2012 Forty Under 40: Daniel M. Lechleiter

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Daniel M. Lechleiter
Where were you, and what were you doing in 1991?
In Indianapolis trading baseball cards and remodeling my backyard fort.

When you graduated from high school, what did you think you wanted to be as an adult?
An engineer or an architect.

Was there an event in the last 20 years that had a great impact on your aspirations and/or career path?
As a junior in college working at an engineering co-op, seeing the engineers fear being commoditized and outsourced.

Have you been mentored by (or had any significant interactions with) previous Forty Under 40 honorees?
I know or have met at least 50 honorees. What I admire about all of these individuals is their selflessness in supporting the community, despite the demands of personal obligations and busy work schedules.

Where/what do you want to be 20 years from now?
Practicing patent litigation. Maybe running a business.


Associate, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
Age: 32

From the time he started building things with Legos, Daniel Lechleiter expected to become an engineer. But at the University of Dayton, he glimpsed the future of engineering and didn’t see himself in it. So when someone suggested patent law, “that really switched on a light and I ran with that.”

Today, as an associate with Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, he focuses on litigation and counseling clients on patent matters.

“I still draw on a lot of my engineering background, but it’s a fundamentally different thing than if I had remained an engineer,” he said. “It is more gratifying. We’re external members of a lot of clients’ internal business teams. As an engineer, you didn’t always feel that way. You felt like you were just a cog in a wheel—in kind of a pun-intended sense.”

When’s he’s not working, Lechleiter serves as a member of the Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory High School board, which allows him an opportunity to give back to the school that “had such a big part in shaping me in the path that I took.” He’s also active with the Penrod Society—“I’ve made a lot of friends and I really enjoy planning the arts fair every year”—and United Way. He credits his parents—John, the CEO of Eli Lilly and Co.; and his mother, Sarah—with showing him how the United Way benefits the community.

Lechleiter describes himself as having a diverse array of interests, both inside and outside the office, including collecting posters from World War I and II.

“I’d really like to continue developing my skills in this line of work,” he said. “I want to be able to help our clients run their businesses, and to me an extension of that could be working with a client on a more dedicated basis, whether it be in-house or just having a more significant role with particular clients.”•


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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.