SREC Member Susan Booth Honored
Spend enough time at the top of your profession and you will accumulate a fair share of awards. But the awards most coveted are those given by your peers and based not on a one-time competition but on a lifetime of excellence and service.
Such is the Women at the Top award from Commercial Real Estate Women – Los Angeles, which for 2012 has been awarded to SREC member and Stanford alumni Susan Booth. CREW, as it’s known by its acronym, is a professional organization dedicated to promoting the development and advancement of women in the commercial real estate industry.
“It means a lot to me because awards I have received in the past have always been about my skills as a lawyer, which I obviously take very seriously, but it is an award that really recognizes your commitment to civic activities and also what kind of impact you’ve had on the commercial real estate industry,” says Ms. Booth, who is a partner at the international law firm Holland & Knight LLP.
Ms. Booth’s civic involvement includes chairing the 41st Annual Benjamin S. Crocker Symposium on Real Estate Law and Business, which was held Oct. 30 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, serving as secretary of the Los Angeles County Bar's Real Estate Section and being active with the Urban Land Institute where she is a mentor to young professional members.
“When I commit to something, I like to truly commit and be involved in it,” she says. “One of the things for me that’s important is giving back to the community and to other people.”
At Holland & Knight, she works with banks, real estate investment trusts, developers and others on a wide range of commercial real estate issues.
But it all traces back to Stanford University, where Ms. Booth received her undergraduate degree in international relations in 1985. (She subsequently received an MBA and JD from UCLA.)
Stanford stands out, she says, its students and faculty seem to have a deeper intellectual curiosity than she’s seen at other universities. “Much more so, in my experience, than at a lot of other schools,” she says. “It is a distinguishing characteristic.”
Stanford students are well rounded, she says. “The students are just more curious, more creative – a little bit more risk-taking,” she says.
Stanford offers an all-encompassing experience, she says, creating an atmosphere that encouraged her to think beyond a career and to give back as her career developed.
“It’s about your growth as an individual in all ways, not just your growth in your particular area of expertise or your major,” she says. “Stanford is an environment unto itself … a way of life, a mindset, an ability to grow in every respect.”
“It was such an incredible experience that I just feel tied to it,” Ms. Booth says, adding, “My closest friends are people I met while at Stanford.”
Ms. Booth is head of Holland & Knight’s West Coast Real Estate Practice Group and a member of the firm's Director's Committee. Her duties tap her legal skills in advising U.S. and international commercial banks, pension funds, private equity funds and real estate investment trusts on matters including not only traditional secured lending transactions but also deals that must comply with the complexities of sharia law and its practice in the 21st Century. She is also a recognized expert on fundamentals of loan workouts, evaluating troubled real estate assets, assessing pre-foreclosure options for distressed real estate, and navigating through California's anti-deficiency laws.
Ms. Booth has been recognized in Chambers USA -- America's Leading Business Lawyers guide in Real Estate, as a Southern California Super Lawyer and as a Deal Maker of the Year in Real Estate by the California Real Estate Journal. At UCLA she was managing editor of the UCLA Law Review.
“I would encourage women to pursue real estate as a career,” she says. “Real estate is a male-dominated field, particularly in California. I think it is a great industry for women. There are a lot of skills that women bring to the table that will benefit them in this industry.
“Part of it for me is as a role model. This is an industry women should not be afraid to participate in,” Ms. Booth says.