Denton’s new Atlanta leader sees further growth

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Todd Silliman (left) and Sharon Gay, Dentons, Atlanta. (Courtesy of photos)

Atlanta-based Dentons managing partner Sharon Gay turned the reins on to Todd Silliman when she resigned her public policy to delve more into what she calls “the problems of the day,” especially the affordable housing crisis City.

Dentons, which describes itself as the world’s largest law firm, acquired a location in Atlanta in 2015 with the acquisition of McKenna Long & Aldridge. Silliman, an environmental attorney, joined Dentons’ predecessor Atlanta law firm as a fourth year associate in 1997, just two years before Gay moved from her post as deputy chief of staff to former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell.

He said he wanted to continue the hiring dynamic of the Atlanta office and focus on its core public policy, real estate, corporate and litigation practices.

Gay went from partner to senior counsel when she took one on new role as chairman of the 50-member Livable Communities Council of the Urban Land Institute Atlanta. Silliman called Gay a “great role model” who “increased our visibility in the city and kept our office within the company on the map”.

Dentons recently found a work and employment partner with approximately 60 attorneys in Atlanta Rodney Moore after adding two high profile public policy partners –Ashley Bell, the former Southeastern Director of the Small Business Administration and former President of Atlanta City Council Ceasar Mitchell. you both advise on public-private development initiatives.

Bell, Co-Founder and General Counsel of the National Black Bank Foundation, advises a Syndicate of 12 black-owned banks under a unique refinancing agreement for the Atlanta Hawks announced in December for a $ 35 million construction loan for the Emory Sports Medicine Complex.

Bell told the Daily Report when he joined Dentons last October that one of his goals was boosting black-owned banks that had shrunk to just 18 across the country after the Great Recession.

“They are exciting additions and we want to keep growing in Atlanta,” said Silliman.

Silliman also hopes that Dentons attorneys and staff will be able to return to the office in greater numbers in the second half of the year. The office expects the first half of 2021 “Mainly status quo,” he said. Most of the staff works from home but can come to the office with permission.

Silliman does not believe that COVID-19 vaccinations will have reached a critical mass by the end of June to bring about a “massive change in work habits”. By the second half of the year, however, he is hoping for “more normal participation in the office”. ”

“As a company, we are considering an increase in business travel and customer events in our budgeting and planning in the second half of the year,” he said.

Silliman’s environmental law practice, primarily advising developers, is both local and national, but it has emerged in the massive case of water wars in three states, a dispute between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama over water use, the Long Aldridge Norman (a predecessor of Long Aldridge Norman), McKenna Long & Aldridge (also born by merger) took over shortly after joining in 1997.

Dentons pulled out of the ongoing Supreme Court dispute a few years ago, Silliman said after representing the state of Georgia for 15 years. “When you do this job, the rate is greatly reduced so that it has a life cycle. It has helped me a lot as a lawyer, but it’s a huge billable time requirement, ”he said.

Silliman said the Dentons merger in 2015 “created an immediate demand for myself and others [in Atlanta] for working with the firm’s corporate and real estate attorneys in the US, ”which helped him expand his practice from regional to national. Customers with projects at the national level want an environmental attorney, he added.

In the Atlanta legal community, Silliman was the chairman of the board of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership, trustee of the Georgia Conservancy, and chairman of the environmental law division of the State Bar of Georgia. He is also the chairman of the Atlanta Shakespeare Company, a member of the Sacristy of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, and a graduate of Leadership Atlanta.

‘Full circle’

As the new chair of ULI Atlanta’s Livable Communities Council, Gay said she wanted to promote responsible land use while focusing on public incentives to encourage the development of more affordable and racially inclusive housing.

“I’ve come full circle on why I went to law school in the first place – to deal with public policy and public affairs,” said Gay. “From a broader perspective, when looking at systemic racism – how does this intersect in income inequality and affordable housing?”

She has focused on land use and zoning issues for more than 20 years in private practice, helping companies work with local governments in public-private partnerships. She and other Dentons lawyers helped pioneer the local use of county finance for tax allocation, which provides investors and developers with tax incentives for economic development projects, including the use of TADs develop Atlantic Station, Camp Creek MarketPlace in East Point, projects around Centennial Olympic Park and Krog Street Market, and the city’s rededication and sale of the Ponce City Market property.

Gay will draw on her experience as Chair of the ULI Atlanta Livable Communities Council’s Affordable Housing Task Force, the one study on affordable housing as part of the development that has become a foundation for policy initiatives such as the affordability of new housing and the racial justice of the city of Atlanta initiative.

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