Practice Overview

Bill Thornton advises clients on international business transactions and related compliance matters. He helps clients expand businesses overseas, comply with United States laws and regulations, and helps foreign businesses enter the U.S. or expand U.S. operations. Bill started practicing law in 1978 as an intellectual property trial lawyer and has held in-house counsel positions with Land O’ Lakes, Inc. and DataCard Corporation. He has also served as director of international marketing – food products for Land O’ Lakes. This combination of business and legal experience gives him a unique perspective on clients’ needs and enables him to provide practical and focused business counsel. Bill is a frequent speaker at international and domestic meetings on export control, anti-bribery compliance and international arbitration.

Representative Experience


  • Advised franchisors in their analysis of foreign markets and foreign regulations and development of international franchise agreements.
  • Provided distribution and regulatory compliance counseling to United States manufacturers of medical devices in connection with their expansion into world markets.
  • Advised corporate clients in the creation and termination of distribution and sales representative agreements in multiple foreign venues.
  • Advised clients on General Data Protection Regulation compliance; these matters include updates to data privacy policies, appointment of data privacy officers and use of compliant information transfer registrations and agreements.

Bar Admissions

  • Minnesota, 1978
  • U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota


  • Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, MN, 1978 J.D.
  • Northeastern University, Boston, MA, 1973 B.S.
  • Law Review: Staff, 1977; Editor, 1978, Hamline Law Review


  • Best Lawyers in America® International Arbitration, 2010-present


  • American Bar Association
  • Minnesota State Bar Association