John Willding is an attorney specializing in corporate mergers and acquisitions and a partner at Barnes & Thornburg, LLP in Dallas, Texas, which is also his hometown. After growing up in the Lone Star State, John signed up for military duty in the United States Army and traveled the world. He then came back to Dallas, and enrolled in Southern Methodist University in Texas, before earning a law degree at Rutgers University in New Jersey, then a Masters Degree in government from Harvard University. Now, with more than two decades of legal experience under his belt, John Willding has built an extensive network of professional relationships through diligently practicing law, consistently returning favorable results for his clients, and simply being his authentic self.
Let us start by talking about your business.
As a mergers and acquisitions attorney, I primarily work with business owners in conjunction with accountants, bankers, and private equity firms to negotiate the purchase and sale of private companies. I also hammer out the legal terms and conditions that accompany the various aspects of that process. During the course of my career, I’ve worked with most industries, including healthcare, defense, technology, manufacturing, aerospace, real estate, and energy. All totalled, I’ve successfully closed deals worth in excess of $3 billion.
Please tell us how you make sure your clients are satisfied and repeat customers?
Beyond thaving technical expertise—which I will simply say is required—I think it’s important to make a personal connection with the individuals who retain us to work on their behalf. Trust and good communication are essential. Only when trust is established can a healthy relationship be fostered, and everyone involved in the deal can put their minds at ease that we’re all working together toward the same goals. And good communication helps to make sure expectations are met.
Please tell us one thing that separates your practice from the competition.
I have worked extremely hard to become an expert in my field, but my ability to listen and truly understand the objectives of clients sets me apart.
For our readers just starting to build a company, what advice can you give?
First and foremost, find something you enjoy and work as hard as you can. Also, do not underestimate the value of retaining a professional accountant, as well as experienced legal counsel. For a new entrepreneur, these may seem like unnecessary expenses, but over time, a good accountant and a good lawyer will save money and help you to be successful in myriad ways. I’ve seen this happen over and over again.
In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
Although I keep up with the news the same way as most other people—through television and some trusted websites—I have also cultivated an extensive network of business professionals in various fields over the years that I find invaluable. So, while Reuters and the Wall Street Journal are excellent sources to stay current, sometimes having lunch with a well-placed colleague in an important industry can yield much more useful information.
What is your “Why”? In one sentence, why do you get up in the morning?
I am compelled to better myself, my legal practices, and our society.
In one sentence, what is the most important thing one has to do to be a great leader?
A clear vision backed by hard work.
In one sentence, describe a positive way that technology can make the world a better place?
We are able to work remotely and access information much quicker.
In one sentence, tell us something positive to motivate our readers?
The American spirit is indelible, and the American Dream is alive and thriving in 2022.
In one sentence, describe how you manage to keep a work life balance?
During normal times, I love to travel. I find it invigorating and rejuvenating. Obviously, I haven’t been able to do as much of it over the past few years, but things are starting to loosen up now, thankfully. In fact, I recently traveled to Colombia. That country is beautiful—endowed with natural splendors, and rich in culture. In the coming spring and summer, as we leave the COVID era in the rear view mirror, I look forward to taking trips to other lovely parts of the world.