The Legal 500

United States > Real estate and construction

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Editorial

Overview

‘Innovation’ is the word that best defined the US construction market in 2015. Long-term, multi-phase projects continue to drive the need for transactional advice across the country. Despite the drop in crude oil prices, the Gulf Coast energy market is standing strong, partly due to an increase in fracking activity. Taking the place of coal-fired power plants are wind farms and solar energy plants, generating business for firms with expertise in environmental law. Retrofitting and renovation projects are also on the rise, following the trend towards increased efficiency and sustainability.

The energy sector is undergoing a true revival, with numerous new initiatives such as liquefied natural gas facilities, clean technologies, electrical transmission reliability and renewable energy solutions. In addition, there is a growing market for sustainable building certification, with an increasing number of attorneys gaining proficiency in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation procedure. Increased migration to cities has advanced a rise in commercial, residential and mixed-use investments, from New York to San Francisco.

Foreign investment in retail, hospitality and condominium projects also continues to grow. Large developments, such as the Hudson Yards project in New York, reflect the trend towards the reimagining of city landscapes, creating a stable source of revenue for engaged law firms. The healthcare sector generated a flow of work from major renovations to several university hospitals, and continues to generate work in dispute resolution. The quest for efficiency has increased the popularity of collaborative contracting and alternative project delivery methods, ranging from public-private partnerships (PPP) to design-build, and the need for procurement advice.

Market trends were further strengthened by Congress, which in December 2015 not only extended tax incentives for the renewable energy sector, but also granted a $305bn transportation package to support public infrastructure projects. Determined to cut costs, companies increasingly choose to invest in risk management at the early stages of a project to avoid future litigation. Litigation avoidance has also been driving an upswing in arbitration.

Land use and zoning activity is closely linked to the real estate transactional market, with cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco extremely active. Seattle, Atlanta, Houston and Denver are also buoyant. The US market is home to a range of firms, from small boutiques, to several national specialist land use and zoning practices, to well-known full service heavyweights, and often expertise in this area goes hand-in-hand with a strong environmental law practice. Notable hires included Holland & Knight LLP welcoming Debbie Orshefsky and Douglas Praw from Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Goodwin Procter LLP respectively. The demise of McKenna Long & Aldridge also created some movement, with Michael Wallenstein and Thomas Winfield joining the Los Angeles office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and Timothy Tosta joining the San Francisco office of Arent Fox LLP.

The real estate industry enjoyed a busy year, with investment coming from a variety of sources, including foreign investors capitalizing on the comparative stability of US markets, institutional investors bulking up their real estate holdings and investment funds attracted by higher returns than those on offer in core acquisitions. The gateway cities in particular fared well, with San Francisco and New York reported as being exceptionally hot; in New York, China’s Anbang Insurance Group paid $1.95bn for the Waldorf Astoria, a record price for a US hotel, while RXR Realty sold roughly half of its stake in six buildings to Blackstone Group in a deal that valued the buildings at $4bn, more than twice what RXR originally paid for them. Beyond the gateway cities, foreign money found its way to states such as Illinois and Arizona, which had historically proved less attractive to investors.

Implicit in any boom is an anticipated downturn and many observers expect the forecasted rise in interest rates to curtail activity. The bearish approach taken by stock investors perceiving imminent decline in the market has already led to a number of public to private leveraged buyouts, with Blackstone Group - the largest private equity investor in property worldwide - stepping in to take control of Strategic Hotels & Resorts and BioMed Realty Trust.

The majority of legal practices enjoyed a high volume of development transactions across all commercial real estate product types, with standout sectors including hospitality and multifamily and senior living. This was partly enabled by the loosening by banks of lending standards and the increase in new issues of commercial mortgage-backed securities. The total amount of outstanding commercial and multifamily mortgage debt continues to grow at a strong pace, particularly on the multifamily side.

The real estate ranking takes in an assessment of firms’ scope and national capability across a range of areas, including development work (or ‘dirt’), finance for both lenders and borrowers, and securitization and real estate-related corporate transactions. Other relevant factors include bench strength and the profile and market power of key clients.

The REIT market continues to be very active, with lots of new trust formations, spin-offs and non-REIT companies converting into REITs, as well of course as real estate and capital markets transactions involving REITs. In December 2015, President Obama signed new federal tax legislation that includes significant changes to the taxation of spin-off transactions involving REITs. According to firms, the new legislation will not adversely affect the REIT market, but it is shifting the type of advice that the firms are giving. Clients want to know how the changes will impact their businesses, and lawyers must continue to be creative and look for ways to unlock the constraints the legislation will impose.


Construction (including construction litigation)

Index of tables

  1. Construction (including construction litigation)
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Jones Day’s leading construction attorneys include Andrew Ness in Washington DC, Daniel McMillan in Los Angeles, Stephen O’Neal and of counsel David Buoncristiani in San Francisco and Roy Powell in Pittsburgh. The team advises national and international owners and contractors on transactional and contentious matters, particularly in relation to large energy and infrastructure projects across the US and the world. It has been representing Kiewit Pacific Company in three separate defect lawsuits related to the $721m I-405 Sepulveda Pass widening project in Los Angeles, and also successfully defended Kiewit in a whistleblower action in the Northern District of California. The group has been acting for utility owners, led by Georgia Power Company, in relation to claims of over $1bn, brought by the contractor, based on alleged regulatory changes affecting the $10bn construction of a nuclear power plant. Kevin O’Brien is assisting Bechtel Power with negotiations over the construction of a $500m 750MW power plant in Virginia. Non-contentious highlights included assisting the Los Angeles Unified School District with procurement and drafting contracts for a $30m design-build dual language (Mandarin and English) immersion elementary school project, and advising Loma Linda University Medical Center on its multi-phase $1.2bn campus redevelopment.

The ‘extremely knowledgeableScott Greer is ‘well versed in the trends of the industry’ and leads King & Spalding LLP’s practice from Houston. The group is hailed for its ‘unique combination of experience and expertise’ and handles projects ‘from cradle to grave’ on a national and international scale. ‘Expert litigatorCraig Ledet is the key partner for contentious matters, including international arbitration. Many of the attorneys have a background in engineering, allowing them to provide ‘broad thinking and strategic, realistic and pragmatic’ advice, ‘not only on legal issues but with respect to commercial, technical and risk management concerns’. The group specializes in large-scale energy and infrastructure projects, and is currently working on projects exceeding $125bn in value. ‘Adept, creative and tough negotiator’ Angus McFadden is one of the lead partners assisting Axiall Corporation and Lotte Chemical with their $2bn joint venture for the construction of an ethylene cracker in Louisiana. Highlights also included ongoing advice to the Atlanta Falcons in relation to the construction of a new football stadium, and representing Freeport LNG in relation to the development and construction of a new $14bn liquefied natural gas export terminal in Texas. The firm has strengthened its dispute resolution practice through the promotions to partner of Benjamin Pollock and Kevin Clark, and the lateral hire of David Kiefer, who joined the New York office from Dentons. All named lawyers are based in Houston unless stated otherwise.

Peckar & Abramson, P.C. is a ‘first-class firm with extremely experienced and competent construction lawyers’. New York-based Steven Charney and Robert Peckar lead an ‘excellent construction practice with a very deep bench’ of 60 partners spread across 11 US offices. Present in both public and private sectors, the firm’s extensive expertise ranges from retail, entertainment and hospitality to infrastructure and nuclear energy projects. It provides a full service offering to owners, US contractors abroad and foreign contractors in the US, and represents clients in delay and disruption disputes, payment and performance bond claims and AAA and ICC arbitration proceedings. Los Angeles-based Alex Baghdassarian and Eric Gruzen recently negotiated a favorable settlement for a national contractor in a multimillion-dollar dispute over negligent management claims. In another highlight, Steven Seeger in the Washington DC office secured an $11m award for an owner in delay, disruption and changes litigation against a general contractor. David Fultz in New York and Scott Kearns and Denis Serkin in New Jersey were promoted to partner. Although the firm is no longer physically present in Atlanta, it opened three new offices in Texas (Austin, Dallas and Houston) following the hire of nine lawyers from Ford Nassen & Baldwin. Gregory Chertoff is recommended. Danielle Cole and Todd Bressler left the firm.

