Profile in Brief - Irsi Linder

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

In 2006, attorney Iris Linder helped a client in the oil and gas business with a $72 million initial public offering and was invited to be part of the celebration when the stock began trading on the American Stock Exchange. After an elegant breakfast reception, the delegation was led on a parade through the trading floor, and applauded by traders.

"We then mingled with traders, who showed us how they do what they do," she says. "As opening time neared, we climbed onto the platform where my client made a few remarks and then rang the bell. It was quite an experience."

The event was a special thrill for Linder, who joined Foster Swift in Lansing in 2011 as a shareholder and a member of the Business and Corporate Practice Group, focusing her practice extensively in corporate and securities work, including fund formation and private placements of securities, as well as SEC reporting and registration. And in her work with oil and gas exploration and development companies, she helps to raise money to finance exploration and drilling costs and to acquire oil and gas mineral leases for projects ranging from $5 million to $40 million.

An author and lecturer on securities and venture capital matters, and active in the American Bar Association's Private Equity and Venture Capital Committee, and Federal Regulation of Securities Committee, Linder has experienced quite a roller-coaster ride in more than 30 years of practice.

"Guiding clients through the ups and downs of the financial markets over the decades gives one perspective," she notes.

Most memorable was the infamous "Black Monday" of October 19, 1987, when stock markets throughout the world crashed.

"I learned some hard lessons as regional investment banks went bankrupt overnight and clients were very adversely affected. Regional investment banks never re-emerged after this event," she explains. "The high flying '90s were a fun time to be in venture capital, but of course, that bubble burst, leaving clients with a much slower path to liquidity. Things started to get better and then the Great Recession hit. You learn that you always need to have a Plan B, and you must be positioned to wait out economic downturns."

Named among Best Lawyers in America for the past 8 years, Linder also works on venture capital investment transactions, representing both investors and portfolio companies.

"I most enjoy working with entrepreneurs and helping them achieve their goals and dreams," she says. "With some business clients, I essentially act as outside general counsel, helping them to find and manage legal resources as needed."

Fascinated by entrepreneurship and previously honored with the Small Business Advocate of the Year Award, and the Tireless Award, both by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce one of her goals is to help improve and grow the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Michigan. To that end, she participates in the Michigan Venture Capital Association and Capital Community Angels.

"My proudest moment with the Michigan Venture Capital Association was when our small legislative committee was successful in getting the Michigan Corporation Act amended to alter the structure of the fees required for the initial organization and admission fee of a corporation," she says. "The change allows companies to authorize a much larger number of shares for a significantly lower fee. Generally, a company that is venture backed will need to have a large number of authorized shares."

Linder has enjoyed the evolution of technology in the practice of law.

"Remember IBM Selectric typewriters and Mag Cards? I remember when we had a big argument over whether it was worth spending the money to buy our first fax machine," she says with a smile.

The world of corporate high finance was a far cry from Linder's original career plans. After studying at the University of Kansas, she earned her undergrad degree, with high honors, in psychology from Michigan State University, intending to go into academics in the area of developmental and cognitive psychology. A student in the MSU Honors College, she had the opportunity to assist in several faculty research projects.

"It didn't take me long to realize I'm far too results oriented to be happy in academia," she says. "So by the time I graduated, I was ready to look for a different career path."

Always interested in business, she considered getting an MBA, but decided on law school.

"I have strong writing skills and it seemed like a good fit with law," she explains. She earned her law degree, cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, where she enjoyed the intellectual challenge of the legal studies.

On the other side of the lectern, she taught Securities Regulation for four years as an adjunct professor at Cooley Law School. "In order to teach, you really must know your material well this presented the opportunity to increase my mastery of the subject matter," she says.

Previously a resident of Illinois and Kansas, Linder currently lives in Okemos with her husband, Steve. The couple has two sons: Justin lives in Indianapolis, as does grandson, Rylan; Eric lives in San Francisco, where he and his wife will soon present the Linders with their second grandchild.

Giving back to the community over the course of many years, Linder has served on the Board of the East Lansing Rotary Club, and on the Board of the Capital Area United Way where she chaired the Long Range Planning Committee. She has served as treasurer of the Congregation Kehillat Israel, and as an Advisor to the Law Explorers Club, and served many other organizations. A board member of the Capitol Area Girl Scout Council for two years, she spent three years as a Girl Scout troop leader for disadvantaged girls in fourth through sixth grade. "We forget how blessed we are until we see the life circumstances of those less fortunate," she says.

In her leisure time, she enjoys biking, yoga and gardening and her latest passion for singing. "Ever since high school, I had a lifelong dream to take voice lessons and at age 60, two years ago, I finally started taking lessons," she says. "I sing with my temple choir and also sing with the MSU Choral Union."

Published: Wed, Dec 17, 2014