Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Kevin M. Pole
November 1, 2021
By: Kevin M. Pole
Not all legal matters lead to a tangible outcome – something you can physically see and touch.
Property cases are the exception.
When Kevin Pole, deputy chairman of Bond’s property practice, drives through downtown Syracuse with his 13-year-old son, Jack, he can point to structures he helped erect and businesses whose doors he helped open.
“Instead of pushing papers all day, you can hit the road and see your work,” Kevin says. “I can show my son and tell him, ‘That building got built in part because of my work.’”
Back when Kevin was a student at Wake Forest University School of Law in North Carolina, a future in real estate law seemed not only distant, but also highly unlikely. Property classes were not his favorite, and he “never wanted to see the ‘rule against perpetuities’ again in my life,” he recalls with a chuckle. (Kevin’s not alone there, by the way. According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, that rule about vesting of property interests is “virtually impossible to decipher” and as a result, many states have modified it or even abolished it.)
But when the Syracuse native returned to his hometown in 2001 to work at Bond, the wheels of change began to turn. He started in the public finance practice – a good fit for someone who had little interest in litigation and was drawn more to transactional work. He loved the opportunity to do sophisticated work in a market that enabled him to have a good quality of life and have family nearby. Then, when a fellow associate working primarily in real estate left the firm, and Matthew Wells (now chairman of Bond’s public finance practice) arrived with a strong securities background, Kevin shifted over to property.
Lo and behold, a perfect match.
“It was the best thing that could have happened,” he says. “I loved managing projects from start to finish. I liked working one-on-one with clients, maybe helping someone buy their first house. You can see firsthand the impact of your work on someone’s life.”
These days, Kevin handles commercial real estate exclusively, representing clients in the development, sale, leasing and financing of commercial property. Kevin also handles leasing transactions on behalf of landlords and tenants, including national retail tenants. His clients include small businesses, national corporations, higher education institutions and other nonprofit entities.
One of his clients is a national restaurant group with fast-food franchises in four states.
“It’s fun to be able to tell my son, ‘There’s going to be a Taco Bell franchise at that location,’” he says.
Since joining the Firm, Kevin has felt fortunate to work with great clients on transformative downtown projects, including the redevelopment of the Pike Block, the 200 block of Water Street, Jefferson Center and the Post-Standard building.
Born and raised in Syracuse, Kevin moved with his family to Norwich, New York, when he was in high school. At the time, he told his parents they were ruining his life by taking him 60 miles southeast of everything he knew. But Kevin adapted quickly to life in Norwich, playing soccer and basketball (his team won the state championship twice) and, most importantly, meeting Amy, the high school sweetheart who became his wife in 2004. The couple welcomed Jack in 2007. Tragically, Amy, a beloved middle school counselor, passed away in 2012 after a valiant fight to defeat brain cancer.
Kevin devotes all of his free time to his son. Up until this year, he coached Jack’s little league baseball team. The pair play basketball together, spend time with family and friends and travel often to Cape Cod. Through the height of the pandemic last year, they holed up together in their DeWitt home – with Kevin working from the dining room and eighth-grader Jack at the kitchen table.
He also chairs the Bond associates committee and serves on the boards of Francis House and Jamesville-DeWitt Little League. When away from Bond, he considers himself a bit of a craft beer enthusiast, counting local breweries Full Boar and Willow Rock among his favorites, and likes to take in the occasional Phish concert.