Dentons’ team provides a full service to owners and developers, contractors and subcontractors, design professionals and sureties, with John Haug leading the transactional work from St Louis and Philip White heading litigation from New York. The team’s expertise includes government contracts, bid protests and bond claims, and it has recently been advising on projects ranging from residential and retail developments to chemical facilities and power plants. Examples included assisting the Abdul Latif Jameel Real Estate Investment Company with contractual matters surrounding the $1.5bn design and construction of luxury hotels in the Middle East, and acting for the O’Donnell Investment Company in the development of a $240m gold-rated LEED-certified high rise in Chicago. In an example on the disputes side, it represented Longview Power in a $600m defect and delay suit arising from the construction of a $2bn coal-fired power plant. Other clients include McCormack Baron Salazar, Piedmont Natural Gas, Balfour Beatty Communities and Nicor. Following its merger with McKenna Long & Aldridge, Mark Budwig, Peter Ippolito and Laurence Phillips joined the team in California. Disputes specialist David Kiefer moved to King & Spalding LLP.

The 27-partner group at Duane Morris LLP has a broad practice, advising clients on matters ranging from project management, to bid, payment and performance bonds, to delay, loss of productivity and inefficiency claims. Led by New York-based Mark Canizio, the team also provides assistance with LEED certification, Building Information Modeling, risk management and OSHA and other compliance matters. Kenneth Lazaruk has been advising Related Companies on the drafting and negotiation of design agreements for the Hudson Yards development; he is also acting for Columbia University in the multi-phase redevelopment of Manhattanville in West Harlem. Canizio is representing Tutor Perini in multimillion-dollar claims against New York City and New York State respectively, and Philadelphia-based Joseph Battipaglia is representing the University of Sciences in a multimillion-dollar dispute over the deterioration of underground piping. Denis Shanagher joined the San Francisco office from McKenna Long & Aldridge, and Yao Bailey joined the New York office from Menaker & Herrmann LLP. Stanley Martin left the firm to open his own practice, Commonsense Construction Law LLC. Former practice head Albert Bates moved to Pepper Hamilton LLP.

The nine-partner team at Farella Braun + Martel LLP, which is headed by San Francisco-based Richard Van Duzer, specializes in solar energy, wastewater treatment, public infrastructure and relocation projects. It represents owners, developers and design-build and large contractors in a range of transactional matters, as well handling arbitration and litigation. Jeffrey Sykes is representing Nibbi Brothers General Contractors in multiple disputes arising from the construction of a $25m healthcare facility, while a team led by Mark Petersen is advising subcontractor Layne Christensen Company on various matters relating to three subway station projects within the San Francisco Central Subway project, including differing site conditions, design deficiencies and construction delays. Deborah Ballati continues to serve as outside counsel to the Port of Oakland, advising, for example, on structuring and implementing a design-build development of the former Oakland Army Base. Other highlights included representing Kleinfelder in a dispute over delay and additional design costs regarding the Carmel River reroute and San Clemente dam removal project.

The team at Foley & Lardner LLP has a notable profile both nationally and internationally, and advises owners and developers, contractors, subcontractors, joint ventures and design professionals. Led by Jeffrey Blease, who splits his time between Boston and San Francisco, it provides expertise in relation to various phases of complex public projects, as well as refineries and nuclear power plants. Blease continues his representation of engineering firm HNTB in a $20m dispute over an alleged bid error concerning Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport. He is also representing HNTB in a multimillion-dollar claim relating to the cumulative impact of owner-imposed changes, delays and disruptions on a public highway project. Other clients include Lennar Homes, CDC Group, Bankers South Lending & Finance, Waste Options Nantucket and CSDC Systems. Adam Adams left the firm; Douglas Heffer was promoted to the partnership. Christopher Ryan Maloney and Edmund Baxa are recommended.

New Jersey-based Robert Epstein and Phoenix-based Jeffrey Walsh head the 47-partner team at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, which provides an ‘exemplary service on all matters, from contractual review to full-blown litigation’. The team advises private and public owners, developers, funding companies and large contractors, including the likes of EnviroFinance Group and AECOM. Recent work includes Epstein representing the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York against multiple claims by contractors and sureties worth many millions, and Michael Burnett representing Troy Construction in AAA arbitration proceedings relating to an EPC contract for the construction of a gas storage facility in Wyoming - $78m is at stake. Elsewhere, the ‘extremely activeRobert Brams is managing the transactional aspects of the $350m development of multiple cancer treatment centers in the Middle East, Mexico and China for Acacia Health Group and defending. Brams, based in Washington DC, is also serving as construction counsel to Amstar in the $300m-plus Zlota 44 residential project in Poland. Christopher Barnett and Michael Thomas joined the firm from Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson PA, and Mark Grantham joined in Atlanta following his departure from DLA Piper LLP (US). William Wray went to Holley, Driggs, Walch, Fine, Wray, Puzey & Thompson and Benjamin Tymann left to open his own practice, Tymann LLC - Law & Compliance.

The 14-partner practice at Holland & Knight LLP is chaired by renowned practitioner Stephen Shapiro, who splits his time between New York and Washington DC. From energy and infrastructure specialists in Florida, to government contracts and compliance experts in Washington DC, to attorneys in California dealing with major construction disputes, the team demonstrates an enviable range and geographic spread of expertise, further expanded by a newly opened office in Houston. A team led by New York-based Frederick Rohn has been advising Moynihan Station Development Corporation on the development of the Moynihan Station at the Farley Post Office Building in Manhattan; the project entails partial renovation of the Farley Building and the Amtrak train shed. A team led by Boston-based senior counsel Deborah Griffin continues to advise Massachusetts Technology Collaborative on the $90m design-build project to deliver broadband infrastructure in western Massachusetts. Clients also include Chicago Bridge & Iron, Whiting-Turner, Haskell, Battery Park City Authority and Skanska USA. Ben Subin, operating from Orlando and Miami, is recommended.

The team at Jones Walker LLP recently welcomed to the fold ‘practical and business-oriented’ Joseph Henner, ‘well-of-knowledge’ Neal Sweeney, and Chad Theriot. The trio joined the firm’s Atlanta office, along with three special counsels, from Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, in a move that expands the firm’s geographical footprint and adds to its broad offering, particularly in the industrial and energy sectors. A team led by Theriot represented the Kiewit-Turner joint venture in a lawsuit against the US Department of Veterans Affairs; he obtained an unprecedented relief before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, allowing the client to abandon a $1.75bn construction project due to a breach of contract by the defendant. A team led by Henner has been representing Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde in arbitration proceedings arising from the expansion of a mine in Peru and the development of a waste water treatment facility on site. Stephen Miller has been advising voestalpine Texas on completing a $740m hot briquetted iron plant in Corpus Christi, and is acting as a general counsel to Northern Star Generation on numerous projects related to its eight power generation facilities in Florida, Pennsylvania and Nevada. Other key highlights included acting for EPC consortium on multibillion-dollar claims arising from the construction of two nuclear reactors. The team is led by Richard Tyler in New Orleans.

The group at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton advises private and public owners on horizontal construction projects, specializing in heavy civil infrastructure, power transportation, highways and chemical processing plants. The group has experience acting for clients in ICC arbitration proceedings and managing scope changes, delay and disruption claims as well as serving as a counsel to trade associations. It has a track record acting for major EPC contractors and handling complex disputes arising from multibillion-dollar projects in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Work highlights included representing a client in a multimillion-dollar delay claim in Latin America. Atlanta-based Randall Hafer leads the group, and ‘bet-the-company’ litigator Brian Corgan and Lee Mann are recommended. In February 2016, six attorneys left the practice to join Jones Walker LLP.

The practice at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is led by Washington DC-based Jeffrey Gans, who specializes in troubled projects, and the ability of the team to assess a project’s potential pitfalls at an early stage is hailed as ‘beyond comparison’. It has experience in sectors ranging from healthcare to retail and hospitality. Recent work includes assisting the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with drafting and negotiating design and construction contracts for its new $300m motion picture museum and representing Walsh Austin in a $100m-plus claim against the City of Los Angeles arising from the construction of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal. A team led by California-based John Heisse is representing Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems in a $4bn ICC arbitration arising from alleged defects in replacement steam generators supplied for the San Onofre nuclear power plant. Melissa Lesmes and David Dekker are recommended, particularly for insurance recovery matters. Scott Barat, who manages the Northern Virginia office, is another name to note.

