Steve Hilfinger is a partner and senior business counselor with Foley & Lardner LLP. Steve focuses on representing private companies, including on mergers and acquisitions (M&A), finance transactions, corporate counseling, and government affairs matters. He has represented automotive suppliers and other manufacturers for more than 30 years, helping found the Firm’s Detroit Office, its Automotive Industry Team and its Manufacturing Industry Team, which he currently chairs.
Steve has closed more than 200 M&A transactions in his career, in a variety of industries including automotive, manufacturing, business services, advanced technology, and other sectors. He is Chambers rated in the M&A field, and rated Preeminent/AV by Martindale Hubbell for his M&A work. Steve represents private equity firms, private and publicly held corporations, closely held/family businesses and family offices in a variety of M&A, joint venture, and other investment matters. He has extensive restructuring experience, including in “distressed M&A” and guiding two debtors through Chapter 11 plan confirmation.
Steve represents borrowers and lenders in a variety of corporate finance transactions. He began his career doing work for a large global bank, and went on to work extensively for a large complex of mezzanine loan funds and a complex of venture capital funds, focusing primarily on private transactions. When he served as chief regulatory officer for the State of Michigan, he oversaw all of the state-chartered banks in Michigan and implemented a number of regulatory reforms to enable banking and insurance businesses to operate more competitively in Michigan.
Steve serves as outside General Counsel to a number of companies, including both privately held and non-profit concerns. This work includes counseling on business formation and corporate governance, general corporate and commercial contract counseling, and a variety of other corporate legal matters.
Steve assists many clients with government and public affairs matters in Michigan, as a registered lobbyist in Michigan and member of the firm’s Government Solutions team, which assists clients with a variety of administrative and legislative matters in Michigan, including Lansing and Detroit. Steve served as chief regulatory officer for the State of Michigan and chief operating officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) under Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. As chief regulatory officer, he served as director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) and its Office of Regulatory Reinvention (ORR). In his role as director of LARA, Steve was responsible for the supervision of banks, insurance companies, utilities and certain health care companies, and a number of regulatory functions, including the oversight of corporations, securities, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, occupational safety and health, and a number of licensing functions. In addition, he led the ORR, which was responsible for repealing more than 2,000 administrative rules and implementing more than 125 recommendations to streamline Michigan’s regulatory environment. As chief operating officer of the MEDC, his team helped facilitate the creation of more than 52,000 direct jobs and leveraged private investments totaling $9.2 billion, substantially exceeding targets. Steve led MEDC delegations to both China and Mexico during his tenure, and to several U.S. cities as well.
Steve co-founded the Automotive Industry team at Foley, focused on representing automotive suppliers and technology companies with their full range of legal needs. In that role, he has handled corporate, mergers and acquisitions, and finance mandates for a number of automotive suppliers. Steve has served as legal counsel to a number of strategy councils of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA). Currently, he co-chairs the Advocacy Committee of MichAuto, a statewide organization focused on growing the automotive and mobility industries in Michigan, and driving automotive and mobility policy in Michigan.
Steve is co-chair of the firm’s Manufacturing Industry Team, chair of the Detroit office Business Law Department, and Detroit office captain of the Transactions Practice Group, where he helps direct a team of more than a dozen M&A professionals. He helped found Foley’s Detroit office in 2000, and its Automotive Industry Team in 2002, which he co-chaired for several years. Steve also served two terms as managing partner of the Detroit office, from 2002-2006 and 2009-2011.
Affiliations and Board Memberships
Steve served or has served on the boards of directors of the:
Steve has lectured as an instructor for the American Counsel of Corporate Attorneys (on corporate, M&A, economic development, and government affairs topics), the National Directors Institute (on “The Board’s Role in M&A” and on “The Board’s Role in Talent Development and Site Selection”), and the Wayne State University Commercial Law Clinic, a course that he helped co-found. Steve has also taught courses for the Michigan Institute of Continuing Legal Education including “Drafting Asset Purchase Agreements and Related Documents” and “Formation and Initial Operation of Business Enterprises-Financing Issues.” He has participated in numerous programs focused on connected and autonomous vehicle technologies in Detroit, Palo Alto, Boston, New York, and London, including co-chairing the Thomson Reuters “Concordant Crossroads” program in New York in October 2018 and presenting an update on U.S. autonomous and electric vehicle legal developments at the Financial Times' "Future of the Car Summit" in May 2019.
Admissions and Professional Memberships