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Kushner Cos. Looking for New Legal Chief After GC Departs

June 25, 2020, 10:57 PM

Kushner Cos. LLC, the privately held real estate company controlled by the family of White House senior adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, is looking for a new top lawyer.

Emily Wolf, who held the general counsel position at the New York-based company for nearly four years, has since June 1 been general counsel for BEB Capital LLC, a real estate development and lending firm owned by investor and entrepreneur Bert Brodsky.

Lee Brodsky, BEB’s CEO and son of the firm’s founder, said in a Thursday statement touting Wolf’s hire that her transactional real estate expertise and “vast array of institutional contacts” makes her a key addition as “the scope and scale of our operations continue to grow.”

Wolf didn’t respond to a request for comment about her decision to join the privately held, Port Washington, N.Y.-based BEB, which was launched in 2017. In a statement from BEB, Wolf said she’s excited to come aboard as it undertakes “new ventures, such as bridge lending, high-rise multifamily development in Manhattan, and third-party management.”

Alan Hammer, a former managing partner at Roseland, N.J.-based law firm Brach Eichler who has been a longtime confidante of the Kushner family, having once served as acting chairman of the Kushner Cos., was unsure as to whether the company will look externally for a new general counsel or promote from within. He referred an inquiry from Bloomberg Law about the general counsel role to Kushner Cos. COO Peter Febo, who didn’t respond to a request for comment about an in-house replacement.

Nor did Kushner Cos. spokeswoman Karen Zabransky or Andrew Berman, an associate real estate counsel who reported to Wolf, when asked about the company’s succession planning. Berman once worked as a clerk at Meister Seelig & Fein, a New York-based firm known for its real estate prowess where Wolf spent more than a decade prior to joining Kushner Cos. as its legal chief in 2016.

Online job listings show that BEB began looking for a new general counsel in January. Prior to Wolf’s hire, BEB’s general counsel had been Keyvan Ghaytanchi, who also serves as the firm’s COO and in April became president of its new lending division.

Jared Kushner stepped down from the family business when he joined the Trump administration.

Real Estate Recruits

BEB isn’t the only real estate entity making moves in the in-house legal space. Others include:

  • Royal Palm Cos. LLC, a Miami-based developer founded by South Florida real estate investor Daniel Kodsi, announced Thursday a $60 million health and wellness center as part of its Legacy Hotel & Residences project at the Miami Worldcenter. The move came after Royal Palm recruited retired Latham & Watkins partner Paul DeMuro earlier this month as chief legal officer for health and wellness. DeMuro spent two decades at Latham, which he left in 2012. He was most recently of counsel at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough and legacy firm Broad and Cassel.
  • Compass, the national real estate brokerage backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., hired Bradley Serwin as general counsel in May. Serwin, a former in-house legal chief at upscale grocery chain Dean & DeLuca Inc. and casino and resort giant Las Vegas Sands Corp., spent the past five years as general counsel at Mill Valley, Calif.-based workplace review company Glassdoor Inc. At Compass, Serwin took over from interim co-general counsel Iris Licthman and Timothea Letson, both of whom replaced former legal chief David Carp last year after he left the brokerage to become head of real estate at Blink Health LLC.
  • Jack Resnick & Sons Inc., a top New York City-based real estate developer, announced June 15 its hire of assistant general counsel Marlene Guzzino, a former Greenberg Traurig partner who spent the past year as a real estate transactions counsel at Vinson & Elkins. In her new role, Guzzino will report to longtime Jack Resnick executive managing director and general counsel Kalpana Gajjar.
  • CBRE Group Inc., the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment company, hired Greenberg Traurig partner Chad Doellinger in May as deputy general counsel for global litigation. Doellinger spent the past three years as a litigator in private practice at Greenberg Traurig and Katten Muchin Rosenman in Chicago, where he joined the latter in late 2017 after serving as head of the commercial and class action team at Walmart Inc. Doellinger now works out of CBRE’s Dallas office.
  • Ryan Cos. US Inc., one of the largest private real estate companies in the U.S., hired Dorsey & Whitney real estate partner Laura Graf as chief legal officer in April. Graf served as a member of the management committee at Dorsey & Whitney, whose Minneapolis office she joined in 2016 after having previously been a partner at Barnes & Thornburg and Lindquist & Vennum, the latter now part of Ballard Spahr. At Ryan, which is based in Minneapolis, Graf will have a key role in commercial leasing transactions.
  • Janna Nugent, co-chair of the business litigation group at Greenberg Traurig, left the firm in March to become general counsel at Atlanta-based real estate investment firm Sixty West LLC. Online real estate company Zillow Group Inc. also hired Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom banking partner David Kitchen in March as an associate general counsel for corporate finance. Kitchen, who is based in Los Angeles, previously spent 15 years at O’Melveny.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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