The group at Schiff Hardin LLP works mostly for owners and specialty contractors, helping keep projects on schedule and advising on issues from procurement to hazardous waste-related claims. The 15-partner practice is led by Kenneth Roberts in Chicago, but also has a presence in New York. The team excels in projects within the energy sector, particularly power station upgrades and retrofits. As an example, it has been retained by Alliant Energy to provide an independent evaluation of a $3.5bn pollution controls retrofit program as well as to assist the company with procurement and contracting strategies in various upgrade and construction projects across the country. The Chicago-based Amanda Schermer MacVey continues to serve as a full-time onsite counsel to Kansas City Power & Light for the La Cygne environmental retrofit project. The team is also advising on the $600m Focal Point development for Chicago Southwest Development Corporation. Contentious work highlights included defending delay, inefficiency and defect claims for Equity Residential and defending Kansas City against a multimillion-dollar delay and inefficiency claim made by a heavy highway and road contractor.

At Seyfarth Shaw LLP, ‘terrific lawyerBennett Greenberg leads a ‘substantial practice with a deep bench’, which includes newly appointed co-chair Sara Beiro Farabow. The group garners praise for developing ‘creative arguments’ in difficult assignments in both private and public sectors, and for its ancillary services. Its expertise ranges from alternative energy and transportation to infrastructure and sports. James Newland continues to assist the International Monetary Fund with project administration and dispute management regarding the renovation of its headquarters, while Greenberg and Chicago-based Gregg Dorman are advising LAFC Sports on the $280m redevelopment of the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, which includes demolishing the old arena and constructing a new 22,000-seater open-air stadium. Other work highlights included Farabow and New York-based Alison Ashford assisting OCI N.V. as owner and EPC contractor on the construction of a $1.8bn nitrogen fertilizer complex in Iowa and a $1bn methanol plant in Texas. David Blake (‘excellent in contract drafting on complex transactions’) is providing contractual advice to Center Place Holdings on a $1.25bn mixed-use development in Washington DC. Mark Johnson (‘practical as well as fully versed in the laws’) and David Mancini (‘working tirelessly to succeed’) are also recommended. All named lawyers are based in Washington DC unless otherwise stated.

The team at Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP, led by the Atlanta-based Robert Chambers, acts for large general contractors, specialty subcontractors, developers, design professionals and sureties in contentious and transactional matters. The firm’s clients include government agencies and Fortune 500 companies, most often within the energy, infrastructure and healthcare industries. The firm has attorneys trained in public procurement in a number of its US offices, and regularly advises on federal contracts. Highlights included defending a contractor against a differing site conditions claim, acting for a general contractor in arbitration proceedings, and managing multimillion-dollar claims arising from a major design-build contract. Daniel McLennon and Craig Wallace joined the San Francisco office following the firm’s merger with McLennon Law Corporation; while San Francisco-based Jay Houghton and Atlanta-based pair Joseph Dinardo and Harry Rippeon were promoted to partner. George Wenick, Eric Nelson and Brian Wolf are recommended; all three are based in Atlanta.

Jennifer Fletcher heads Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP’s practice out of New York and Atlanta. The group advises owners, contractors and sureties on every aspect of a project, from bids and bonds to drafting contracts to managing claims and closing troubled projects. Specializing in energy, both conventional and renewable, it has recently been advising general and mechanical contractors in Texas and Louisiana - although its client base also includes EPC contractors and parties engaged in PPP deals. In addition to energy, the team has experience in infrastructure, high-end residential, commercial, retail, hospitality and gaming developments. Recent highlights include representing the subsidiary of an international industrial manufacturer in a multimillion-dollar dispute with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The team garners praise for its ‘excellent’ appropriateness of advice and knowledge that ‘exceeds expectations’. Lee Davis, who splits his time between Atlanta and New York, and New York-based Lawrence Dany are recommended.

The construction department at Thompson Hine LLP is ‘quick to bring forth creative solutions’ to large owners, contractors and design professionals. It specializes in community impact projects (such as stadia and university facilities) and corporate headquarters. The group provides transactional and regulatory advice as well as advocacy and consultative services. ‘Seasoned veteran’ Jeffrey Appelbaum heads the practice from Cleveland; he continues to serve as project construction counsel on the development of the Golden State Warriors arena in San Francisco. A team led by Patrick Sweeney is advising BASF Corporation on project delivery systems, risk management issues and EPC contracts for the construction of a $2.5bn chemical processing facility on the Gulf Coast. Other highlights included advising the Forty Niners Stadium Company on the resolution of post-construction issues relating to the $1.2bn Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and handling transactional work related to the Cleveland Convention Center in Cuyahoga County. Heather Bartzi was made partner. Gabe Roehrenbeck was named general counsel of long-time firm client Kokosing Construction Company. All lawyers mentioned are based in Cleveland.

The ‘commercially oriented’ team at construction boutique Varela, Lee, Metz, & Guarino, LLP includes 12 ‘technically proficient and thorough’ partners who demonstrate ‘passion for the cases they work on’ and provide ‘the quality of service of a larger and more established firm.’ Paul Varela and Michael Suga obtained a highly favorable settlement for defendant CH2M HILL in multi-party federal court litigation seeking damages of more than $120m. Varela is also representing Gilbane Federal in a $15m international dispute arising out of a federal construction contract between the client and the US Navy in the Republic of Djibouti. Other highlights included representing a joint venture led by AECOM in $25m worth of disputes over the engineering and environmental evaluation of two of the first segments of the $68bn California high-speed rail project, and Chicago Bridge & Iron in a $120m dispute arising out of an explosion at Sinclair Oil’s hydrocracker complex in Wyoming. San Francisco-based Bennett Lee (‘exceptional intellect’, ‘practical problem-solving ability’) led on both of these. New clients include Dewberry Companies, Cahill Construction and Shermco. Other recommended attorneys are: Christopher Burke (‘an unyielding commitment to a successful outcome’) and Joe Guarino (‘thorough and aggressive advocate’, ‘wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of construction law’). All lawyers are based in Tysons Corner, Virginia except where otherwise stated.

Lewis Baker heads Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald, LLP’s 36-partner team from McLean, Virginia. The firm has a strong national presence, with six offices in the US; it also has an international footprint via its offices in Paris and Munich, which play an important part in the firm’s growing international arbitration practice. The group specializes in federal infrastructure, PPP and tunneling, and is particularly strong in relation to troubled projects, often representing general contractors, subcontractors, owners and sureties before federal and state courts, the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, and in ICC and AAA arbitration. California-based David McPherson has been advising Kiewit Shea Desalination on transactional matters surrounding the $480m Carlsbad desalination project and on over $2m of claims against the project’s tunnel and boring subcontractor. Gregory Dukellis, also in California, is representing a Traylor-Shea joint venture in $60m worth of claims against San Diego County Water Authority relating to the construction of the San Vicente Emergency Pipeline. McLean-based Robert Barbour and Timothy Heffernan are leading a team representing FH Paschen, SN Nielsen & Associates in a $12m federal court lawsuit arising from a $37m high school construction in Louisiana affected by Hurricane Isaac. New client wins included Happ Builders, RWC Construction, Abeinsa and SK E&C.

The construction group at Akerman LLP is spread across five offices and chaired by Jeffrey Gilmore in Washington DC. It advises owners and developers on procurement and transactional work in relation to large government contracts as well as renewable energy, hospitality and infrastructure projects in the US, Middle East and Central and South America. The team has been advising Faena Group on the Faena District hospitality project and surrounding investments, totaling at $700m. On the contentious side, it represented Peabody Energy in disputes arising from the development, engineering, procurement and construction of a $3bn 1,600MW coal-fired power plant in Illinois. The LEED-accredited Stacy Bercun Bohm acts as Florida counsel to Barrick Gold and recently assisted the client negotiate a $3.8bn contract for the construction of a mine and related facilities in Chile and Argentina. Stephen Hurlbut continues to defend Ceco Concrete Construction against claims filed by its subcontractors arising from a $73m parking garages project.

