Alumni: Michael R. Kain


Michael R. Kain

JD 74

CEO, Michael R Kain Co

"My time at Golden Gate University was the first academic experience I ever enjoyed."

In many ways Michael R. Kain represents the quintessential Golden Gate Law success story. By dint of a unique, yet peculiarly Golden Gateian constellation of qualities, he has become at once a leading real estate macher and a champion of iconic neighborhood preservation in a tough company town: Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. These qualities include instinctive business acumen, rock-hard determination, smarts, love of adventure, and perhaps most important, a gift for forming and enriching relationships with people from widely different walks of life. He might also add that a little bit of luck never hurts.

After an ill-fated stint in the Marine JAG program, Kain ended up with an inter-service transfer into none other than the Navy JAG. Seemingly moments later, Michael found himself at Treasure Island and enrolled in Golden Gate Law School. Predictably, unlike the average law student eking out a subsistence existence in some distant and marginal neighborhood, Michael shared an apartment with a cousin atop Telegraph Hill. He dined at The Shadows, took in the view from the Bank of America, and while on his way to class strolled past the Transamerica Pyramid, which was under construction. "It was paradise."

Michael fondly recalls his Golden Gate education as "the first academic experience I ever enjoyed." Among the professors he remembers with particular affection are Mike DeVito, Les Minkus, Tony Pagano, Jim Smith ("everybody loved him"), and Judy McKelvey. He remembers McKelveys classes as the most stimulating in his career, even though he earned the lowest grade hed ever received. Nevertheless, she later wrote him a great letter of recommendation for the Georgetown LLM program. He credits Tony Pagano with his LLM in tax, and was proud of his ability to go head-to-head with his former professor on legal questions. "Although Tony had little tolerance for students who didn't get it, I felt comfortable taking him on. I saw the fun side of him, and felt he was a great professor and a good person."

Upon graduation from GGU, Michael moved to Washington, D.C., where his uncanny real-estate instinct and moxie almost immediately kicked in. Self-aware enough to know he was not cut out for a traditional transactional law practice, he took out a 100 percent financed V.A. loan while still working at the Navy Yard in D.C. and bought a townhouse at Fifth Street and Independence Avenue. With a $20,000 home-improvement loan, he proceeded to buy another piece of property. By the time he was out of the Navy, Michael had purchased and renovated four pieces of property on Capitol Hill, all of which he promptly sold, exiting the residential-property business. Instead, he opened his own law firm in the Federal Bar Building, then-occupied by Arent Fox (three of the partners had been professors of his at Georgetown). "They let me use the library," he says, "which I stepped into once or twice."

It was at this juncture that law took a backseat (though his business card still reads: Michael R. Kain, Attorney at Law), as his mastery of the art of the deal became manifest. The transition was early evidenced in his purchase of two townhouses just north of Dupont Circle, just as a new D.C. Metro stop was opening in the neighborhood. Michael had soon bought up most of that block on Connecticut Avenue. Realizing the greater value of the block farther north, he ultimately became the owner of most of it, venuing his modest offices in the building where they remain today. Thus was born a new era in the life of Dupont Circle.

Today, the real-estate empire Michael owns, develops and manages includes buildings on the prime retail block in Washington, D.C., which just happens to be due north of Dupont Circle, a neighborhood in which he clearly enjoys the respect and trust of his neighbors. "Ive been here for thirty-two years and have developed many long-term business relationships and friendships. I have become a 'market-maker' in this area, and I am usually the first person called when a property is available for sale."