Lee Conner is a Partner in the firm’s Commercial Lending Practice Group. He focuses his practice on representing financial institutions, as well as borrowers, in debt financings and other commercial and corporate matters. Lee advises his clients on all aspects of deal structure, negotiation, and documentation, including intercreditor relationships and warrants.
Lee’s 20+ years of legal experience are highlighted by almost 11 years as an in-house counsel, including nearly 9 years at Square 1 Bank, one of the nation’s leading venture lenders. While at Square 1, Lee founded the bank’s in-house loan documentation department and represented the bank on a wide variety of other commercial and corporate matters, including commercial leases, complex IT contracts, human resources, trademark portfolio management, compliance risk mitigation, and corporate governance. Between his time at Square 1 and when he joined VLP, Lee was General Counsel / Director of Human Resources for Chandler Concrete, a leading construction materials company with over 430 employees and 40 plants in NC, VA, and TN. As Chandler’s General Counsel, Lee oversaw all legal matters for the company and was a key member of executive management. Combined with his MBA training, Lee’s in-house experience helped him develop keen business instincts, empathy for the pressures faced by operational decision makers, and a knack for shaping legal protections to help businesses achieve their performance goals.
Before going in-house, Lee was an attorney with the Vernon law firm in Burlington, NC. His practice at Vernon focused on commercial, corporate, and employment matters for publicly-traded and privately-held companies.
Prior to beginning his legal career, Lee was an investment banking analyst for Credit Suisse First Boston in New York City, where he worked on mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, debt offerings, and other financing matters, and Senior Development Analyst for Interstate Hotels & Resorts.
Lee earned both his Juris Doctor and MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also received a BA with Honors in Economics.
After watching both ‘National Treasure’ movies and taking a trip to Washington, DC a couple years ago, our kids have recently become more interested in American history. Last year, we took a family road trip, stopping at Monticello, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum at Dulles airport, Gettysburg, Hershey, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Mount Vernon. Upon hearing the vacation route, our youngest son promptly responded, “Dad, that’s not a vacation. That’s a FIELD TRIP!” Thus the Conner Family Field Trip (including matching t-shirts) was born, guiding us through real American history while also following the footsteps of Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nic Cage’s character form ‘National Treasure’) to four movie locations, including the Library of Congress. We did not, however, get to check out a presidential Book of Secrets.
- J.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2002
- M.B.A., University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, 2002
- B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1997, with honors
Honors & Awards
- Morehead-Cain Scholar – full merit scholarship to UNC-Chapel Hill
- Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholar
- Order of the Golden Fleece – UNC’s oldest and highest honorary society
- Pi Sigma Alpha – national political science honor society
- Alpha Epsilon Lambda – President, national honor society for academic and leadership accomplishments by graduate and professional school students
- Frank Porter Graham Graduate & Professional Honor Society – President, UNC honor society for outstanding service by graduate and professional students
- NC Governor’s School Foundation – President / Member, Board of Directors, 2014-present
- Golden Fleece Foundation – Member, Board of Directors, 2011-present
- Local Youth Rec Sports – Head Coach (soccer, basketball, baseball, softball), 2012 – present
- UNC General Alumni Association – Member, Board of Directors, 2021 – present