The group at Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. is led by Steven Lesser and operates from offices in Fort Lauderdale, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Washington DC. The team specializes in construction litigation and arbitration, acting for national and international owners, developers, large-scale contractors and sureties. It has built an excellent reputation representing developers in complex delay and defect claims as well as advising them on compliance and regulatory matters. In a notable highlight, a team led by Lee Weintraub secured a $9.4m arbitration award for Interface Global Qatar WLL, following a defense against multimillion-dollar delay, contract administration and licensing claims arising from the construction of a US Air Force base in the Middle East. William Strop settled a multimillion-dollar claim against W.G. Yates over an allegedly defective pavement system at the Dames Point terminal in the Port of Jacksonville for 5% of its original value. Matthew Meyers is renowned for assisting condominium and homeowner associations in New Jersey. Clients also include DR Horton, the School Board of Broward County and Carnival Cruise Lines.

The construction law team at California-based Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP is chaired out of Oakland by James Wulfsberg, but also includes practitioners from the firm’s other offices. The team advises contractors, design builders, owners, developers, EPC contractors and major design professionals on projects across the West Coast and nationally. Skilled in dispute resolution, it represents clients in courts across the country, as well as in ICC arbitration proceedings; it also handles project delivery assistance, procurement and wider transactional work. Recent highlights include representing public owners, national developers and architectural firms in county, state, federal and Supreme Court proceedings. Richard Elder left and joined Lubin Olson & Niewiadomski LLP. Todd Wulfsberg was elected to the partnership.

Texas-based boutique Cokinos, Bosien & Young, chaired by renowned practitioner Gregory Cokinos, represents contractors and owners in commercial, retail, healthcare and petroleum projects. On behalf of Tenaris USA, a team led by John Grayson and Elizabeth Debaillon has been handling all EPC, design and construction contracts relating to, and litigation arising from, the construction of a $1bn coiled steel tube manufacturing plant in Bay City. The group has also been defending Midway Company against a $25m claim for delayed delivery of an apartment project. John Warren has been promoted to the partnership. Richard Flake and Stephanie O’Rourke are recommended. Jack Nichols left to open his own practice in Austin, The Law Office of Jack Quentin Nichols; Lauren Hornsby left to become an editor at Thomson Reuters.

DLA Piper LLP (US)’s practice is chaired by Atlanta-based Robert Crewdson and Baltimore-based Anthony Meagher, and also has partners stationed in the firm’s offices in Chicago, Washington DC and elsewhere. Working predominantly on the owner’s side, the team advises on projects within the sports, gaming, hospitality, infrastructure, energy and industrial sectors, as well as on the renovation of educational facilities by local governments. A team led by Maxine Hicks continues to advise on all construction law aspects relating to the new Atlanta Braves stadium. The group is assisting Combined Properties with drafting and negotiating contracts related to a $200m mixed-use project in West Hollywood. Contentious work highlights included defending an affiliate of JBG Companies against claims for injunctive relief to prohibit $1bn worth of construction and renovation works at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington DC, and representing AvalonBay Communities in multi-party litigation arising from alleged construction defects and water intrusion at a residential complex on Long Island. Mark Grantham left the firm and later joined Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Lewis Conwell went to Conwell Business Law and Arthur Brannan went to Wargo French.

The practice heads at Gibbs, Giden, Locher, Turner, Senet & Wittbrodt are Glenn Turner and Richard Wittbrodt. Both are based in Los Angeles but the team also has construction experts in Las Vegas. The group specializes in prosecuting and defending delay, disruption and defect claims for clients operating in the public and private sectors. A team led by Wittbrodt successfully represented Lydig Construction in damages claims against a subcontractor involving scheduling impacts and cost overruns; the trial court’s decision to find in favor of the firm’s was upheld on appeal. Other work highlights included multi-party litigation valued at $75m concerning the $200m construction of healthcare facilities in California. Clients include Swinerton Builders, Rose Bowl Operating Company, AECOM and Layton Construction. Nathan O’Malley has years of experience working in continental Europe and is a go-to name for international construction arbitration. Marion Hack went to Pepper Hamilton LLP.

Led out of Pittsburgh by Richard Paciaroni, K&L Gates’ team has ‘tons of current real world experience in construction law’. The group leverages the firm’s offices across the US and abroad to advise on national and international matters, and is experienced in a range of sectors, including energy, transportation, commercial and residential. In addition to contract negotiation, insurance program reviews and claim management, the group has experience in nuanced areas such as cleantech projects and sustainable building certification. The team continues to assist various Skanska entities with transactional matters on projects worldwide, and has been retained by Griffith Company on multimillion-dollar litigation arising from the new Tom Bradley Terminal at LAX. Other work highlights included negotiating and drafting EPC agreements on behalf of VitAg for the construction of a $75m biosolids-to-fertilizer facility in Florida, and filing a $30m delay claim against a public agency on behalf of Taisei Corporation. Justin Weisberg and counsel Raymond Krauze joined from Arnstein & Lehr LLP. Timothy Pierce and Christopher Barbarisi are recommended.

Although largely based in Chicago, Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s team benefits from the firm’s broad office network when handling national and international mandates. The team handles pre-litigation counseling as well as high-stakes construction, EPC contract and engineering disputes. Although its sweet spot is in the petroleum industry, it also manages claims related to retail and residential projects, high rises and civil infrastructure. Michael Slade continues to lead a team defending Boeing against alleged defective design, breach of contract and indemnification claims arising from the construction of Saipan International Airport. The team acted for an ExxonMobil affiliate in a $78m dispute over alleged botched designs for an offshore drilling platform. It continues to represent Skidmore, Owings & Merrill as a respondent to a Rule 224 Petition in Illinois State Court regarding multi-party defect claims related to the cladding and fireproofing of a bank building in Springfield, Illinois. Elizabeth Hess and of counsel James Nowacki are recommended.

Operating from a single office in Florida, Moye, O’Brien, Pickert & Dillon, LLP’s ‘breadth of significant experience’ enables it to routinely manage national and cross-border work. Led by ‘exceptional advocate’ and ‘strategic thinker’ James Moye, the firm ‘sets itself apart based on its industry knowledge, strategic approach to legal issues, disciplined execution and consistent delivery of service’. The ‘pragmatic’ Sean Dillon and Brian Heald ‘work hard and get into details’, and Stephen Pickert is a ‘strong litigator and aggressive advocate’. The team specializes in PPP, public sector and heavy civil projects, acting for national and international contractors, joint ventures, design builders and subcontractors on transactional and contentious matters. Recent work includes Pickert drafting and negotiating several multimillion-dollar construction contracts for high rises in downtown Miami. On the contentious side, Moye, Dillon and Heald are part of a team representing the design builder in pending arbitration with a potential value of $400m arising from the I-504 Sepulveda Pass widening project in California, and Moye is acting for a subcontractor in arbitration related to a $1.05bn mixed-use development project in Miami.

Pepper Hamilton LLP’s practice is chaired out of Philadelphia by Michael Subak, with Bruce Ficken as the chair emeritus. The team of 13 partners advises the world’s largest contractors and developers on contentious and transactional matters, demonstrating ‘great knowledge of the industry’ as well as ‘risk mitigation and management’ expertise. It specializes in high-end and high-rise residential developments and industrial infrastructure and energy projects, particularly power and water plants. A team led by New York-based Ira Schulman has been advising Sciame Construction on the preparation and negotiation of numerous contracts for the $325m Culture Shed, part of the Hudson Yards development. The firm is also representing MasTec subsidiaries T&D Power and Precision Pipeline in separate federal court cases with a combined amount at issue exceeding $60m. The ‘super responsive and proactiveJames Hollyday in Philadelphia is ‘very strong in contract negotiations’. Pittsburgh-based Ralph Finizio is praised for providing ‘sound counsel’ and mentoring the future generation of ‘solid attorneys’. Joyce Hackenbrach left to open her own practice. Marion Hack joined the Los Angeles office from Gibbs, Giden, Locher, Turner, Senet & Wittbrodt, while Albert Bates, the former practice head at Duane Morris LLP, joined the firm's Pittsburgh office Ted Gropman in California and Raymond DeLuca in Philadelphia are also recommended.

