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Ex-Kushner Companies Lawyer Moves in Real Estate Legal Shuffle

March 2, 2021, 10:31 AM

The former top lawyer for the real estate company owned by the family of Jared Kusher, former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has a new job less than a year after she stepped down as general counsel.

Emily Wolf, who spent nearly four years as legal chief for the Kushner Cos., is now general counsel for industrial real estate developer the Stro Cos.

Stro hired Wolf to replace Mitchel Kay as in-house counsel, Steven Millstein, a co-founder and president of the Ridgewood, N.J.-based company, said via email. He noted that he didn’t know where Kay decided to go upon his departure.

Wolf joins Stro as the company has benefited from an industrial real estate boom in suburban markets like New Jersey. Industrial property prices rose 8.5% in the 12 months through October 2020, compared with 5.2% for retail and little change in offices, Bloomberg News reported in December, citing Real Capital Analytics Inc.

Kay spent more than two years as Stro’s general counsel, according to his LinkedIn profile. He left the company in January to take a general counsel role at an undisclosed employer, per his profile on the professional networking platform. Kay didn’t respond to a request for comment about his new position.

Wolf most recently served as general counsel for real estate investor Bert Brodsky’s BEB Capital LLC, which hired her June 1. She didn’t respond to a request for comment about her exit from BEB.

BEB announced Feb. 25 that it recruited Andrew Levine for its newly created chief legal officer role. Levine heads to the Port Washington, N.Y.-based real estate development and lending company after nearly two years as senior counsel at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in New York.

A BEB spokesman said that Levine officially joined the company Feb. 18, while Wolf’s departure date was Jan. 26. BEB last year tapped Keyvan Ghaytanchi, who preceded Wolf as legal chief, to become president of its new lending division.

In an email, Levine told Bloomberg Law that BEB will be his first real in-house legal role. Fried Frank hired him in 2019 from Natixis, a French financial services giant where Levine spent more than 15 years, most recently as a managing director and head of portfolio lending, a business-side position.

Levine had previously been a partner at Katsky Korins, a New York-based law firm, after beginning his career as an associate at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer. “My real estate finance background will help build BEB’s new lending platform,” Levine said.

As for Kushner Cos., it brought on Christopher Smith, a former general counsel and managing director at New York-based East End Capital Management Inc., to be its legal chief after Wolf left last year.

In-House Investments

Wolf, Levine, and Kay are the latest in a series of real estate lawyers on the move in the in-house world. Notable appointments include:

  • Opa-locka Community Development Corp., a real estate development nonprofit in South Florida, hired Miami-based DLA Piper litigation partner Lida Rodriguez-Taseff in January as chief legal officer and corporate secretary. Rodriguez-Taseff, who has long been active in the community of Opa-locka, Fla., a predominantly Black neighborhood in Miami-Dade County, has previously represented the OLCDC in court. She joined DLA Piper in 2018 from Duane Morris.
  • CRG, the St. Louis-based private real estate development and investment arm of Chicago-based construction company Clayco Inc., announced Jan. 12 its hire of Jennifer Nichols as general counsel. Nichols joins CRG from Harsch Investment Properties LLC, a family-run, Portland, Ore.-based commercial real estate investor where she spent almost two years as vice president and general counsel.
  • Saxum Real Estate Solutions LLC, a Summit, N.J.-based real estate private equity investment and development company, hired Holland & Knight partner Lee Samuelson in New York as general counsel and chief compliance officer in October. Samuelson confirmed via email that he replaced former Saxum legal chief Michael Ochs, who has returned to private practice.
  • That same month Zain Naqvi joined Red Bank, N.J.-based real estate private equity firm First National Realty Partners LLC as general counsel. Naqvi, who handles acquisitions, financing, leasing, and sales in his new role, had previously been an associate at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer in Woodbridge, N.J. FNRP is currently looking to hire an associate general counsel for leasing.
  • Franklin Mountain Investments Ltd., an El Paso, Texas-based real estate private equity firm, also announced in October its hire of Yolanda Giner as general counsel. Giner joined Franklin Mountain after serving as a real estate and government law partner at El Paso’s Gordon, Davis, Johnson & Shane.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at
John Hughes at