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Real Estate Billionaire Bren Taps Hines as Irvine’s Legal Chief

June 14, 2021, 9:30 AM

The Irvine Co. LLC, a privately held real estate development firm controlled by property mogul Donald Bren, has recruited a new top lawyer from industry rival Hines Interests LP.

Jason Maxwell spent nearly 15 years in-house at Hines until he left the Houston-based company earlier this year to join Irvine, whose octogenarian chairman is Bren.

Hines was founded in 1957 by fellow real estate titan Gerald Hines, a Texas billionaire who transformed Houston’s skyline and helped develop iconic office towers like New York City’s Lipstick Building and San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower. Hines died last year at 95.

Maxwell is senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary at Newport Beach, Calif.-based Irvine, a C-suite role that Maxwell assumed in April, according to his LinkedIn profile. Irvine reportedly laid off thousands of employees last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Irvine currently lists Maxwell on its executive leadership page along with Gino Bianchini, a former Greenberg Traurig partner who has spent nearly eight years as the company’s tax counsel.

Maxwell, a former partner at what is now Locke Lord, didn’t respond to a request for comment about his new job working for Bren, a billionaire and one of California’s largest private landowners.

Bloomberg News reported in 2015 that Bren had quietly assumed a 97% ownership interest in New York’s MetLife Building.

At Irvine, Maxwell inherits a general counsel role previously held by Clay Halvorsen, a former corporate finance partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who spent more than a decade at the company. Internet domain records show that Halvorsen was with Irvine into March before his position was assumed by Maxwell.

Halvorsen, whose LinkedIn profile now identifies him as a “legal and risk management consultant,” didn’t respond to a request for comment about his exit from Irvine. Nor did a company spokesman. Irvine hired Halvorsen in 2010 after he served as general counsel for Standard Pacific Corp., a Southern California homebuilder that merged in 2015 with rival Ryland Group Inc.

Maxwell, Irvine’s new legal chief, joined a Hines affiliate as general counsel in 2006 and subsequently took on various law department leadership roles for the company’s business units. Maxwell was a senior vice president and co-head of legal at Hines last year when he was appointed general counsel of HGR Liquidating Trust, an entity managing the $4.3 billion dissolution of Hines Global REIT Inc., according to a securities filing dated June 30, 2020.

HGR and Hines Global Income Trust Inc. each made securities filings earlier this year noting that Maxwell would depart March 15 to “accept a position with another company.” Media contacts for Hines didn’t respond to requests for comment about other in-house legal changes at the company.

Earlier this year, Hines promoted senior vice president of legal Richard Heaton to chief legal officer, while former chief compliance officer and regulatory counsel Saurabh Shah left the company. Hines hired Shah, a Harvard Law School graduate and former senior special counsel with the Securities and Exchange Commission, in 2016. Fiona Hopkiss, a non-lawyer deputy chief compliance officer based in Hines’ London office, took over in March as the company’s new compliance chief.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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