Interviews with NABL Members from NABL News
Lillian A. Plata, Nee Plata Law LLC, Roseland, NJ
Lillian A. Plata
Nee Plata Law LLC
Roseland, New Jersey
Tell us a little about yourself - your family, your hobbies, etc...
I grew up in Irvington, New Jersey and I have lived in Union, New Jersey for the last 13 years or so. I was raised in a fairly large family. As the youngest of 6 with 5 brothers, I have always enjoyed sports like baseball and football. Today I continue to maintain an active lifestyle. I enjoy running and hiking and I love reading and listening to a variety of music genres. I am a huge proponent of community involvement and mentoring. Over the years, I have sat on a number of non-profit boards that are focused on education and women empowerment.
What first interested you in law?
Growing up, I watched shows like Law & Order and Matlock, which really inspired me to become an attorney. I was impressed by how the various attorneys presented in court and the respect they commanded while fighting for the rights of their clients. It has also always been clear to me how impactful the law is on our lives and communities. My law degree has allowed me to resolve family and employment matters, as well as assist in the financing of childcare centers, university facilities, and high quality affordable housing with community amenities which have provided a better educational and livable environment for communities in need. I also wanted a profession in which I could evolve and the law provides that versatility.
How long have you been a member of the NABL? What’s your best experience thus far?
I have been a member of NABL since 2003. I became more involved when I started serving as a panelist at the Bond Attorneys’ Workshop in Chicago in 2012. By far some of my best experiences stem from being in an environment of professionals that are in my field of practice. As a tax attorney in the specialized field of public finance, there are not that many of us and it is refreshing to be part of an organization that brings us together to network and assist one another in addressing issues that affect our industry.
How has your participation and membership in NABL been of value to you and your practice?
Yes, it most certainly has been valuable. NABL is comprised of all the brightest minds in public finance and tax and the ability to consult and collaborate with other members has been priceless. My membership helps me stay abreast of changing laws, guidance, and best practices. It also has given me a chance to be part of the process of changing tax laws through the committees that NABL forms to provide comments to pending legislation. NABL has been a tremendous resource for my practice over the years.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming more involved with the association?
I would encourage someone to become a part of NABL wholeheartedly. It is a great organization that provides a breadth of resources. If you want to practice public finance and ensure you are up to speed on all you need to know, becoming part of NABL is a must.
Tell us a little about why you decided to start your own firm.
I have always wanted to build my own practice, specifically to focus on the areas of large scale transformative projects that can revitalize urban and rural communities. The combination of my deep background in tax, public finance law as well as my expertise in structured finance utilizing federal and local tax credit programs provide a unique expertise and perspective in assisting my clients’ leverage these financial tools that make difficult to finance but desperately needed projects possible in a challenging financial environment. As an attorney I view myself as an integral part of a development team, assisting my clients in problem solving and providing solutions to mitigate investment risks through legal strategies and identifying ways in which various subsidies and tax credits and other financing instruments can be combined while abiding with the regulatory environment that affects their use in project financing.
Starting my own firm has been incredibly rewarding. Now I get to utilize my experience as a young girl growing up in an impoverished area with my comprehensive legal career to actively affect changes in communities similar to where I grew up. My practice focuses on being an important part of the revitalization process through helping to make projects more feasible and executable in a shorter time period thus providing much needed educational and community resources faster to those in need. To me it is practicing public interest law but in a transactional environment.
From the questionnaire made famous by Bernard Pivot and James Lipton, “What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?”
Move over Jennifer Lopez, I would have most certainly been a dancer or entertainer. Alas that was not to be the case, I was destined to become an exciting tax attorney. But in all seriousness, I would like to teach at a law school and focus on federal tax credit and incentive programs. My experience has been that my specialized area of practice is not one taught in the classroom and most law students are not even aware of this potential career. I would like to expose more students to this area of practice and promote diversity within this field.