Plenty of lawyers move from private practice to in-house work—however, most haven’t invested thirty-five years at the same firm before making the jump. Lori Braender seems unfazed. “It was a natural progression,” she says.
In 2018, Braender left her position as a partner at law firm Day Pitney to act as the senior vice president and general counsel for Aquestive Therapeutics. There, she wears several hats. A member of the C-suite, she not only offers legal advice on complex issues, but works with her colleagues in developing the company vision, mission, and goals. Her commitment to the work cultivated a collaborative in-house environment focused on high performance and open lines of communication.
Though she’s spent her career in law, that wasn’t always her plan. “I had no intention of becoming a lawyer in high school or college,” Braender says. “But I explored all options for discussion and was always asking questions.”
Braender studied in France during college, where her university advisor encouraged her to think about law school. She ended up attending Seton Hall New Jersey Law School, where she served as editor on Law Review and graduated cum laude. Fresh out of school, she accepted an offer at Day Pitney.
“We’re working hard to build a healthier future for those communities and the people who depend on our medicines.”Lori Braender
“Coming from New Jersey, I developed relationships with local pharmaceutical companies and developed an expertise in the regulatory environment,” Braender says. “It was a wonderful experience. I was given a lot of initiative and freedom to develop my interests, passions, and relationships with clients.”
She developed a cohesive life science group, for which she brought on new attorneys and expanded services to support that client sector. She launched a women’s network. After becoming a partner in her tenth year, she opened an office in Brussels, growing the firm’s international presence in the life science hub of Europe.
At Day Pitney, Braender gained valuable experience, found her legal niche, and grew her client network. When Aquestive Therapeutics—a long-term client—approached her with an opportunity, she put that experience into practice building up a legal department from scratch.
“I represented Aquestive for many, many years, and was able to be part of their team as a trusted advisor,” Braender says. “I was engaged in a lot of their strategic initiatives and development of their mission and goals, so I really felt like I had a strong role with the company before I joined.”
In private practice, Braender represented several clients simultaneously; moving in-house for Aquestive required shifting her energy toward the success of a single client.
“Focusing the last phase of my professional career on developing a legacy for [one] company in helping them to build out the legal function was a wonderful challenge for me,” Braender says. “And it certainly had a lot to do with the team I was joining. The CEO and other senior executives were so passionate, committed, and dedicated to the mission and vision of the company that I embraced [the opportunity] wholeheartedly.”
Aquestive Therapeutics transforms medicines onto a produced film strip—administered under the tongue or on the side of the cheek—for patients requiring alternative delivery of existing treatments. ALS and epilepsy patients, for example, often become unable to swallow; Aquestive’s products aim to fill that gap in healthcare.
“When I am open, sincere, and able to show my passion for the success of our company, it engenders the same feelings from my team. That automatically creates a collaborative, inclusive environment.”Lori Braender
Braender serves as general counsel, chief compliance officer, and company secretary and sits on the senior executive team. This entails leading corporate communications, working closely with industrial relations groups, supports analysts’ outreaches, and managing the legal governance needs of the board of directors.
Leading Aquestive’s comprehensive ESG disclosure program, she ensures medical waste taken offsite complies with regulations and water systems do not contribute to environmental hazards. She also evaluates how diverse groups are represented companywide and plans to develop programs to expand these metrics.
“We’re working hard to build a healthier future for those communities and the people who depend on our medicines,” Braender says. “This is an initiative that the market is going to demand companies observe going forward.”
Braender also meets with her teams weekly to assess immediate and expected needs, set performance goals, and confront challenges.
“When I am open, sincere, and able to show my passion for the success of our company, it engenders the same feelings from my team. That automatically creates a collaborative, inclusive environment,” Braender says. “[Everyone has] a voice in whatever matters we’re working on, whatever the strategies we’re developing.”
For Lori Braender, it’s rewarding to work diligently toward a mission that ultimately improves the lives of countless patients. She requires the same energy from her team. “If you want to be successful and bring value to your company,” she says, “you’ve got to work hard, be dedicated, and support your colleagues in every way you can. I’m passionate about what I do.”