Jena Watson, formerly of HomeStreet Bank, has joined ArentFox Schiff as a partner.
Watson, who is based in the San Francisco office, will work in the firm’s Real Estate and Municipal Bond practices. She has nearly 30 years of experience managing project and municipal finance and commercial real estate transactions, including 10 years in senior in-house counsel roles in financial institutions.
“A seasoned finance lawyer, Jena has proven herself to be a trusted advisor to companies and governmental entities in structuring and securing financing for their most critical development projects,” said David L. Dubrow, partner and Municipal Bond Recovery Team Leader. “Having worked with Jena personally over the years, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of her business-minded approach, extensive knowledge of public and private financings, and genuine care for driving the best possible outcomes. We could not be more thrilled to welcome her to the team.”
Watson left HomeStreet Bank, where she was a senior vice president, associate general counsel and associate corporate secretary, to join ArentFox Schiff. While there, she advised leadership teams on regulatory strategy, legal compliance, and operational issues, while also managing commercial agreements and financial transactions. Earlier in her career, Watson served as associate general counsel of the multifamily division at Fannie Mae and, prior to that, spent many years in private practice at large international law firms.
For over a decade, she served as bond insurer’s and servicer’s counsel for permanent and construction loans, securitizations and loan restructurings of over $8 billion of military housing privatization transactions.
Her experiences as both outside counsel and in-house counsel for major financial institutions have given Watson a unique perspective on understanding and accomplishing her clients’ goals.
At ArentFox Schiff, Watson will counsel both private and public companies on a range of financing transactions. Her practice will focus on serving as counsel in municipal finance transactions; assisting clients in financing, real estate, and other aspects of infrastructure deals; and advising on public-private partnership projects.
Watson has represented both lenders and borrowers in private debt financings, recapitalizations and acquisition facilities, leveraged and structured financings, mezzanine debt, securitized executions and distressed debt situations, among other complex transactions. She has worked on large financial transactions in numerous industries, including housing, energy, and manufacturing projects.