Web Exclusive:

A man of many words

James Pannabecker '74
Natural Bridge Station, Va.

I resigned in 1994 from Citicorp Mortgage, where I had been senior vice president and general counsel for mortgage originations. I had been traveling too much, mostly between offices in Stamford, Conn., and St. Louis, Mo. Winter was worst. At least once, snow delayed my returning home so that I arrived on Saturday and had to leave Sunday to be at an 8 a.m. Monday meeting in Stamford.

James PannabeckerAnyway, I quit, thinking I'd figure out something to do. Citicorp kept me on for a year to train my successor, and then for several years as a consultant. I started writing a book on the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) because I had a lot of experience in that area and sensed a need for guidance.

A few months into the book, I spoke with a fellow who worked for the publisher that had hired me right after law school. He said, "What are you doing?" I said, "Writing a book on RESPA." He said, "Do you have a publisher?" I said, "No." He said, "We might be interested." A week or so later, I had a contract and got serious.

Then, a month later, he called again. "Stop what you're doing. We need to publish a book on the new Community Reinvestment Act regulations ASAP." A second contract resulted, with deadlines on the first one postponed. In six weeks, he and I together finished the book, which was very successful.

I turned back to the RESPA book and it, too, did well and continues to do so after 15 years. I should mention that this sort of book is updated two or three times a year to reflect changes, so it's been a continuing project.

I've now written or co-written 26 books on banking and mortgage lending topics, earning a good living for myself and keeping several editors and other staffers pretty busy at the publisher.