Bonnie L. Michael, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC

Bonnie L. Michael, Shareholder, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC

For more than two decades, Bonnie Michael has been committed to excellence and moving the equipment finance industry forward through her activities in both the legal community and the industry more broadly. Her unique background in the equipment finance Industry includes litigation and bankruptcy experience early in her career, followed by 16 years of in-house experience. In her current role as shareholder in the specialty finance practice at the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, Michael counsels and represents clients in a broad array of transactional and regulatory issues. Throughout her career, Michael has been fortunate to be focused on finding solutions for clients in the equipment finance industry.

Beginning in 1999, Michael started representIng clients on equipment finance litigation and bankruptcy matters in state and federal courts in Chicago. She was then recruited to Navistar Financial for her first experience as in-house counsel, and in 2010, she became the general counsel at Volvo Financial Services USA. This gave Michael her first opportunity to directly lead and develop people, be part of an executive team and gain insights into what was important in the roles of each of her colleagues.

Michael has contributed significantly to the Equipment Leasing & Financing Foundation (ELFF) and the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, serving in multiple leadership roles, such as a member of the board of trustees for the ELFF, vice chair of the ELFF board, member of the national development and nominating committees for the ELFF board and member of the editorial review board for the Journal of Equipment Lease Financing. Michael continues to serve on the editorial review board today. In addition, in 2021, Michael received the ELFA’s Edward A. Groobert Award for Legal Excellence.

“Ever since I met Bonnie at an ELFA legal forum over a decade ago, she has always been an incredibly active and gracious volunteer of her time and expertise to her legal and business colleagues across the industry. Her willingness to give of her time and intellect, combined with her warm and engaging personality, have enabled her to have a very positive impact on many issues important to our industry,” Mark Kohler, shareholder of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, says. “Bonnie has become a critical team member of Baker Donelson’s specialty finance practice group, and our growing client base has relied on her for her deep domain expertise regarding titled vehicle leasing and financing, floorplan financing and the new financial disclosure laws and their complex compliance requirements. Her experience as a general counsel for a captive finance company also provides a background that is unique to an outside law practice like ours and provides our clients with a novel and impactful viewpoint.”

As a leader, Michael encourages other women in the industry to “pursue every opportunity that you can to gain industry knowledge and develop your network of trusted advisors.” She recommends surrounding yourself with people that build you up both professionally and personally and who inspire you to want to grow and be the best.

“Pursue every opportunity that you can to gain industry knowledge and develop your network of trusted advisors. Surround yourself with others, both professionally and personally, who build you up and make you want to grow and be the best in everything that you do — this includes who you chose as a life partner.”

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