Being able to run on just a few hours of sleep each day is a “blessing” for Ellen Bancroft, who carries many a title on her shoulders.
The head of Minneapolis-based Dorsey & Whitney LLP’s California corporate group also is mom to two children, general counsel to client companies, a lecturer on corporate governance, mentor to law school students and a Little League scorekeeper.
“I work a lot,” she said. “I stay up really late and work after the kids go to sleep. Technology has made it a lot easier to work, too.”
Bancroft was one of the five local businesswomen honored at the Business Journal’s 18th annual Women in Business awards luncheon June 5 at the Hyatt Regency Irvine (see related stories, pages 1, 6, 7, 9).
Her hard work as an attorney is reflected in a lengthy list of transactions, including more than 40 initial public offerings, more than 50 public and private acquisitions, and other private equity and venture capital investments.
“I’ve only done corporate law,” Bancroft said. “I always focused on capital transactions, corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions.”
Her focus remained unchanged over the past two decades, years that she said “went by so fast.”
Bancroft started at Costa Mesa-based Rutan & Tucker LLP in the early 1990s, when she moved to California from Missouri, expecting a short-term stay.
“It was going to be a temporary thing,” she said. “I agreed to 18 months.”
That never panned out.
“I’ve been out here for 22 years now,” she said. “I absolutely love OC. It’s such an open community, a great business climate, great schools. It’s been a lot of fun.”
She spent about five years at Rutan before going to the Irvine office of San Francisco-based Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP in 1995. She spent eight years there as a partner in the business and technology practice group before the firm filed for bankruptcy and shut down in 2003.
Bancroft had also served as the co-chairperson of Brobeck’s venture capital group during the last four years of her stint there, overseeing corporate and securities transactions, venture capital financing and other deals.
“I was there until the bitter end,” she said.
Bancroft and six other partners who had been at Brobeck joined Dorsey in February 2003. Dorsey at that time also got 11 ex-Brobeck associates, a boost that tripled the size of the firm’s Orange County office.