Sonia Barros, partner, capital markets at Sidley Austin LLP, participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITworld: 2021 Annual Conference. Barros is also the former assistant director of the Office of Real Estate and Commodities at the SEC.
Barros said that Sidley’s attorneys work across legal disciplines but specifically do all types of legal work for REITs, including formation, equity and debt offerings, financings, M&A, board counseling, activism defense, and SEC disclosure.
“We have over 60 tax lawyers that regularly provide tax advice,” Barros said. “[And] we see more REIT capital market transactions than any other law firm.”
Turning to what’s on the horizon for 2022, Barros said REITs should look ahead to ESG financing issues like green bonds, as well as cybersecurity issues.
“Like all businesses and public companies, in particular, REITs are facing increased pressure on different ESG issues, and now what we’re seeing with REITs is more pressure to adopt ESG quantitative targets and executive compensation programs,” she said.
She added that the SEC has a “pretty aggressive agenda” on cybersecurity issues, with recent actions brought on both disclosure controls failures and disclosure failures related to cyber incidents and that the SEC is thinking about new disclosure requirement rules.