Message from the Chair
Thank you to all of the membership for your enthusiastic engagement over the past couple of quarters. When we see such passion, it lets us know that we are doing our jobs. For those attending the Annual Meeting, please join us on Tuesday, October 23rd at 12:45 for the Real Estate Network Luncheon. Not only is this a chance to network and reconnect, but it is also a chance to volunteer your time for one of our leadership positions. Further, it is an opportunity to help leadership identify programming which would be helpful to you in your practice.
To recap the last few months of programming: in June, Simone Marean from Girls Leadership spoke at length about building resilience and leadership skills in girls from a young age. The program was so well received that we expect to bring Simone back next year to hear about the then current state of affairs in her thought leadership.
July brought us Marci Wilf, Executive Coach at Kelliher Associates to discuss executive presence and developing the skills necessary to be a leader within your organization. Not only was the presentation well executed, but Marci donated six, half hour sessions to six lucky members. Thank you Marci for your generosity!
In August, Mike Bedke and Vinny Sanchez presented on the nuts and bolts of Data Center Leasing. They did a great job of providing practical tips for in-house counsel to make an immediate impact on their transactions. We received a lot of great questions from members both during and after the presentation.
On September 21st we will host a Leasing Presentation with Jane Smith at Norton Rose Fulbright. Please reach out and let me know in advance if there are certain hot topics which you would like Jane to address.
Our programming is only as strong as our membership so I encourage you to reach out to me with ideas for future topics and I encourage you to get involved as a leader on our team!
Darryl Austin, Chair Real Estate Network – email@example.com
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Legal Quick Hits
Upcoming Legal Quick Hits:
Hot Topics in Commercial Leasing
Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 3pm EST (7pm GMT)
Negotiating Construction Contracts
Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 3pm EST (7pm GMT)
Employment Law Update - Year End Review
Thursday, December 20, 2018 at 3pm EST (7pm GMT)
Archived Legal Quick Hits:
Negotiating Data Center Deals: Key Issues for In-house Counsel
Presented: August 16, 2018
Executive Coaching Series: Hot Topics in Leadership and Career Advancement
Presented: July 19, 2018
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Scott A. Young, Managing Counsel, Toyota Motor North America
Why did you become a lawyer? Could you tell us a little bit about your professional history?
My third grade teacher gave me an assignment to draw a picture of what I wanted to be when I grew up. Since I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, I drew a circle with two wavy lines and told her it was a judge wearing a robe. She replied that I would have to first become a lawyer, so I decided at that moment that I would go into the legal profession. I attended law school at the University of Texas (hook ‘em!) and started practicing real estate in Dallas. I enjoyed practicing at Fulbright & Jaworski, but felt a desire to get closer to the businesses I was serving and be in a position to mix more business advice in with my legal advice. I joined the legal department at TGI Fridays in 2011 and gained a lot of experience, both in terms of the breadth of the type of work I handled as well as the art of practicing in-house. I joined Toyota’s legal department about 15 months ago in connection with the relocation of Toyota’s headquarters to Plano (a Dallas suburb). Although my background is in real estate, I handle a wide variety of transaction matters for the company.
You indicated that Toyota recently moved its headquarters to a Dallas suburb. Could you please tell us a bit about the real estate projects you worked on relating to this move (e.g., acquisition, disposition, leasing work)?
Toyota’s move to Dallas left vacant headquarters in Torrance, California and Erlanger, Kentucky, and I had the pleasure of working on both of those dispositions. The Torrance property was very desirable real estate – a 120-acre campus located less than 10 miles from LAX and even closer to the beach. The transaction presented several unique complexities, including carving out a portion in the middle of the campus to be retained by Toyota. After the bid process was complete and a buyer selected, the biggest thrill was getting the entire transaction closed in the amount of time it normally takes just to pull a title report. The disposition of the Erlanger property entailed the donation of a large lab property to the local school district for use as a STEAM academy followed by a traditional sale of headquarters building. Both dispositions presented wonderful opportunities to coordinate with people across many areas of the company.
Have you worked on any other recent real estate related projects that you think would be of interest to our members? If so, could you please describe the projects?
