Amy McClain Is Ballard Spahr's New Real Estate Department Chair
Amy M. McClain, an experienced real estate attorney who also has served in important internal roles at Ballard Spahr, is the new chair of the firm’s nationally recognized Real Estate Department.
Based in Ballard Spahr’s Baltimore office, Ms. McClain becomes the first woman to serve in the role. The Real Estate Department is one of the firm’s five legal departments, along with Business and Transactions, Finance, Intellectual Property, and Litigation. Her appointment was effective October 1.
“Amy is an exceptional lawyer who will continue the tradition of strong leadership that has contributed to our Real Estate Department’s reputation as one of the finest in the nation,” firm Chair Mark Stewart said. “She will bring out the best in our lawyers, and ensure excellence and innovation in our service to clients. I am delighted to have Amy in this important role.”
With more than 100 attorneys in offices in key metro areas across the country, Ballard Spahr’s Real Estate Department is among the nation’s most active and accomplished. The department and its lawyers are consistently ranked for excellence by services, including Chambers USA, The Legal 500, and Best Lawyers. They represent clients in every segment of the real estate industry in the full range of matters and issues, including acquisitions, dispositions, and all aspects of real estate development and financing. The firm’s real estate attorneys have played central roles in major projects nationwide, from affordable housing and community development to mixed-use redevelopments, skyscrapers, and stadiums.
Ms. McClain has been with Ballard Spahr for her entire career of nearly two decades. She started as a summer associate at the firm and became a partner in 2011. Until she took the reins of the Real Estate Department last week, Ms. McClain served as practice leader of the Affordable Housing and Community Development Group, which will now be led by Molly R. Bryson, a partner based in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.
With a focus on affordable housing and community development, Ms. McClain represents public housing authorities and affordable housing developers across the country in the context of mixed-finance transactions. She is former chair of the Governing Committee of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law, a leading national organization for the legal community in the subsidized housing space. She is the author of the Forum’s publication, Beginner’s Guide to Public Housing Conversion Under RAD.
As department chair, Ms. McClain intends to focus on continuing and enhancing collaboration within the Real Estate Department and across firm departments and practices, “to build teams of attorneys that can assist clients on novel approaches that include real estate, but also extend beyond real estate.”
She sees this as a promising time for affordable housing development, given the massive need and the Biden administration’s intent to address the national housing shortfall as part of the Build Back Better infrastructure funding bill, while also using tax credits and other government financing to bolster affordable and resilient housing. And she sees Ballard Spahr as well positioned to help.
“We have decades of learning about affordable housing revitalization,” she said. "We are fine-tuning our models in a way that works and learning about pitfalls and how to overcome them.”
Ms. McClain also has been active in a number of internal roles and groups at the firm, including committees focused on the pro bono program and evaluation of attorneys at all levels.
She becomes the first Real Estate Department chair based outside of Philadelphia.
“It underscores that we are a national real estate practice,” she said. “’Helps Build the Nation’ is our catchphrase and points to our multifaceted practice that addresses real estate needs at all stages of the development process.”
Ms. McClain replaces Bart I. Mellits, who served as department chair for the past nine years. Under his leadership, the Real Estate Department grew to record levels of success, including recruitment of lawyers in key regions to enhance the strength and depth of the firm’s real estate practice. Mr. Mellits will return to his practice full-time and will assist in the transition to a new chair.
Ms. McClain is the third chair since the Real Estate Department was established in 1988. Prior to Mr. Mellits, Michael Sklaroff—who founded the department and built it into a premier regional and national practice—served as chair for nearly 25 years. Mr. Sklaroff plans to retire at the end of the year.