Stephanie Chandler knows the value of hard work.
The daughter of a single mom, Stephanie got her first job at age 11, juggled three jobs in high school, and worked her way through college, earning a finance degree with highest distinction from the University of Nebraska, before attending law school at the University of Virginia.
Today, she brings that same deep-seated work ethic to representing her clients, rolling up her sleeves and working alongside them to help achieve their business goals.
“One of the things that drew me to Jackson Walker was the way we partner with clients in terms of helping them build their businesses, which allows us to develop longstanding relationships,” Stephanie said. “It was the perfect fit for the kind of practice I wanted to have.”
Stephanie knew early on that she wanted to pursue corporate law and was pleased to find that the University of Virginia had a Law & Business program – one of the first of its kind – that enabled her to take MBA-level accounting and finance classes in law school. That business training allowed her to hit the ground running when she started as an associate at Jackson Walker during the height of the tech boom, practicing first in Dallas and then in San Antonio.
“I was able to get involved early on with some of the major success stories in San Antonio and see them through their entire growth cycle,” she said.
“I think clients appreciate it when you are able to be a mentor and provide strategic advice. It enables you to become a key part of the management team, so that you are helping brainstorm not just the legal issues but the business issues as well.”
– Stephanie Chandler
One of those early successes was Rackspace, an IT hosting company that began in its founders’ dorm room at Trinity University and has since grown into an NYSE-listed company with a market capitalization of $6.69 billion and more than 200,000 business customers in 120 countries. Stephanie was part of a team that structured the initial outside investments by the local investor community in the fledgling company and continued to represent the outside investors as the company grew. She continues to work with Geekdom, an initiative started by Rackspace’s founder to spur the next generation of cloud-based technology companies, having represented portfolio companies, the parallel investment fund in its investments in portfolio companies, and investors in the fund. Another was Dixie Iron Works, a small, privately held oilfield services company based in Alice, Texas. When the company’s founder was ready to retire and exit the company, Stephanie helped develop a creative strategy to transfer ownership of the company to its president. Since then, Dixie Iron Works has grown into a multimillion-dollar company that conducts business worldwide with Stephanie continuing to serve as its outside general counsel.
As these examples attest, Stephanie excels at working with clients from the ground floor up, taking the time to get to know their businesses and developing creative solutions to help them achieve their objectives.
“I think clients appreciate it when you are able to be a mentor and provide strategic advice,” she said. “It enables you to become a key part of the management team, so that you are helping brainstorm not just the legal issues but the business issues as well.”
Working in San Antonio during the tech boom, and now during the burgeoning Eagle Ford Shale play, Stephanie’s practice bridges the city’s old and new economies. Although the industry may differ, Stephanie sees striking similarities in the needs of her technology and energy clients, which her experience working in both industries has well equipped her to address.
“The common theme is that these are companies that are growing, often on a very accelerated basis, and are going through significant transition as they evolve into larger organizations,” she said. “In both industries, there’s a need for access to capital and for ways of structuring that access, and they are often looking for creative growth opportunities – either vertical or horizontal. Additionally, timing is everything, and the ability to get to a closing quickly and efficiently can mean success or failure for the company. These are the types of transactions that have kept my practice vibrant and fast-paced over the years.”
Stephanie Chandler represented CST Brands in its spinoff from Valero and accompanied her client to the NYSE opening bell ceremony.
Stephanie has seen her client base evolve over time as well. Although she still loves working with small startup companies and family-owned businesses, many of her clients are now large, publicly-traded companies engaged in multimillion-dollar transactions. In the past year, she has represented NuStar Energy L.P. in a $115 million refinery sale; and CST Brands, Inc. in its spinoff from Valero Energy Corp. in a deal that created the second-largest publicly traded fuel and convenience merchandise retailer in North America, to name just a few of her recent deals.
No matter how large or small the transaction, Stephanie invests the same time and energy into forging close relationships with clients and finding ways to help their businesses thrive or achieve their goals.
“You need to have the capacity to listen and not get lost in the noise but instead to focus on understanding the client’s key business goals and the long-term ramifications of those,” she said. “What needs to drive every decision are the client’s business objectives; after that, it’s a matter of being able to provide sound legal guidance to help them meet those goals and overcome any obstacles they face.”