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July 1, 2024

We are NM: Sarah Bunce

Sarah Bunce is part of the litigation group in Cleveland. She concentrates her practice on products liability and complex business litigation and has trial experience representing clients in both state and federal court. A member of the High Potentials Program class of 2024, Sarah received her JD from University of Minnesota School of Law and has been a practicing attorney for more than 15 years.

What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

I started my career as a business and IT consultant and then moved to a role in IT project management. For me, the draw of this work was the client service – these roles allowed me to get to know my clients, understand their business and objectives, and build a relationship of trust to solve their problems. But after six years, I realized I had morphed into a role that had taken me away from the work I had enjoyed most – connecting with clients and addressing their issues. I viewed a career in law as a pivot that would allow me to get back to my love of working closely with clients, building trusting relationships, and solving their problems.

Why did you select your practice area?

As a summer associate, I didn’t know whether I wanted to be a corporate lawyer or a litigator. A partner I worked for that summer gave me this quick “test” that made the decision clear for me. He asked me to think about what type of problem solver I was: did I like to solve the problems that people brought to me or did I like to identify possible problems/issues and then work to avoid them. He said the former was a litigator and the latter was a corporate lawyer. Whether this is true for everyone, I’m not sure, but it put me on the right path as a litigator. Since making that decision, I’ve been involved in a variety of litigation ranging from products liability to antitrust to intellectual property to complex commercial disputes.

What qualities do you admire most about your peers in the legal profession?

I have the most respect for colleagues who act with integrity, are accountable for and take ownership of their actions, and treat others with respect and kindness. And I love working with colleagues who foster collaboration and think creatively and strategically on how to approach and solve problems.

Are there any mentors or role models who have significantly influenced your career?

For my first job out of law school, I was fortunate to clerk for the Honorable Richard E. Dorr in the Western District of Missouri. He remains the most influential mentor of my legal career. “Judge” (as we always referred to him) embraced his role as teacher and mentor for his clerks, sharing his insights during trials and hearings on the performance of the lawyers, arguments made, and how he might approach an issue. He also gave us a voice – his office was a space for us to have an open dialogue on motions and issues. His guidance and support instilled in me a confidence in my skills as a lawyer.

What do you believe sets the High Potentials Program apart in terms of professional development?

Other professional development programs that I have been a part of have taken more of a “one size fits all” approach to what it means to be a leader and how to take the next steps in your career. The HPP differentiates itself by taking an individualized approach. Recognizing that we all have different career aspirations and goals, as well as different strengths and styles, the HPP provides us with insights and support that is more tailored to our individual objectives.

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