Gwyn McNeal, executive vice president and chief legal officer at Extra Space Storage Inc. (NYSE: EXR), was a guest on the Nareit REIT Report podcast.
McNeal discussed her role at Extra Space, the merger with Life Storage and issues she has dealt with on the legal and personnel side, legal issues facing all REITs today, as well as advice for those seeking a legal career in the commercial real estate sector.
Turning to the priorities for 2024 that she is most excited about, McNeal referred to a mandate from Extra Space’s CEO to focus on the fundamentals, after an “incredibly crazy” 2023. That involves making sure new staff are fully onboarded and trained, operating platforms are able to fully support the newly merged company, and that properties acquired through the merger are up to the same specifications as the Extra Space properties.
As for legal issues on REIT radars today, McNeal pointed to the rising number of state-issued state of emergency proclamations. She also pointed to an increase in wage and hour litigation, especially in New York state. Meanwhile, “just the sheer proliferation of rules and requirements coming out of the SEC in the last two years has been something that all boards and all legal departments and financial accounting departments have really had to stay on top of,” she said.