The following are achievements working with Forest City Enterprises – owner operator, and developer of commercial and residential real estate with $10.5 billion in assets:
Founded and oversaw an in-house boutique legal department for the Residential Management business unit. Performed most work in-house and saved FCE conservatively $500,000 annually in legal expenses by insourcing defense, legal advice, compliance, and employee training. Operated very leanly with a Managing Counsel and Corporate Counsel and one administrative assistant with interns and externs. Proved a revenue center by collecting monies owed by current and former tenants.
Co-counseled and directed complex federal and state court litigation whether filed by Residential Management or against it in the areas of fair housing law in California and Michigan, threatened class actions lawsuits in Chicago and Hawaii, a HUD Section 504 accessibility complaint in New Jersey, and consumer law complaints involving the FDCPA and FCRA in Michigan. Instructed outside counsel and other parties on strategy and performed legal research and drafted briefs. Engaged in discovery, including electronic discovery. Saved FCE conservatively $500,000 yearly in legal expenses insourcing this work.
Honored by internal clients in March 2015 who bestowed the Accountability award to my direct report and to me for demonstrating FCE’s Core Value of Accountability for the legal guidance given and representation by my department, especially in compliance areas and for training provided by my department with quarterly webinars, regional trainings, periodic new hire trainings, and other trainings as needed.
Provided best-in-class legal representation and other services to internal clients. A 2014 survey of employees across the U.S. evidenced that internal clients found that my department understood business needs (89%), provided satisfactory results (90%), handled matters timely and efficiently (92%), and were preferred over outside counsel (82%), and much more. Here are a few descriptive words used: businesslike approach, detail-oriented, dedicated, and “an excellent in-house resource to address very sensitive and potentially costly issues.” Our clients were HUD-assisted, other affordable housing, market-rate, senior housing, & privatized military housing communities.
Developed and implemented best-in-class fair housing policies and systematized processing reasonable accommodation and modification requests and assisting the corporate decision makers such as the Section 504 Coordinator & counterparts. My department developed policies and forms including reasonable accommodation and request form, accessible parking policies and forms, hostile housing environment and harassment policies, assistive animal policies, Limited English Proficiency policies, and much more. Prevailed on tenant administrative claims and lawsuits because of the compliant policies and forms and other systems developed.