Nancy Sanborn ’91

Strong Foundation

Summer 2009

Eight years out of college, Nancy L. Sanborn ’91 had built a solid career as a banker with J.P. Morgan and had risen to vice president of the bank’s special loan department. Sanborn was competent and capable—but she harbored an intellectual curiosity that a career in banking wouldn’t satisfy.

Sanborn had worked with lawyers in multiple bankruptcy dealings at J.P. Morgan and had grown to admire their in-depth knowledge of the intricate legal structures at play. She aspired to that level of expertise—and therefore got to thinking about law school.

“I went to law school to learn more about the law, in particular bankruptcy,” Sanborn recalls. “I wanted to be a bankruptcy lawyer.”

When she graduated from Columbia Law School, Sanborn joined Davis Polk & Wardwell, where she is now a partner. She came to the firm as a bankruptcy lawyer, but eventually transitioned into mergers and acquisitions and private equity work, orchestrating deals for mega-corporations such as Kraft and Merck & Co.

Despite a shaky economy, Sanborn says that private equity funds are still acquiring middle market companies, which has provided her with a number of M&A deals to negotiate. In addition, she has ventured back into the field of bankruptcy. Most recently, she helped BearingPoint through a Chapter 11 filing that resulted in the sale of the marketing and technology consulting firm’s various businesses.

When the financial markets begin to recover, Sanborn’s versatility will allow her to take on the work that economic stability brings.

“I’m still learning,” Sanborn says, “and I don’t know if that will ever end.”