The 21-partner practice at Reed Smith LLP is chaired by Thomas Folk and Michael Dingman, who are based in Falls Church, Northern Virginia. The team has expertise in the energy sector as well as in retail, residential, commercial and industrial projects. It advises owners, developers, contractors and government agencies on procurement, risk management, dispute resolution and contracts from inception to completion; a niche is handling defect claims made by homeowners’ associations. Folk is representing long-time client the Loudoun County School Board in responding to claims regarding various projects totaling $5m. Other highlights for Folk included advising Chefs’ Warehouse on design-build documents for a $50m national warehouse expansion program, and successfully defending developer Steven B Sandler against a $35m claim for the return of a deposit. Clients also include JBG Construction, Bechtel, Lincoln Property Group and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Joseph Luchini has retired. Houston-based Lee Haag is recommended.

Harold Hamersmith and Scott Hennigh co-chair the 18-partner practice at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP out of Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively. The team, which attracts praise for its ‘deep knowledge base’ and ability to ‘deliver under tight timelines and budgets’, has been representing one of the largest public utilities in the US in a multibillion-dollar international arbitration arising out of a premature permanent shutdown of a nuclear power plant; San Diego-based John Yacovelle is leading on that. Elsewhere, Hamersmith and Washington DC-based Hwan Kim are representing Samsung Engineering in an international arbitration arising from the multibillion-dollar modernization of the Sohar Refinery in Oman. Non-contentious highlights included drafting and negotiating EPC contracts for the $500m development and construction of solar projects in six states; Meredith Jones-McKeown in San Francisco led on that. Candace Matson, who has expertise in defect claims and mechanic’s lien litigation, is recommended.

Stein Ray LLP’s nine-partner practice is led by Steven Stein in Chicago. The team specializes in representing EPC contractors, lenders and design professionals in relation to the energy and extraction sectors, resolving disputes related to oil transmission, refining, power generation and power distribution projects. The team handles domestic and cross-border disputes; as an example, a team of Stein, Stephen Ray and Peter Bedard has been defending an international mining consortium against $1bn worth of claims related to a nickel mining and mineral processing facility in Madagascar. Other highlights included Stein and Charles Wahtola advising a national engineering firm on disputes arising from a freeway extension in Seattle, and Stein and Bedard defending an EPC firm against claims totaling $1bn arising from a mining and process plant in Newfoundland.

Houston-based litigator Ferguson McNiel heads the practice at Vinson & Elkins LLP, which specializes in complex public and private energy and infrastructure projects in the US and abroad. It provides assistance at every stage of construction, from pre-contractual negotiations to post-completion disputes. A team led by Mark Brazzil has been advising Noble Energy as the operator on the $6bn Leviathan natural gas development off the coast of Israel. Kaam Sahely and New York-based Karen Smith have been acting for Gulf Coast Ammonia, a joint venture of Agrifos and Borealis, on the transactional aspects of the construction of a $1bn ammonia production facility in Texas. Sahely led a team handling the transactional matters surrounding the development of a crude oil unloading terminal in Illinois for CenterPoint Properties. Other work highlights included representing Panama Canal Authority in arbitration and litigation, and assisting SemGroup in connection with the $500m planned construction of the Maurepas pipelines system.

The team of ten partners at Allensworth & Porter has been based in Austin since the firm was established by William Allensworth over 20 years ago. Its client base is largely made up of contractors, specialty contractors and design professionals, but it also advises insurers and owners; notable clients include Kerrville Public Utility Board, Travelers Insurance and Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. The team has been particularly active in the technology industry of late - a response to the growing hi-tech market on the Gulf Coast. Joe Basham, the firm’s new managing partner, has been serving as lead counsel to Pecos County in multi-party design and construction defect litigation worth $5m. Newly made partner Amy Emerson has been representing Innovative Process Design & Controls in a $22m dispute arising from the construction of a wood pellet plant in Texas. She is also representing the City of Kerrville in a $42m dispute. In a non-contentious highlight, the firm has been advising Schlosser Development on a mixed-use project in Austin. Travis Brown is another name to note.

The eight-partner group at Arent Fox LLP is led out of New York by Mark Bloom and Andrew Ross. It acts for owners, developers, design professionals and contractors, and has expertise in front-end project contracts, transactions, regulatory work and litigation, including delay and defect claims. The group has been advising Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority in connection with the demolition and reconstruction of the Paul E Joseph Stadium and Sports Complex in St Croix. It is also handling several upgrade projects for Ronald McDonald House of New York, and was retained by Rose Associates as transactional and dispute resolution counsel on new and renovated high-rise multi-family projects in New York. Demonstrating its position as a counsel of choice for design professionals in the vibrant New York City market, the firm has also recently acted for Roman and Williams and STUDIOS Architecture.

Denver-based Laurin Quiat leads Baker & Hostetler LLP’s team, which has a background in government procurement and mainly assists sureties and general contractors working for US government agencies. It represents clients in state and federal courts on defect and delay claims in sectors ranging from traditional and renewable energy to road construction and manufacturing facilities. Robert Thielhelm is leading the defense of Siemens Energy in a multimillion-dollar civil action arising from the construction and assembly of a natural gas electricity generating unit in Texas. On behalf of Schuff Steel-Atlantic, Denis Durkin and Michael Vitale filed an $8.5m payment bond claim against the general contractor and its bond surety for unpaid amounts due for the construction of a shopping center in Sarasota. The pair have also been defending David Boland, Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America in two consolidated federal Miller Act actions brought by a subcontractor in Louisiana seeking damages exceeding $20m. Brian Blair is also recommended. All attorneys are based in Orlando except where stated otherwise.

The Texas-based team at Bracewell LLP is a ‘solid partner’ that ‘handles difficult situations with professionalism’, and works mostly with owners, product manufacturers and design professionals. It specializes in construction defect claims and claims asserted under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, but it also has a strong transactional practice in contract drafting and negotiation. A team led by Austin-based Stephen Benesh has been representing Core Logistic Services in five cases in Texas relating to road improvements by Core and its subcontractors with a combined value of $10m; and a team led by Houston-based Richard Whiteley is representing Radler Enterprises, pre-litigation, in delay, defect and abandonment claims of over $1m arising from a $30m office development. In a non-contentious highlight, the team advised Texas Medical Center on the development of a $1.5bn translational research facility. The ‘dedicated, professional and knowledgeableBrian Mitchell in Dallas has ‘a sense of purpose to serve and achieve results’. Houston-based Phillip Sampson and Aaron Roffwarg are other names to note.

Jack Rosati heads the practice at Ohio-based Bricker & Eckler LLP. The team acts for major developers in public projects as well as for public and private owners. It is experienced handling procurement for design builders and advising on alternative project delivery models. Sylvia Lynn Gillis and Christopher McCloskey have been assisting Delaware City School District with procurement and construction matters related to a $50m district-wide capital improvement program. The group’s strength in transactional work is complemented by a solid disputes practice, which covers defect and delay claims, surety claims and insurance coverage issues. On behalf of Miller Bros. Construction, a team led by Doug Shevelow has been prosecuting a $1.7m hindrance, disruption, delay and interference lawsuit against the Ohio Turnpike Commission. Mark Evans led a team which assisted the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati complete an award-winning $8.5m design-build project. Rosati and Gillis continue to handle transactional work surrounding a $74m health center project for the MetroHealth System. Benjamin Hyden was made partner in the Cincinnati-Dayton office.

The 13-partner practice at Coats Rose, P.C. is led by Patrick Gaas in Houston. The team has expertise in transactional and contentious work, including public procurement, contract drafting, negotiation and claim management for large EPC contractors, developers and home builders. Daniel Lund, operating from the recently expanded New Orleans office, successfully defended Hunt, Gibbs, Boh, Metro joint venture against a bid protest relating to the construction of a new $546m terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Houston-based Ian Faria has been representing Ferrovial Agroman in a bid protest arising from a design-build contract for the $500m Bergstrom Expressway project in Austin. The team is also defending Trinity Infrastructure against claims by more than 120 homeowners alleging structural damage arising from a $2.2bn PPP highway expansion project. Non-contentious highlights included assisting West Harris County and North Fort Bend water authorities with the construction of a $1bn-plus water purification facility, and advising the City of Houston on the $1.3bn Mickey Leland International Terminal development program.

