standard of excellence that I learned to maintain and expect of myself and my colleagues at Duane Morris is still with me. Whether evaluating new language for our form loan documents, providing a risk analysis of a new business initiative or preparing a critical matter summary for our senior executive team, the meticulous work product that is the Duane Morris standard is the same standard that I hold myself to in my current role.
Lauren (with Patricia Hollenbeck, left) received the 2013 Modeling Work-Life Balance Award (now the Margery Reed Professional Excellence Award) from Duane Morris’ Women’s Impact Network for Success.
What is your best memory of working at Duane Morris?
Having spent more than 20 years at Duane Morris, it’s impossible to pick just one. But if I think about all of my “best” memories, they aren’t about the big cases, complex transactions or professional milestones; they are all about the people. From the lawyers to the professional staff to the office support, Duane Morris has a distinctive culture that is comfortable and congenial, with a big personality to boot. I was privileged to work with incredibly gifted lawyers and dedicated staff who also made me laugh—a lot—every day.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
At 18 and 15, our kids are at their busiest, both at school and with extracurricular activities. So not unlike many parents, there is little down time with trying to keep up with them! I was very involved in various organizations and clubs during my time at Villanova Law School, so I really enjoy sitting on the Board of its Alumni Association. Attending board meetings, as well as alumni and student events throughout the year, keeps me well-connected to that community. I am also on the Planning Committee for the National MS Society’s annual walk at Ridley Creek State Park. For more than 20 years, I have helped plan the event and also captained my own Walk team (with an incredible amount of support from many friends at Duane Morris). When there is time left over, you can find me reading my Book Club’s latest selection. And even though my family refers to it as “Wine/Whine Club,” we really do talk about the book!
The Business Reorganization and Financial Restructuring Practice Group has a tradition of bringing clients and leaders from the financial industry together to share insight on the state of commercial finance. Lauren frequently participates in these events.