Katie Johnson is the General Counsel and Chief Member Experience Officer of NAR. Katie joined NAR in 2007 and was appointed as General Counsel in 2014. As General Counsel, she is responsible for assuring that the programs, policies and activities of NAR are in compliance with the law. She also is responsible for defending the association against legal challenges and initiating litigation to protect and preserve association assets and policies. As NAR’s Chief Member Experience Officer, she leads initiatives to enhance member engagement and satisfaction through delivery of trusted knowledge, resources and experiences that elevate member success and professionalism. Katie has earned a juris doctorate and a master’s degree for Information Technology and Privacy Law. She lives in Chicago with her husband and three children.
1. As general counsel of NAR, what does your typical day look like?
I imagine that my typical day looks familiar to many working parents. It includes getting my 2, 5, and 8 year-olds dressed and ready for their days ahead, dropping my 2 year old off at daycare, making the commute to work, drinking coffee, working at my standup desk, more coffee, calls, emails, Slack, meetings, more coffee, picking up my 2 year old from daycare, eating the delicious dinner my husband has prepared for the family, doing homework and reading with the kids before their bedtime routines, and then it’s finally time to rest.
2. What are some of the areas you and your legal staff work on?
I appreciate the great diversity of issues our legal team gets to address each day – it’s challenging and rewarding. Right now, we’re swamped with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and how that has impacted members’ and associations’ business plans. We are also focused on enhancing our members’ compliance with the Fair Housing Act and delivering useful risk management guidance regarding disaster preparedness, wire fraud, texting and calling consumers, website accessibility, independent contractor classification, copyright infringement, campaign finance compliance, board governance, and more.
3. How has technology changed legal risk for Realtors®?
Technology has positively enhanced the ability for our members to deliver a superior consumer experience. Technology makes it easier to do almost anything – including violating the law. So, keeping up to date on laws and regulations that impact your business is the best way for members to avoid risk online and off. That’s what we’re here for!
4. What do you see as the biggest legal/legislative issue Realtor® members across the country should be concerned about?
The biggest issue right now for our members boils down to their value proposition. From class action lawyers to consumer advocates and even fellow brokers and agents, the value Realtors® bring to consumers is not just being taken for granted but it’s being trivialized and degraded. NAR is currently defending two class action lawsuits alleging that our members are overpaid. We need members to take notice, talk with consumers about their role in the transaction, what services they provide, what they get paid and how, and why the MLS system benefits consumers. A great way to get started is to leverage all the communication assets available in our consumer awareness campaign at ThatsWhoWeR.com.
5. What are some of the legal risks you see for Realtors® and NAR in the future?
From the public health to the economy and politics, this coronavirus pandemic will have long-term implications for all individuals and businesses. NAR is committed to staying on top of the legal risks and advocating for favorable policies that will help our members be successful.
Bonus: Is there anything else we should have asked?
I am also honored to serve as NAR’s Chief Member Experience Officer. In this role, I work with a superbly competent and dedicated team of individuals focused on engaging and empowering the REALTOR® community by delivering trusted knowledge, resources, and experiences that elevate members’ professionalism and success.