Michael Ward’s practice spans the gamut of commercial real estate transactions, including property acquisitions, dispositions, leasing, licensing, construction, development, lease-purchase transactions and financing, principally serving in a lead counsel role in each area. Principal representations include those of developers, contractors, lenders, equity providers, franchisees, public entities and other stakeholders on a wide range of single and multi-purpose/mixed-use projects. In each engagement, Mike serves principally as lead counsel on all matters pertaining to each segment of the client’s involvement, including corporate matters (JV/owner and affiliate entity creation), land acquisition/site control, entitlements, financing (construction and permanent, single and portfolio loan origination, purchase, refinancing and restructuring transactions), construction, development, and other related matters.
Representative industries include hospitality (full and limited service hotels), commercial office, retail, warehousing, residential (including for sale and rental, market and affordable, multifamily and single-family housing), education, and public sector. Representative projects within these industries have included:
- Full and limited service hotel development (including. e.g., lead counsel to co-developer on 750-room, 4-star, branded hotel project)
- Acquisition and/or repurposing of public and private properties for public educational and private uses (including, e.g. serving as lead counsel to State acquisition and repurposing of large, federally-owned military installation for use as a college medical campus; serving as bond and owner’s counsel on acquisition and financing of historic civil rights museum and institute)
- Acquisition, financing, and redevelopment of large, subsidized multifamily housing projects (including, e.g., serving as lead owner’s counsel on a series of multifamily affordable housing project acquisitions and developments, utilizing a combination of tax-exempt bond, low-income housing tax credit, HUD Section 8, conventional debt and equity financing).
Combined with his general corporate, public accounting, auditing (independent and internal), tax and transactional experience, Mike brings a unique blend of talents, knowledge, problem-solving, closing abilities and overall guidance and direction to each real estate and transactional engagement. He is a Certified Public Accountant in Texas and Alabama.
In addition to his experience and training from some of the largest law firms in the country, Mike also served as Corporate Secretary and General Counsel of H. J. Russell & Company, the nation’s largest African American-owned construction and real estate firm, where he was responsible for handling, directing and overseeing all corporate legal matters for the company, including the negotiation and contracting for a wide range of construction and real estate development projects spanning the country, with total construction and development costs exceeding $6 billion.
Awards and Recognitions
- Team Member, The Legal 500 United States, “Top Tier” Firm in Real Estate, 2013
- Listed, Chambers USA Guide, 2012-2013
- Listed, Georgia Trend magazine, “Legal Elite,” 2010 and 2012-2013
- Team Member, Chambers USA Award for Excellence, Real Estate, 2010 and 2013
- Team Member, a Law360 “Real Estate Practice Group of the Year,” 2011 and 2012
- Listed, America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals, 2003-2004
- Listed, Madison’s Who’s Who, June 2003 and August 2004
Selected Presentations & Publications
- Presenter/speaker, “Current Commercial Real Estate Legal Issues”, Commercial Real Estate Show, April 11, 2013
- Presenter/Panelist, “Choosing Your Personal Board of Directors,” Professional Development
- Seminar Series, National Black MBA Association, Atlanta Chapter, February 2014
- Panelist, “The Role and Responsibilities of In-House vs. Outside Counsel,” American Bar Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, 2004
- Co-Presenter (with GA Gov., Roy Barnes), “Pro Bono Opportunities for Transactional Lawyers,” Georgia Bar Association and Atlanta Bar Association CLE Seminar, 2004
- Author and Speaker, “Complex Construction Financing,” Atlanta Bar Association, Construction Law Section Meeting, 2003
- Author, “Winning My Business,” GC South magazine, June 2003
Mike grew up in Texas and Massachusetts and moved to Atlanta in 1992. His wife Marcia is an Atlanta school administrator and they have three children. On Sunday mornings, Mike can often be found playing piano for his church choir. His father is Felker W. Ward Jr., an attorney and CEO of Pinnacle Investment Advisors.