Photo of LaVon M. Johns

LaVon M. Johns





Northwestern University School of Law, J.D., 1996

Creighton University, B.A., cum laude, 1993

Bar Admissions

LaVon Johns is an experienced real estate and finance attorney who provides clients with a broad range of practical knowledge and legal proficiency in all facets of lending, asset-backed financings and public-private partnerships. Specifically, LaVon has decades of experience providing legal counsel to some of the most recognized nonprofit and faith-based organizations in the country. She is also an effective crisis management lawyer for public executives, professionals, governmental officials, not-for-profits and business entities faced with complex immediate crises in high-profile settings. 

For almost 25 years, LaVon has represented commercial and industrial clients in multi-million dollar commercial real estate transactions, including acquisitions, dispositions, real-estate based financings, workouts, development transactions, office and retail management transactions, and complex commercial and office lease transactions relating to real property located in the U.S. and abroad. She also has extensive experience counseling clients engaged in corporate mergers and acquisitions involving real property. LaVon is one of very few attorneys in Illinois to attain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP) accreditation issued by the U.S. Green Building Council.

LaVon has significant expertise advising governmental clients in public/private partnership infrastructure transactions. Over the past 15 years, she has acted as lead real estate counsel to the City of Chicago in a $1.8 billion transaction in the privatization of the Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge, a $563 million transaction in the privatization of the Chicago Parking Garage System and the initial $2.8 billion proposed privatization of Chicago's Midway International Airport.

LaVon has advised borrowers and lenders, including banks, financing companies, financial institutions and governmental entities, in a variety of secured and unsecured financing transactions, including refinance transactions, lines of credit, letters of credit/credit enhancement, conventional mortgage loans, TIF financings, LIHTC financings, NMTC, receivable financings, loan portfolio acquisitions, workouts and foreclosures, senior and subordinated loan participations, construction financings, equipment financings and sale and leasebacks. She also has extensive experience representing banks and financial institutions that are subject to FDIC loss/share agreements.

LaVon's experience with nonprofit and faith-based organizations includes advising on issues relating to federal and state law governance, local governmental politics and relations, governmental compliance and 501 regulatory issues, commercial real estate development (including expansion and leasing), real property gifts issues, unrelated business income, real estate property tax issues, foreclosure and workouts. In addition, she has represented numerous faith-based lenders in connection with loans to faith-based borrowers and in the execution of loans for charitable purposes and missions.


Illinois Super Lawyers, 2006, 2008, 2011-present

Top Real Estate Attorney, Leading Lawyers Magazine, 2011-2016

Best Lawyers in America, 2010-2011

Leading Women in Real Estate, Real Estate Publishing Group, 2005-2016

"40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 To Watch," Law Bulletin Publishing Company, 2004

100 Top Women in Real Estate, Illinois Real Estate Journal, multiple years

LEED Applied Professional Certification by the Green Building Certification Institute, 2009-present

Professional Activities

Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE), Board of Directors, 2012-present; Currently In The Chairs-Presiding Vice President

National Bar Association, Commercial Law Division

American College of Mortgage Attorneys (ACMA)

Chicago Bar Association

Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW Chicago)

Economic Club of Chicago

Chicago United

Urban Land Institute

Women in Planning & Development

Women in Public Finance

Cook County Minority Job Fair, Co-Chair, 2003-2005

Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms, Board Member, 2000-2006

Monarch Award Foundation, Board Member, 1997-2006

Civic, Cultural & Social Activities

U.S. Green Building Council, Chicago Chapter

American Bar Association, Affordable Housing Sub-Committee; Real Property Section; Probate & Trust Section; Women Rainmaker's Committee; Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Cook County Land Bank Advisory Committee (President Toni Preckwinkle),


Lambda Alpha International, Ely Chapter, 2007-present; Board of Directors, 2010-2011


Northwestern University School of Law, Adjunct Professor, Structured Transactions/Commercial Real Estate Transactions, 2009-present


"COVID-19: Accelerating the Evolution of the Commercial Real Estate Industry," Panelist, Illinois Institute of Continuing Education ("IICLE") Commercial Real Estate Basics Webcast Series, March 4, 2021

"COVID and Property Management," Moderator, RE Journals Chicago 2nd Annual Women in Commercial Real Estate Summit, January 21, 2021

"Real Estate Short Course: Commercial Leasing," IICLE, 2016-2019

"Disruptive Inclusion," Moderator, Chicago United Annual Meeting, 2016

"Real Estate Short Course: Real Estate Development," IICLE, 2015

"Nonprofit Law," Lecturer, Faith-Based Counsel, 2013

"Real Estate and Land Use Litigation," Lecturer, Law Seminars International, 2012

"Commercial Leasing Issues," Lecturer, National Business Institute, 2011-12

Law School Orientation Professionalism Program, Speaker/Facilitator, Commission on Professionalism of the Illinois Supreme Court, 2009

"Title Insurance, Closing Issues and Ethical Considerations in Commercial Real Estate Transactions," Lecturer, National Business Institute's Real Estate Transactions Made Painless and Efficient, 2008

"Commercial Real Estate Transactions," Diversity Symposium, 2004 & 2006 

"The Skyway Transaction - How it Happened, What it Means for Privatization in America," 2005


Illinois Institute of Continuing Education ("IICLE") Handbook and Supplement on Real Estate Litigation, General Editor, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2020

"Real Estate Broker Litigation," IICLE Handbook and Supplement on Real Estate Litigation, 2008, 2016, 2020

"Loan Commitment Litigation and the Illinois Credit Agreements Act," IICLE Handbook and Supplement on Real Estate Litigation, 2016 & 2020