Law firm Jenner & Block adds top lawyer at student-housing company

Signage is seen outside of the law firm Jenner & Block LLP in Washington, D.C.
Signage is seen outside of the law firm Jenner & Block LLP in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

(Reuters) - Jenner & Block on Thursday said it has hired the chief legal officer of a real estate company that develops and operates housing projects for college students who live off-campus.

Jim Reiland, the chief legal and administrative officer of CA Student Living, has joined Jenner as a partner in the firm's home city of Chicago, Jenner said. CA Student Living is co-owned by CA Ventures, which has more than $15 billion in assets under management, according to its website.

Reiland began his legal career as a commercial litigator. Before joining CA Ventures in 2016, he was a partner at Reed Smith and K&L Gates.

At Jenner, Reiland is joining the firm's real estate transactions team, which he said will allow him to work on both deals and disputes. He said he has learned how to move in and out of a "transactional mindset to a dispute one."

Rising interest rates have caused real estate investors to become more skittish, Reiland said. The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised interest rates again, this time by a quarter of a percentage point.

Reiland is upbeat about the commercial real estate market. He described his prior student-living industry as being "relatively recession proof" and said the broader commercial real estate market has been recovering following the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Walk around Chicago Loop today compared to six months or a year ago, you see a big difference. New restaurants are opening, renovations are being unveiled," Reiland said. "I’m optimistic overall."

Real estate services firm Transwestern, which acquired Chicago-based MB Real Estate earlier this year, is not as optimistic. In its Q4 2022 report, Transwestern said the city's office market outlook was uncertain, due to new office space coming online, old office space not being filled, and remote and hybrid working.

"The rapid rise in interest rates, fears of an economic recession, and the sharp downturn in the tech sector could turn the headwinds into a full-blown storm," Transwestern said.

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.