STEPHEN R. HOFER President
Mr. Hofer has been selected as one of Southern California’s “Super Lawyers” every year since 2009 and has been described in the Los Angeles Daily Journal as “aviation attorney to the stars.” He has an “A list” of Oscar-, Emmy- and Grammy-winning clients. He has represented many of Hollywood’s most prominent actors, actresses, producers, directors and studio executives, as well as internationally known recording artists and professional athletes, in connection with the ownership and operation of aircraft. His clients also include several of Southern California’s largest air charter companies.
A 1980 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, Mr. Hofer was winner of the school’s coveted Lowden-Wigmore Award for Outstanding Published Legal Writing. From 1980 to 1984, he was associated with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which was then the world’s fifth largest law firm. After taking a leave of absence to work for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, he joined American Golf Corporation as vice president and general counsel. During his years at AGC, he represented the company in the acquisition of more than 200 golf courses and country clubs. He served as a partner and chair of the Bailey & Partners corporate and transactional department from 1997 until he founded Aerlex in 2005.
Mr. Hofer has been a member of the National Business Aviation Association’s Tax Committee since 2008 and served as chairman of NBAA’s 2011 Tax Seminar. He is also a member of NBAA’s Regulatory Issues Advisory Group (RIAG) and has written numerous articles for NBAA’s website on tax and regulatory matters. Mr. Hofer is a Martindale-Hubbell A/V-rated attorney, a ranking given only to lawyers with very high to preeminent legal ability, integrity and overall professional excellence and is admitted to practice law in the states of California and Illinois. In recent years, he has spoken to numerous aviation organizations, bar associations, continuing legal education seminars, business and trade groups, and college classes on aviation-related topics. He has been quoted in such publications as Forbes, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Flying magazine, Travel and Leisure, The American Lawyer, Wealth, California CEO magazine, California Law Business, the Los Angeles Daily Journal and the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Mr. Hofer is a former member of the Boards of Directors of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, the Museum of Flying and the Santa Monica Symphony and served three terms as president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Business and Professional Committee. His biography has appeared in multiple editions of Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Law. He is also an avid amateur genealogist and can trace his roots to the settlers of Jamestown, the first English colony in the New World, and 13 Patriot Ancestors who fought in the American Revolution. He is a member of 10 different hereditary societies, including the Sons of the American Revolution, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Society of Colonial Wars, Society of the War of 1812, Order of Indian Wars of the United States, Order of the Second World War, the Jamestowne Society, Order of the Descendants of Ancient Planters, National Society of Sons of the American Colonists and the Society of Indiana Pioneers.
AMANDA APPLEGATE Partner
Amanda Applegate is a Partner at Aerlex Law Group. Prior to joining the firm, she served as Associate General Counsel and Vice President of NetJets Services, Inc., where she spent twelve very productive years with the company that pioneered fractional jet ownership. Ms. Applegate brings her outstanding legal expertise as well as impressive negotiating skills and business savvy to the service of the firm’s clients.
Ms. Applegate joined NetJets in 1998, immediately after graduation from Oklahoma City University School of Law and admission to the Ohio Bar. Working initially as a Contract Administrator, she handled contracts for multimillion-dollar fractional transactions, closing deals and coordinating the delivery of aircraft. In 2001, NetJets promoted Ms. Applegate to Director of Contract Administration. Over the next five years, she streamlined NetJets’ contract management practices, strengthening the supervision and mentoring of personnel and advancing technological solutions to improve management systems.
In 2006, Ms. Applegate was named Vice President at NetJets, assuming leadership of a 25-member team that handled more than 3,500 fractional ownership contracts. As the company’s Associate General Counsel, Ms. Applegate directed a diverse range of business, including multimillion-dollar contract negotiations, contract enforcement, fractional ownership and leasing, and daily business matters. Notably, she raised her team’s productivity by nearly 50%, utilizing technological expertise to roll out systems that improved access to data and automated document management. She also worked extensively with NetJets’ sister company, Executive Jet Management, and gained insight and experience into the field of whole aircraft ownership, management and operations.
VICKY BOLADIAN Tax Attorney
In her 17 years as a practicing attorney, Vicky Boladian has developed a strong expertise in the complex field of tax law. As Tax Attorney at Aerlex, she utilizes this knowledge to represent clients seeking aircraft sales and use tax exemptions, challenging property tax values and defending taxpayers against audits initiated by the Internal Revenue Service and the California Franchise Tax Board. Since joining Aerlex in 2008, Ms. Boladian has achieved a 100% success rate in response to use tax exemption applications.
Ms. Boladian is a frequent speaker on aviation tax matters. She has spoken numerous times for the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), the Aerlex Private Aviation Seminar Series, and the CalCPA Education Foundation.
Before joining Aerlex, Ms. Boladian worked for Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young. At Andersen, she assisted high net-worth clients on a wide variety of complex tax law issues. At Ernst & Young, she represented corporations, partnerships and individuals in audits by the Internal Revenue Service and the California Franchise Tax Board.