Toyota and Mazda recently announced a joint venture to develop a new $1.6 billion auto assembly plant in Alabama, resulting in the creation of up to 4,000 new jobs and the capacity to produce 300,000 Toyota Corollas and new Mazda crossover vehicles each year starting in 2021. It’s a development project unlike any other I’ve ever worked on before, and I’ve really appreciated the many learning opportunities along the way. I’ve also enjoyed getting to work on the development of Toyota’s new plant in Mexico and a land disposition in Canada.
What is the biggest challenge in your role that you faced in 2018? What is the biggest challenge you expect to face in 2019?
I’m still new to the company, so my biggest challenge in 2018 has been getting to know clients and stakeholders across a very large organization, an organization going through a lot of changes as two headquarters were combined into one.
What are your hobbies or other activities you pursue in your free time?
I have an amazing wife and six awesome kiddos with whom I’m excited to go hang out each day after work. Church is a big part of our lives, and we spend time trying to become a little better each day. I’m also active in my local ACC chapter and thoroughly enjoy getting to know and work with people from around the metroplex.
Did you switch your allegiances to any Texas teams as a result of your move to Texas?
There’s a saying in Texas that goes something like this: “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could.” I’ve been in Texas for nearly 20 years and have adopted the Mavericks, Rangers, Stars, and FC Dallas as my teams. The whole family wears our jerseys each time we go to a game. There is one notable exception, though. Don’t tell anyone around here, but I grew up a Redskins fan and have never been able to convert to the local football team (although I do enjoy attending games from time to time).
What is your favorite (business or non-business related) podcast?
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Ready, Set, Grow! Tips for Expanding Your Real Estate Practice Niche
By Roberta Kass - JD/MBA - Senior Legal Search Consultant at SeltzerFontaine (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You’ve been a real estate attorney your entire career, but now you’re bored. Or maybe you’re concerned about the impact of new regulatory changes, or the possibility of an economic downturn. Perhaps you want to apply for higher level positions but lack part of the requisite skill set.
Sound familiar? There are many motivations, but the question is the same: How do I pivot from my current real estate practice niche? Expanding your practice is doable but it takes planning and work to make it happen.
What change do you want to make?
If you’re contemplating a practice change—either by choice or necessity—the first step is an honest self-examination. Here are some questions to ask. The answers will shape your action plan.
Is it boredom/repetition? One person’s passion is another person’s dread. What do you like most about your day-to-day work? What aspects of your practice would you like to avoid? Drafting? Negotiating?
Expert tip: Confide in a mentor or another person who knows you well. They might identify strengths you don’t see in yourself. Where do they see opportunities for professional growth that resonate with your goals?
Do you like real estate but not your industry? Sometimes doing the same function in an industry you’re passionate about is all it takes to reinvigorate your enthusiasm: maybe you would rather be involved in building hospital clinics, or restaurants and hotels, or commercial office buildings, or acquiring land for alternative energy projects?
Once you have an honest understanding of your motivation and what you like to do more of, and what you would like to do less of, you can start investigating how to get it.
How do you make the change?
Explore the realities of a new practice area. Learn about the new practice areas or industries you’ve identified.
Informational interviews. Informational interviews are a wonderful tool, when you are properly prepared. There are many articles about them and the proper protocol to use. Talk to people in the practice areas or industries that interest you. Remember to keep the people you meet with apprised of your progress.
Find a mentor in your targeted practice area. This goes beyond the scope of an informational interview. Can you shadow them to get a taste of a typical day? They can give you practice pointers and introductions, ultimately increasing your network for job openings.
Stay with your current company. Your best option is to expand your practice without changing jobs, especially if you’re well respected and like your current company.
Expert tip: A great time to broach a practice change is during a positive performance review. E.g., make the case for involving you at an earlier point in the deal negotiations, rather than only having you document the “done” deal. They’ll get better service and you’ll expand your skill set.
Be proactive. Think beyond your immediate assignments to really gain an understanding of the business deal. Study your industry and spend time with non-attorneys to stay ahead of trends. Be the attorney in your department who is already familiar with upcoming changes in the law.
