Last month, global law firm DLA Piper announced that partner Guy E. Flynn would become the chair of the firm's Maryland real estate practice. Beginning next year he'll also be named partner-in-charge of the firm's downtown office (DLA Piper also has a Baltimore-area office in Mount Washington).
Flynn has been with DLA Piper for his entire career and is taking the helm of the real estate group from John P. "Jack" Machen, who recently started as special chief solicitor in the Baltimore City Law Department.
In Baltimore, DLA Piper has about 20 real estate attorneys. Worldwide, the firm has roughly 550 lawyers focused on real estate.
You went to the University of Virginia straight through for college and law school. You also worked at Piper & Marbury, the Baltimore-based law firm that was a predecessor to DLA Piper, for two summers during law school. When did you realize you were interested in practicing law related to real estate?
I've always been fascinated with the "permanency" of real estate. When a building is built, it often remains part of the landscape for generations. That's pretty neat. It was also evident from my early law-school coursework and summers at the firm that I would never, ever get bored practicing real estate law because it touches and concerns so many different areas of expertise and such complicated subject matter. Interestingly, when I began practicing in the early 1990s, the real estate industry was in a deep recession. Lots of smart people told me I was nuts to go into this area. But it was apparent back then — and remains the case today — that as the real estate cycle crests and falls, lawyers are always needed to help clients find creative solutions to their most demanding problems.
It has been almost 20 years since you started working full time at one of DLA Piper's forebears. What has kept you there so long?
DLA Piper and its legacy firms have always prioritized real estate as a core practice. The firm's perennial ranking as the leading real estate practice in the country is emblematic of that focus and commitment. Most important for my group, the Maryland real estate market — with its favorable geographic positioning (in the middle of the eastern seaboard right next door to the federal government), its resilient economy and its highly educated and relatively affluent population — remains central to the firm's short- and long-term strategic plans. Ditto for Baltimore proper as the largest city within that statewide marketplace. Our clients are bullish on Maryland (and Baltimore), and so are we.
You're involved with a great number of Baltimore institutions and organizations, as are many others at DLA Piper. Why is staying involved in civic groups important to you?
The firm has always emphasized civic engagement, good citizenship and community service as core values. It's in the DNA of every DLA Piper lawyer going back to Piper & Marbury's founding partners. So the predicate is there. Most of us work, live and play in the metropolitan area and are therefore central stakeholders in the region's fortunes. In my own case, my wife and I live in Federal Hill and make heavy use of all that the city has to offer. We think it's very important to give back to the city because the city has given so much to us personally, professionally and culturally.
Unlike some areas of law, a real estate practice offers some attorneys the chance to see the fruits of their labor every day as they drive to work or walk down the street. Are there any projects you're particularly proud to have worked on?
That's a hard one. I've had the privilege to work on some of the largest and most interesting projects in the region over the years. I'd say that one was the development of FedEx Field, which I worked on as a young lawyer at the elbow of a senior partner who was representing the estate of Jack Kent Cooke. Having grown up down the road in Columbia, I was raised a Redskins fan and took particular pride in that project. Another fun one was representing ESPN and its parent company, Disney, on their ESPN Zone projects in the Inner Harbor and downtown Washington, D.C., which were the first two such facilities in the country.
When friends or relatives from out of town visit you and your wife in Baltimore what's on your "must see" list?
Baltimore really has an embarrassment of riches culturally, so it's hard to pick and choose. I'd start with tours of the Walters Art Museum and the Reginald C. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, followed by lunch at the Center Club. If it's summer, throw in a trip to Fort McHenry or take in an Orioles game. At dusk, cocktails at Pazo, then a walk across the street for dinner at Charleston. As a nightcap, a dance party in my music room at home where I spin records from my 40,000 vinyl record collection.
Guy E. Flynn
Title: Chair of Maryland real estate practice and partner at Baltimore office of global law firm DLA Piper.
Select activities: The Walters Art Museum, trustee; The Center Club, board of governors; The Center for Urban Families, board member; and Health Care for the Homeless, board of trustees.
Current residence: Federal Hill
Education: Bachelor of Arts, University of Virginia, 1990. Juris Doctor, University of Virginia, 1993.
Family: Married to Nupur Parekh Flynn, managing director and co-director of marketing at Brown Capital Management.