VOL. 124 | NO. 143 | Thursday, July 23, 2009
Raines Recognized for Real Estate Practice
By Rebekah Hearn
Richard C. Raines
Firm: Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP
Basics: Raines, a member of the firm’s real estate and construction service team, has been named by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as a leading attorney in real estate practice.
“Never in my life would I have thought a landmark building in Downtown Memphis like One Commerce Square would have problems. Just another sign of the tremendous ripple effect of the ‘Great Recession.’”
– Richard C. Raines
Richard C. Raines, a partner at Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP and a member of the firm’s real estate and construction service team, has been named by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as a leading attorney in real estate practice.
He joins two of his colleagues, Charles M. Key and Glen G. Reid Jr., who also were selected by Chambers as leading attorneys in the areas of health care and litigation, respectively.
Raines focuses his practice on financial transactions, mergers and acquisitions, real estate acquisition and development, and disposition.
He has served as general counsel to Union Planters Bank, now Regions Bank, and regularly lectures at seminars on real estate, banking and contract law. He is a member of the Memphis, Tennessee and American bar associations.
Q: How much of your practice would you estimate is devoted to real estate issues?
A: Let me quickly say that I do not litigate for my clients. I am fortunate to have highly skilled litigation attorneys in our office for client referral. I would say about 75 percent of my practice has some aspect of real estate involvement, either as the centerpiece of the transaction or as part of an entity sale or purchase.
Q: Would you say you’ve seen a drop, an increase or neither in the number of clients you serve in the financial industry since the recession began?
A: Since our Memphis office does no residential transactions, I can speak only to commercial transactions. Yes, there has been a significant drop in new commercial finance transactions, but a corresponding increase in commercial loan workouts from our financial institution and other clients. Certainly, we would rather be doing new deals for our clients, rather than workouts. Our developer clients, however, have almost ceased doing new business. Absent higher interest rates and low loan-to-value margins, there is no long-term (five years or longer) money available. Current appraisals are 60 (to) 80 percent of value when compared to value of one or two years ago and tenants are demanding – and getting – lower rents. What results is a Catch 22 – you give tenants lower rent to keep the property occupied and provide cash flow. The lower rent results in lower value and the lower value results in lower loan availability.
Q: As former general counsel for Union Planters Bank, now Regions Bank, what kinds of issues most commonly came up? Have you done similar work with any other financial institutions?
A: I like to think because of my work ethic and fairness, I have developed many friendships in the Memphis financial institution area. These friendships have produced some productive work for our firm. I really like what I do and who I work for and I look forward to coming to work every day. Generally, we get the out-of-the-box type of work, which is certainly more thought provoking for an attorney. In the early 1980s, we worked on a lot of similar issues, but nothing as perverse as today. In the 1980s, the issues were generally restricted primarily to real estate, although I do remember (the) prime rate approaching 21 percent. Today, the problems touch every sector of the economy and we are just as likely to get a local real estate workout matter as we are to get a Fortune 500 workout matter.
Q: What has been one of the more difficult issues or cases you’ve handled during what people are calling the “Great Recession?”
A: Because it is of public record, the recent foreclosure of One Commerce Square office building was a troubling case. It was not troubling because of any legal difficulty, but troubling as a sign of the economy. Never in my life would I have thought a landmark building in Downtown Memphis like One Commerce Square would have problems. Just another sign of the tremendous ripple effect of the “Great Recession,” but like all prior recessions, there will be an end.
Q: Are you involved in any community or nonprofit organizations?
A: For years my wife, Lovie, and I have financially supported and, on a pro bono basis, I have represented Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association in real estate matters on an as, if and when requested basis. We strongly believe in MIFA’s mission and programs and we believe MIFA makes a real difference in many lives in Memphis and Shelby County.
Q: When you’re not working, what are your favorite activities or interests that help you relax?
A: For about 12 years, I was active at the troop level in Boy Scouts. I had the pleasure of making the walk to Eagle Scout with each of our sons, Taylor and Joe. I miss this outdoor fellowship with the scouts and the supportive parents. Now that our sons are young adults, my wife and I can travel, and we love any beach. On the beach, there is no schedule and no dress code. Give us some sand, sun and the sound of the surf, and we are happy.