‘Each MPC is a puzzle’: 5 Questions for Rachel WilsonFebruary 5, 2020
The attorneys and staff at The Watson Firm bring to the table a wide array of experience and expertise, all of which contributes to the firm’s ability to provide tailored service to our clients in the master-planned and mixed-use communities.
Rachel Wilson took a winding path to The Watson Firm, but we’re glad she’s made her home here in Dallas, providing exceptional counsel to developers in all phases of master-planned community development. In the first of a series dedicated to introducing the talented lawyers and staff that comprise The Watson Firm, we asked Rachel about her work, how she found herself in Texas, and her favorite sightseeing stops in Big D.
1. You began your career in Atlanta before moving to Dallas. Why did you decide to make the move to the Lone Star State?
Crazily enough, until 2008, I had never set foot in Texas. After growing up in Atlanta, attending undergrad in Philadelphia, working in D.C. and Atlanta, and attending law school in Athens, Georgia, (with a short stint in New York thrown in for good measure), I thought I was finished with moving when I took a job in Atlanta in 2007 after law school graduation. About eight months, my then-fiancé – now husband – got a call from a recruiter about a job in Dallas. We never expected it to pan out, but one thing led to another, and we moved here in the spring of 2008. We were (relatively) young, so we thought it would be a fun adventure, and that, worst-case, we could move if we didn’t feel at home within a few years. Well, we’re now on year 13 of our “three-year plan,” have two daughters who are Texans, and don’t see ourselves living anywhere else!
2. Before working at The Watson Firm, you were with one of the largest law firms in the world. How did that prepare you for your role at The Watson Firm, and what are some of the differences between the two firm environments?
Working at a large firm for the first few years of my career was a great way to get a feel for the variety of real estate transactions out there – everything from medical office building acquisitions to portfolio loan workouts – and also get exposure to the many facets that make up these transactions – not just contracts and deeds, but also management agreements, legal opinions, and leases.
Being at The Watson Firm has allowed me to settle into a specialty within real estate so that my clients know they’re dealing with someone who knows their industry and their property type, and therefore the ins and outs of their deals. Even when working with other attorneys and staff members within our firm, I have an eye on every step of a project, from beginning to end. I also have the pleasure of dealing directly with many dynamic, knowledgeable, and fun clients, to the point where we develop friendships over the years.
3. Your community involvement is spread throughout Dallas, from northeast to downtown. Tell me a little about that work and what you get out of it.
As a lawyer, I spend a lot (I mean, a lot) of time in front of my computer screen and on the phone, so I always look forward to in-person meetings and events as a way to talk with people face-to-face, while I’m “off the clock.” Not only is it an honor to be part of Urban Land Institute’s Center for Leadership, on the Board of Trustees of Temple Emanu-el, and to volunteer at The Hockaday School, where my daughters attend, all have been great ways to meet and learn from others in and out of the real estate world. Most rewarding is being able to give a bit of time to organizations that have meant so much to my career and to my family.
4. As someone who’s familiar with so much of the city, what are your top three recommendations for sightseers?
Take a walk through the Dallas Arboretum, especially if you’re here in the spring for Dallas Blooms or the fall for the Pumpkin Village, and make sure to take in the view of White Rock Lake.
Explore the Dallas Farmers Market, and pick up some local produce, some goodies from the vendors, and lunch—if you can sample different courses from a handful of different restaurants, even better!
Wander through the Dallas Museum of Art or the Nasher Sculpture Center, and afterwards, see what’s going on at nearby Klyde Warren Park while admiring the Dallas skyline with a snack from one of the food trucks.
5. From initial purchase and construction, to HOA formation, you handle every phase of community development. What would you say is the most interesting or enjoyable part of your work?
The most enjoyable component of my work is doing homebuilder contracts. I’ve worked with dozens of builders and know what makes each one tick, so I enjoy making the contracts reflect a framework that makes sense for both the developer and the builder. Overall, the part that I find most interesting is how every document works together. For instance, you can’t draft a homebuilder contract without understanding the utility districts, CC&Rs, and financing, and the same holds true for every other document. Each MPC is a puzzle, and it’s fascinating to help the pieces fit together.
About The Watson Firm
The Watson Firm provides legal services for master-planned, mixed-use and resort communities. Our industry experience, both on the business and the legal side, is what makes us uniquely capable of guiding clients through the myriad of legal issues involved with any new or ongoing development.