National law firm Reno & Cavanaugh has tapped two local lawyers to run its new downtown Nashville office.
The firm, based for the past 30 years in Washington, D.C., works on economic and community development projects across the country, advising clients on federal, state and local regulatory requirements.
Dwayne Barrett and Hannah Cassidy have moved from Stites & Harbison to head Reno & Cavanaugh's office in the Fifth Third Center on Church Street. The firm has signed up for 3,500 square feet for six years.
The expansion to Nashville was a "people-driven move," said Cassidy, who had worked with Barrett and Reno & Cavanaugh on a number of deals.
"We would each be working on different aspects of the deal, but we all got to know each other over time, and it seemed like a good fit," she said. "The point of the expansion was to include us; it was not location driven."
Barrett, a tax lawyer who practiced with Cassidy for 12 years at Stites, structures deals using low-income housing tax credits, tax-exempt bond financing, tax increment financing, and various federal and local housing and economic development programs.
Cassidy, a real estate lawyer with broad-based experience in commercial, residential and mixed-use development, counsels owners, lenders and investors through all phases of real estate development, and structures transactions to combine private funds with various state and federal sources.
The Nashville office just hired real estate lawyer Lillian Gilmer from Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis as an associate. Cassidy said they may add employees at a rate of one or two a year.
"We're not looking to have an enormous, ridiculous pace of expansion, but we do see this as an area that is growing more complex," she said. "The deals are larger, and there are more people who need help, so we see a growing need for this kind of work."
Both Barrett and Cassidy have done most of their work in the private sector, working with for-profit and nonprofit developers, groups coveted by Reno & Cavanaugh. The firm currently represents clients involved with large urban redevelopment efforts, such as the "Plan for Transformation" in Chicago and the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative in D.C.
"The firm is involved in a lot of policy in this area, but they have mostly represented the public side of the deal, whereas we have primarily represented the private side," Cassidy said. "They wanted to expand more into the private side, and we wanted to do more on the public side."
Cassidy said she and Barrett were drawn to the firm because of its national reputation and clear focus on real estate, economic development and affordable housing law.
"It's nice to be a part of a group where everyone is focused on the same thing," she said.