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 holds an A-V peer rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given to attorneys for both legal ability and ethical standards. He is ranked by Chambers & Partners as one of the premier aviation attorneys worldwide. Mr. Hofer was selected by Southern California Super Lawyers as one of the top attorneys in the Southern California region every year from 2010 through 2019. He is an active member of the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) Tax Committee 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 serves on the Helicopter Association International (HAI) Finance and Leasing Committee. He has spoken on legal topics to various organizations, including the National Air Transportation Association, the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association, HAI and NBAA. 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.
AMANDA APPLEGATE Partner
As a partner at Aerlex Law Group, Amanda 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 the firm as Senior Transactional Attorney in 2011 and was named partner in 2016. She specializes in whole aircraft transactions and has successfully closed hundreds of sales and purchases for all types of business aircraft around the world. Additionally, she has a unique and comprehensive understanding of fractional ownership due to her previous experience in that industry.
For over two years, Ms. Applegate represented 25 Avantair fractional owner groups, comprised of nearly 300 shareholders, following the grounding of the Avantair fleet and subsequent bankruptcy proceedings. She managed the disposition and assessment of all planes and parts and devised successful sales opportunities for aircraft and associated equipment, including “as-is” live auctions and recertified brokered sales.
Ms. Applegate graduated from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1998. Prior to joining Aerlex, 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. 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. She also worked with NetJets’ sister company, Executive Jet Management, and gained insight and experience into the field of whole aircraft ownership, management and operations.
Ms. Applegate is ranked by Chambers & Partners as one of the premier aviation attorneys worldwide. She speaks frequently on business aviation topics to organizations including the National Business Aviation Association. Since 2012, she has been a featured columnist for BusinessAir Magazine, writing monthly on key topics regarding the acquisition, ownership and operation of business aircraft.
BRIAN M. MONKARSH Of Counsel
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With 20 years of experience in the aviation industry, Brian Monkarsh brings a wide-ranging expertise in both transactional and litigation matters. He spent a decade with International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), one of the world’s leading aircraft leasing companies, climbing the ranks from Corporate Counsel to Senior Vice President & General Counsel. From 2005 to 2009, he was the lead attorney in all of the company’s equipment acquisitions, including purchase contracts for more than 120 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft. He was also lead attorney in more than 100 equipment leases and in multiple litigation matters, including customer bankruptcies, collections, and equipment repossessions.
Monkarsh began his career as an associate attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles. Subsequent positions took him to Europe, where he first became involved in the aviation industry, serving initially as Senior Counsel at aircraft manufacturer Avions de Transport Régional (ATR), a French-Italian joint venture of Aérospatiale (now Airbus Group) and Alenia Aeronautica (now Leonardo) based in Toulouse, France, and later as Vice President, Legal, at Aercap Holdings, today the world’s largest independent aircraft leasing company, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Mr. Monkarsh graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his J.D. at Stanford University and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Stanford Journal of International Law. In addition, Mr. Monkarsh has studied at the Université de Toulouse, France, where he earned a graduate degree in international business law. He is fluent in both French and Spanish.
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 over 14 years, a legal career that includes seven years with NetJets 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, with a focus on contract negotiation and strategies and a mandate to align corporate business goals with legal requirements.
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. Northcraft Spann served as a Contract Administrator for NetJets, handling hundreds of contracts involving multimillion-dollar fractional purchases.
Ms. Northcraft Spann graduated from the University of Akron School of Law 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 30 years of legal practice. He has worked with the Aerlex Law Group since 2007 and was also associated with Aerlex’s predecessor, Bailey & Partners, in the 1990s. His current Aerlex practice emphasizes aviation and business litigation, aircraft liens and repossessions, employment litigation and counseling, insurance-related litigation, 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.
VICKY BOLADIAN Tax Attorney
Before joining Aerlex, Ms. Boladian worked for Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young. 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.
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 forty-two 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.