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Name and title: Kenneth P. Corhan, vice president and general counsel Age: 59 Build we must: The Lewis Group of Companies, founded in 1955 by Ralph and Goldy Lewis in Claremont, Calif., is one of the largest privately held real estate development companies in the country, developing mixed-use planned communities and residential subdivisions in California and Nevada. “It’s an exemplar of a Horatio Alger story,” Corhan said. “A mom and dad started it, literally in their garage. A lot of family businesses don’t hold together for generations, but the [couple's] four sons run it. They all have strong opinions, but they have always been able to work together.” The company sold the home building portion of the business in 1999 and converted to land development, building and owning shopping centers and apartment complexes. Particularly in California, where land prices are high and development regulations demanding, developers require money and patience in abundance. “We have an advantage over publicly held companies because we don’t have stockholders asking us why we have so much money invested in some asset that is not producing any income � which is what you have to do if you are going to develop land,” Corhan said. “You have to go through a huge permitting process that seems to get more stringent every year. In California, especially, there are all sorts of concerns with the environment and dense growth, so it generally is quite a while between when we acquire land and when we can sell it off.” The collapsing real estate market these days recalls the early 1990s, when defense spending and Japanese investment, both of which had driven up property prices, both fell off abruptly, Corhan said. “Real estate is a very cyclical business. This [downturn] is probably more severe for the whole country, but the downturn in the early ’90s in Southern California was just devastating � a sort of perfect storm,” Corhan said. “A number of well-run companies found it hard to survive, but the Lewises were able to do so, both through their own acumen and the division in Nevada, which gave them a little diversity in their revenue sources. When they came out of it there were boom times and they managed that very well. Now there is another downturn, and nobody is very happy about it, but the company has seen them come and go before, and will survive this challenge.” Route to present position: Corhan enjoys the advantages of a Yale University education, which he earned exclusively in the company of men. “I graduated in 1970, the last all-male graduating class. It’s the story of my life � bad timing,” he said. “In those days, there was the draft to worry about, and the only thing I ever won in my life was the draft lottery.” Although Corhan avoided military conscription, he served a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps reserves before entering Columbia Law School, from which he graduated in 1974. Through early 1979, Corhan was a law assistant and later chief law assistant in the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court. In April 1979, he went to work at the Rochester, N.Y., office of Nixon Hargrave Devans & Doyle (a predecessor to Nixon Peabody), focusing on real estate. He left in April 1982 for the real estate department in the Los Angeles office of New York-based Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. “I never liked the winters too much in New York,” Corhan said. “I became involved with a woman who moved to the West Coast. I chased her across the country, married her and she’s still my wife.” Corhan left Stroock in January 1987 for the real estate department at Dewey Ballantine Bushby Palmer & Wood in Los Angeles (now part of New York-based Dewey & LeBoeuf). He left a year later to become general counsel at a savings and loan company before joining Lewis Group in late 1989. “I started looking for a purely real estate position, and the Lewis people were advertising for a general counsel,” Corhan said. “I was fortunate enough to be chosen, and I say that in all frankness. It is wonderful place to work. They put a high value on ethical conduct and standing behind their word.” Legal team and outside counsel: The Lewis Group employs five lawyers in-house, including Corhan. The team is focused on land use, leasing, general law, land acquisition and development. For outside help on those matters, the company turns to the Los Angeles office of California real estate firm Cox, Castle and Nicholson and the Orange County office of Los Angeles-based Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis. Buchalter Nemer of Los Angeles assists with creditor rights, while the Los Angeles office of San Francisco-based Littler Mendelson handles human resources and employment issues. Holland & Knight helps out with environmental matters. Other work goes to Orange County office of Los Angeles-based Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and the Law Offices of Gregory D. Thatch in Sacramento, Calif. Daily duties: Corhan’s chief responsibility is assisting with the acquisition and development of land in the burgeoning regions where Lewis Group operates. “We build at the edge of the circle of development,” Corhan said. “Currently, we are doing some projects in what was a big dairy and citrus grove area [outside Los Angeles]. As the Los Angeles area pushes outward, that land becomes much more valuable to sell to us than to keep as a dairy, so we will buy four or five or six dairies, assemble them and go to the city with a vision that is consistent with its general plan. “California has a very sophisticated environmental review process,” he said. “Even a project on 200 or 300 acres � which is not huge for us � could take two or three years. Some of the larger projects can take five years-plus. That is a long time to have money sunk in the land, spending money on consultants and engineers to produce an integrated plan the city agrees will accommodate the uses it wishes to see developed. Then you have to construct it.” Personal: Corhan and his wife, Suzanne Hall, have two children: Laura, 19, and Chad, 15. Corhan has served for 14 years on the Building Industry Legal Defense Foundation and for nine years on the board of the Claremont Educational Foundation, which benefits the public schools in the Pomona Valley area, east of Los Angeles. He is a serious recreational runner, in training for a marathon scheduled for March in Antarctica. It will be his fifth marathon, each run on a different continent. Last book and movie: The Distant Land of My Father, by Bo Caldwell, and No Country for Old Men.

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