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2020 In-House Counsel Awards: Peter Wimmer

Private company with more than $500 million in annual revenue

Executive Vice President and General Counsel, First Bank

Peter WimmerSixteen years ago, Peter Wimmer received the offer he couldn’t refuse. He was a partner at the firm now known as Stinson in the financial institutions group, handling mergers, acquisitions and securities.

Then came the unexpected offer from First Bank. Today, Wimmer serves in what he describes as a trusted advisor role for First Bank, leading a team in handling litigation, contract negotiations and capital transactions.

“This opportunity was the perfect fit for me,” he said. “In-house, you are close to the business and form relationships within the business. You don’t understand this until you move from outside to inside.”

One of his favorite responsibilities, he said, is as a general advisor and sounding board for a variety of business owners, as well as the bank’s senior leaders, board of directors and shareholders.

“In our world, we’re heavily regulated,” he said. “Anytime someone has a business idea, their second idea is, ‘Can we really do that?’

From his undergraduate days at Villanova University through law school at Saint Louis University, Wimmer always focused on the corporate side, he said. As a new attorney, he found that he enjoyed the challenges of acquisitions. The in-house track at First Bank aligns well with his interests and professional experience.

In 2019, Wimmer completed a capital transaction that he points to as the most challenging and rewarding case of his career. During the span of several years, he helped with the recapitalization of a company.

“This case took a lot of patience and a lot of strong leadership from our corporate team,” he said. “Seeing this come to fruition after thousands of iterations of a plan and finally being able to execute was very rewarding for me.”

For Wimmer, one of the most difficult aspects of being a lawyer is not always knowing if your advice works out for people.

“I look back on those moments when I’m proven right relatively quickly,” he said. “Those are the ones I remember. Getting to see a strategy play out and work and reaching a favorable conclusion is rare for me.”

He recalled a mediation in which those on the other side weren’t going to give in. Then, he gave them the one piece of information that provided their “a-ha” moment. They immediately made an offer, and the deal was done moments later.

When the COVID-19 pandemic took center stage in the United States, Wimmer was handling some significant litigation matters. He said he was able to get those resolved, which was a key win for First Bank.

“We don’t know how long the pandemic is going to last and how deep the recession is going to be,” he said. “We are dealing with laws as they are changing, which is both challenging and rewarding.”

Leisure time is at its best for Wimmer when he is with his wife and two children. Dinner out in a restaurant with no distractions and great conversation is what he looks forward to most. He and a group of friends also enjoy cycling together. During the pandemic, he started running and recently completed his first 5K race.

Wimmer said he still values the best career advice he has ever received.

“Every communication you make is an opportunity to prove yourself and your position,” he said. “Always be professional. Always take the high road — in every communication.”