After starting her legal practice in St. Louis, MO and then moving to D.C. to ultimately find her law home at (HAND member) Klein Hornig, LLP, Lauren Buckner is an emerging leader who’s learned a thing or two along the way.
“I really enjoy what I do, I feel like it matters and I know my work is making a meaningful impact on communities,” relays Lauren.
Who could ask for anything better?
Lauren worked for three years at a large firm in St. Louis in its real estate transactions department. While there, she represented commercial developers, lenders and construction companies before moving to D.C. to serve as an Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG).
“During my time with OAG, I represented the Department of Housing and Community Development in the acquisition and disposition of abandoned, blighted and vacant properties,” shares Lauren, “this is also where I was introduced to the world of affordable housing”. “At Klein Hornig, I focus on real estate acquisitions and financing options for affordable housing and community development. I also, advise clients on a range of financing options, including low income housing tax credits, HUD insured loans, tax exempt bonds, local government funding and bridge loans.”
You know what else she does? She solves problems.
“I assist clients with the requirements associated with Federal and District of Columbia funding and advise them on regulatory matters as they arise. I get to be a problem solver, I enjoy that!”
She also enjoys getting “from behind the desk.”
“I wish someone would have told me when I started practicing that a good attorney learns to step away from the desk to interact with the rest of the world. You can’t meet new clients behind a desk. You can’t learn about new trends in the industry behind the desk. You can’t meet the developers, lenders and partners that we conduct business with behind a desk. You have to get out into the community to explore the community and its players.”
Relationship building is a strong reason to get out from behind the desk. In addition to getting to know others and creating strong working bonds, Lauren also finds it an opportunity to refocus on how she presents herself without the protection of a computer screen or a telephone to act as a shield.
“You get to be authentic and for me that energies me and pushes me to do my best. I have begun to build some very organic relationships from real raw interactions and a smile…you just gotta get from behind that desk!”
In addition to the professional highlights she has enjoyed over the years, Lauren has also faced some big challenges, too.
“I often work with people who have been in the industry for many years and who have helped to create and shape the programs and tools that we use. One of the challenges that I face is that on both the legal side and the development side, there are teams that have worked together for years and who have a way of structuring a deal which has become familiar and comfortable to them. As a young attorney it is often a challenge to work on transactions with these established teams because they often start from a position that is based on a prior deal and right out the gate you can find yourself at a huge disadvantage.”
…but there are ways to overcome practically every obstacle…
“To combat this learning deficit, I make an effort – both formally and informally – to shadow seasoned attorneys. I have also become more of a sponge, open to constructive feedback and soaking up as much institutional knowledge as possible. The key is to be alert, every moment has the opportunity to be a teachable moment and if you blink, you might miss it,” says Lauren.
Lauren also shares another helpful practice that might be best practices for everyone, not just those who are up-and-coming:
“One of my goals is to develop strong relationships with at least one seasoned person in each area that touches my practice. I am accomplishing this and am slowly building pivotal relationships by reaching across the table to the veteran developers, contractors, architects, title agents and lenders involved in transactions. It’s crucial for me to gain knowledge from all view points of the transaction, not solely the legal perspective. People are more than willing to share what they know if you just ask, and so I make a point of asking questions and trying to push myself into a less familiar, uncomfortable space.”
Lauren finds that her HAND membership has helped her further her goal of building a network of both seasoned and up-and-coming leaders in the industry.
“The HAND trainings are the best because they bring all the players together. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with local government officials, architects, contractors, non-profit developers, marketing consultants…the list goes on. HAND also has afforded me the opportunity to work with other emerging leaders as a member of the HAND Brain Trust Committee. Through this committee I am proud to be part of the launch of HAND’s new initiative, Generation HAND, which will focuses on identifying and developing emerging leaders within the affordable housing and community development industry. The initiative will bring together specialists from all areas and serve as a platform for growth.”
HAND is pleased to spotlight emerging leader Lauren Buckner, who certainly contributes to our organization’s COLLABORATION, INNOVATION and TRANSFORMATION within the metropolitan area!