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2020 In-House Counsel Awards: Lauren Allen

Rising Star

General Counsel, Housing Authority of Kansas City

Lauren AllenA self-defined “book nerd” with a master’s degree in law and government who once spent time studying abroad at Oxford, Lauren Allen surprises no one by having an Instagram page called TheDopeLibrarian.

But Allen is more than just her impressive array of academic credentials: Her on-the-ground work helping others at the Housing Authority of Kansas City truly defines her.

“I don’t really know what that first thing was that sparked my interest in the law, but I do have a memory of a judge coming to my elementary school,” she said. “He had on his suit and had his briefcase in hand, and even now I can remember the deference that folks showed him, how they treated him. I can just remember saying, ‘I’m going to do that one day.’”

After graduating from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2013, Allen represented victims of domestic violence at the House of Ruth in Maryland. She moved on to become a staff attorney advising pro se litigants with the Maryland Legal Aid District Court Self-Help Center, where she developed extensive knowledge of issues ranging from landlord-tenant disputes to consumer-protection rules.

By 2016, the Kansas City native was back home working as a consultant for UnitedLex Corp. Earlier this year, she became general counsel for the city housing authority, handling everything from employment matters to evictions.

“Every day is different. Honestly, there isn’t a day in which I can come to work where the day is the same as yesterday,” she said. “There is always a new way of looking at an issue. There is a new situation we’ve encountered that we haven’t had before.”

To Allen, the most important thing is that she knows that she is making a difference in her community. Mundane matters often cross her desk, but whether her work involves a new software contract or documentation to purchase a tract of real estate, it comes down to helping people.

“It is about knowing that the work that I do here impacts families,” she said. “We are an organization that serves more than 10,000 families in the Kansas City area. Knowing that I am putting in policies and/or responding to policies and making sure those work for the people of Kansas City and working with different stakeholders, it is important to me.

“That is what really drives me. That goes back to my love of the law,” she added. “How do you use the law to help the next person? Every day, I am fortunate enough to be in a position where the work I do has a direct impact on someone else.”

She also loves being a vital part of the city where she grew up.

“I’m very grateful to be back in the Kansas City area,” she said. “This is the place where my education, my passion for community really started and was developed. To be able to come back and work for a governmental agency that has an impact on so many families here is truly a blessing.”