Kelly Lodde Has Come Full Circle

Kelly Lodde started in customer service for Hilton Grand Vacations. Today, she’s the company’s senior vice president and assistant general counsel.

Kelly Lodde, SVP and Assistant General Counsel, Hilton Grand Vacations Photo: Courtesy of the Hilton Newsroom

To Kelly Lodde, the Washington, DC, firm where she started her legal career was a long way from Kokomo, Indiana, the factory town where she grew up and once built transmission gears, decked head to toe in rubber to protect herself from the oil that spilled out everywhere in the process.

Lodde, now senior vice president and assistant general counsel at Hilton Grand Vacations, recalls when a prominent partner in DC referred to her as a hayseed and she thought, “I just don’t fit in here.”

After two years of a tiny apartment and an hour-long commute, as she watched smoke rise from the Pentagon on September 11, she’d had enough. She arranged to transfer to the firm’s Orlando office. Orlando offered her something closer to the lifestyle of open spaces, pickup trucks, and big dogs that she was used to, and the office had a large time-share clientele—another aspect of the move that felt more like home.

While putting herself through law school, Lodde had worked first as a customer service representative at the time-share exchange company RCI, specifically assigned to assist Hilton Grand Vacation time-share owners. In her law school application, she said that she didn’t see a future in her industry unless she could move to the business side, and she viewed law as a way to get there. While in school, she moved to RCI’s legal department, which she says helped her believe in her vision by showing her the relevance of a lawyer’s work. “I don’t know if I would have finished law school if I wasn’t actually working in the legal field and seeing what the leaders were doing on a day-to-day basis,” she says. “That was the best way for me to go through law school.”

Lodde’s new role in Orlando didn’t last long; on her first day of work, she interviewed for the exact position she’d first envisioned for herself, as an in-house lawyer at HGV. Within days she had an offer she couldn’t turn down. “It’s kind of like going full circle,” she recalls. “First I was on the phones in a call center, talking to Hilton Grand Vacations time-share owners, putting them on vacations, and then six years later, I was an attorney for the company.”

“First I was on the phones in a call center, talking to Hilton Grand Vacations time-share owners, putting them on vacations, and then six years later, I was an attorney for the company.”

Though HGV’s product is real estate, Lodde doesn’t consider herself a real estate attorney; her focus is on marketing and sales. One of her biggest achievements came in 2018, when HGV established the first branded time-share product in Japan—a project twelve years in the making. The challenge was that regulations in Japan are vastly different from those in the US, even down to recording a deed.

“They have another type of recording system. Every little nut and bolt is just totally different,” Lodde explains. “Our competitors are dying to crack the nut.” HGV’s second time-share in Japan is slated to open in 2021.

Lodde also enjoys the opportunity her role affords her to work on different areas of the law on a daily basis. In a period of just a few weeks, she worked on a worldwide equipment financing agreement, a business voucher agreement with a national ride-sharing technology provider, and a lease agreement with the largest resort casino in North America. At the same time, she was reviewing scripts, marketing programs, and advertising for business programs; creating new compliance training for notary team members; guiding the business on a new product offering; and working with outside counsel on an investigation.

“Kelly excels at finding practical solutions in the complex regulatory and legal landscape in which HGV operates by having the savvy and insight to successfully fuse business initiatives with legal realities,” comments Rob Jackson, a partner at Greenspoon Marder. “Her versatility as a practitioner and her kind and witty demeanor make her a true leader that everyone likes to work with,” adds Amanda Chapman, also a partner at Greenspoon Marder.

“We are able to balance the risk quickly and efficiently to get the right level of legal work and right level of legal advice to the right client at the right time.”

To manage everything, Lodde and her team work to be responsive to their internal clients while also knowing when enough is enough. “Most of our business clients don’t want us to over-lawyer something,” she says. “Obviously, we’re doing it to protect the company, but the thing that I think makes us the best in-house counsel is that we are able to balance the risk quickly and efficiently to get the right level of legal work and right level of legal advice to the right client at the right time.”

After seventeen years, Lodde says Orlando and HGV still feel like home. She’s living the life she never could have in DC, with two horses, two dogs, and four cats. “I would absolutely have more if I had more land and time,” she says. She also does pro bono legal support for a low-cost spay and neuter program and teaches Pilates, which she finds an effective way to manage stress.

The irony of her extra commitments as stress relievers isn’t lost on her. “If you don’t have enough to do, you add more,” she says with a laugh.

Expertise Spotlight

Greenspoon Marder is a national full-service business law firm with 240 attorneys and 26 locations across the United States. We are ranked among American Lawyer’s Am Law 200 as one of the top law firms in the US since 2015. Since our inception in 1981, our firm has been committed to providing excellent client service through our cross-disciplinary client-team approach. Our mission is to understand the challenges that our clients face, build collaborative relationships, and craft creative solutions designed and executed with long-term strategic goals in mind. We serve Fortune 500 companies, middle-market public and private companies, start-ups, emerging businesses, individuals, and entrepreneurs nationwide.

Greenspoon Marder was founded with a focus on providing effective, full-service legal representation to the time-share and resort industries. In fact, the firm’s founding partners have built national reputations for themselves and the firm in this multifaceted and dynamic area of real estate law, which can present complex challenges for developers, builders, institutional lenders, owners and operators, and management and marketing companies. Navigating the myriad complexities requires a certain level of technical knowledge, hands-on experience, and innovation. That’s why Greenspoon Marder has spent more than three decades carefully assembling a team of talented attorneys with specific knowledge and experience in each aspect of time-share and resort development projects, including business formation and governance, construction and development, contractual agreements and negotiations, deeded and nondeeded points-based programs, federal and state regulatory compliance, finance and transactions, foreclosures, land use and zoning, litigation, marketing and advertising, project and program documentation, and title insurance and closings. Our national team of attorneys provides a full range of legal services for a wide variety of property types, including expansive use combinations with hotel, time-share, and cruise line interchange; innovative points, weeks, and flex-use programs; mixed-use and multiuse resorts; multisite vacation clubs; time-shares and fractional, resort, and vacation condominium and condo hotel properties; and undivided interest projects.

Cadwalader, Wikersham & Taft LLP:

“Kelly is an amazing lawyer who engineered a very difficult, complex state Attorney General matter into an unimaginably successful result.  She was a sheer pleasure to work with and we congratulate her for this well-deserved recognition”

—Douglas F. Gansler, Chair, State Attorney General Practice

Greenberg Traurig:

“Kelly brings a calming, thoughtful and knowledgeable presence to a fast-paced, complex global business. She strikes the right balance between managing a myriad of legal risks while creating a practical path forward for business teams.”

—Wayne Elowe, Shareholder

Foley & Lardner LLP:

“Congratulations to Kelly Lodde on her well-deserved spotlight in Modern Counsel. Her innovative solutions to legal challenges in an ever-changing industry make her one of the most thoughtful and dedicated lawyers we’ve had the pleasure of working with.”

—Bill Guthrie, Partner & Co-Chair Hospitality & Leisure Industry Team

Jackson Walker:

“Kelly’s no-nonsense, practical approach, coupled with her deep industry knowledge, make her the ideal client. She’s a decision maker who gets things done; and done right the first time.”

—Raman Dewan, Partner