Name: Jennifer Gray
Title: Land Development Attorney
Company Name: Keane & Beane, P.C.
Years in real estate: 10
How have you navigated obstacles to achieve success in your career? I consider myself fortunate to not have encountered significant obstacles in building a successful career. However, if I can pinpoint one hurdle from my earlier years in the legal profession, it was the disbelief or surprise expressed by others when introducing myself as the attorney on the case. It is true that young women attorneys are often assumed to be court stenographers, secretaries or paralegals, or referred to as “honey” or “dear” in a professional setting. One way I have navigated those situations, which have the potential to undermine your authority, is to turn them into opportunities to confidently and assertively present my position on the case and provide meaningful contributions to the task at hand.
How do you play your strengths to your advantage in your career? When presenting land use applications to municipal planning and zoning boards on behalf of developers and property owners, accurately anticipating the response from the board and the public is invaluable. My role as counsel to various municipal boards throughout the Hudson Valley helps me to see all sides of an application and identify its strengths and weaknesses. In representing my private sector clients, I use this strength to effectively and efficiently move my client’s development proposal through the approval process.
What trends are you seeing so far this year? Repurposing existing structures for new uses has been–and continues to be–a popular choice for developers in the Hudson Valley. Converting vacant offices to residential and/or retail breathes new life (and tax revenue) into these failing office complexes. Upstate we are seeing the transformation of old brick industrial and factory buildings into spacious apartments and mixed use developments. From a zoning perspective, municipalities are increasingly receptive to developments that help create a “sense of place” and a desirable destination point for the community. Also, with the growing ease of online shopping, it will be interesting to see whether it continues to change the traditional retail landscape.
What do you do for fun? I love to spend as much time as possible with my 2½ year old twin boys. They keep me laughing every day.