“It really is all about the clients, not me,” he says. “I try to do my best for them and get them where they need to go. What do they need to accomplish and how am I going to help them make that happen? I’m a facilitator and that means for the most part, I’m in the background running the show and making it all work, but my ego is left at the door. There’s no place for that.
“Occasionally you must step up and take a stand,” he continues, “but you’re doing it for your client not to interject your personality. My job is to almost invisibly guide the process while making sure my clients cover their risks and issues. Ultimately, it’s their deal, I’m just there to make sure they are protected and everything runs as smoothly as possible.”
This is not false modesty nor spurious self-effacement. Actually, Gardiner doesn’t hesitate to step into the spotlight or make demands when it’s in the best interest of the client. It’s only his ego that remains on the sidelines. He believes his name and face are secondary to helping his clients achieve their business goals.
For nearly 20 years, Gardiner has been a trusted adviser to his clients in a full range of transactional matters. His mergers and acquisitions experience includes counseling buyers or sellers in financial or strategic transactions involving private or public companies in a wide variety of industries. Gardiner also advises companies and investors in venture capital and other private equity financings, debt financings, registered public equity financings, PIPEs, recapitalizations, restructurings and strategic partnering transactions. In just the last decade, he has assisted clients in more than 100 mergers and acquisitions, financings, or similar transactions.
Clients value Gardiner’s counsel on corporate governance, securities regulation, executive compensation and other compliance and commercial issues. Just as importantly, they appreciate and respect his professional demeanor, knowing that his motivations are sincere and singularly focused on their best interests. These clients range from startups and other emerging private companies to established public corporations. Gardiner also represents boards of directors, institutional and individual investors and lenders, entrepreneurs, and investment banks.
Despite his reticence over self-promotion, Gardiner’s exemplary work has not gone unnoticed. His numerous honors include being selected as one of America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, awarded by Chambers USA, for 10 consecutive years. He’s also been included in The Best Lawyers in America listing for the past six years, and in the Legal Elite compiled by Utah Business Magazine every year since 2006.
“The highest honor I can receive is the trust and confidence of my clients and knowing I’ve done my very best on their behalf,” says Gardiner. “There’s a real satisfaction that comes from helping people successfully complete difficult transactions. It’s so rewarding to play an important role in helping people navigate their way through whatever maze a deal may present and to do so in a manner that works for both sides.”
Interestingly, law was not Gardiner’s initial career goal. Born and raised in Davis County, he attended the University of Utah and later, Brigham Young University graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy.
“I can’t say that I had some great master plan or aspirations of going in to law at a young age,” he says with candor. “I studied philosophy and was actually pre-med, but realized I just wasn’t that interested in science. However, philosophy, logic and writing I found intellectually stimulating and subjects in which I excelled. So, at some point I said, ‘Wait a minute, how can I use these skills that I enjoy and am really better at?’ The obvious answer was law. And, as it turns out my philosophy major was excellent pre-law training.”
Continuing his education at the BYU, Gardiner graduated cum laude from the J. Reuben Clark Law School. Once again, an honest self-appraisal of skills and preferences, led him to the area of law where today he holds such a preeminent spot.
“I knew fairly soon in law school that the traditional model of becoming a lawyer that files briefs, goes to court and all that, was not me,” he says. “On the other hand, everything about the work of a transactional lawyer fascinated me because instead of resolving disputes, they help clients join with other parties to accomplish challenging business objectives by working through their disparate needs and priorities.”
After meeting in high school, Gardiner began dating his wife, Amy, in college. They both knew it was meant to be. Now, 26 years and five children (ranging in age from 10 to 23) later it looks like they were right.
Admittedly, Gardiner does not have a lot of “down” time, between his busy practice and active home life, but says when he gets the chance he loves hiking, running and skiing. As we concluded this interview he was dashing off to his youngest daughter’s dance recital.
“I’m a very lucky man,” he says. “I have a practice and clients who keep me challenged and passionate about my work, and a wonderful family to come home to every night.”