Expert tip: Go to lunch with colleagues outside of the legal department to learn their business concerns and have them start thinking of you as more than the real estate lawyer.
Be inquisitive: Take the time to learn other aspects of real estate practice beyond your current niche. If you’ve been tasked with integrating a real estate portfolio your company recently acquired, on your own time, review the underlying documentation so you can understand the entire deal—move beyond real estate purchase and sale to the business acquisition. If your practice focuses on real estate development and land use and you aren’t involved with the financing, read and understand the loan documents anyway. If your focus is real estate lending, familiarize yourself with the lifecycle of the underlying deal—environmental issues, land use, the development and building, and leasing issues.
Show your initiative: If your goal is to move beyond real estate, read up on your chosen practice area and trends in the industry, as well as the day-to-day tasks. Attend CLE courses in your new practice area to get a basic understanding of the issues you will handle. Get comfortable with the buzzwords that would be used in a deal or an interview. This will likely be done on your own time and money, but you can include the coursework on your newly focused resume as evidence of your interest and being up to date on current trends.
Expert tip: Reach out to the people who teach the CLE courses you attend. Thank them for the information, let them know why you attended the course, and ask if they’re willing to have an informational interview with you.
Join specialized bar associations and relevant trade associations. Get active on committees. It’s a great way to learn about the practice or industry and expand your network.
Market yourself to the job you want, not the job you have: Identify and develop skills in your current practice that are transferable to your desired practice. Read job descriptions for the type of jobs you want. If you are attempting to switch out of real estate, your resume should focus on your transferable skills as much as possible, rather than reciting a list of real estate-specific experience. Describe your experience more generically as “secured lending and related documents” and mention your skills negotiating with borrowers and lenders without limiting yourself to “representing real estate lenders”.
Be flexible: If you are entering a new industry or practice area you may need to take a step back in seniority or compensation. Consider this an investment in yourself and amortize it over the rest of your happier career.
Making a practice or industry change takes work. Give it the time it deserves and realize the process might not be linear, but the resulting job satisfaction will be worth it.
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ACC Team Member Profile
Justin Conner, Director, Chief Legal Officer & Stakeholder Engagement, ACC
Justin Connor brought a long and exciting career of law practice to his work at the Association of Corporate Counsel when he joined staff in December 2013, including spending almost six years living and practicing law in the Middle East, from 2004-2010. Justin began his legal career as a visiting professor of law in Chisinau, Moldova, from 1997-1998 working with the Soros-funded Civic Education Project, teaching undergraduate law students in an international business program. There he also worked on rule of law projects together with the American Bar Association which works around the world supporting such initiatives, including coaching the Moldovan team at the World University Debating Championships, held that year in Athens, Greece.
Justin returned to the USA in 1998 to begin practicing law at the Washington DC office of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, where he was in the litigation department focused on anti-trust defense. When an opportunity arose to join the Federal Communications Commission’s International Bureau, and focus on M&A transactions in the telecom industry with a global dimension, he could not pass that up. He spent the next six years of his career as a telecom regulatory lawyer, focused on global telecom, satellites and submarine cables, foreign competition, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), representing the United States in global fora.
Justin’s wanderlust got the better of him again when a colleague encouraged him to apply for a Fulbright teaching/research grant, as a practicing lawyer, to again teach law overseas. This time, Justin jetted off to Beirut in 2004, the former “Paris of the Middle East”, and always an entrepôt city between East and West, despite a long history of conflict. Justin taught at one of the longest running faculties of law founded in the entire region, Université La Sagesse, founded in Beirut in 1875. The first law school in the world (The School of Roman Law at Beirut) was founded in Beirut and served as the center for the study of Roman law in classical antiquity since it was first mentioned in writing in 239 and it served as the world’s preeminent center for the study of jurisprudence. The school attracted young, affluent Romans as students and its professors helped author the ground-breaking law of the time, the Codex of Justinian.