Ms. Boladian is also a licensed real estate broker and has handled both residential and commercial real estate transactions. A 1997 graduate of the Boston University School of Law, she received her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of California at Irvine in 1994.
SARAH NORTHCRAFT SPANN Transactional Attorney
Sarah Northcraft Spann brings an extensive background in aircraft transactions to her role as transactional attorney at Aerlex Law Group as well as substantial expertise in finding innovative approaches and solutions to issues that confront both aviation and business clients.
Ms. Northcraft Spann has been practicing law for 13 years, a legal career that includes seven years with NetJets Services, Inc., the company that pioneered the fractional jet ownership concept. Her tenure at NetJets included five years during which she served as Associate General Counsel and Assistant Secretary for the corporation, with a focus on contract negotiation and strategies and a mandate to align corporate business goals with legal requirements. In 2011, Ms. Spann was the lead member of the legal team that negotiated the company’s largest-ever business aircraft purchase and maintenance agreement of $6.7 billion, as well as a $1 billion aircraft purchase and maintenance agreement in 2010, for two other international companies.
As Associate General Counsel, Ms. Northcraft Spann was also responsible for a wide array of other legal and business matters, including the development of corporate contract templates, managing junior attorneys within the legal department, and advising on matters involving real estate, litigation, employment and regulatory compliance. Prior to becoming Associate General Counsel, Ms. Spann served as a Contract Administrator for NetJets, handling hundreds of contracts involving multimillion-dollar fractional purchases.
Ms. Spann graduated from the University of Akron School of Law in 2003 after receiving her bachelor’s degree cum laude from Kent State University.
DOUG STUART Litigation Attorney
Douglas L. Stuart has handled hundreds of litigation and business matters for both individual and corporate clients in his 27 years of legal practice. He has worked with the Aerlex Law Group since 2007 and was also employed by Aerlex’s predecessor, Bailey & Partners, in the 1990s. His current Aerlex practice emphasizes aviation and business litigation, aircraft repossessions, insurance-related litigation, employment litigation and counseling, real estate and general business matters. Mr. Stuart also has considerable experience in handling cases involving complex personal injury, construction defects and unfair competition claims.
Mr. Stuart was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1987 after receiving his J.D. from the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. He earned his B.A. in 1983 from the University of California at Los Angeles.
CRAIG WELLER Senior Regulatory Attorney
Craig Weller began his aviation career in 1964, immersing himself in the industry during his ten years at Trans World Airlines and United Airlines. Following graduation from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1977, he spent the next decade in governmental service, first with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and then with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He left the FAA in 1988 and practiced with Washington, D.C. law firms specializing in aviation issues until joining Aerlex in 2010.
During over thirty years as an aviation lawyer, Mr. Weller has represented air carriers operating under both FAR Parts 121 and 135 in National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident investigations, FAA certificate revocation and enforcement proceedings, and national and regional inspections. He regularly consults with carriers on fitness and foreign ownership issues. In addition to air carriers, Mr. Weller has represented pilots and mechanics in FAA enforcement proceedings. He has advised business and corporate aircraft operators on operational and regulatory issues, including pilot records and retirement requirements and the use of independent contractors. Mr. Weller also has extensive experience in the negotiation and drafting of aircraft purchase, lease, management and charter agreements and in the structuring and review of fractional aircraft ownership programs. When the FAA formed the Fractional Ownership Advisory Rulemaking Committee (FOARC) in 1999, Mr. Weller participated as counsel for a major management company that was a member of the Committee and in that capacity, he helped draft the rules that now govern U.S. fractional ownership operations. He also served as a member of the FAA’s Part 135 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) from 2003 to 2005.
Mr. Weller is a founding member and past Chairman of the National Business Aviation Association’s widely respected Tax Committee and a current member of NBAA’s Regulatory Issues Advisory Group. In addition to his work with NBAA, Mr. Weller is also a former member of the board of directors of the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA).
DON JOHNSON Of Counsel
Donald G. Johnson Jr. brings thirty-seven years of legal experience to the Aerlex Law Group team. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1975 and was admitted to the California Bar that same year. Prior to that, in 1972, he received his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Iowa.
In addition to practicing aviation law, Mr. Johnson specializes in securities transactions and securities law compliance, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, commercial transactions, business organizations and related matters. Mr. Johnson has also advised hundreds of clients in private and public offerings of securities and in acquisition, merger, and corporate reorganization transactions of public and private companies. These transactions have involved clients in a broad range of industries ranging from aerospace, advertising, agriculture and financial services to entertainment, manufacturing, technology and healthcare.
From 1975 to 1998, Mr. Johnson practiced with Mulvaney, Kahan & Barry in San Diego. After relocating to Los Angeles in 1998, he practiced with Loeb & Loeb, LLC and Richman, Mann, Chizever, Phillips & Duboff. He joined Aerlex in June 2007.