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Uncategorized | March 17, 2023 Q&A with Shira Cooks and Kelly Johnson

What does a typical day look like for you at AWS and Majestic Realty Collective?

Shira: I work with AWS’s Identity and Checkout business, which is the business responsible for developing and selling innovative technology services such as Just Walk Out technology, our checkout-free shopping experience, and Amazon One, our palm-based identity and payment service. As part of the legal team supporting this business, I spend a lot of time working with the sales teams globally on negotiating and executing Amazon services agreements. I join sales and forecasting meetings, meet with senior leaders to discuss strategic business decisions, and am often involved in discussions regarding new business lines and product developments. In this role, I also do a fair amount of data privacy and biometric privacy legal work and advisement.

Kelly: The best and most challenging part of this role is that there is no typical day – every day often quickly transitions between supporting our brokers and agents in their real estate transactions across five states, managing the company’s acquisitions of other brokerages, teaching continuing education courses, consulting with outside counsel regarding HR, M&A, and litigation issues, and creating and implementing company and broker best practices, compliance policies, and risk management processes. Our company has nearly doubled in size in the last few years, with now 1,200 brokers and 250 employees in over 50 offices throughout Colorado, California, Utah, Nevada, and Idaho. Our two-person legal department has no shortage of tasks to keep us moving.

How has the coronavirus pandemic/WFH environment impacted your business?

Shira: I started at Amazon in December 2020, when the entire company was remote and I was living in Colorado. I moved to Seattle in June 2021 and have been semi-remote since that time, as our business continued to grow and develop over the past few years. Amazon recently announced that we will be returning to the office 3x week starting in May and, while I enjoy the flexible nature of WFH, I am excited to get back into the office with my team on a more regular basis. There are a lot of benefits to being in the office with other attorneys and business people, and I am looking forward to experiencing the energy of the Seattle Amazon HQ environment.

Kelly: I transitioned from Davis Graham to this role about one year into the pandemic, and by that time, our offices were back up and running at full capacity after only a brief break. The residential real estate market boomed in 2021 and 2022, and we seemed to be fairly insulated from the issues other industries most commonly faced, like fully remote workforces and a decline in business. Certainly, like many other companies, we had to learn to embrace virtual meeting platforms, video tours in lieu of in-person showings and closings, and employee telecommuting. With the success of our telecommuting program, we have since moved certain departments to part or full-time remote working status, but much of our support staff still comes in on a daily basis. There seems to be a new appreciation for in-person meetings and events, but also for the many ways virtual platforms allow us to connect more consistently and on a much broader scale.

What is your favorite memory of working at Davis Graham?

Shira: I really enjoyed the Associate Retreat to Vail in Fall 2016 (I think that’s when it was!) and getting to know other attorneys outside of my practice area.

Kelly: In honor of National Women’s Month, I truly appreciated the Davis Graham Women’s Initiative seminars and events, and most importantly, the fierce female leadership in many practice groups. At Davis Graham, I found many opportunities for learning, mentorship, and inspiration.

Who are some of the people at Davis Graham that had the greatest influence on you and why?

Shira: I worked a lot with Peter Schwartz and Matt Perkins during my time on the Finance and Acquisitions team. Both Peter and Matt staffed me on some very interesting and complex deals that set me up for success working on all kinds of transactions in-house. I also received really great mentoring and advice from other women at the firm including Miko Brown, Kristin Lentz, Julie Blaser, and Michelle Steinfeld.

Kelly: During my tenure, the Davis Graham real estate department was small but mighty. They all embraced me as I transitioned from an east coast practice to Colorado. My five years with the firm was an incredible learning experience from some of the best in the business. I value the skills and knowledge I acquired, the support, and the lasting friendships cultivated there.

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