Jim Milano talks move to new law firm, ongoing reverse mortgage work

Milano, who has been with the firm providing outside counsel to NRMLA for years, explains how the reverse mortgage business is still at the center of his work

Earlier this year, attorney Jim Milano made the move to a new law firm, McGlinchey Stafford, after spending years with Weiner Brodsky Kider, the firm that operates as outside counsel to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA).

Milano, who has spoken at several NRMLA events on matters of law related to the industry, has a history with McGlinchey.

Milano previously relayed to RMD how he became involved in the reverse mortgage industry. To discuss his transition to the new firm and how much of his work will remain focused on the reverse mortgage business, RMD sat down with Milano.

Making the move

McGlinchey was established in New Orleans in 1974 in a single downtown office and has grown into a firm with more than 150 attorneys across 14 offices nationwide. In the 1980s, the firm began a small consumer finance practice group that slowly grew in size and importance within the law practice over time.

Roughly five times between the 1990s and around 2019, the firm reached out to Milano and asked if he would join its ranks. An ultimate difference-maker for Milano — after performing an annual career assessment — was the nature of what such a move might require of him.

Jim Milano, attorney at McGlinchey Stafford who works with the reverse mortgage industry.
Jim Milano

“Unlike today, back then we weren’t enmeshed in remote work,” Milano said. “And me going to work for this firm would have entailed moving either back to Louisiana or, most likely, upstate New York, like Albany. In the mid-90s or early 2000s, I wasn’t ready to make that move.”

Milano enjoyed living in Washington, D.C. He participated in important conversations about the trajectory of the reverse mortgage industry along with the other work he did, so he didn’t seriously entertain an offer to join McGlinchey in 2019. But when the COVID-19 pandemic began, it changed the circumstances enough that he started considering it.

“As we came out of [the pandemic], part of my annual thought process that I started thinking about was the idea of being able to work somewhere else, and working remotely came into my mind,” he said. “I talked to these folks, and the idea that they had presented to me two or three years before was still on the table. It wasn’t a very long process.”

Part of that came from a high number of previous personal and professional acquaintances who worked in the consumer finance practice group, owing to his ties to the local community, ultimately paving the way for his transition into the firm earlier this year.

Ongoing reverse mortgage work

When asked about how much his core responsibilities have changed when it comes to reverse mortgage work at McGlinchey, Milano explained that most core aspects are similar.

“I continue to do a lot of the same work,” he said. “I support lenders with hyper-technical HECM questions. I can’t talk too much about some of my other work, but it includes working on new private programs that you or others may see in a few months or next year.”

The volatile interest-rate environment and market climate have dampened demand for those kinds of loans for the moment, but Milano is confident it will return at some point. As a firm overall, McGlinchey is very focused on the consumer finance space, which includes work with the reverse mortgage industry.

“McGlinchey is not known in the reverse space,” he said. “They’ve been doing their work quietly to the side. But I certainly know them because years ago when I was working for a private lender and I had to deal with attorneys here, I knew that they were working for investors that were buying my clients’ loans.”

This included running into members of the firm at NRMLA conferences, but joining its ranks revealed to Milano that there was depth to its mortgage practice, which includes a fair amount of work in reverse, he said.

“I knew they had a robust consumer finance practice group, and I knew they did auto finance, fintech and student lending,” he said. “I didn’t know how much and how deep their mortgage practice was, and that they were doing so much reverse mortgage work.”

Reverse mortgage commitment

At industry events, Milano gets common questions from attendees about whether or not he is still involved in the reverse mortgage industry, and one of the reasons he wanted to sit down with RMD in the first place was to emphatically communicate that he is.

“I never stopped and continue to do the work I was doing,” he said. “When I joined this firm and they put the offer together, they asked me to let them know if there was anything else they can do, so I told them that I’d seen their attorneys at NRMLA meetings.”

He requested that if the firm was not already a member of NRMLA to become one, and they immediately agreed, Milano explained.

“That’s really the only ask I had of these guys, and they recommitted,” he explained. “I think they were members years ago, and so they re-upped their membership. I’m still involved in NRMLA on all of the committees I was involved in before, but now as a member.”

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