As we announced recently, we here at Hartman Simons are thrilled to announce the hiring of two new attorneys: Laura Kurlander and Leslie Brooking. For today?s installment, we sat down with Laura to talk about her legal career, why she enjoys commercial real estate work ? and her love of a good bike ride. Many thanks to Laura for her time.
On what areas will your practice at Hartman Simons focus??
Kurlander: I specialize in commercial leasing and development of office, retail and warehouses. The pace of commercial transactions has been picking up during the past year and I?ve been lucky enough to get involved in ground-up development projects for mixed-use facilities, office buildings and shopping centers. Our retail clients are opening stores across the country in a more strategic manner than in the past, but doing so at a good pace.
In addition to my commercial real estate work, I also represent telecommunications companies in connection with their entries into office and retail buildings and hotels. My work includes the negotiation of telecom agreements related to the services provided, including voice, Internet and video services. My practice is expanding in this area, which is exciting as the industry is rapidly evolving.
Give us an overview of your legal career before joining Hartman Simons.?
Kurlander: I graduated from NYU School of Law in 1990 and was the only member of my class at that time to move to the South. Everyone else remained in large cities throughout the rest of the country.?
I started at King & Spalding, knowing its reputation across the country, and knew that would be a great starting point for my legal practice. I stayed there for two years and then moved to a small firm known as Minkin & Snyder, which has since merged into Greenberg Traurig. Minkin & Snyder had a strong real estate group and also a corporate group that represented media companies.
At the smaller firm, my practice area was broader, as I was immediately given control of deals and quickly learned about golf-course community development, radio and TV station assets, and banking work. I stayed there for six years and then started doing freelance, contract work for almost 10 years. My hours were fabulous, and my schedule was within my control. I was lucky enough to continue to obtain work through my connections with King & Spalding, Minkin & Snyder and then through my work with the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, for which I served as president from 1998 to 1999.
What inspired you to become a lawyer, and why are you drawn to commercial real estate??
Kurlander: I went to law school to be a prosecutor. While at NYU, I spent a summer with the Manhattan District Attorney?s office and spent a year working with New York Legal Aid. I loved the practice of criminal law, but I also had to pay for private-school tuition. I ended up working as a summer associate for King & Spalding and just clicked with the attorneys in the real-estate department.
My evolution as a real estate attorney was a result of the people, not the practice. I grew to truly enjoy the twists and turns of commercial real estate transactions, although the past few years were pretty tough. I enjoy the counseling and negotiating that occurs daily in a transaction practice and am thrilled that the market is alive again. I?ve still had an opportunity to work in criminal justice as a volunteer for Legal Aid in the domestic-violence unit.
How do you like to spend your time away from the office ? what are some of your hobbies?
Kurlander: I?ve always considered myself an active person and am always on the move. I have competed in triathlons for more than 20 years and just completed my first half-Ironman (70.3 miles) in September.
My favorite sport is cycling, and I try to get on my bike a few times a week, regardless of the temperature. This past summer was difficult as the heat and humidity were unprecedented. Despite the short days, I prefer my winter rides.
I stay active in the community and am currently chairing a women?s retreat for Temple Sinai members. I am also an active volunteer with Second Helpings, for which I collect and deliver food to a food bank in town a few times a month. Last, but most importantly, I am married to a wonderful man, Jeff Nagel, and together we have four children, all of whom are teenagers. Being a master planner is a key to balancing work, family, self and sanity during these years.