Women in Law 2023


LAVON M. JOHNS PARTNER Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP

L aVon M. Johns is a partner with Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP and leads the firm’s Business Transactions practice. Clients count on LaVon’s experience, insight and commitment to help them anticipate issues, address challenges and, ultimately, get to “yes” in crucial transactions. A consummate dealmaker who balances business savvy and legal know-how with outstanding communication skills and a deep commitment to building long-term client relationships, LaVon focuses her practice on complex commercial real estate and finance matters with a particular emphasis on public/ private partnerships and the not-for-profit sector. LaVon represents commercial and industrial clients in multimillion- dollar commercial real estate transactions, including acquisitions, dispositions, real-estate based financings, workouts, development transactions and complex commercial retail, office and industrial leasing transactions in the United States and abroad. She has deep experience counseling clients on the real estate aspects of corporate mergers and acquisitions transactions, and she is certified as an Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP) by the U.S. Green Building Council. LaVon has advised borrowers and lenders in a variety of secured and unsecured financing transactions, including lines of credit, credit enhancement and conventional mortgage loans. She is also well versed in governmental incentive-based transactions using vehicles such as tax credits, TIF, LIHTC and NMTC to achieve her clients’ goals. LaVon has been engaged to act as counsel in some of the nation’s largest public/private partnership infrastructure transactions, including serving as lead real estate counsel to the City of Chicago in a $1.8 billion transaction in the privatization of the Chicago Skyway

Toll Bridge, a $563 million transaction in the privatization of the Chicago Parking Garage System and the initial $2.8 billion proposed privatization of Chicago’s Midway International Airport. LaVon’s experience with nonprofit and faith-based organizations includes advising on issues relating to federal and state law governance, local governmental politics and relations, governmental compliance and 501 regulatory issues, commercial real estate development (including expansion and leasing), real property gifts issues, unrelated business income, real estate property tax issues, foreclosure and workouts. Adept at handling the challenging crisis situations of her clients over the past 15 years, LaVon is an effective crisis management lawyer for public executives, professionals, governmental officials, not-for- profits and business entities facing challenging circumstances. LaVon is also deeply committed to developing the next generation of diverse law firm professionals. She serves as an adjunct instructor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, where she teaches courses in commercial real estate law. She is also the immediate past president (2022) of the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE). She has mentored countless young lawyers, with a particular focus on opportunities and career development for women and minority lawyers. LaVon is active with the Monarch Award Foundation, a Chicago nonprofit that implements community service programs, scholarships and charitable donations. She is a steering committee member for the Greater Chicago Food Depository 2024 Commercial Real Estate Awards. She holds a B.A. in philosophy, cum laude, from Creighton University, and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law.



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