April Lindauer got an early introduction to the life of an attorney. As teenagers, she and her four siblings took turns working in their father’s law office.
“I knew from a young age that it was something I wanted to do, inspired by the many summers working in his firm,” she recounts.
Today, she serves as deputy general counsel for Carta, an eight-year-old tech company based in Palo Alto, California, that specializes in equity management for companies and investors.
Her road to Carta began with an internship. While attending law school at DePaul University College of Law, Lindauer worked for the Chicago office of the National Association of Securities Dealers (now the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), where she learned about brokerage and financial services law.
“Starting with that job at FINRA is really what led me into working in financial services law for almost twenty years,” she explains. “What I like about it is the fintechs of today, like Carta, are really trying to solve complex problems, but we’re still dealing with more of an archaic set of rules and regulations. There’s been some modernization over time, but these are laws that were passed after the Great Depression, so working in that context is like a big problem-solving puzzle every day.”
Coming up with creative initiatives to solve those problems—as innovations come around that don’t necessarily fit into the way the financial markets have worked in the past—keeps the job fresh for her.
At Carta, Lindauer manages all the company’s day-to-day legal work and supervises a team of attorneys and paralegals. A typical day can include everything from working on complex contracts to managing an employment issue to interacting with senior management of different business units.
“We touch every area of the business,” she says. “The team I supervise is very diverse, and everyone comes with a different background and experience. We’re all expected to jump in. For example, currently, most of my team is at an internal sales conference, so I picked up some of the matters they are working on.”
“I really want to know their ideas. I tend to need a lot of data to make a decision, so that leads to a style of asking questions and collaborating with everyone on the team.”
When hiring, she notes, “We look for those who have experience in specialized areas. As we grow, we’re looking at where we have some knowledge gaps or experience gaps on the team. We’re at a place where it doesn’t make sense to rely on our outside counsel as much and [instead] bring someone on who can fill that gap.”
She also looks for someone who is intellectually curious, flexible, and willing to roll up their sleeves and be helpful in any aspect of the job.
Though the team is geographically dispersed, with Lindauer working in the New York City office and others at the California headquarters and elsewhere around the country, she feels Carta’s tech tools allow everyone to be a stabilized unit. She hopes to preserve the stability of that unit as both the company and the legal team expand.
When Lindauer joined Carta in April of 2018, the company employed fewer than three hundred people. Today, Carta is poised to hit a thousand and continues to grow, with plans to expand into new products in 2020.
“Our company mission is to create more owners, and our CEO, Henry Ward, has grown the business by looking at the needs of our clients and building upon what we’ve already built to manage the services they need and manage their equity,” Lindauer says. “I’ve never worked at a company that has grown this quickly. It’s been a pretty cool ride.”
They key to good leadership in the midst of such rapid growth, she explains, is to be collaborative and to listen to what other people think.
“I really want to know their ideas. I tend to need a lot of data to make a decision, so that leads to a style of asking questions and collaborating with everyone on the team,” Lindauer shares. “For example, I have an attorney who has a strong background in intellectual property, so if those questions fall on my desk, I collaborate with her.”
“I’ve never worked at a company that has grown this quickly. It’s been a pretty cool ride.”
Lindauer also considers mentoring a big part of what she does and one of her major responsibilities as a manager.
“This morning, I spoke with one of my direct reports, and we were discussing an approach to a problem. I look at that as not just a function of me being a manager, but also trying to mentor them and help them grow in their practice internally,” she explains. “It’s not really directing but helping the attorney think through the different options available and what would be the next steps.”
Carta has also recently brought on some legal interns, and Lindauer has enjoyed working with law students as they start their careers, remembering fondly the opportunities she had almost twenty years ago in a similar role.
Looking ahead professionally, Lindauer would like to become a general counsel.
“The work I’m doing here has definitely helped me grow, and I’ve learned so much,” she says. “I really like building out, managing, and mentoring teams, so that seems like the logical next step for me.”
“Our experience working with April has been nothing but positive. She is professional, hard-working, and very dedicated to the important mission that drives Carta’s business.”
–Daniel R. Guadalupe, litigation practice cochair and lead outside counsel for Carta
“April draws upon her extensive in-house experiences to provide proactive legal and practical advice to move projects forward and to enhance corporate compliance. She develops terrific teams and, simply put, adds value to her clients.”
–Jonathan L. Pompan, Partner and Cochair, Consumer Financial Services Practice Group