Vicky Gunning, Managing Partner with Locke Lord LLP’s Dallas office, decided on a law career because of her uncle. The uncle, a practicing attorney in the small town of Stroud, Oklahoma where Gunning grew up, was admired and trusted.
But, it wasn’t the deference alone that intrigued Gunning. It was the fact that, each afternoon, her uncle would take the phone off the hook at 3 p.m. sharp, and go have tea. “This was a profession in which I’d be well-respected,” Gunning said. “And, I’d be able to have tea at 3 p.m., and take the phone off the hook every day.”
Needless to say, as a veteran attorney with the law firm, Gunning doesn’t really take an afternoon tea break. “This is a service-oriented business,” she said. “If you want to keep your practice, you shouldn’t take the phone off the hook and have tea.”
However, in her close to three-decade tenure at Locke Lord, Gunning has earned plenty of respect and trust. As the firm’s Real Estate and Real Estate Finance Practice Group’s Co-Chair, Gunning works with financial institutions and venture capital companies on everything from real estate-secured loans to debt restructurings to foreclosures. She also uses her vast array of experience to counsel commercial real estate owners and developers on issues including buying, building, and leasing.
It all started in 1990 when Gunning, armed with a law degree from Southern Methodist University, joined Locke Lord. North Texas, at the time, was still reeling from the real estate crash, and Gunning cut her legal teeth on foreclosures and loan workouts. “Two years into my practice, I was thrilled to finally draft a contract for a client to acquire a commercial property,” she said.
These days, having been through the region’s economic ups and downs, and drafting and executing thousands of contracts on behalf of her clients, Gunning said that her favorite part about the practice of commercial real estate law is the relationships, not to mention how commercial real estate builds value within a community.
Gunning is also active in the community, partly through her work with The Real Estate Council (TREC), where she serves as the organization’s secretary. “It is the largest and most effective commercial real estate organization in town,” she said. “The group digs into issues that surround being in the commercial real estate industry in Dallas.” This year, she went on to say, TREC is seeking out a catalyst project, something similar to Klyde Warren Park. “We’re looking for something that is transformational, in a part of Dallas that needs and wants it,” she added.
Gunning is also very much involved with the Dallas chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women’s Network (CREW), which she calls her “secret weapon.” “Part of the reason I’ve been successful in commercial real estate is because of CREW,” said Gunning, who serves on CREW Network’s international board.
Much like her Stroud-based uncle, Gunning believes in building community and relationships. “Despite all the jokes, the law is a noble profession,” she said. “We are helping our clients through challenging situations, and helping them create value for themselves and their communities.”