Real Estate managing partner of Katten's Charlotte office Karen Nelson was featured in the Charlotte Business Journal for receiving the journal's Women in Business Award. Karen discusses her accomplishments, why she chose to work in real estate, what inspires her, and what lessons she has learned as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I was drawn to real estate law early in my legal career when I saw how strongly my profession connected me to the communities where people live and work," Karen said. "My passion for real estate has continued to evolve with each authentic relationship I form along the way with my clients and colleagues. I foster these relationships and cherish them as essential components of my life."

As managing partner of the Charlotte office, Karen oversees nearly 90 attorneys and business professionals and is responsible for developing a strategic plan, supporting recruitment efforts, managing relationships with the local community in Charlotte, and maintaining a supportive office environment. In her real estate practice, she assists some of the largest commercial and investment banks and funds, insurance companies and real estate investment trusts across the United States on complicated finance transactions. 

Karen was proud when she became the head of Katten's Charlotte office and wants to give back to a firm that has supported her both professionally and personally. She emphasized the importance of support and mentorship for young professionals.

"Working in a primarily male-dominated field, I first started my career seeing first-hand how there were fewer mentors and role models for women and how this could often lead to attrition or discourage women from pursuing careers in law or commercial real estate entirely. Among the fondest memories of my career are the moments I have spent interacting with other women in the legal profession through networking and mentoring opportunities," Karen said.

Karen is involved in many civic organizations, including Commercial Real Estate Women and Katten's Women Leadership Forum, helping to support women in real estate and law.

When asked what she has learned as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Karen described how she has seen people rise to the occasion and develop a greater appreciation for each other.

"When Katten's Charlotte office moved to a remote work environment in March 2020 due to the pandemic, it did so quickly and seamlessly, leveraging advanced technology to work virtually. This new way of operating requires a great deal of collaboration, flexibility and support, and I was so encouraged by the firm's ability to seamlessly work together and serve clients remotely," Karen said.

Women in Business Awards: Charlotte's leading ladies on how they got to the top.