Career Corner: The making of a real estate financing attorney
Brian Bokor (JD 06) was sure about a lot of things. He knew he was going to end up at the University of Florida Levin College of Law just like his father, Bruce H. Bokor (JD 72), a past chairman of the UF Law Board of Trustees. He also knew he wanted to have a career in structured finance after working for two years as a paralegal with McGuireWoods and Katten Muchin Rosenman before law school. What he did not know was that law school is where he would meet his wife.
They met during their 2L year through a mutual friend and hit it off right away. After graduating, they moved to Charlotte, N.C., where they currently live. Now, Bokor is a senior associate in Alston & Bird’s Global Finance & Debt Products Group. He focuses his practice on commercial real estate finance, representing real estate capital markets lenders in the origination, securitization, servicing and defeasance of commercial mortgage loans. His wife, Amy (JD 06) is a litigator.
“Her stories are always a lot more exciting than mine when we come home and discuss what we did each day,” Bokor said. “But I’ve dabbled a bit in litigation and I’m not cut out for it, and she would probably say the same thing about my line of work. I enjoy the entire process of a loan all the way through the closing where everyone has the same goal in mind.”
While in law school, Bokor purposely chose classes that were more transactional based as well as ones he thought would be beneficial for a corporate attorney. However, he still took the classes he was obligated to take just as seriously.
“There are going to be classes that you’re extremely interested in and there are going to be classes that you don’t have one bit of interest in whatsoever,” Bokor said. “You’ve just got to hunker down and do the best that you can.”
Bokor’s favorite aspect of working at Alston & Bird is its sophisticated, yet diverse, opportunities that allow every day to be a new and different challenge.
“There’s a very good culture in the firm,” he said. “People work hard but play hard and they have a real sense of pride here.”
During his time at UF Law, Bokor was also vice president of the American Bar Association student section. That leadership role still helps him today.
“Typically our clients aren’t looking for advice,” Bokor said. “Oftentimes they’re just as knowledgeable as we are so they’re looking for a leader to help them with transactions.”
Bokor encourages students interested in structured finance to go into interviews with a general understanding of the lending process, but he warns that in order to practice in this field, students have to relocate to a major city.
“Once you have UF Law on your resume, there’s an automatic enhancement as a potential employee,” Bokor said. “Realize that there are other opportunities than the typical law firm experience. You’ll always have this degree and you’ll always be able to use it in one manner or another.”
In his free time, Bokor enjoys working out, watching sports and going to Florida football games. He tries his hardest to have his family vacations include a game day, saying he would rather spend a weekend in Gainesville than a weekend in the Caribbean. He is also currently on the board of directors of the University of Florida Law School Alumni Council.
Most of all, he enjoys spending time with Amy and their two sons, Brennan, 3, and Riley, 7 months. Bokor has high hopes for the two potential baby Gators.
“I would love it (if Brennan and Riley went to UF),” he said. “Ultimately it’ll be their decision and we understand that, but I would be extremely proud to have third-generation Gators in the family.”