The practice at Dorsey & Whitney LLP is led by Minneapolis-based Jocelyn Knoll. Working with owners, developers, agencies, sureties and contractors, the team of 30 partners provides support at every stage of a project, from contract negotiation to dispute resolution. Knoll is leading a team representing Environmental Interiors in multimillion-dollar litigation in California arising from the construction of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. She is also the key figure advising Norway-based Aker Solutions and Kvaerner on the construction of biotech plants, marine oil platforms, liquefied natural gas and heavy industrial facilities, and the firm continues to represent Kvaerner North American Construction in a major dispute related to the construction of a coal-fired power plant in West Virginia. Work highlights also included managing parking and residential projects worth more than $10m for the North Dakotan city of Minot, and representing a national contractor in a $3m-plus claim regarding the construction of Nike’s flagship store in San Francisco. Eric Ruzicka is recommended.

San Francisco-based Howard Ashcraft is a ‘thought leader on integrated project delivery’ and leads the practice at Hanson Bridgett LLP. The ‘large array of practitioners provide a holistic view of possible solutions’ to public and private owners, general contractors, specialty subcontractors and design professionals. The team regularly advises on commercial and industrial projects, and has a solid reputation in collaborative contracting and alternative project delivery solutions, including BIM, IPD, PPP and Lean Construction. Its clients include Kiewit Infrastructure West Co and Pacific Gas and Electric, and recently the group was retained by Advocate Health Care to create a new suite of standard contractual forms. Lisa Dal Gallo is ‘creative in challenging legal situations’ and has a ‘thorough understanding of construction from all vantage points’. Joseph Moore joined the San Francisco office from Clyde & Co LLP. Robert O’Connor and Sean-Thomas Thompson departed to open their own practice, O’Connor Thompson McDonough Klotsche LLP.

The team at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP is led by Washington DC-based Scott Morrison, who ‘gets results’. It guides owners, developers, design professionals and project sponsors through every stage of a project - from inception to completion to post-completion claims - and specializes in commercial, mixed-use, hospitality, retail and entertainment projects within the private sector. The team provides counsel on disputes ranging from tortious interference to business expectancy and Condominium Act claims. It has expertise in environmental issues relating to construction and works closely with the firm’s real estate department. Work highlights included managing multimillion-dollar delay and acceleration claims, mediating disputes with general contractors and representing a developer in litigation arising from the White Flint Mall redevelopment in Maryland. Nicole Lynn Kobrine is another name to note.

The ‘very knowledgeable and easy-to-work-withJoanna Horsnail leads the 27-partner practice at Mayer Brown out of Chicago. The ‘client-friendly’ group garners praise for its ‘very good sense of the current market’ and assists mainly public and private owners and developers on large infrastructure projects. The group handles domestic and cross-border transactions, providing expertise on matters from alternative project delivery to procurement. A team led by Horsnail and Joseph Seliga continues to handle bidding, procurement and negotiation matters on behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation in relation to several PPP highway projects in Texas. The group, including James Tancula, has also been retained by Benteler International to assist with the transactional aspects of the construction of a $900m hot rolling steel mill in Louisiana, including EPC agreements and site diligence. Other highlights included managing contractual work and procurement documentation for Bristol-Myers Squib for the construction of a $900m biologics manufacturing facility in Ireland. Clients also include United Airlines, Acciona Energy North America and City Colleges of Chicago. The ‘intelligent and diligentNathan Galer is recommended.

The team at McCarter & English, LLP is led by Sarah Biser and consists of seven partners based across the firm’s New York, Newark, Boston and Philadelphia offices. It advises owners, developers, construction managers, design professionals, general and EPC contractors, subcontractors and suppliers in the transactional and contentious matters that arise at every stage of a project. It has experience in projects ranging from museums to solar energy and hydroelectric power plants. LEED-accredited Mary Jane Augustine is assisting RBH Group Teachers Village with the transactional aspects of an award-winning redevelopment project in Newark. Other clients include the Israel Institute of Technology, Power Authority of the State of New York, Edison Properties, United States Mineral Corporation, Steven Holl Architects and MetLife Stadium Company.

Providence-based Jeffrey Brenner leads the six-partner practice at Nixon Peabody LLP. The team acts primarily for owners and developers, but also for EPC contractors, particularly within the healthcare, energy, sports and infrastructure sectors. It has expertise in PPP projects, decommissioning coal-fired power plants and social impact renovations. San Francisco-based Anthony Barron and Matthew Richards have been representing the University of California in a delay and defect lawsuit arising out of the design and construction of a $50m-plus commons project at the Riverside campus. The pair have also been seeking $40m in damages for the University of California in breach of contract and negligence claims relating to engineering work conducted at the Mission Bay campus. Elsewhere, Rochester-based Bruce Baker and Darren Miller have been advising Rochester Gas and Electric on the demolition of two coal-fired power plants. Other clients include University of Rochester and DL Falk Construction. Counsel John Foust joined the firm from Jones Day.

Co-chaired by the Baltimore-based Joseph Kovars and John Morkan, the group at Ober Kaler focuses mainly on dispute resolution, acting for public and private owners, large contractors and sureties in claims arising from commercial, healthcare, infrastructure, transportation and power generation projects. On the transactional side, it has experience in procurement in relation to local, state and federal government contracts, and it also it handles compliance with sustainable building certification standards. A team led by John Wolf has been representing Parsons Brinckerhoff in a seven-party dispute involving multiple claims, cross-claims and third-party claims arising from alleged design and construction errors and mismanagement by the project owner. Other highlights included securing a nearly $1.6m arbitration panel award on behalf of Penthouse 4C and James W Ancel pertaining to a dispute over inaccuracies in the condominium resale certificate. Paul Sugar is recommended. Barbara Werther left for Sedgwick LLP.

The seven-partner practice at Porter Hedges LLP is led from Houston by David Peden. It specializes in dispute resolution, representing contractors, developers and owners on delay and defect claims arising from public infrastructure and energy projects. The group has been representing Allco Construction in a dispute over sovereign immunity and insurance coverage issues arising from the construction of a fish hatchery in Texas. Allison Snyder is serving as local counsel to Dresser-Rand in a $5m claim filed by a freight forwarding supplier; she has also been acting for Durotech in numerous disputes, including alleged defective design claims surrounding the construction of a mosque in Houston. Other highlights included defending Hellmuth Obata and Kassabaum against alleged defect claims in multi-party litigation related to the development of various university facilities. Nicholas Simms and John Hawkins are recommended.

Vedder Price’s team includes 13 partners based in California, Illinois and the DC area. Led by Chicago-based Richard Pearse, the team advises developers, contractors, subcontractors, EPC contractors, manufacturers, design builders, lenders and owners in, among other things, procurement for power plants and chemical manufacturing facilities. It has a footprint in civil construction, advising on the construction of offices, schools, courthouses and retail developments. The group represents clients in state and federal court litigation as well as providing expertise in alternative dispute resolution, and includes a number of licensed AAA arbitrators. Highlights included Pearse advising Invenergy Nelson on closing out subcontracts and clearing mechanics’ liens relating to the 584MW Nelson Energy Center in Illinois. A team led by Scott Olson is representing a court-appointed receiver of an insulation contractor in multi-party litigation arising from the construction of the Santa Monica Orthopedic Hospital. Other key clients include Mammoet USA, Deka International and Zero Waste Energy.

New York boutique Zetlin & De Chiara LLP is managed by Michael Vardaro and includes 12 partners spread across offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The ‘very responsive’ team, including Michael Zetlin and Raymond Mellon, keeps clients ‘out of disagreements’, drawing on more than 20 years of experience in the field. The firm manages transactions and disputes for developers and serves as general counsel to professional associations, architects and engineers. Devoted to innovation, and present in the public and private sectors, the group has expertise in project labor agreements and alternative project delivery methods, including PPP and BIM. It advises on educational and commercial projects, as well as on the construction of biomass fuel plants, corporate headquarters and road infrastructure. Michael DeChiara successfully defended an engineering services company against a multimillion-dollar defect claim. Carol Patterson, who has an excellent track record negotiating architectural services agreements, is another name to note. Clients include Dermot Company, Columbia University, Madison Square Garden and FXFOWLE Architects.


Land use/zoning

Index of tables

  1. Land use/zoning
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

The ‘outstanding’ team at DLA Piper LLP (US) is ‘prompt and efficient’, possesses ‘well-informed business instincts’ and is able to ‘provide straightforward and elegant solutions’. Practice head Ted Novak, who has a ‘fantastic reputation’, is based in Chicago, but the team also has practitioners stationed in the firm’s Dallas, Boston, Austin, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles offices, and regularly advises on large-scale projects across the country. It is advising Union Square Station Associates on the entitlements and approvals for a $1bn mixed-use development in Union Square in Somerville, Massachusetts, and is advising Greenland US Commercial Holding on approvals relating to the $150m purchase of land near the 110 highway in Los Angeles, California. The firm also advised Millennium Partners on development work relating to the Millennium Tower and the Burnham Building in downtown Boston. Among the ‘experienced’ department are John Rattigan and Richard Rudman in Boston and Jeffrey Owen (‘practical and strategic’), Paul Shadle and Richard Klawiter in Chicago.

The ‘fantastic’ New York-based practice at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP has advised on some of the highest-profile projects in the city. Its expertise covers project planning, zoning, permits, environmental reviews, air rights, as well as related disputes. Department head Stephen Lefkowitz (of counsel) is advising The Related Companies on transaction and land use approvals for the Hudson Yards project. Also in relation to Hudson Yards, Tal Golomb led the assistance to Brookfield Office Properties and The Moinian Group in securing $179.9m in tax abatements from The New York City Industrial Development Agency. David Karnovsky, Melanie Meyers and Carol Rosenthal are also names to note among the ‘knowledgeable’ team.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has a ‘strong reputation’ for land use and zoning, particularly on the West Coast. Department co-head Amy Forbes, based in Los Angeles, is advising Hollywood Park Land Company, a joint venture between Stockbridge Capital Group and the Kroenke Group, on its $2bn plan to develop an area of Inglewood, California, including the proposed addition of an NFL stadium and a 6,000-seat performance venue. Forbes is also advising Fifteen Group on its redevelopment of Wyvernwood Garden Apartments in Los Angeles. Fellow co-head Mary Murphy, based in San Francisco, led work for NBA team Golden State Warriors in transactional negotiations and project entitlements for a new arena and entertainment facility in Mission Bay, San Francisco.

Holland & Knight LLP’s ‘quality’ practice has a ‘strong’ footprint across the US - particularly New York, Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and California - and regularly advises private and public sector clients on important land use and zoning matters. This is enhanced by its expertise in environmental law and water law. ‘Consummate professional’ Steven Elrod in Chicago heads the team, and in Miami Joseph Goldstein has a ‘tremendous reputation’. In 2015, Debbie Orshefsky joined the team in Fort Lauderdale from Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Douglas Praw joined the Los Angeles office from Goodwin Procter LLP.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP has an ‘outstanding’ reputation on account of its ‘longstanding knowledge and experience’, and as such advises ‘on some of the most complex and sophisticated work across New York City’. The New York-based team, which acts for some of the city’s largest developers and institutions, is led by Paul Selver and Michael Sillerman. Selver is leading advice to Extell Development Company on land use matters relating to the One57 building, and is advising on the acquisition of development rights, historic preservation and land use approvals for the mixed-use Nordstrom Tower in Midtown Manhattan. The team also advised Fortis Property Group and NYU Hospitals Center on acquiring the Long Island College Hospital site, including negotiating the land use related provisions to purchase the property from the State University of New York; it is now advising on the site’s redevelopment. Gary Tarnoff is an ‘expert’ and Elise Wagner is ‘very experienced’.

Latham & Watkins LLP’s ‘vast’ team regularly advises on high-profile, complex developments throughout the US, and in particular has a ‘very strong West Coast presence’. Areas of strength include energy, mixed-use, hospitality, business, retail, industrial and infrastructure projects. The team advised Tribune Company on its agreements relating to LA Metro’s regional connector transit project, and continues to advise NBCUniversal on the $1bn development plan for the Universal Studios site in Los Angeles. It is also acting for Poseidon Water on its Carlsbad desalination project. Other clients include California American Water, Chargers Football, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, and NRG Energy. Michael Carroll in Orange County, Christopher Garrett in San Diego and Lucinda Starrett in Los Angeles co-head the department.

The ‘strong’ team at Perkins Coie LLP advises on matters ranging from military base reuse and urban infill, to university, hospital, renewable energy, transport and water supply projects. It is advising Providence Health & Services on the $1bn development of its Santa Monica hospital and medical center campus, and on the development agreement for the expansion of a medical campus in Issaquah, Washington. It is also advising Lennar on the Hunters Point Shipyard Phase 2 and Candlestick Point development project in San Francisco, and Jordan Cove on its proposed development of an international LNG export terminal. The team is co-led by Mark Birnbaum in Los Angeles and Steven Pfeiffer in Portland. San Francisco-based Cecily Barclay is ‘excellent’ and Michael Robinson in Portland is also recommended.

Akerman LLP handles high-profile projects in Florida, New York and across the US, and is currently advising Swire Properties on its Brickell City Centre project. It is also advising All Aboard Florida on negotiating public-private right-of-way agreements for the development of an intercity passenger rail project, and Faena Group on the development of a mixed-use project in Miami Beach. Orlando-based Cecelia Bonifay heads the department. Other key individuals include the ‘brilliantNeisen Kasdin, who is managing partner of the Miami office, where Spencer Crowley is also based.

The team at Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP delivers a ‘top-quality’ service and is experienced in relation to environmental and land use matters. It is employed on a range of projects in California, advising on approvals, land use litigation, project management, zoning and sustainability. Practice head David Blackwell is based in San Francisco, as is environmental and natural resources practice head Sandi Nichols. Jeffrey Chine in San Diego is also recommended.

Ballard Spahr LLP’s ‘excellent’ team is experienced in the full range of land use and zoning matters, and has a presence across the US, with a particularly strong showing in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Washington DC and Salt Lake City. Recent highlights include advising MUFG Union Bank on land use and zoning issues relating to its $572m loan for the construction of a natural gas-fired power plant, and assisting The Rodin Group with the purchase of a parcel of land in Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It also advised U3 Ventures on zoning and land use approvals for a mixed-use building at 4224 Baltimore Avenue in Philadelphia. Matthew McClure is based in Philadelphia and heads the team.

Miami-based Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP has a fantastic reputation for land use and zoning matters, particularly in South Florida, and is applauded for its knowledge of the government and regulatory agencies. The team advised 2377 Collins Resort on the renovation of one of South Beach’s largest oceanfront luxury resort properties, including the new 1 Hotel & Homes. It is also advising Miami Dolphins on a $400m stadium modernization project, and represented Dolphin Mall Associates on the development and expansion of the mall. Albert Dotson and Stanley Price head the department. Brian Adler is also recommended.

Bryan Cave LLP delivers land use and zoning advice on a range of high-profile real estate projects, and is advising Silverstein Properties on the land use approvals for a mixed-use development on Manhattan’s West Side. It also represented China Vanke on zoning and land use due diligence for its investment in 610 Lexington Avenue, a luxury condominium development in Midtown Manhattan. In New York, department head Judith Gallent is ‘excellent’, and Sonia Bain, Philip Karmel, James Colgate (of counsel) and Kevin Healy are also names to note.

The Florida-based team at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is experienced in a range of complex real estate projects. It advises on zoning approvals, zone charges, land use approvals, permits and environmental compliance. The chair of the Florida offices, Tampa-based Rhea Law, is recommended. Linda Loomis Shelley in Tallahassee is also noted.

Carlton Fields acts for a range of private developers and governmental bodies, and assists with the full scope of development projects, including litigation and appeals. Ray Allen II (of counsel) in Tampa, Nancy Linnan in Tallahassee and Richard Ovelmen in Miami are recommended.

