Hartman Simons is excited to welcome a new lawyer to the fold: associate Ruth Hughes. Ruth brings a unique combination of experience to our firm, as she has worked as both a lawyer and a commercial real estate executive (click here for an overview of her career).

In today’s Four on Friday, we chat with Ruth about her Hartman Simons practice, why she became a lawyer and how she would spend her days if money were no object. Many thanks to Ruth for her time.

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Hughes

On what areas will your practice at Hartman Simons focus?

Hughes: My practice will focus on the leasing, acquisition, disposition and financing of commercial real estate projects, including mixed-use, retail, office and industrial properties.

Give us an overview of your career before joining Hartman Simons.

Hughes: Although I am fairly new to the practice of law, I have over 18 years of experience in commercial real estate. My career began at a family-owned commercial real estate firm in my hometown of Rome, Ga. Since moving to Atlanta in 1995, I have worked as an intermediary and for one of the country’s largest real estate investment and management companies.

Although I have experience will all property types — retail, office, industrial, mixed-use, hotel, condo and multi-family — I particularly enjoy working on retail projects.

For the last three years, I worked for a consulting company headquartered in New York that provides financial advisory and litigation support services to attorneys, businesses and other constituencies. My role was primarily in the area of litigation support, and I had the opportunity to work on several large litigation projects.

What inspired you to become a lawyer, and what do you most enjoy about the profession?

Hughes: In my role as an intermediary, I had the opportunity to work with several very good real estate attorneys and paralegals (some of whom are now my colleagues at Hartman Simons). I often thought about going back to law school, but put the idea on the back burner. As my career developed, it became clear that I needed an edge to move to the next level. Law seemed like a natural fit.

I started law school at the age of 36, and completed the night program at Georgia State University College of Law while working full-time. It was tough, but I was blessed with the support of friends, colleagues and family to help me get through it.

I have to say that the thing I enjoy the most about the practice of law is people. Although there are some exceptions, most attorneys I meet and have had the pleasure of working with are smart, dedicated and, believe it or not, pretty funny.

Even the bad apples can be interesting. I’ve been fortunate to work on a variety of projects all over the country, and have worked with some real characters over the years. I think the experiences, good and bad, have made me a better professional and a better person.

Before we go, a light-hearted question: if money was no object, what would you do with the rest of your life?

Hughes: I would buy a house in the mountains (I love the peace and quiet); run a small bar featuring ice cold beer, a jukebox (classic rock or country only) and free advice (you get what you pay for); and travel.