Developmental stage: Attorney helps spearhead large, sophisticated real estate projects

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 By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News
 
Pat Lennon has been involved in hundreds of major real estate transactions and transformative projects all over the country, as well as in Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean.
 
“I view myself as the luckiest person in the world,” he says. “I’ve had the chance to see and learn from the best developers and lawyers in their fields and now have the opportunity to share my experiences and skill set with my clients and other lawyers.”
 
A partner in the Kalamazoo office of Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, and Cohn LLP, Lennon followed in the footsteps of his father, a specialist in real estate law.
 
“I always saw the pride he took in contributing to projects that turned into office buildings, golf course communities and shopping centers,” Lennon says.
 
Now he in turn represents the interests of large corporations, real estate developers, builders and investors throughout Michigan and Florida, and serves as general counsel for several multinational companies. 
 
“I take pride in facilitating large real estate projects by understanding the needs of all the stakeholders—developers, tenants, municipalities, economic development agencies, lenders and/or community groups—collaborating with them and achieving a project that not only gets done but offers a little something for all of the stakeholders.”
 
The elements that bring large business deals together have always held a fascination.
 
“I’ve learned that understanding the needs and goals of others can be as important as understanding your own—this empathy enables us to creatively structure transactions that can be a win for all the participants,” he says. “To me this is the true challenge attorneys face when negotiating business transactions—and probably the part I enjoy the most.” 
 
A Florida resident for five years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Lennon is a member of the Florida Bar Association in addition to the State Bar of Michigan, and is licensed to practice real estate law throughout the Sunshine State. His time down south provided insight into how other states and professional cultures do things. 
 
“As someone who represents developers, I can speak to the tremendous differences between developing projects in Florida and Michigan and call on those ideas and experiences when opportunities arise,” he says. “These ranging experiences and long history of projects have helped me become more creative and imaginative when we encounter new or unique challenges.” 
 
As much as he enjoyed his years in Florida, the Kalamazoo native was delighted to return to his hometown. 
 
“We’re incredibly fortunate to have excellent lawyers and several very prestigious firms in our small market,” he says.
 
As an attorney representing sophisticated real estate needs, Lennon says the Honigman firm was the best fit for his practice.
 
“There were no conflicts of interests due to representation of clients on the ‘other side of the aisle’ from developers, such as lenders or municipalities. Honigman has tailored its firm to fit practices like mine and it serves all of us, and our clients, very well.”
 
Named among Best Lawyers in America and America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, this graduate of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law says he can’t imagine a more exciting or fulfilling profession than being an attorney in a sophisticated law firm.
 
“When you work in a business or other organization you have one organization/client, one chain of command, one culture and, for the most part, one way of doing things. As a lawyer and counselor, we have windows into how all the businesses in our sphere function and see a wide range of different approaches. Every day brings something new and opportunities to solve the most challenging problems.”
 
Lennon’s creative, collaborative and solution-oriented approach has opened other doors. He was recently named as chairperson of the first Western Region Program Committee of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), and also was appointed to the ULI-Michigan Executive Committee. Dedicated to promoting best practices in large and transformative real estate development projects, the ULI promotes collaboration among all the stakeholders in large transactions or development project and actively works to reconcile their interests and produce development projects that are successful on all levels.  
 
“I’ve always admired the ULI approach, and attempt to live up to their principles in my land-use and legal practice,” he says. “We’re fortunate to have this fine organization expanding into the western parts of the state and I’m certain it will have a profound effect on development activities throughout Western Michigan. I look forward to being a part of that for many years to come.”
 
Lennon also serves as general counsel for the Greater Kalamazoo Association of Realtors and for the Southwestern Michigan Regional Information Center (SWMRIC) comprising approximately 11 realtor associations. “This keeps us at the forefront of the emerging issues that face real estate brokers, agents and entrepreneurs—these are the large developers of tomorrow and we couldn’t be more excited about our ongoing involvement with them,” he says. 
 
He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Borgess Medical Center Foundation; as a member of the Southwest Michigan First Vital Urban Cores Anchor Strategies Committee; on the COMM-PAC Steering Committee, a political action committee dedicated to promoting business activities in southwestern Michigan; as a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC); and on numerous legal and professional committees. 
 
In all these roles, Lennon uses his real estate and land-use experience to promote the concepts of good development and cooperation. His path, he says, has been enriched by all the organizations he has served.
 
“They’re an extension of the principles of good development and collaboration I strongly believe in,” he says. “I look forward to continuing down this path for many more years.”