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
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.”•