Loyola Law 'Game-Changer' for Top Real Estate Exec
In the mid-1980s Eric Olofson ’90 was, in his words, "a complete failure" in the world of commercial real estate. He decided to pursue a new career, enrolling at Loyola Law School’s Evening Program while continuing to work full-time.
Three decades later, Olofson is executive vice chairman at Cushman & Wakefield, the largest privately held commercial real estate firm in the world, where he has been one of the company's top-producing professionals globally since 2000, negotiating more than 1,000 transactions totaling more than 25 million square feet. And though he didn't become a practicing attorney after earning his law degree and admission to the State Bar of California, Olofson credits his studies at Loyola with helping to turn around his career.
"Earning my degree from Loyola was a game-changer for me. It totally differentiated me among my peers, and made a tremendous difference in my career," Olofson says. "The legal education enabled me to offer my clients something more than my competitors could offer. Also, having the ability to anticipate issues early on that the lawyers will likely raise at the drafting stage is very helpful."
"I deal with lawyers daily on transactions that I negotiate. I have to be able to articulate to them what the parties intended and help them properly draft those intentions. It's easy for parties to agree on something over the phone, but it can be difficult to translate that into a written document that has to survive over many years."
Giving back to the school that he feels has given so much to him, Olofson is a member of Loyola Law School's Board of Directors, which provides counsel to the dean, senior administration and others designated by the dean.
"Loyola provided me with a great opportunity, and I've always felt it is important to give back," Olofson says. "My primary focus is on the Evening Program — the opportunities it provides to people who might not otherwise be able to attend law school, and ways that we can enhance the program to ensure that people take advantage of it."
Olofson says several Loyola professors were inspiring and among "the greatest teachers I've ever encountered."
But perhaps no professor had more impact on his life, albeit serendipitously, than Laurie Levenson, David W. Burcham Chair in Ethical Advocacy. It was in the Criminal Law class taught by Levenson that Olofson not only advanced his knowledge, he also met his future wife, a second-year day student. They've now been married 26 years and have four children. And the family connection to Levenson continues to this day, with not one but two of the couple's nieces in her current class, some 30 years later.