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2019 Real Estate Forum Steering Committee Chair Taylor Lawch ’09 Lawch helped organize the University's fourth Real Estate Forum which took place in Arlington, VA.

Lawch-Taylor-Reduced-Size-scaled-600x400 2019 Real Estate Forum Steering Committee Chair Taylor Lawch '09

“Whether it’s a career in real estate or something else entirely, every day will present unique challenges; a strong liberal arts education is the best way to equip yourself to deal with those challenges.”

Washington and Lee University’s fourth Real Estate Forum for commercial real estate professionals was held on October 10-11 at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.

The forum connects students and alumni interested in working in real estate and allows them to network with like-minded peers.

What were your responsibilities as the steering committee chair of the 2019 Real Estate Forum?

My job as the steering committee chair was to help recruit our steering committee. The committee, with awesome help from Lauren and John Jensen and their colleagues on campus, was then responsible for selecting a forum location in D.C. and deciding the overarching real estate topics to cover at the forum’s panels and keynote addresses. With those topics decided, the committee went to work, scouting out our speakers and panelists. Finding speakers really highlighted the power of the W&L network and name brand for me. It’s amazing how many non-alums were thrilled to take part in a W&L event.

If you were talking to a student or an alumnus who had never attended a Real Estate Forum, how would you convince them to register?

Thanks to the support of great W&L real estate alumni and this year’s steering committee, we had a great speaker line-up. That, combined with the chance to visit a great city like D.C., made the convincing part pretty easy, so we were able to sell out the event this year!

How did the Real Estate Forum go? Was it what you expected it to be?

I may be a little biased, but I had a great time at this year’s forum! With about 180 attendees from across the country, it was great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones within the industry. My favorite part of the event was hosting about 65 attendees on a tour of JBG SMITH’s National Landing marketing center and one of the Amazon HQ2 buildings currently under construction.

What were your biggest obstacles in organizing the conference?

We are so lucky to have so many active and engaged W&L grads in the industry. As a result, there were countless offers to help with this year’s forum. I wish I had been able to find a way to get everyone who offered involved in planning the event. Fortunately, there’s always next year (and the years after!) to get new steering committees and speakers involved.

How did you end up in the real estate industry after W&L?

I graduated in 2009, which wasn’t the best time to try and enter the real estate world. Fortunately, another W&L alumnus, Howard Smith, took a chance and hired me at Walker & Dunlop, where I learned from some of the best in the industry. I spent about five years in the real estate finance sector before transitioning to a real estate development role and joining JBG SMITH, where I’ve been ever since.

How did W&L prepare you for your future professional endeavors?

There were no formal real estate classes or clubs when I as in school, and current students are really lucky to get to benefit from that. However, the most important training I received at W&L was a focus on critical thinking, written communication, and self-advocacy. Whether it’s a career in real estate or something else entirely, every day will present unique challenges; a strong liberal arts education is the best way to equip yourself to deal with those challenges.