Lisa Love Negotiated Her Way to the Top

From counseling two municipalities at the same time to receiving an award from the US Department of Treasury, Love and Long’s Lisa Love has established a reputation as a legal trailblazer

Lisa Love, Comanaging Partner, Love and Long Photo by Tevon Miller

When the phone rang at transactional law firm Love and Long one Friday, comanaging partner Lisa Love debated whether to answer it. She was the last person in the office, and it was late in the evening.

Looking back, Love couldn’t be more grateful to have answered that call, which ultimately set the stage for her firm working for and receiving recognition from the US Department of Treasury. “Being able to say that we represented the Treasury and that they gave us an award because we had done such excellent work was a real turning point for the firm,” Love says.

But counting the Treasury as a client is only one of Love’s achievements, whose career has been defined by her ability to break new ground. With decades of experience and a reputable firm to her name, she’s as much a leader in the legal community as she is a voice for diversity in the field.

There was never any question in Love’s mind that she wanted to be an attorney, especially once she started helping out in her grandfather’s law office. “At ten years old, I was typing wills. By eleven, I had graduated to going to the courthouse––on the bus, by myself––and filing papers,” she explains.

By the time she was in law school, Love had narrowed her desired trajectory down to corporate law. To this end, she participated in a Securities and Exchange Commission clinic as a law student at Georgetown University and joined the corporate finance department of New York City law firm Rosenman & Colin (now Katten Muchen Rosenman Colin) upon graduating.

After ten years at Rosenman, Love took on the role of chief legal counsel to the New Jersey municipalities of Plainfield and Orange Township, making her one of the first women to represent two cities simultaneously. As a city attorney, she oversaw diverse functions that required her to interact and collaborate with a wide range of parties.

“On any given day as a city attorney, I could go from negotiating a contract with a dog-catcher to negotiating a multimillion-dollar bond deal,” Love elaborates. “You walk a fine line as a woman in business where you can easily be called assertive or aggressive, neither which is a positive thing to me. I learned to balance that and to hold my own while representing my clients and dealing with all types of people.”

Lisa Love and Reginald Long, Comanaging Partners, Love and Long Photo by Tevon Miller

Over the same period, Love began building out her practice alongside fellow attorney Reginald Long, whose expertise she views as complementary to her own. At first, Love and Long represented mostly banks, but thanks to what Love calls her “eternal optimism” and “go-after-it mentality,” the firm was soon working on bridge loans transactions for insurance company Prudential Financial. The call from Treasury followed shortly thereafter.

“Those two clients helped us a lot going forward,” Love says of Prudential and Treasury. “But we still had to go out there and market ourselves to get new and sophisticated commercial transactions work.”

Love has done exactly that, leveraging the firm’s reputation and expertise to acquire clients such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the US Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, and various Fortune 500 companies.

“Advancing opportunities for diverse attorneys is one of my passions. It’s important to expose young people to the possibilities of a sophisticated transactional practice so that they can envision one of their career options.”

On top of the firm’s finance, corporate, and real estate knowledge, Love brings her formidable negotiation abilities to the table in her work. “I use my commercial transactional skills to arbitrate disputes among organizations, from franchise matters to mergers and acquisitions to financing matters,” she says, noting her affiliation as an arbitrator with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the American Arbitration Association, the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution, and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Love has also made a point of giving back within the community. She has represented both Newark Arts and the African American Museum in Philadelphia––where she currently serves as general counsel––and she often lends her years of experience to the boards of major legal organizations.

At present, Love sits on the board of directors of Women Owned Law and the Women Lawyers Division of the National Bar Association. She also recently completed two terms on the board of directors of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) and previously co-chaired its Transactional Practice Area Committee, which required her to put together and present continuing legal education panels and related programming.

Love and Long itself is also a NAMWOLF member. Through that organization, Love explains, the firm has gained cross-marketing opportunities with other diverse firms as well as increased exposure to Fortune 500 companies.

“We’re a boutique, women- and minority-owned firm where everyone has expertise acquired from working at the major law firms or Fortune 100 corporations, where we initially started practicing law or working on the business side.”

For Love, one of NAMWOLF’s goals regarding pipeline diversity hit particularly close to home. “Advancing opportunities for diverse attorneys is one of my passions. It’s important to expose young people to the possibilities of a sophisticated transactional practice so that they can envision one of their career options,” she explains. “I would have probably never been an attorney if I had not been exposed to the practice of law at a very young age.”

Love values diverse perspectives at Love and Long as well. “We’re a boutique, women and minority-owned firm where everyone has expertise acquired from working at the major law firms or Fortune 100 corporations where we initially started practicing law or working on the business side,” she says. “I’m always looking for opportunities for us to apply that expertise.”

In the future, Love hopes that those opportunities will include a growing number of collaborative relationships, enabling the firm to expand its reach through partnerships and strategic alliances without compromising on the firm’s autonomy. Furthermore, she wants to continue to develop the firm’s arbitration practice with an eye toward the construction industry.

Across these ventures, Love aims to embody a set of characteristics that she believes every outstanding leader and attorney should possess: “extremely qualified, extremely collaborative, and extremely respected within the legal community.”

A Q&A with Love and Long Comanaging Partner Reginald Long

What motivated you and Lisa Love to start Love and Long?

There are a number of factors that motivated us to form the firm, including our observation regarding the lack of transactional legal services offered by small firms and our complementary skill sets, which include structured finance, commercial real estate, land use, and representation of private and public entities along with our shared commitment to excellence. As a result, we believed that we were properly positioned to form the firm.

How would you describe your dynamic with Lisa as the firm’s two comanaging partners?

The dynamic between Lisa and myself is one of collaboration, cooperation, and mutual respect of our complementary legal experience. With respect to providing legal services to our clients, the primary skills required to represent our clients in any particular transaction generally dictate which of us will serve as the lead on the deal. Also, with respect to law office management, we divide the tasks according to our respective interpersonal, management, and administrative skills.

What are some of your top priorities as a leader at the firm?

As leaders of the firm, one of our top priorities is to provide high-quality legal services to our clients in a manner that is consistent with our clients’ business objectives, a manner that meets or exceeds our clients’ expectations, and that adheres to the firm’s tradition of excellence and integrity.

Another top priority is to increase our opportunities to provide legal services in sophisticated commercial transactions both directly and through partnerships and strategic alliances with other major and small firms in a manner that meets the demands of the marketplace and the global economy.

We are also committed to applying the inherent value and creativity of interpersonal diversity in solving legal problems for our clients, to applying and sustaining an inclusive workforce of the best and brightest attorneys and staff, and to exemplifying leadership in our community and our profession. Accordingly, we constantly evaluate the satisfaction of our clients, our professional capabilities in our practice areas, and our technology resources.

Additionally, we guide and empower attorneys and staff in their roles and constantly examine our marketing strategy in order to ensure that we are properly positioned to enhance our effectiveness and reputation as we reach our target market segment.