Richard La Jeunesse grew up in the house where his father was born, a modest two-story in River Rouge, an old-French community of Detroit, and later dubbed the “Heart of Industry” given its proximity to Henry Ford’s world-renowned Ford Rouge complex. He spent his youth on the same street as a Standard Oil tank farm, across from the Marblehead Lime Company, and close to Great Lakes Steel Company’s 80-inch wide hot-strip mill, which rolled steel into coils for cars. …What a great launching pad for someone who would one day head south, and focus his legal practice in the areas of corporate, real estate, and environmental law!
The first of his family came to Detroit, then a part of “New France”, around 1749 from the village of Vif on the outskirts of Grenoble. His grandparents on his father’s side spoke French as their first language; Polish was the operative language of his household on the maternal side. So Richard grew up in a linguistic “bouillabaisse” resulting in his study of several languages, as well as formative year-long educational scholarship and fellowship experiences in France and Belgium.
Richard explains that “La Jeunesse” in French means “youth”…so he claims that the older he gets, the younger he stays, which is a real forward-looking outlook to take on challenges in the evolving world of law, business and real estate.
“I feel like I’m living the American dream,” he says. He is gentle and thoughtful, with the patient nature of a gifted teacher. He enjoys public speaking and is interested in the broader aspects of American and international culture. His resume has always been peppered with various international and cross-cultural connections.
Richard has had many hobbies and interests over the years, but the one interest that he never grew out of was magical entertainment. It started in the first grade, when he received a Remco Magic Set for Christmas. He was an eighth grader when he did his first public performance for the local Rotary Club. He performed magical entertainment throughout high school, college and law school, at parties, schools, shopping centers and even on children’s television, finding that an attractive way to defray educational expenses.
He is a member of a professional association called the International Brotherhood of Magicians and continues to do charity magic shows, primarily for children and various fundraisers, such as the Rotary Club’s Holiday parties for disadvantaged children. It takes no coaxing whatsoever to get him to pull a sleight-of-hand trick from his pocket. He is a happy performer, almost radiant with joy.
As an attorney, his tack is to evaluate, take in a given situation in its totality, then work to develop a creative approach to whatever the issue may be. As with his magic, he likes to surprise.
“I’m not intimidated to think outside the box, to go where others wouldn’t normally go to get to where a client needs to be. I would say I’m known as one who is willing to hazard an unconventional approach to problem solving when I deem it appropriate. Not reckless, not foolish, but fully considered. I am inclined to look at original, alternative paths rather than taking a formulaic approach.”
Richard practices in the areas of real estate, environmental, corporate and international law. He has extensive experience counseling clients and lecturing about real estate, acquisitions, developments and construction projects. He is also involved in real estate issues concerning commercial leasing, tax appeals, real property tax valuations, eminent domain, reduction strategies, IRS Section 1031 tax-free real estate exchanges, real estate investment and economic development inducement issues, including tax abatements, tax-increment financing, community reinvestment areas, enterprise zones and other governmental inducements. Richard has coordinated diverse real estate acquisitions and development projects, including medical office buildings, hospital and health care facilities, regional shopping malls, retail centers, office buildings, industrial facilities, subdivision developments, mixed-use projects, condominium developments and residential transactions.
Richard has worked with environmental regulatory compliance and liability management strategies concerning air, water, and hazardous waste/substances. This has included environmental site assessment reviews, compliance/enforcement activities under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and other statutory and regulatory frameworks.
Richard chaired the Firm’s Real Estate Group for a number of years and has served on the Firm's Executive Committee.
Richard is an active member and Past President of the Cincinnati Rotary Club. He has taken on multiple roles and earned recognition for his volunteerism including the 2006 John W. Warrington Community Service Award by the Cincinnati Bar Association. Richard has also been named an Ohio Super Lawyer from 2006-2016 and has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for his work in Corporate Law and Real Estate Law from 2005-2016. In December 2013, the Real Property Law Committee of the Cincinnati Bar Association recognized Richard with its annual award of “Real Property Law Practitioner of the Year.” Based on the grading and comments of his peers, Richard is recognized with an AV Rating, the highest rating given to lawyers by Martindale-Hubbell.
Richard was certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP).