Real Estate: New York
Due to the number of tables in this section, the editorial is in alphabetical order by firm name.
THE FIRM This leading firm continues to provide clients with a significant breadth of experience and understanding of the real estate corporate market, both in New York and throughout the USA. The sophisticated team is currently representing Otfgréra Capital in its proposed sale of 1330 Avenue of the Americas, and also represented PCCP in the restructuring and modification of its $65 million third mezzanine loan in connection with the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.
Sources say: "It's one of the preeminent real estate groups in New York."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Kevin O'Shea has been involved in the majority of major commitments undertaken by the A&O team over the previous year. This has included representing a number of organizations in the purchase of mezzanine loans, such as Dune Real Estate Partners, Fortress Investment Group, and Otéra Capital. Clients commend his ability to tailor his advice to individual businesses: "He understands the bigger picture."
THE FIRM This esteemed firm provides a full-service real estate practice, spanning both traditional development 'dirt' work and real estate finance. Recent work has included representing BBC Worldwide Americas in the negotiation of the lease for its headquarters in Manhattan. The team was also retained as legal counsel to Fannie Mae in connection with the company's participation in the Obama administration's plan to stabilize the US housing market.
Sources say: "It's an excellent group that we keep returning to. The lawyers are extremely creative and always responsive."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Jacqueline Weiss is "a very professional, dedicated and skilled attorney," a real estate all-rounder who combines traditional real estate work with real estate finance. She recently represented Rose Associates in the negotiation of its property management agreement for the Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town residential development.
THE FIRM This distinguished 35-lawyer group provides comprehensive legal services addressing all areas of real estate ownership, development, investment and financing. In addition, this well-regarded dirt practice is supplemented by extensive expertise in land use and zoning matters. The team continues to advise Empire State Development on the environmental review and public approvals for the Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn. It also represents private equity funds and REITs in a variety of sales, purchases, financings and restructurings, among other things.
Sources say: "A solid firm with great attorneys."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Barry Ross provides a full range of services within the real estate area but particularly specializes in complex development, joint venture and financing transactions. He enjoys an excellent reputation in the market as "an extremely experienced attorney who is tough and sophisticated." Robert Davis focuses on land use, historic preservation and environmental law matters. His recent roles have included acting as land use counsel for New York University's long-term expansion plans, and representing The Carlyle Group and Extell in securing approvals for a 3 million sq ft development to be called Riverside Center.
THE FIRM This highly accomplished team continues to provide clients with the full spectrum of services within the real estate sector in New York. Restructurings, mezzanine loans and mortgage loans are matters that are regularly handled by the group, and it is particularly well known for its securitization work. The previous year has seen it represent JPMorgan in a number of deals, including the $2 billion financing post-bankruptcy of the Extended Stay hotel chain, and Bank of America in the origination of a $460 million mortgage loan to an affiliate of Flagler Development Group.
Sources say: "They understand the value of their working relationships with clients."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Fredric Altschuler represents clients in the acquisition, financing, mortgage securitization, disposition and leasing of commercial real estate. "We have received excellent service from him," says one client. William McInerney is cochair of Cadwalader’s finance practice and specializes in real estate finance, mortgage banking and debt restructurings. Recent work includes representing a national hotel chain in a $2 billion financing post-bankruptcy case and the restructuring of the $22 billion financing used in the acquisition of Hilton Hotels. Christopher White, chairman of the firm and corporate department, is "highly regarded and well respected." He represents many of the largest US and foreign institutional investors in real estate, including investment banks, insurance companies, pension funds, commercial banks and opportunity funds. John Zizzo concentrates on real estate finance and has considerable experience in the closings of large mortgage loans earmarked for securitization, including the recent closings of mortgage loans for Morgan Stanley secured by 1251 Avenue of the Americas, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, 1345 Avenue of the Americas and The Crowne Plaza Hotel.
THE FIRM This team continues to provide advice on distressed real estate investments and innovative loan restructurings, while actively advising clients on new lending and development projects. Among a number of notable ongoing restructuring matters, the group is advising Kien Huat as a creditor in connection with a landmark matter involving first-impression issues relating to the sovereign status of Native American tribal casinos.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Steven Horowitz's practice concentrates on US and international real estate finance and investment transactions, including joint ventures, mortgage finance, securitization and capital markets. Steven Wilner has a broad financial and corporate practice. He provides clients with guidance on global real estate acquisitions, dispositions, development and finance. Recent cases included representing Maragogipe Investimentos e Participações in its acquisition of a 12-story New York office building. Michael Weinberger focuses on real estate finance, workouts, restructurings and commercial mortgage securitization. He recently acted as counsel to a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest technology companies in its investment in wind turbine projects in the Midwestern USA.
THE FIRM This firmly established and international firm continues to provide a wealth of experience and capability to its clients throughout the real estate sector. The team is well placed to advise clients on corporate and capital market-related real estate concerns. It recently advised Sumitomo Mitsui Banking on a $600 million loan to finance the development of a video lottery gaming facility.
Sources say: "We think very highly of them indeed."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Ness Cohen is a highly respected attorney who specializes in real estate private equity, joint ventures and fund formations. Recent work has included representing Citi in its agreement to sell three tranches of a mortgage and mezzanine loan totaling $340 million, and advising NorthStar Realty Finance on its acquisition of a $1.1 billion CapitalSource Real Estate trust. "He understands our business and he is timely and diligent," says one satisfied client.
THE FIRM This ten-strong team provides the whole field of real estate services to clients, including the ownership, leasing, conveyancing and financing of properties for commercial, retail, development, investment or residential use across the country. Davis & Gilbert was responsible for seven of Manhattan’s top 50 largest office leasing transactions (based on square footage) in the first half of 2010. The team's expertise in retail leasing attracts high-profile clients like the owners of the Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Center.
Sources say: "A great firm doing quality work."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Gerald Uram, "a terrific attorney who does a great deal of work in this area," specializes in commercial leasings. Recent work has included representing landlord SJP Properties in the lease of 408,399 sq ft at 11 Times Square to Proskauer Rose, and advising the NFL on the relocation of its headquarters to approximately 170,000 sq ft in midtown Manhattan.
THE FIRM This highly regarded firm handles large and complex property acquisitions and real estate investments for a range of top clients. Recent work has included representing a variety of lenders, borrowers and major corporate and dirt investors in sales, acquisitions, financings, fund formations and REIT structures. Clients range from corporations and individuals to investment and financial advisers.
Sources say: "It's one of the best firms in the country for real estate thanks to its hard-working personnel who are adept at providing cost-effective solutions."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients describe Peter Irwin as "one of the best transactional lawyers" they have ever worked with. He regularly advises such high-profile clients as JPMorgan Investment Management and UBS Wealth Management on real estate acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, financings and net lease transactions. Nicole Levin Mesard is experienced in all areas of real estate law, garnering praise for her "ability to develop ideas to break through any legal issues that are creating a roadblock."
THE FIRM This international firm provides clients with a full range of services within the commercial real estate sector including securitization, leveraged finance, loan acquisition and disposition, loan origination and rating agency representation. Previous work has included acting as designated counsel to all of the mezzanine lenders with respect to a restructuring of the debt relating to The Blackstone Group’s $39 billion acquisition of Equity Office Properties, and representing the holders of the majority of the mezzanine debt on a multibillion-dollar luxury hospitality portfolio financing.
Sources say: "We're extremely impressed by this full-service firm."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Laura Ciabarra is a recognized specialist in the areas of mezzanine finance, B-Notes and participation interests, and complex intercreditor and co-lender agreements. She led the team representing all of the mezzanine investors in the record-breaking Blackstone acquisition of Equity Office Properties and then reprised that role representing the junior mezzanine lenders in the $26 billion Blackstone/Hilton acquisition.
THE FIRM This legal giant provides a comprehensive range of services for clients within the real estate sector. This includes dirt and finance-related cases, including REITs, capital markets and restructuring matters. Recent work includes advising on the restructuring of the multibillion-dollar World Trade Center Redevelopment transaction on behalf of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. The 15-strong team also represented Ladder Capital Finance in obtaining a CMBS repurchase facility from Wells Fargo of $1 billion.
Sources say: "Extremely good."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Martin Polevoy is a highly experienced lawyer whose distinguished career and expertise continue to attract high-profile clients. While described as "a big name in leasing," Polevoy provides an all-around service that is highly respected by his peers. He has played a key role on the redevelopment of the World Trade Center and also represented Allianz Global Investors of America in leasing 300,000 sq ft for its new North American headquarters at 1633 Broadway. Andrew Levy is "one of the smartest real estate lawyers in New York." He is praised by clients and peers alike for his depth of knowledge and understanding of the practice area. Having only recently joined the firm, he has already carved himself a niche within the hospitality sector, representing public and private clients acquiring single-asset and multiasset companies, financing hotels and restructuring existing debt. The popular Jeffrey Steiner "always does a fantastic job for his clients." He is particularly active in the capital markets department and regularly represents investment banks and institutional lenders in sophisticated financing transactions.
THE FIRM This growing real estate practice has an active presence in a number of areas, including distressed situations, dispute resolution and complex financing transactions. The team recently advised the purchaser of the ground lessee interest of Carlton House, a high-profile divestiture of an asset from the Helmsley Trust. Other clients include American Realty, Marathon Asset Management and Northstar Realty.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Bruce Stachenfeld has structured and completed numerous transactions in virtually all areas of real estate and related disciplines. He is particularly well known for representing clients in partnerships, limited liability companies and other co-venture situations. "He is incredibly thorough and comprehensive. Other top law firms ignore things that he would bring up. He brings all the necessary issues to your attention," says one interviewee.
THE FIRM This extremely prominent firm is an obvious leader within the real estate market. With a broad range of capabilities and skills, the team is an undeniably attractive representative for lenders, borrowers, institutional investors, tenants, real estate advisers and underwriters. Long-standing relationships with clients such as Tishman Speyer and SL Green are indicative of the team's ability to attract significant transactions across a broad range of arenas.
Sources say: "Everybody recognizes that it has the best real estate practice in New York."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Jonathan Mechanic is renowned throughout New York for his work within the real estate sector. He routinely advises REITs, lenders, developers and investors in all aspects of commercial real estate transactions and also represents both landlords and tenants in commercial leasing and ground lease transactions. "He is tremendous, number one. He is the man," sources enthuse. Joshua Mermelstein represents financial institutions, developers, owners and offshore investors in financings, joint ventures, acquisitions and dispositions. "He is bright, committed, decent; a mentor to the people he works with. He seeks appropriate solutions without bombast and is extraordinarily effective. If I were a client he would be my lawyer," remarks one observer. Robert Sorin specializes in commercial real estate transactions including the sale and acquisition of office, hotel and retail properties, joint ventures, construction financing, leasing, the development of office, residential, hotel and mixed-use projects, loan sales and debt restructurings. Sorin recently represented Google in the largest single-asset transaction ever to occur in US history. Ross Silver has an exceedingly varied practice, including sales and acquisitions, financings, leasings on behalf of landlords and tenants, and debt restructurings relating to all types of properties, including office buildings, residential buildings, hotels, shopping centers and manufacturing facilities. Harry Silvera is described as "an excellent young lawyer who is very impressive and very well regarded." His practice concentrates on commercial real estate transactions, including acquisition and disposition of office, hotel and other property classes, and the development of office, residential, hotel and mixed-use projects. Stephen Lefkowitz specializes in real estate development, with an emphasis on land use, zoning and structuring regarding large-scale, complex projects involving public-private development and financing arrangements. "He is very intellectual and that is his strength in dealing with public agencies," says one interviewee. Melanie Meyers, "a knowledgeable and tireless attorney and excellent technician," is concerned primarily with real estate development, specializing in land use, environmental review, zoning, public approvals and PPPs.
THE FIRM This highly regarded firm's real estate practice provides a great depth and range of services for clients including privately held entrepreneurial developers and owners, developers and financiers of the largest real estate projects in the USA and Europe. Recent work has included advising on a $1 billion fund sponsored by Investcorp Real Estate Group to acquire senior loans and mezzanine loans.
Sources say: "It's a strong group of young and talented lawyers doing excellent work."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Eric Feuerstein, "a really excellent, terrific attorney," leads the New York office's real estate department. He covers acquisitions, joint ventures, developments, financings and leasings. Andrew Lance specializes in the origination and restructuring of complex development projects, transactional matters and debt and equity financing structures. He recently represented German American Capital, a Deutsche Bank subsidiary, in its acquisition of an existing $250 million mortgage on 3 Columbus Circle in Manhattan.
THE FIRM This 43-strong team provides a full breadth of services to its clients, with a focus on traditional real estate matters. Areas of expertise include acquisitions and dispositions, joint ventures, entity structuring, debt and equity placements, lender finance and capital market transactions, restructurings and workouts, land use, and commercial leasing. The group recently represented Dividend Capital Total Realty Trust in its acquisition of a 32-property portfolio from iStar Financial, in a transaction valued at approximately $1.4 billion. Other notable clients include BankUnited, Fordham University and Starwood Capital Management.
Sources say: "It has some excellent lawyers - strong partners and strong associates. We've been very happy with their performance."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Robert Ivanhoe concentrates his practice in sophisticated real estate structures, financings, workouts, restructurings and acquisitions and dispositions of all asset classes of real estate. "He's a very talented and very capable guy. I don't hesitate to recommend our best clients to him," says one interviewee. Gary Kleinman concentrates on commercial real estate law. He has wide-ranging experience throughout the sector, including financing on behalf of borrowers and lenders, debt restructuring and workouts, dispositions of commercial, industrial and residential real estate, the acquisition and disposition of multiasset portfolios of loans and real properties and leasing. Stephen Rabinowitz advises private equity funds, financial institutions, developers and other investors and operators in the acquisition, financing, development, sale and leasing of all classes of commercial properties including office, hotel, multifamily and condominium properties. Peter A Miller, who recently joined from Akin Gump, specializes in real estate finance, with an emphasis on acquisitions, development and joint ventures. Interviewees describe him as "a very good lawyer with an excellent reputation."
THE FIRM The recent intake of 29 new attorneys has significantly bolstered the firm's standing within this practice area. These new appointments fall either side of the team's key areas, with 16 moving into dirt work and 13 into financial real estate law. The team has market-recognized special expertise in several areas, including hotels, office properties, mixed-use properties, gaming, healthcare facilities, retail properties and residential communities. Recent work has included representing Natixis Real Estate Capital in the origination of a $101 million mortgage loan secured by two retail and residential mixed-use buildings in New York City.
Sources say: "They are excellent. They have been extremely responsive with us."
KEY INDIVIDUALS "Superb lawyer" Stuart Mass focuses his practice entirely in the leasing arena. He has recently been instructed by SL Green in several real estate endeavors; he also represents other large investment funds.
THE FIRM This 55-strong team is one of the region's preeminent real estate practices. While covering the entire breadth of real estate law the team shows particular strength in land use and zoning work. It has earned a solid reputation for handling high-profile, complex zoning matters, and obtaining critical approvals from public bodies and agencies. The team continues to advise the Community Preservation Corporation on the redevelopment of the landmark Domino Sugar refinery building in Brooklyn.
Sources say: "The people I deal with at the firm are universally good - extraordinarily hard-working with an unequaled depth of knowledge and experience."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Carl Schwartz is a skilled attorney who covers acquisitions, sales, joint ventures and strategic alliances, financings, restructurings and workouts. His clients include developers, lenders and managers. He recently advised Bank Leumi on supplying a mortgage loan to the buyer of the HSBC Tower in Manhattan. Clients are keen to recommend this attorney: "He is a superb technician; he knows how to use these skills to make his clients and counterparts come together. He always performs extraordinarily well."
Since publication, Carl F Schwartz has joined Hunton & Williams LLP
THE FIRM This significant firm has recently increased its distressed property practice, and offers clients an efficient service for all of their traditional real estate needs. The team has a strong emphasis on utilizing the wider expertise available, giving it a strong multidisciplinary edge. Clients have included ING Real Estate Finance and Hudson Realty Capital.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Lawrence Eisenberg has represented a number of major institutional clients in connection with the relocation of international headquarters facilities; he has a special emphasis on facilities leasing and development. He has over 40 years' worth of experience in real estate transactions and regularly represents both public and private developers. "He's very bright and very intelligent," says one observer.
THE FIRM The firm provides a broad-based practice to a diversified and extensive client base, including national, multinational and foreign institutions and investors. Recent work has included representing Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in connection with approximately $2 billion of mortgage and mezzanine loan exposure to Extended Stay Hotels. The team offers extensive expertise on workouts and restructurings but has attracted more loan origination work in recent times.
Sources say: "Prompt, technically correct and business-savvy."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Stephen Gliatta is cochair of Kaye Scholer’s executive committee and cochair of the firm’s real estate department. His practice focuses on representing investment banks and other institutional lenders in the origination and securitization of first mortgage debt and mezzanine loans. Recent work has included representing Baupost Capital in financing the acquisition by HFZ Capital of a $100 million defaulted construction loan on a stalled condominium development on East 51st Street and Second Avenue. A recent highlight for Warren Bernstein was the foreclosure of the Watergate Hotel, the smooth sale of this asset leading to a successful full recovery. He has represented a vast array of property owners and his experience includes construction and permanent financings for facilities such as warehouses and office buildings.
THE FIRM This esteemed team is particularly recognized for its exceptional land use and zoning expertise. Columbia University and New York University both utilize this firm's experience in this area. The team advised on land use and special zoning approvals in connection with the renovations of Madison Square Garden. The deep bench also offers services in all manner of real estate transactions, including retail, office and industrial leasing and workouts and financings. This practice recently represented Muss Development/Onex Realty in the development of a multipurpose complex in Queens worth $1 billion. Real estate litigation and condemnation are also areas this team is well equipped to handle.
Sources say: "This is a star firm; it is extraordinary for land use."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Cochair of the real estate practice Jay Neveloff is a highly regarded figure in the market. He recently represented the seller of the retail portion of the St. Regis Hotel, and he also led the team's representation of St. Vincent's Hospital and its potential sale of the main campus in Greenwich Village. "He will find a resolution where others find an impasse," sources comment. Neil Tucker's client base includes both institutional and entrepreneurial investors, developers and hedge funds; he also attracts both tenants and landlords as clients for significant leasing agreements. A substantial portion of his real estate practice comprises financing, restructurings, leases and development. He recently represented agent BNP Paribas on a workout of $230 million, and he dealt with a loan restructure for agent Société Générale. Samuel Lindenbaum is principally a zoning and land use attorney. He recently secured landmark approvals for an amendment regarding the signage of the Empire State Building. He also worked with Michael Sillerman to win landmark and zoning approvals for a tower reaching over 1,000 feet to be built adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art. Sillerman is adept at advising clients on all issues affecting site development. These range from acquisition and landmark considerations to tax abatements and discretionary government land use approvals. Paul Selver has over 30 years' experience of practicing law and is a well-established figure in New York's real estate market. While he is highly capable in all manner of development and land use matters, he focuses his attentions on environmental, zoning and historic preservation issues. Selver is cochair of the land use and zoning practice, along with Sillerman.
Since publication, Samuel H Lindenbaum has passed away.
THE FIRM Despite the loss of a partner, this established team has maintained its standing and continues to provide counsel to lenders, developers, investors, borrowers, landlords and tenants. Areas of expertise include advising on diverse forms of finance, the formation of partnerships and raising capital through a variety of means. Projects this group has been involved in span from landmark office buildings and hotels to multifamily housing and shopping centers.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Chairing this firm's real estate group in New York, Richard Chadakoff offers a broad base of experience; he works with investment bankers, major owners and funds in both acquisitions and dispositions. Adept at representing both lenders and developers, he is also well versed in single and multiple property real estate financings. Highlights include representing a developer in the restructuring of three loans used to finance the development of a regional mall and resort destination; these were valued at $1.3 billion. James Hisiger is highly respected by his peers. Offering comprehensive services to clients, he handles real estate financing and development, the formation of joint ventures, option agreements and leases. He has recently developed a focus in gaming and hospitality finance and development transactions: for example, he recently advised both the mortgage and mezzanine lenders in the foreclosure, repositioning and sale of the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, DC.
THE FIRM This group debuts in the tables thanks to a particularly active business year. In 2009 it closed the $1.3 billion Liberty Bond commercial construction loan refinancing and permanent takeout of Bank of America Tower, one of the largest real estate financings in the USA since the onset of the credit crunch. The group excels in complex financing and distressed real estate issues, and is skilled in the full range of transactional, construction, leasing, hospitality and REIT matters.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Mark Edelstein is the firm's chair for real estate finance and distressed real estate. A recent highlight for this bankruptcy and debt restructuring specialist was representing Wachovia/Wells Fargo on a number of issues. These include the restructuring of loans, litigation and bankruptcy filing of Extended Stay. The debt this company has accrued is valued at $7 billion. Clients consider Edelstein to be "ahead of other attorneys in the respect that he is excellent at staying in touch and flagging up new issues in the industry."
THE FIRM This efficient five-partner team provides clients with a wide range of services. Those of particular note are contractual advice for leases and acquisitions and its handling of both purchases and sales. The practice is adept at marshaling expertise from other departments as necessary; it recently worked closely with the firm's tax-exempt attorneys to advise The Silberman Fund on a complex transaction that led to the largest ever gift given to the City University of New York, $48 million. The group provides outside counsel on numerous real estate matters for Dow Jones.
Sources say: "It is a comprehensive, service-oriented and detail-driven one-stop shop for real estate."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Andrew Herz has a great deal of experience in the real estate arena. He focuses his practice on commercial office leasing, mortgage financing and workouts. He is acknowledged as "a highly knowledgeable leasing lawyer." Robert Safron is providing co-counsel for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey regarding the high-profile leasing of 1 million sq ft for the headquarters of Condé Nast Publications at One World Trade Center. He has represented investors, developers, lenders and owners with regards to commercial real estate. Clients particularly appreciate the practicality of these two attorneys who are so proficient in dirt law.
THE FIRM This impressive bench makes up an esteemed practice group that offers a comprehensive service in real estate law. Practitioners have recently been working on sophisticated loan arrangements and joint ventures, and have attracted several previously uncompleted condominium development deals. Often acting for financial institutions and investment funds, the team is also instructed by developers and pension funds, among others. A recent success was providing representation for L&L Holdings and Lehman Brothers in a major loan restructuring following the acquisition of the 'Toy Building' in New York, which involved the infusion of new equity.
KEY INDIVIDUALS "No problem is too complex and no opposition is too formidable" for Eric Landau. His practice centers on complex joint ventures, loans, purchases and development transactions. He provides outside general counsel for Millennium Partners, including the exit of foreign-domiciled partners and tax planning, among other issues. Robert Wertheimer recently represented Fisher Brothers in a recapitalization deal with RockPoint; this deal is valued at $1 billion and was for two office buildings in New York City. Clients are keen to praise this attorney: "He has good judgment, creativity and the ability to negotiate effectively." A substantial portion of his practice is focused on acquisitions and dispositions, development and finance, and he represents both institutional clients and prominent individuals. Martin Edelman is described by commentators as "THE senior statesman." He has a wealth of experience in real estate corporate transactions and is adept at handling the financial structures necessary for complex deals. He is particularly experienced in cross-border transactions, having worked on deals in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, among others.
THE FIRM This prominent team has a strong reputation for both its corporate and dirt practices, this breadth of expertise being provided by the efficient group of 21 attorneys. Sales, purchases, financings and developments form a substantial part of this team's practice; in addition, one area that is particularly notable in the market is its skilled revaluation of rent on long-term ground leasing and periodic rent resets. Clients range from the US Department of Energy to Lincoln Center Theater and Citi.
Sources say: "It is highly practical and offers good attorneys and a great service."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The popular Meredith Kane is praised for her "highly thoughtful" approach to briefs. Her clients range from government agencies to equity investors, and she provides skills in all manner of real estate transactions and development. She recently represented Metropolitan Transportation Authority in the sale of airspace over the largest area of undeveloped land in Manhattan. She also led the firm's involvement in the mortgage refinancing of the American Stock Exchange. Steven Simkin leads this firm's real estate department. He is highly experienced in dealing with projects, acquisitions and financings, including workouts, restructurings and dispute resolutions. He was recently engaged by SL Green to recapitalize its joint venture for an office space on Broadway; he also represented the same client in the acquisition of four mezzanine loans which aggregate at $250 million. Clients are quick to praise him: "He is more than just an attorney, he is a trusted adviser and a skilled business partner." Harris Freidus represents developers, entrepreneurial and institutional investors and lenders on a comprehensive range of commercial real estate transactions. This young attorney is quickly establishing a presence in New York's real estate arena; he is highlighted as "a tireless problem solver who is great at thinking outside the box."
THE FIRM This talented team has a dual focus on both dirt law and real estate financing. It encompasses an impressive range of areas in this field. The broad experience this deep bench offers means it is as well equipped to deal with real estate funds as it is engineers. The firm recently moved its office to 11 Times Square after the real estate group negotiated the lease to be the anchor tenant of this property.
Sources say: "It has a tremendous wealth of experience and it does things right the first time."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Ronald Sernau "is really gifted in leasing and is giving something to this profession nobody else can." This prominent attorney primarily acts on acquisitions and dispositions of commercial and residential property in the New York City metropolitan area. He recently represented Reader's Digest in its relocation to White Plains, New York. Steven Lichtenfeld's practice pivots on real estate finance and capital markets. He is strong in public offerings, private placements and senior and mezzanine financings as well as other forms of corporate finance. David Weinberger recently represented the Harbor Group on its acquisition and subsequent leasing of a 25-story building in lower Manhattan. His practice is focused on the financial side of transactions. He represents lenders, owners and investors in a variety of matters and has developed particular expertise in the origination and securitization of complex mortgage loans. Sources note he is "seasoned in this industry and is well connected with good relationships." Peter Fass is highly experienced in capital markets real estate and has decades of experience in this field. His clients include American Realty Capital and its affiliated broker-dealer and REITs Lightstone Value Plus and Preferred Apartment Communities. He earns high praise from sources: "He really gets engaged in a transaction; he is a terrific technical attorney who is constantly innovating and looking for creative ideas."
THE FIRM This group counts a large number of hedge funds and private equity funds among its diverse client base. It offers extensive experience in capital markets lending, mezzanine lending, workouts and restructurings among other issues. It recently represented Credit Suisse acting as controller in a senior loan and subordinate mezzanine lender in the restructuring of debt valued at $700 million, in relation to the New York Times building. Clients include The Blackstone Group and Cerberus Capital Management.
Sources say: "This is a well-balanced firm with a deep bench and smart partners."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Chair of the real estate practice Jeffrey Lenobel represents developers, borrowers, lenders and other financial institutions in their real estate matters. He has recently been involved in workouts and restructurings for clients in Chicago, Hawaii and California.
THE FIRM This practice handles real estate investment and financing matters for clients ranging from tax-exempt entities and pension plans to foreign investors. This five-partner team offers clients expertise in a broad array of corporate real estate matters: development, financing and workouts are just a few areas the team is efficient in handling. The group's diverse expertise in this area is underlined by its ability to offer advice in Shari'a-compliant investments and its focus on cross-border representation, which is supported by its international network of offices.
Sources say: "It provides good advice in difficult situations; it is our go-to firm for real estate."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Chris Smith is esteemed by his peers and is a clear choice for others to recommend to real estate clients should they have a conflict. His practice ranges from developments and financings to investment funds and dispositions. He recently represented a major financial institution adding to its investment in a joint venture to acquire a substantial volume of affordable housing units. This involved a complex combination of tax, corporate and structuring issues. Clients are quick to praise Malcolm Montgomery: "He is one of the most talented lawyers, he has trustworthy opinions and is incredibly organized." He leads this firm's real estate finance practice and is proficient in his handling of a wide variety of financial matters, which include multistate secured credit facilities and mezzanine, term and construction financings.
THE FIRM This outstanding team continues to focus its attention on workouts, restructurings, foreclosures and other distressed real estate transactions; a recent example of this was the workout of mortgage and mezzanine loans for a major financial institution. The practice is representing Delta Air Lines on a major development project at JFK airport. It also represented an investment company, with others, in the acquisition of one of the largest servicers of commercial mortgages in the USA.
Sources say: "The attorneys are smart and knowledgeable about the market; they are efficient operators."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Alan Weil has earned the respect of his clients: "He is extremely hands-on and thorough." A recent success for this real estate generalist was his representation of the New York City Law Department and the negotiation of multiple long-term ground leases of Brooklyn Bridge Park as control was transferred from the state to the city. He has also been representing a Canadian investment company in a joint venture with SL Green and he advised the same company on the acquisition of an office building in Manhattan, also from SL Green.
THE FIRM This highly regarded group has grown with the recent addition of a new partner, making it a team of five. It has shifted focus in the past year to include more new transactional work in addition to the restructuring that has been making up a great deal of its practice previously. Attracting significant corporate clients, the group is well positioned to advise on all aspects of real estate finance, where it has a wealth of experience in complex matters. This team continues to represent long-standing client The Blackstone Group on its real estate transactions; recent matters have included a $1.02 billion acquisition of property and equity from ProLogis, and the representation of the group in a joint venture that resulted in the acquisition of a majority interest in a senior living portfolio.
Sources say: "A first-class practice."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Gregory Ressa is a superior corporate practitioner in real estate matters, broadly acknowledged to be a "terrific attorney." He concentrates his attention on real estate opportunity funds, finance and M&A, and he leads the firm's Blackstone representation. A recent highlight for him was the corporate restructuring of Hilton Worldwide's existing secured debt with an LBO, which amounted to $20 billion. Scott Kobak devotes the majority of his practice to representing institutional investors such as high-profile real estate equity funds. He advises these in acquisitions and dispositions, joint ventures and financings. He has been acting as main transaction counsel for The Carlyle Group's real estate fund in New York, and has recently led a lot of restructuring matters for Morgan Stanley's real estate funds.
THE FIRM Offering clients the services of 11 partners in New York, this talented team is adept at handling both traditional real estate matters and financial and corporate concerns. The full-service practice maintained by this group varies from day-to-day matters to the most complex transactions. The team has seen a real increase in its transactional and lending practice, with the market for workouts and restructurings slowing down. It was recently involved in one of the largest public projects ever undertaken by the Federal Transit Administration. The lawyers have been representing the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in the move to construct two new railroad tunnels and expand Penn Station.
Sources say: "This is the number-one firm, it has experts in so many different areas. They can handle everything, all our real estate-related transactions including multibillion-dollar offers."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Neil Rock has been advising Empire State Development on a huge land use improvement and civic project in Brooklyn, costing $4.9 billion. The Atlantic Yards development will include a sport arena and both residential and commercial facilities. His extensive knowledge base enables him to practice in all branches of real estate law. He is particularly adept in his representation of real estate funds; this involves their formation, capital-raising, subscription and restructurings. Benjamin Needell advises developers, buyers and sellers in an array of matters. He represented Larry Silverstein in the high-profile development and financing of Towers 3 and 4 at the World Trade Center site. This senior statesman earns high regard for his real estate practice and decades of experience: "He is one of the most thoughtful and responsible attorneys we have worked with. He understands taking risks from a business perspective." Harvey Uris leads the firm's real estate finance practice. As part of his comprehensive financial practice he will routinely advise on syndicated loan transactions, commercial mortgage-backed loan origination and securitization as well as private placements and Shari'a-compliant investments. He provides regular advice to SL Green on its secured and unsecured credit facilities, corporate compliance and other issues. A real highlight was providing co-counsel for JPMorgan and German American Capital regarding a $2 billion mortgage loan originated from Extended Stay's bankruptcy.
THE FIRM This practice spans development, acquisition, zoning, land use, leasing, and cooperative and condominium regimes. The team has been focusing on the increased flow of PPP transactions which have been taking place, and the growing commercial leasing industry. The team also continues to utilize its extensive experience in distressed debt restructurings.
Sources say: "An excellent and well-established real estate practice."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Steven Moskowitz practices traditional real estate. He is well versed in the full array of conventional concerns of dirt law and he attracts a client base of pension funds, REITs and institutional investors. He recently advised one public REIT, Cedar Shopping Centers, on the acquisition of a number of shopping centers. Chair of this practice Leonard Boxer has a wealth of experience to draw upon in both commercial and residential real estate transactions. He has recently been appointed to mediate upon a land use dispute by the District Court. Brian Diamond represents the real estate concerns of both lenders and borrowers. He attracts a broad range of clients and has recently represented JPMorgan, a national bank and a private real estate fund. A recent highlight was his representation of several investment funds on their mezzanine loans for the construction and development of a condominium project in Brooklyn. William Campbell is adept at representing a range of clients including lenders, loan sellers and distressed asset investors. He routinely advises on the origination, purchase, sale and securitization of commercial real estate loans. A recent matter for this attorney was representing private fund clients acquiring the distressed mortgage loan for a development in Manhattan; this deal involved expertise from the firm's tax and litigation groups in addition to its real estate practice. Also involved in this transaction was the skillful Ross Moskowitz. He focuses his practice in the development area, particularly with regards to land use, zoning, PPPs, environmental, tax abatement and exemption matters. He was also hired by a foreign-based investor to negotiate the redevelopment of Pier 57 to include a permanent outdoor venue on the roof and an open air public market.
THE FIRM This go-to group for real estate finance offers clients a team of attorneys who are skilled in a variety of disciplines. In addition to real estate the group offers significant expertise in restructuring, bankruptcy and M&A. A growing area for this practice has been providing advice on the formation of opportunistic funds. It is keen to utilize its expertise to adapt its skills in M&A technique to situations such as bankruptcy restructurings. Another area in which the team offers expertise is real estate litigation. It was recently successful in defending Vornado Realty Trust in two cases brought by Donald Trump.
Sources say: "It is absolutely top-quality; the attorneys pay incredible attention to detail and will roll up their sleeves and dig into any issues that are important to the client."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Firm chair Joseph Shenker has an extremely broad practice and is a popular practitioner in the market. An example of his debt restructuring skill was recently advising the owners of the New York Giants on the refinancing of a portion of their $1.6 billion debt. He wins plaudits for his commercial acumen: "He is extremely good at understanding the business aspects of a deal and what the client wants to achieve." Anthony Colletta is extremely highly regarded by peers. He has acted on the formation and capital-raising for real estate private equity funds; he is also an experienced transactional attorney and is adept at handling structured finance, workouts and restructurings. He was engaged by Goldman Sachs to act on behalf of American Casino & Entertainment Properties in the company's high-yield financing. Arthur Adler regularly handles a broad variety of commercial real estate and real estate finance. Examples of his expertise are mortgage financings and workouts, properties in distressed situations, sale and leasebacks, joint ventures and other traditional real estate matters. He has led the firm's representation of Vornado Realty Trust's sale of $660 million mortgage notes in a single-issuer securitization.
THE FIRM This group is widely considered to be a powerhouse on insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings: its work for General Growth, a regional mall owner, is widely considered to be its most high-profile recent success. This practice concentrates on the corporate aspects of real estate transactions and attracts clients such as Brookfield Real Estate Financial Partners and Extended Stay.
Sources say: “Their real estate focus is first-rate.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Bond is providing advice to Lehman Brothers regarding the restructuring of its real estate assets. He focuses his practice on providing legal advice to investment banks, insurance companies and other financial entities. “He is smart, efficient and commercial – he will problem-solve rather than create roadblocks.” He cochairs the firm's real estate department with the extremely active Philip Rosen. Rosen recently led the firm's involvement in the reorganization of Trump Entertainment Resorts under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. He also led a team working on a high-profile restructuring for a number of lenders. His clients included Capmark Bank and an affiliate of Fortress Investment, which led to the acquisition of control of the Xanadu project, a retail and entertainment development valued at $2 billion.
THE FIRM This skilled team provides a full-service real estate practice to its diverse range of clients. These include financial institutions, PPPs, developers and many others. The group has seen an increase in its corporate work while maintaining its dirt practice. Representative matters have included advising on the restructuring of the Xanadu billion-dollar senior mortgage debt, and acting for the building owners as Paul Weiss extended its lease on its Manhattan office. This team's comprehensive service is provided by its four partners.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Eugene Pinover is broadly considered to be an “outstanding” practitioner. One high-profile matter he has been handling was the Brookfield Asset Management sponsorship of the reorganization of General Growth's bankruptcy. He has also been key to the restructuring of lease and joint venture agreements for Sunrise Senior Living. His focus as cochair of this firm's real estate group is on acquisitions, dispositions, complex financings and development projects for institutional clients and real estate companies. Recently made cochair, Steven Klein has a great deal of experience dealing with REITs alongside a broad range of other real estate matters. Clients appreciate his intuition: “He is a practical attorney who has an excellent sense of the current market and the key issues that need to be resolved, and he is even-handed with his adversaries.” He has been representing the firm's involvement with DiamondRock Hospitality. This has varied from asset purchases and financings to the amendment of an unsecured credit facility. A recent highlight for Robert Bressman was advising Boston Properties on its acquisition of a Class A office tower on Madison Avenue, which involved the acquisition of existing debt in addition to the building itself. His practice pivots on complex financing, leasing, development and equity transactions.
Since publication, Robert I Bressman has joined Goulston & Storrs
Joseph Philip Forte
of Alston & Bird LLP is "truly a legend of real estate finance."
He is experienced in the origination of mortgage loans and other types of sophisticated real estate finance. He has been entrusted with advising Merrill Lynch on its complex negotiations and the review of proposed investments in mezzanine and mortgage debts for Prudential Real Estate Advisors. Richard Fries
of Bingham McCutchen LLP primarily represents financial institutions. Highlights for this talented financer include his continuing representation of the distressed real estate private equity funds of Lehman Brothers. He has also restructured and stabilized financing for the iconic Verizon building on behalf of M&T Bank. Clients are effusive in their praise: "He has a broad depth of knowledge and is technically superior. He has an intuitive understanding of the parties' business objectives, he is highly effective at crafting creative and long-lasting solutions to complex problems, and he has high integrity." Robin Panovka
is the cochair of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz's real estate and REIT M&A groups. A huge coup for him was his successful representation of Vertas on its acquisition of Atria Senior Living, a strategic transaction that closed at $3.1 billion. He is an authority on restructurings and distress investing, REITs and cross-border M&A deals in particular.
of GoldmanHarris LLC is extremely well versed in land use and zoning matters. He brings impressive previous experience to his practice, having formerly acted as deputy counsel to the New York City planning commission. Jesse Masyr
of Wachtel & Masyr LLP has experience with residential, industrial and commercial developments, and he routinely advises clients on their land use concerns for real estate projects. Gary Goodman
of SNR Denton wins recognition from his clients for being "one of the best lawyers in the industry."
