Your experience encompasses the breadth of property, development, construction and property finance matters. How did that come about and is it unusual for a lawyer to be in a position to offer such a scope of advice?
Having started my career as a property lawyer in New York, the work tends to involve all the different components – much like Arnold Bloch Leibler’s practice, it’s a one stop shop for property, property finance, development and planning. A great example is the work I did with Larry Silverstein, who developed the World Trade Centre, where as an offshoot of the development, I was representing him from a borrower’s perspective. Because I knew the build so intimately, I was able to get a very tricky deal across the line.
Getting a development financed takes deep knowledge of the asset so from a young age, I learned to pivot between the two areas of law and the fact that Arnold Bloch Leibler works this way was definitely part of the appeal of coming here. Because, ultimately, it’s about giving clients better service.
Having started your career as a property and development lawyer in the United States, how would you compare the two jurisdictions in terms of the nature of the work and the regulatory/legislative environment?
The main difference is the titling system and the whole area of title insurance. And, yes, the legislation is different and the regime is different but, other than that, the red flag issues are the same. The critical commercial issues.
Are you able to draw on your learnings from the US and, if so, how?
I think I can add value in terms of my experience in knowing how to manage large transactions successfully and my cross border experience. I know how to navigate smaller transactions, but I’ve also spent many years acting for investment management companies, private equity and hedge funds, and bringing in additional clients from the US is certainly a mid-long term goal.
One of the things we’re seeing more of in Australia is private equity companies like Blackstone recognising the opportunity for returns in commercial property here.
“What I love about ABL is the ability to have all this in the context of a smaller firm, where everything is more personalised, with far less red tape.”
Your previous role was with the Sydney office of a global firm. Why did you decide to shift to Arnold Bloch Leibler?
There were two main drivers: I wanted to be at a firm with exceptional clients navigating sophisticated deals, and getting a very high level of service from their lawyers. What I love about ABL is the ability to have all this in the context of a smaller firm, where everything is more personalised, with far less red tape. It’s a true partnership here where we sit around a table discussing things and where there is no hesitation in partners facilitating introductions to clients. Add to that I am already working on a pro bono matter – it’s all part of the package here and it’s unique.
The firm's Melbourne based property and development practice is certainly seen to be unique in the market in terms of its breadth of experience and the "one stop shop" nature of what we can do for clients. What opportunities do you see to further build our client base in Sydney and beyond?
Frankly, the sky is the limit and the path to get there is going to be quite organic, integrated across the firm. The potential is really enlivening people.
Jennifer’s appointment has been covered in Lawyerly, with managing partner Henry Lanzer quoted as saying that the firm ‘felt fortunate to have secured someone with Jen’s experience and character’. To read the article, click here.