SUSAN FOWLER McNALLY, 52

Firm: Gilchrist & Rutter Professional Corp.

Law School: UCLA

Clients: Maguire Properties Inc., Thomas Properties Group Inc., Maguire Investments

Susan Fowler McNally studied urban planning in college. But after a few internships while she was an undergraduate student at University of the Pacific in Stockton, she realized that if she wanted to have an impact in planning, development and sustainability, a career in law was a better way to go.

Fowler McNally interned for planning agencies in the Lake Tahoe and San Diego areas, but found that it was the lawyers, not planning departments, who could best influence city officials about planning decisions.

“So if I wanted to have any sort of impact on urban planning I realized I should be the lawyer and not the planning person,” Fowler McNally recalled.

So Fowler McNally signed up for law school at UCLA, and after graduating in 1981, she set on a legal career centered on real estate and sustainability. She joined Gilchrist & Rutter Professional Corp. in 1985 and almost immediately began working with some of the firm’s biggest clients – developers Robert Maguire and Jim Thomas, whose company was then building several iconic Los Angeles office buildings.

Fowler McNally worked on some of the highest-profile projects of Maguire Thomas Partners, including the Gas Co. Tower and the Library Tower, which is now known as the U.S. Bank Tower, the tallest building in the West. She handled everything from financing and construction to leasing issues. It gave her a chance to do business with stars in business and architecture and was a coup for a young associate.

“It was great being a relatively young person and negotiating a contract with architect I.M. Pei for the tallest building west of the Mississippi River,” she said. “It was quite a cool thing. I had studied architecture. I knew who these people were!”

Though Thomas and Maguire later parted ways, she has retained their successor companies as clients. She’s gotten a chance to work with Thomas Properties Group on sustainability issues.

Away from the office, Fowler McNally enjoys body boarding, also know as boogie boarding.

A resident of beachside Del Rey, Fowler McNally body boards in the waters off Manhattan Beach about once a week. It is a hobby she picked up four decades ago, growing up in San Diego.

“When they first invented boogie boards I was one of the first to buy one,” she said. “When you are lying on your stomach you can get barrels on small waves. I’ve gotten to the point where I am really good at it.”

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