A Chapter of the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY)
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Interview of the Month

An Interview with Tracy Forrest

Susan L. Pollet, Chair of the Archive and Historian Committee

Q: When and why did you become involved with the WWBA?

A: I have practiced real estate law for over 30 years, but until recently it was exclusively in New York City. I recently changed careers and am now the Deputy General Counsel in charge of business development and sales for a title insurance agency in White Plains. I joined the WWBA so that I could network, meet new people, socialize and share career experiences. I first became involved in the WWBA in May, 2022. My first in-person experience with the bar association was attending the annual dinner. I was curious, but at the same time, not sure what to expect. I was not even sure whether I could attend since I am male. Despite my reservations, I was presently surprised. I had a great time, met a lot of new people and got re-acquainted with some friends I had not seen in years.

Q: In what ways have you been active in the Westchester Women’s Bar Association?

A: Since my experience at the annual dinner was so positive, I applied to become one of the chairs of the Real Property Committee and I was selected. As one of the chairs, I have been very active in organizing Continuing Legal Education courses in conjunction with the Westchester County Bar Association (WCBA). In my first year as co-chair, I organized and moderated a CLE entitled “The Emerging Legal Cannabis Industry in New York: What Real Estate Practitioners Need to Know” and organized, moderated and sponsored a CLE entitled “20 Commercial Leasing Practice Pointers in 60 Minutes or Less.” In addition, I helped organize a “Pop Up” social which allows practitioners to attend a networking event without any cost and without committing to the event in advance. It allows practitioners to just “pop up” at the very last minute if their schedule allows.

I also regularly attend the monthly board meetings and attend networking events like the holiday party. Lastly, at this year’s annual dinner, I was installed as a State Director.

Q: Please tell us about your legal career.

A: I am a real estate lawyer with over 30 years of experience in the field. I have specialized in real estate closings, residential and commercial landlord/tenant matters including trials and commercial litigation. I spent the first 13 years of his career in private practice including a large landlord/tenant firm in New York City.

After being in private practice, I then joined the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) where I moved up the ranks over 20 years. For the better part of last 6 years, I was Division Chief of the Landlord/Tenant Division responsible for supervising a team of lawyers, paralegals and support staff. At NYCHA, I was also responsible for creating and presenting seminars where I lectured on housing court procedures to New York City judges and approximately 750 property managers and their staff. As Division Chief, I was also the point person to property managers regarding their legal needs. I was also hand selected to be the Holdover Coordinator for the mayoral “Operation Safe Housing” program, which expedited cases involving highly non-desirable tenants who committed serious crimes.

In May, 2022, I changed careers and became the Deputy General Counsel for Statewide Abstract Corp., the largest family-owned title insurance agency in Westchester which has been in business for over 40 years. I am responsible for business development/sales and handle commercial matters nationwide and residential matters in New York and Connecticut. In this role, it has been an asset to have over 30 years of experience being a real estate lawyer especially since I have experience handling closings and can provide legal advice. I oversee/supervise transactions from contract to closing. My goal is to provide practical solutions to problem transactions that are not routine. When I am not working on transactions, I teach CLE/CE programs. In my first year in this field, I personally gave a CLE entitled “10 Ways to Optimize Rent Collection” and another entitled “Surveys: The Title Basics.”

Q: Which community activities are you involved in?

A: I am also the co-chair the Real Property Committee of the Westchester County Bar Association (WCBA) and an active member of the Real Property Committee of the New York City Bar Association. I was just recently appointed to serve on the Cooperative & Condominium Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association. I am also an active member of the Building & Realty Institute of Westchester (BRI) and the Westchester Owners’ Association (WOA). I also regular attend my village’s affordable housing meetings. Lastly, one of my sons is still in high school and I hope to be selected to be the boys’ varsity tennis coach.

Q: How have you balanced your legal career with your personal life?

A: No sleep! LOL. I usually start my day at 4 am, on the tennis court with my son at 6 am and regularly home for dinner so I can spend time with my family and Maltipoo, “Rambo.”

Q: What do you wish to accomplish in the future?

A: I changed career paths shortly after the pandemic ended. I have spoken to many lawyers in the community and asked them about their experiences with bar associations before Covid and I was very surprised to learn that bar associations played a much larger role with its members before the pandemic. I have been told that the number of lawyers attending general bar association meetings, committee meetings and networking events has substantially diminished in the last couple of years. It has come to my attention that many lawyers are no longer taking advantage of the benefits that bar associations and committee membership have to offer. I believe bar associations, especially the WWBA, can play a vital role in the professional and personal lives of lawyers. My goal is to remain an active member and to recruit others who may need a little convincing.

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