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Image to feature Kate Lewis in Women of NM

April 5, 2022

Introducing Women of NM: Transactions

Featuring Kate Lewis

Atlanta partner Kate Lewis is a commercial real estate attorney whose practice focuses on the purchase, sale, development, and financing of numerous property types and on the structuring of investment vehicles for such projects. She also has extensive creditor-side experience in real estate finance, including loan workouts.

Why commercial real estate?

I was an American history major in college and still love the subject. Any acre of land anywhere in the country has its own history. Real estate lawyers get paid to research and make sense of that history in the present day. Even better, doing so is not just an academic exercise; our analyses have real importance in the here and now.

What are some of the traits that you admire the most amongst your peers? 

First and foremost, emotional intelligence. To me, in a work context, that means the ability to work and play well with others--including one’s colleagues at the firm, regardless of rank—while still doing the best job possible for the client. Technical legal skills, in and of themselves, are the bare minimum; you won’t get very far if you don’t also bring a good deal of imagination and a ton of empathy to the job.

Second, the ability to think laterally within a deal. We work on complex transactions where a seemingly minor change to one aspect of a deal can have a major and often unintended effect on some other aspect. I’m always impressed when someone is able to anticipate those issues long before anyone else on the deal makes the connection. The very best practitioners often come up with a way to take that insight and use it to the client’s advantage, too!

What is one piece of advice you would give to individuals who want to get into this industry?

Before going to law school, try to work with or closely observe people who are practicing law. Law school tends to focus on the abstract and the analytical. Learning to “think like a lawyer” is valuable, and law schools excel at teaching how to do that. But it’s almost impossible to understand what being a lawyer might be like until you see the day-to-day aspects.

At this point in your career, what would you say has been your biggest accomplishment?

I’ve experienced a couple of major career interruptions due to economic upheaval or personal circumstances. I’m happy that I was able to re-orient and start on a new path each time. Career trajectories aren’t always linear, especially for women.

What inspired you to become an attorney?

When I graduated college, there was a recession going on. I thought I lacked marketable skills and that I would be good at law school. That isn’t a very inspiring story, I know! However, what keeps me in the profession is enthusiasm for the work and the subject matter. Practicing law is a great opportunity to keep learning new things. 

What are key trends that you are noticing in the industry?

There’s a great deal of interest and investment in housing types that would have been considered offbeat just a few years ago. Single-family rental (SFR) is all the rage at the moment, but SFR is more of a catch-all term than it first appears. Often that refers to rental homes or communities within traditional suburban subdivisions. However, there are other types of SFR projects also in the works, such as walkable “cottage home” neighborhoods with smaller units and more shared open space. I’m curious to see what kind of innovations crop up in areas where SFR is popular, but land is scarce.

 

 

 

 

 



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