Jennifer Felten is well known as a real estate attorney and the principal at RELAW, APC. But that just doesn’t really tell the story of how she got to where she is today.
After graduating from UCLA, and armed with a real estate broker’s license, Jennifer began her career in customer service at a title company. While she was good at the work, she noticed the women who worked down the hall in an escrow office had nicer shoes, purses, and dresses. Before long, she worked her way into the escrow side of the business, where she worked as an escrow officer, manager, and trainer. She obtained a Certificate of Achievement from the California Escrow Association as well as the professional designations of both Certified Escrow Office and Certified Bulk Sale Specialist.
Jennifer went back to school at Southwestern University School of Law, and in 2006, received her Juris Doctorate. She began her legal practice working in real estate law. She worked her way up from associate to partner, and in 2015, she launched her own firm, RELAW, APC.
Jennifer has worked to resolve numerous matters including real estate litigation, loss mitigation, title insurance matters, bad faith matters, and probate cases. As a transactional attorney, she handles numerous matters for her real estate clients including subdivision formation, incorporation and business entity management and control. She is a frequent speaker on real estate law, and has written and taught on real estate– related topics for years.
Q: Your firm is involved in real estate law, but you seen to have a focus in some unique areas that go far beyond transaction law practices. How did you zero-in on working with people such as title companies and escrow officers?
My background led me to the niche we’ve built for our firm of representing real estate professionals. Before going to law school, I worked as an escrow officer for 15 years. The knowledge I gained from that real-world experience is now utilized in representing those same professionals. Our firm provides a unique and practical perspective on problem solving and risk management that is invaluable to our clients.
Q: Has COVID-19 changed the type of clients you see or the types of cases coming to your firm?
The real estate industry is currently on a roller coaster as a result of COVID-19. At first there were questions regarding whether the industry was essential, who could continue to work, and in what capacity. RELAW consulted with clients on these matters and helped wade through the confusion, publishing daily updates to keep the industry apprised of new developments. In time it became very clear that both housing and commercial tenancies were both essential and directly impacted by COVID-19. The result has been an increased demand for assistance, such that we are as busy as the rest of the real estate industry managing the current volume of business.
Q: What are some of the most unique or even obscure types of real estate cases you see?
The most creative cases we see involve fraud. There is so much value and money involved in transactional real estate that, unfortunately, the industry is a target for scammers. When you think you’ve seen it all, some new creative scam comes along. We had a case with two sisters, one better off than the other. The wealthier sister was letting her sister live rent-free in a property she owned. In a “no-good-deed-goes unpunished” set of circumstances, upon the death of the tenant sister, it was discovered that she had secretly falsified a deed to the property and sold it to a third party prior to her death. My client had done the escrow transaction and was sued for conspiracy for accepting the fraudulent deed. We successfully defended the case. In another situation, we discovered, after completion of a refinance of the property, that the true owner was deceased and his estate bound up in probate. A third party had recorded a forged probate order transferring title to himself. In a twist of fate, a good portion of the funds were still in escrow upon discovery, so our firm initiated an interpleader to determine the rights of the claimants to the funds.
Jennifer Felten, Attorney