Joan H. Story retired Of Counsel in the Real Estate, Energy, Land Use & Environmental Practice Group in Sheppard Mullin’s San Francisco office and formerly a member of the firm's Executive Committee.

Areas of Practice

Prior to her retirement, Joan’s practice emphasized real estate investment, financing and leasing transactions. Her clients included developers, institutional and foreign investors, corporate real estate users, pension funds and pension fund advisors and lenders. Her experience encompasses land acquisition and development, construction, permanent and tax-exempt financings, joint venture and limited liability entity formation, acquisition and disposition of commercial properties, leasing and other portfolio management issues, as well as loan and partnership workouts. She developed a particular expertise in the hospitality and senior housing areas and in the structuring of Islamic investment in US real estate. 

Joan's clients included DHL Express, for whom she has handled leasing, facilities development and related financing matters throughout the United States; the San Francisco Transbay Transit Center in connection with facilities management and leasing of retail, restaurant and entertainment spaces at the Center; MacArthur Transit Community Partners, the developer of a 624 residential unit transit-oriented village on land leased and purchased from BART; and Chevalier International Holdings, Ltd. in connection with its investment in senior assisted living facilities and medical office buildings throughout the United States.



Representative Transactions

Represented Chevalier International Holdings, Ltd., a publicly traded Hong Kong company, in connection with its acquisition of assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and independent living facilities in Oregon, North Carolina and Michigan, and medical office buildings in New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, negotiation of third party operating leases, financing of the facilities, re-financings under a HUD-insured loan program and related property management matters.

Represented MacArthur Transit Community Partners, an affiliate of BRIDGE Housing Corporation, in developing the MacArthur BART Transit Village. The 624 residential unit project included the construction of a BART Garage on land to be acquired for BART; a 90-unit, below-market rental phase to be constructed on land ground-leased from BART; and three market-rate phases with market-rate and below-market condominiums, 4,500 sq. ft. of retail and commercial space, 5,000 sq. ft. of community space, and related off-site improvements. Funding for the project derived from a combination of Proposition 1C grants, a federal transportation grant, tax-increment financing and private debt capital.

Counsel to the Transbay Joint Powers Authority in connection with the negotiation of the master asset management agreement for, and individual tenant leases for all retail, restaurant and entertainment spaces in, the new Salesforce Transbay Transit Center.

Represented DHL Express in the ground lease, construction, tax-exempt financing and several expansions of its main hub facility at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Represented DHL Express in connection with a major expansion of a primary hub at Wilmington, OH, the financing of the expansion through private activity bonds issued by the Dayton Montgomery County Port Authority and the subsequent divestiture of the hub facility.

Represented DHL Express in ground-leasing, constructing and financing a number of regional distribution and sortation facilities, including the development, installation and financing either through private activity bonds or leveraged leases of state-of-the-art sort systems.

Represented Lend Lease Corporation in connection with the development of the Watermark luxury high-rise condominium project and the negotiation of a development and disposition agreement and related ground lease for the development of a proposed mixed-use cruise ship terminal facility to be located on Piers 30-32 in San Francisco.

Represented investment groups acquiring and selling commercial real estate assets and portfolios, including ownership interests in the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel, the Parker House in Boston and the Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco.

Represented major international spirits companies in connection with the acquisition, sale and lease of vineyard properties and wineries in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys and elsewhere in California, including the sale and leaseback under a long-term lease of 18 vineyard and winery properties in the Napa Valley. Recently concluded the representation of Diageo plc in the sale of its U.S. and British wine units to Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates for $552 million.



Northern California Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers, 2004-2021

Northern California Real Estate Women of Influence, San Francisco Business Times, 2011

Real Estate Dealmaker of the Year, Daily Journal, 2011

Northern California Leading Real Estate Lawyers, Transactions and Finance, The Legal 500, 2007-2014

Named to Who's Who Legal: Real Estate, 2008-2017; Lifetime Achievement Award, 2018

Northern California Top 50 Women Lawyers, San Francisco Magazine, 2005, 2006, 2012

Who's Who Legal, International & USA Real Estate, 2004-2018

Woman Leader in the Law, American Lawyer, 2019



  • Contributing author to Real Estate Transactions: A Practical Global Guide, "Acquisition of Real Estate in the United States," Globe Business Publishing Ltd, 2012
  • Contributing author to and update editor for CEB's Ground Lease Practice treatise
  • Clean Investing, October 29, 2003
  • Peeking Under the Covers: Due Diligence in Hotel Transactions, California Real Property Reporter, July 1996
  • Contributing author to and an update editor for CEB’s Office Leasing treatise

Speaking Engagements

  • Ms. Story has lectured for California Continuing Education of the Bar, Practising Law Institute, CLE International and other groups on subjects of concern to real estate practitioners, including structuring of joint ventures and mixed debt/equity investments; public-private partnerships; hazardous materials issues in real property transactions; real estate construction lending; negotiation of commercial leases, purchase and sale transactions; representing borrowers in loan transactions; and the art of negotiation.
  • Ms. Story served as speaker at San Francisco Structures, an annual event that focuses on development issues, economic challenges, the real estate and construction climate and projects that are reshaping San Francisco, in 2008 through 2015.




Member, Port of Oakland Board of Port Commissioners; President 2017-2018

Member, American College of Real Estate Lawyers

Member, Lambda Alpha, the honorary land economics society

Formerly Member, Real Estate Law Advisory Committee, Practicing Law Institute

Formerly Member, Advisory Board, California Real Property Journal


J.D., University of California, Davis, 1977

M.A., University of California, Los Angeles, 1967

B.A., Occidental College, 1965


  • California
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