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Student Housing Development & Operations

The lawyers on our Student Housing Development & Operations Team represent developers and 501(c)(3) financing entities in all aspects of on-campus and off-campus student housing construction, development, leasing and management. We also have experience serving as bond counsel for student housing development projects. While developing student housing may be largely similar to developing any other large-scale multi-unit residential property, there are various unique legal issues involved, and developers and others need to be able to rely on the advice of lawyers who have significant relevant experience.

Our lawyers have assisted with the development and operation of on-campus and off-campus student facilities from coast to coast. We have experience advising our clients at all stages of the student housing development process, from site selection to securing tax incentives, and from investigating title to drafting student leases for off-campus housing. We take a proactive, all-encompassing approach that allows our clients to make informed decisions, and we provide clear, practical legal advice that allows our clients to move forward with confidence.

Legal Counsel for Off-Campus Housing Development & Operations

For off-campus housing projects, we represent developers from the earliest stages of exploring development opportunities through the sale of fully-completed and leased student housing facilities. Our services include providing advice and representation with respect to:

  • Site selection and due diligence
  • Land acquisition
  • Construction
  • Entitlements
  • Financing and equity placement
  • Lease drafting
  • Sale of developed properties

Our Student Housing Development & Operations Team includes lawyers from our Banking & Financial Services, Land Use & Environmental, and Real Estate Law Practice Groups, among others. We assess the legal risks inherent in each stage of the development process from all angles, and we offer strategic, practical solutions that are designed to facilitate the achievement of our clients’ goals.

Legal Counsel for On-Campus Housing Development & Operations

In addition to off-campus housing development projects, we have significant experience guiding clients through the process of developing on-campus housing as well.  We have represented both developers and 501(c)(3) financing entities in connection with our on-campus housing practice.  For on-campus projects, we assist with everything from negotiating ground leases and development agreements with universities to negotiating construction contracts to securing tax-exempt bond financing. Here, too, we guide our clients through all stages of the process, and we provide guidance for the ongoing operation and maintenance of on-campus student housing facilities as well.

Speak with a Member of our Student Housing Development & Operations Team

If you would like more information about our firm’s experience with the development and operation of off-campus or on-campus student housing facilities, we encourage you to contact us. Call or contact us online to speak with a member of our Student Housing Development & Operations Team in confidence.

Biographical Information

Ms. Dorissa Smith is an associate in the Firm’s litigation section and focuses her practice primarily on insurance claims and coverage litigation. Ms. Smith is a 2009 graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English.  In 2013, Ms. Smith graduated from The University of Mississippi School of Law, where she was a member of the Moot Court Board and the Trial Advocacy Board and a Dean’s List recipient.  While in law school, Ms. Smith completed internships with the Mississippi Secretary of State and the Mississippi Supreme Court.  Following law school, Ms. Smith also completed clerkships with a Mississippi trial court and the Mississippi Court of Appeals. She later joined private practice as an associate with law firm in Jackson, Mississippi, where she focused her work primarily on insurance defense and personal injury matters. 



  • Mississippi, State and Federal (Northern and Southern Districts)
  • Alabama State Bar


  • J.D., University of Mississippi School of Law, 2013
  • B.A., University of Southern Mississippi, 2009

Additional Information

Civic and Professional Affiliations

  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Birmingham Bar Association
  • Magnolia Bar Association, Inc.


  • Birmingham Business Journal NextGen Law 2022
  • Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch, Insurance Law, Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants, Product Liability Litigation – Defendants, 2022
  • Mid-South Rising Stars (2017-2020)

Real Estate

Our firm’s deep commitment to serving clients in the real estate industry is apparent in almost everything we do. Our practice is rooted in serving developers, contractors, property owners, banks, investors, professionals, and other clients in the real estate industry, and all of our practice areas are pertinent to real estate companies and professionals in some shape or form. We are proud to share responsibility for shaping cities across the South and throughout the United States, and we are equally proud of our work protecting the interests of our real estate industry clients in litigation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings.

Real estate and the law go hand in hand. From acquisition to development, and from leasing to disposition, all aspects of the commercialization of real estate involve legal issues at the local and state levels. In many cases, there can be federal implications as well, and our clients rely on our lawyers to help them make informed and strategic decisions while protecting them against unnecessary liability risks. Lending transactions also involve a multitude of legal issues, and lenders need to be able to rely on experienced legal counsel to protect their interests in financed properties. We have significant experience serving as lender’s counsel for real estate transactions, and we currently represent numerous banks in Alabama and Florida.

How We Serve Our Clients in the Real Estate Industry

The breadth of our firm’s practice allows us to provide full-service legal representation to clients involved in all facets of the real estate industry. Our lawyers offer deep knowledge in their areas of practice; and, when representing clients in regulatory matters, transactions and litigation, we pull in lawyers from our various Practice Groups as necessary in order to effectively and efficiently meet our clients’ needs. With our firm’s client-centric approach, we are able to serve as a strategic partner for matters including:

  • Land acquisition and disposition
  • Loan documentation
  • Title work and lien perfection 
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) loan closings 
  • Real estate financing
  • Development and construction
  • Commercial contract drafting and negotiation
  • Statutory and regulatory compliance
  • Strategic tax planning and securing tax incentives
  • Entitlements, easements and rights of way
  • Licensing, permitting and other requirements
  • Commercial and residential lease drafting and negotiation
  • Community association matters
  • Insurance coverage matters
  • Real estate mediation, arbitration and litigation

Whether you are an architect, engineer, broker or other real estate industry professional, whether you are an investor or you own a large development or construction company, and whether you need help complying with the law or protecting your company’s financial interests, our lawyers are here to help. We look forward to assisting in any way we can, and we invite you to contact us to learn more.

Speak with a Real Estate Lawyer at Hand Arendall Harrison Sale

If you would like more information about our firm’s services for companies in the real estate industry, we encourage you to get in touch. Call or contact us online to speak with a member of our Real Estate Practice Team in confidence.