Each year, Midwest Real Estate News runs its Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame edition, spotlighting the careers of the most talented CRE pros in our region. This year, we are also running these profiles online. Today, we look at the busy career of Michele McCue, member of the Kansas City, Missouri, office of law firm Lewis Rice.
A long career: When we asked star real estate attorney Michele M. McCue how long she’s been in the business, she answered us by reflecting on how much has changed since she began her career.
“Just shy of 30 years. Long enough ago that closing a real estate sale meant all the principal players, their attorneys and support staff, were physically together – often at the title company’s offices,” she said. “Everybody carried in a box or two of files, and the copy machine would run non-stop.”
Knowledge is power: McCue has been around long enough to become an authority. She’s the Assistant Editor, Real Property, for the American Bar Association’s Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal and a member of the Property Law Committee of the American Bar Association and the Missouri Bar’s Real Estate Law Committee. She has been selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® every year from 2008-2018 as well as The Best Lawyers in Kansas City® – Real Estate. She’s a member of both the Missouri and Kansas bars and Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.
The bio: McCue’s first work on a big commercial real estate deal was when she was lawyering for a small Kansas City firm, representing buyers of the Applebee’s restaurant franchise. It led to her decision to move to the real estate department of a bigger firm, where she represented a variety of clients in real estate transactions, including workouts and – appropriate to the period – foreclosures and repositioning of major shopping centers and office buildings.
McCue then moved on to Stewart Title as vice president and counsel, managing the commercial division. She gained insight into corporate management and the title industry, while continuing to be a key player in large real estate transactions, most notably the refinancing of the Country Club Plaza shopping center.
McCue expanded her practice to include developers, tenants, lenders and others engaged in retail, industrial, office, residential and mixed-use projects locally and nationally, after she signed on, in 1994, with the Kansas City office of Lewis Rice.
Making mountains: McCue enjoys being part of new-construction projects, or, as she puts it, “Making mountains out of molehills.”
“Successful commercial real estate developments from the ground-up involve vision and commitment by so many people. There’s an element of camaraderie during the process, and a sense of accomplishment at a ground-breaking, that makes these developments special.”
It’s what’s up front that counts: “I don’t treat any commercial real estate deals as cookie-cutter,” McCue said. “Transactions can move very, very quickly, and one of the first steps I take is to ask the questions needed to understand my client’s goals. It’s crucial to understand not just the project specifics, but what my client wants to accomplish and when. Deals change, certainly, but by having conversations up front to understand my client’s bottom line, I can successfully advocate for my client and react to other parties’ positions.”