Obituary: Attorney Richard 'Ad' Eichner, 66, carved niche in housing bonds

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Richard Adams “Ad” Eichner, 66, a veteran public finance attorney who carved a niche in the housing bond industry and specialized in tax-exempt financing for multifamily projects, died Oct. 17 at his Alexandria, Virginia, home.

Eichner was a renowned lecturer and panelist at housing finance workshops and took the lead in developing new structures for housing bonds and facilitating increased low income housing for families in poverty.

In the 1980s, Eichner pioneered modern secondary market municipal securitizations with his late partner C. Willis Ritter, and in the early 2000s he became one of the pioneers of tax-exempt bonds for charter school financings.

The native of Richmond, Virginia, was a 1975 graduate of Cornell University and a 1980 graduate of the University of Virginia Law School and Colgate Darden School of Business.

His first job out of law school was at Chicago-based law firm Kirkland & Ellis, after which he joined Haynes & Miller in 1982, spending nine years there. The firm later merged with the now-defunct firm of Arter & Haden in 1990.

In 1991, he and Willis founded Ritter & Eichner PLLC, which later became Eichner Norris & Neumann PLLC, where he was a partner until his 2014 retirement. The firm was dissolved in October 2017.

“During his 32 years of active municipal bond practice, from 1982 to 2014, I believe Ad evolved into one of the most complete, productive underwriters and special tax counsel on multifamily and single family housing bond issues in the United States,” said Wade Norris of Norris George & Ostrow PLLC, Washington, D.C.

“He developed what I believe was an almost unparalleled broad and deep understanding of every aspect of these financings,” he continued. “At the peak of his career in the early 2000s, he was involved in over 30 to 40 financings in a given year. Ad was not only brilliant, but his selfless, low-key demeanor endeared him to everyone who worked with him.”

In the municipal industry Eichner was revered professionally and personally among colleagues.

Richard Gerwitz, managing director and co-head of Citi Community Capital, which helps developers acquire affordable multifamily housing, but Eichner mastered his challenging responsibilities with ease and professionalism.

“There is no such thing as a cookie cutter transaction,” Gerwitz said. “There was no one better than Ad Eichner in solving those problems as they arose in a creative and thoughtful manner in a way that would ultimately benefit the project and the residents who would ultimately occupy the apartments,”

Gerwitz worked with Eichner for nearly 15 years, most recently as Eichner served as underwriter’s counsel or counsel for securities issues when the Citi Community Capital acted as a lender or private placement bond purchaser.

“I always knew that I could call on Ad, that he would be responsive,” Gerwitz said.

Others, like Justin Cooper, a partner at Orrick, who worked with Eichner from 2003 through his retirement, remembered him as an innovator.

He was “the kind of finance lawyer who not only executed transactions, but also created transactions,” and he was “unfailingly modest, kind, and collaborative,” Cooper said.

“Everyone who knew Ad will miss him,” he said.

“Outside of my direct managers within RBC, no other professional in public finance has had as profound an influence on my career and professional development as Ad Eichner,” said Bob Spangler, co-head of municipal finance at RBC Capital Markets, recalling his 1993 introduction to Eichner.

“While other lawyers were dismissive of a young banker, Ad took the opposite approach taking the time to teach me how to properly run a bond transaction, appreciate the tax implications involved in housing bonds, provide ideas on structures and assist me in developing valuable industry contacts,” said Spangler, who was a vice president at Wheat First Securities in Richmond, marketing bond underwriting services to developers and issuers in the mid-Atlantic states.

After joining RBC, Spangler chose Eichner as underwriter’s counsel on well over 100 senior managed multifamily bond transactions, and as underwriter’s counsel as the two developed national standards for underwriting charter school bonds.

“I would not be where I am today had he not decided to take me under his wing,” Spangler said.

Eichner is survived by his mother, Dorothy Wade Eichner; two sisters, Katy Stewart and Patty Mouer; his ex-wife, Jill Martin; and their three children Kyle Eichner, James Eichner, and Alexan “Sasha” Martin-Eichner.

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Public finance Affordable housing bonds Multifamily Underwriting