After spending his Fulbright grant living and working in one of the oldest cities in the world, shortly thereafter Justin moved to one of the world’s newest cities, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, initially to start the telecom practice at the law firm Al Tamimi & Company, and then later to serve as the first in-house counsel for a telecom investment company, Emirates International Telecommunications, where he was the Director of Legal & Regulatory Affairs and traveled widely working on business opportunities and deals for the company.
Wishing to start a family, Justin decided to move back to the greater Washington DC area in 2010 and sought in-house counsel opportunities in the telecommunications sector, leading him to Spacenet, a satellite service company that was based in McLean, Virginia. Having returned to the United States, Justin again became active in the Association of Corporate Counsel as a member, and in particular, served in a series of leadership roles with the International Legal Affairs Network (then committee). After working at Spacenet for several years, the company was acquired and Justin decided to seek out new opportunities in Washington rather than move, which led him to accept an offer at the ACC to direct Chief Legal Officer Services programming for ACC.
Justin worked closely with many others at ACC to conceptualize and create the first ever ACC Executive Leadership Institute: A Master Class for the Next Generation of General Counsel. Available only by nomination from the company’s general counsel/CLO, the Master Class brought together peer cohorts of 25 rising stars from around the world for a four-day deep dive into the role of the general counsel and the key expectations of stakeholders to what the GC does, including the CEO, Board and others. Having created this unique program, Justin decided to further draw upon his global experience by creating the ACC Global General Counsel Summit, bringing together nearly 100 general counsel from top companies around the world for an intimate, off-the-record set of conversations about the greatest challenges that face the chief legal officer in the modern company. Since 2014, the Executive Leadership Institute has now graduated 5 classes of in-house leaders around the world, of whom more than 15 graduates have already been named as general counsel while three Global General Counsel Summits (open only to the highest ranking legal officer in the organization) have taken place so far in London, Paris and Amsterdam.
These signature ACC programs continue to grow while Justin has recently taken on the mantle of heading up ACC’s program aimed at serving our large corporate members of ACC and encouraging them to join the global community of their in-house counsel peers, as well as increasing the engagement of chief legal officers with ACC. The corporate membership program has already achieved its goal for the first year under Justin’s leadership, of ending the fiscal year with more than 785 corporate members, an increase of 10% over last year’s membership numbers. ACC’s membership base is currently comprised of 52% corporate members and 48% individual members, with a more than 94% retention rate among our corporate members, so its success is critical to ACC’s mission.
Justin’s favorite part of working with ACC is truly the members – the opportunity to work with them, get to know them, learn from and support them, and serve as a “sherpa” (or expert guide of sorts) regarding helping them to find what they need from their ACC membership. Having lived and worked overseas for substantial parts of his career and working with smaller law departments, Justin knows well the challenges that in-house counsel face every day around the world in doing their jobs and that empathy that he has is his guiding star in everything that he does and advocates for within the ACC, as he aims to be a part of creating the world-class membership experience that ACC members expect and deserve from their professional bar association of choice.
To contact Justin about any question, please email him at email@example.com or call 1.202.677.4762.
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Fall Newsletter Quote
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The Real Estate Network is over 2,000 members strong, and one of our best resources is each other. The eGroup postings are a forum for members to exchange ideas, share best practices, template forms, and many other resources. Members may submit eGroup inquiries, and any member may respond. If you are concerned about using your name, you may respond anonymously. As a reminder, eGroup responses are informational only, and are not considered legal advice or counsel. We highly recommend that you take advantage of this resource. Postings may be found here.
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Real Estate Network members who are interested in authoring a blog post, an on-line article or an ACC Docket article should contact Geeta Dharmappa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Call for Resource Library Suggestions
We want to hear from you! What forms, templates or tutorials would you like added to the Resource Library. Please email your requests to Elena email@example.com.
In addition, every month ACC hosts a webcasts that goes over how to search the Resource Library and explains all that it offers. It is a 30-min presentation and the archived version of previous presentations can be found here.
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Around The Horn
Are you working on something interesting or innovative? Have you recently been promoted or changed jobs? Do you have a blog or an article that our other members would find informative or enjoyable? Then let us know about it—this is your time to be in the spotlight!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com so we can share your news with other members.
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