I decided to go to law school when I was about six years old. I made up my mind, and I never looked back. My father set the example; he was a political lobbyist for labor unions. He spoke for people who could not speak for themselves, and he encouraged me to develop strong communication skills. The candidates I saw my father interact with were senators and congressmen, and they were all lawyers. I made up my mind that I could be a lawyer.
Betsy McCoy: Career Highlights
1968: Decides, at just six years old, that she wants to be a lawyer while following her father on political campaigns and handing out pamphlets by his side
1980–1987: Attends Creighton University, studying philosophy and communications as an undergraduate before getting into Creighton Law School
1987–2006: Leads her own private law practice in
2006–2007: Returns to school to earn her LLM in real property development after seeing the signs of a real estate market bubble about to burst
2008: Agrees to develop and implement a comprehensive litigation defense strategy for the Related Group as the developer faces potentially thousands of attempted contract cancellations related to the economic crisis
2012: Nears the closing of the Related Group’s largest litigation crisis with only six judgments on the merits out of just fewer than 3,000 claims
Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, young women were just starting to have more substantial opportunities in secondary education. My mother wanted all eight of her children—but especially her daughters—to focus on education. As sure as she would tell us each day to brush our teeth, she would say, “If you have an education, no one can take that away from you.”
In my third year of law school at Creighton University in Omaha, I clerked for Dennis Martin, who was a highly respected and legendary Nebraska trial attorney. Historically, he only hired students who were ranked among the top three academically in their law class. I did not fit that criterion, but I really wanted Dennis as my mentor. Before he was scheduled to go to trial, I prepared jury instructions for him. I walked in his office, handed them to him, and asked for a job. He was astounded that I put forth that effort. He hired me, and soon he was sending me to court to handle routine matters in his cases.
My path from law school graduation to the Related Group is not so complicated. My family moved to Tampa. I had a private practice there for 20 years. During my formative years as a lawyer, I represented the largest lenders in Florida in matters involving real estate developers. When I was 35 years old, I became the youngest person in Florida, at the time, to become board-certified by the Florida Bar as a specialist in business litigation. By practicing at my own firm, I had to learn how to operate in the most efficient manner—something I would later need to accomplish the objectives of the Related Group.
In 2005, an unprecedented number of condos were being built in Florida. I knew there would be a demand for restructuring construction loans, so I researched how to make myself valuable to banks in the litigation that was sure to come. I returned to law school at the University of Miami to earn a Masters of Law in real property development. As I was completing my LLM in 2007, Jorge Perez, founder of the Related Group, and Matthew Allen, its COO, began to look for ways to proactively manage the risks of loss they would face as a developer in the event of a real estate market collapse. Our paths crossed.
I had every intention of returning to Tampa and ramping up my private practice after earning my LLM, but the Related Group offered an unprecedented opportunity. I made a serious commitment to shepherd the Related Group through the expected buyer demands for purchase contract cancellation and to mitigate losses as much as possible. In 2010 we reached a high of just under 1,400 suits at once. We have fewer than 70 suits now and have suffered [as of print time] just six judgments on the merits—a huge relief after resolving nearly 3,000 claims. We successfully worked through what could have been a calamity for any developer.
Another famous quote of my mother’s is “Anything worth doing is worth doing right,” so I have made that philosophy my mantra. I do what I love and put forth the effort to do what I do as well as I am able. ABQ