He specializes in sophisticated lending and leasing transactions, and has recently been utilizing his extensive expertise in this area for DekaBank. Transactions for this client include providing counsel on a recent acquisition of a Manhattan office block, the restructuring of a construction loan and successfully defending the client in litigation following a mezzanine loan related to the W Hotel in Union Square. Raymond Sanseverino
of Loeb & Loeb LLP is a partner in Los Angeles as well as New York, where he specializes in leasing, brokerage and conveyancing. He regularly acts on behalf of both sides in tenancy agreements; he provided landlord's counsel for Eastgate Realty on its retail lease extension to Ferrari for its showroom, and he represented Xinhua, China's state news agency, as tenant on its lease in Times Square for its new North American headquarters. Clients are quick to praise this attorney: "He is supremely talented and a tireless negotiator; he is able to bring transactions to a rapid and successful conclusion."
His well-respected colleague Kenneth Sold
also concentrates on commercial leasing, but also regularly handles acquisitions and sales. Over the past year he has acted as landlord's counsel on a number of matters for RFR Realty and Trinity Real Estate, and provided tenant's counsel for GoldenTree Asset Management.
has recently branched out from his previous role at Latham & Watkins to form his own commercial real estate practice, Joshua Stein PLLC . Here he has been focusing on development and leasing transactions. Sources say: "He is smart and tenacious, which are key attributes for Manhattan real estate attorneys, and in addition to his wealth of experience he knows all the lawyers and has seen all the tricks before." Sebastian Kaufmann
of King & Spalding LLP enters the rankings this year following excellent feedback for his economic awareness and his strategic representation of foreign investors, particularly those from German financial institutions. "He is extremely helpful at solving issues and is creative at finding the best solution,"
note satisfied clients. He recently represented Munich Hypo Bank on a wide variety of real estate financing matters in New York. These included the acquisition of a mortgage loan originated by Barclays Capital, the origination of a loan secured by the Plaza Hotel and the restructuring of a mortgage loan to a Tishman Speyer joint venture. Adam Leitman Bailey
of Adam Leitman Bailey, PC is a real estate litigator who has "catapulted onto the scene."
He has been hired to litigate extremely high-profile cases. He is providing defense counsel for the potential developers of the Ground Zero Mosque. He also secured a $47 million loan from Wells Fargo for his client, Luna Park Housing. Sources are highly impressed by his courtroom presence. Susanna Serena Fodor
of Jones Day is a well-established real estate attorney who is also an adept practitioner of construction law. She has a variety of clients who range from financial institutions to governmental entities and PPPs. She continues to advise the developer of the $1 billion project to renovate the sports/entertainment facility at Madison Square Garden.
of Seyfarth Shaw LLP focuses his practice on originating loans and workouts. Primarily representing lenders, he is an efficient and experienced cohead of the firm's real estate department. Martin Luskin
of Blank Rome LLP regularly advises a broad range of clients on matters of commercial real estate, such as mergers and LBOs. A recent highlight was advising George Comfort & Sons and DRA Advisors on the acquisition and financing of Worldwide Plaza, a 49-story office block. He also provided landlord's counsel for subsequent leasing agreements to WNET and WebMD. Clients agree that "he knows how to compromise and provides thorough legal reviews." Martin Miner
of Holland & Knight LLP is experienced in all areas of real estate but focuses his practice on joint ventures and large leases. A recent example of this was his representation of the tenant, JetBlue Airways, in its headquarters leasing negotiations. Clients are particularly appreciative of this attorney's practical approach. Keith Pattiz
of McDermott Will & Emery LLP has been representing RFR Realty's attempt to end its partnership with developer Ian Schrager. This has taken place in the form of RFR buying back the mortgage on the Gramercy Hotel that the two parties co-own. A significant portion of Pattiz's practice is focused on the hotel industry, but he is well versed in a wide array of other commercial real estate and development transactions. Mario Suarez
of Thompson Hine LLP is a go-to name for a wide array of commercial real estate transactions, including the sale and purchase of building portfolios, leasing transactions and joint ventures. Jeffrey Moerdler
of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC impresses with "his responsiveness, creativity and commitment to his clients."
He focuses his practice on the purchase, lease and development of residential, office and shopping center projects, and this is further refined by his specialist attention on telecom real estate transactions involving data centers, antenna towers and building wiring. He recently obtained land on Staten Island for the development of an assisted living facility; this was on behalf of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and cost $1. Wallace Schwartz
recently joined Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP from Skadden; clients appreciate his ability to juggle his responsibilities: "He doesn't only help with our real estate, but will also coordinate and navigate other personnel."
His broad practice extends from leasing and development to public and private offerings of real estate securities. Since publication, Scott Berger
arrived at Kirkland & Ellis LLP from White & Case. He is known for his "excellent client skills and enormous energy" and for his real estate finance expertise.
Since publication, Joseph Philip Forte has joined DLA Piper LLP (US)