The San Francisco-based Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP is a go-to firm for land use and zoning matters in the Bay area. It continues to act for the San Francisco 49ers and its affiliates on environmental review, agreements and zoning matters related to the $1.3bn development of the 68,000-seat Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. It also continues to advise Catellus Development Corporation and FOCIL-MB as the developers of the mixed-use Mission Bay Project, and is acting for Uber Technologies on the leasing and development of its corporate headquarters in the Bay Area. Danna Kozerski heads the real estate practice; Harry O’Brien and Pamela Duffy are also noted.

The land use and natural resources team at Cox, Castle & Nicholson advises on a range of development projects, handling zoning, permits, litigation and environmental reviews, and also represents government agencies. The California-based team recently advised on the redevelopment of an infill project site in San Jose. Michael Zischke in San Francisco is the key contact.

Phoenix-based boutique Earl, Curley & Lagarde, PC possesses in-depth knowledge, advising on the full spectrum of land use, zoning and property development work. It has experience in, among other things, residential, industrial, office, retail and shopping center projects across Arizona. Stephen Earl and Lynne Lagarde are key contacts. Michael Curley sadly passed away in 2015.

The ‘well-known’ department at Goodwin Procter LLP advises developers, investors, owners and managers, nonprofit organizations and lenders on land use, zoning and permit issues relating to large-scale projects. The Boston-based team includes the ‘excellentMartin Healy, and of counsel Michael Murray, who is noted for his land use litigation expertise.

Based across its offices in Florida and New York, Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s land development department acts for landowners, joint venture partners and entrepreneurs on the land use and zoning issues relating to a wide range of real estate projects. Miami-based Iris Escarra is leading work for developer Moishe Mana regarding a 30-acre redevelopment project in Miami’s Wynwood Art District. The former general counsel and head of development at Stiles Development, Denny O’Shea, recently joined the Fort Lauderdale office. In New York, Jay Segal and Nick Hockens are recommended.

With a particularly strong practice in California, the team at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP provides land use advice to developers, property owners, builders, investors, contractors and public agencies. Costa Mesa-based Susan Hori is representing Poseidon Water on the approvals to develop a $1bn seawater desalination plant in Huntington Beach, California, and is also advising Newport Banning Ranch in its entitlement efforts to develop a 400-acre oil field in Newport Beach. Victor De la Cruz in Los Angeles is assisting Trancas-PCH with City of Malibu and California Coastal Commission permits for 62 beach-adjacent homes off the Pacific Coast Highway. De la Cruz chairs the group along with Orange County-based Susan Hori and San Francisco-based Kristina Lawson. Tom Muller and Michael Polentz are other names to vote.

Particularly noted for its California-based practice, the team at Morrison & Foerster LLP advises on a range of high-profile development projects. It is advising Sand Hill Partners and Vallco Property Owner on a high-value mixed-use town center project in Cupertino. It is also advising Panoche Valley Solar on approvals for a solar project in San Benito County. Apple, EDF Renewable Energy and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan are also clients. Practice head Chris Carr is based in San Francisco, along with David Gold, Miles Imwalle and senior counsel Zane Gresham.

Paul Hastings LLP is involved in some of California’s most complex and high-profile land use and zoning matters, such as advising Korean Air on approvals for a landmark hotel and mixed-use project in downtown Los Angeles. It is also advising Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on land use matters relating to several acquisitions and expansions, and advised LinkedIn in its efforts to secure development rights in the North Bayshore section of Mountain View, California. Los Angeles-based Jeffrey Haber and Mitchell Menzer (‘very talented’) co-head the team. Gordon Hart and David Hamsher in San Francisco are also recommended.

Noted in particular for its environmental expertise, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP handles land use matters for developers, lenders, investors and public authorities. Clients include Shorenstein Properties, Los Angeles Unified School District and Fifth Street Properties. In San Francisco, Robert Herr and Rachel Horsch are singled out for praise. In 2015, Michael Wallenstein and Thomas Winfield joined the Los Angeles office from the defunct McKenna Long & Aldridge.

The department at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP is co-led by Domenic Drago in San Diego and Keith Garner in San Francisco, and has advised on a number of high-profile PPP projects. San Francisco-based Robert Thompson led advice to the City of Long Beach and the City of Santa Clara on their respective civic center projects. John Ponder in San Diego successfully represented Donahue Schriber in a California Environmental Quality Act litigation matter. Jim Pugh, who splits his time between the Los Angeles and Orange County offices, is ‘a real star’. In San Francisco, Jennifer Renk and Jim Rusk were promoted to partner.

The Chicago-based team at Vedder Price, led by the ‘practical’ and ‘hardworking’ Danielle Meltzer Cassel, advised longstanding client General Growth Properties on development approvals for major renovations and the construction of a luxury cinema at the Oakbrook Center. The team is also advising Antheus on municipal land use and development approvals for a number of redevelopment projects, and acts for Red Seal Development on land use matters for a luxury residential development in Cook County.

The ‘first-class’ Timothy Tosta joined the San Francisco office of Arent Fox LLP in April 2015 from McKenna Long & Aldridge. The team has a solid technology sector client base and is advising Facebook on the land use aspects of the development of its new headquarters in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley. It is also advising the Bohannon Development Company on the Menlo Gateway project.

Miami-based zoning, land use and environmental boutique Bercow Radell & Fernandez is ‘fantastic’. It advised Aligned Bayshore Marina on the acquisition of a marina and uplands property located in Coconut Grove, Miami, and is advising CG Miami River on due diligence, acquisition, land use, zoning and permitting regarding the Miami River project, a 10-acre mixed-use development. Managing partner Jeffrey Bercow possesses ‘in-depth expertise’ and Michael Larkin is also recommended. In 2015, former Miami-Dade County Attorney Thomas Robertson joined the firm as senior counsel.

Cooley LLP provides an ‘excellent service’ in relation to land use and zoning matters. It advised JLB Partners on the approvals for a development near the new Innovation Center Metrorail station in Herndon, Virginia, and advised Capital One on a major rezoning of its 26-acre campus in Tysons Corner. The Reston-based team includes Mark Looney (‘an excellent leader’, ‘tactical and strategic advice’), Colleen Gillis and the ‘excellent’ Antonio Calabrese, who heads the practice.

San Francisco-headquartered firm Farella Braun + Martel LLP regularly acts on development projects, and has particular expertise advising on environmental and historic reuse matters. The land use team is advising the Commonwealth Club on the renovations of its historic building at 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco. It is also advising The Related Companies on three major projects in the city. Steven Vettel heads the team and Katherine Philippakis in the firm’s St. Helena office is also noted. CJ Higley joined from Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP in 2015.

Fennemore Craig’s land use, planning and zoning team advises on a range of development projects. It is handling land use and zoning issues for Peoria Sports Park regarding the development of a mixed-use site. Phoenix-based Michael Phalen heads the team.

Gunster Law Firm advises on the full range of environmental and land use matters from its offices across Florida. Environmental team head Luna Phillips is based in Fort Lauderdale, while Brian Seymour in West Palm Beach co-chairs the real estate practice and is recommended for his land use expertise.

The ‘outstanding’ team at Herrick, Feinstein LLP has an ‘excellent’ track record in New York for land use and zoning. Its expertise includes acquisitions, site development options, zoning lot mergers and development rights transfers, as well as applications for zoning variances, special permits and historic and landmark preservation issues. Department chair Mitchell Korbey is ‘excellent’.

Florida-based Hopping Green & Sams PA’s real estate development and land use practice advises on a range of projects throughout the state. It is particularly experienced in developments of regional impact reviews and approvals. Ralph DeMeo is a key contact.

Key highlights for Florida-based Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A. include advising Epoch Properties of Winter Park on the rezoning and approval of a $47m six-story residential complex in Maitland, Florida, and advising Mill Creek Residential Trust on the rezoning and approval of a $60m high-rise complex. Both matters were led by the ‘first-rate’ Rebecca Wilson. Aaron Gorovitz and Miranda Fitzgerald co-head the department. All named attorneys are based in Orlando.

The team at Mayer Brown is led by Los Angeles-based Edgar Khalatian. It is handling the land use aspects of The Reef project, a 10-acre development in downtown Los Angeles. It is also advising Encore Capital Management and Cal Coast Development on land use matters relating to the redevelopment of a 2-acre site in Hollywood.

Key clients for the team at Reed Smith LLP, which is led by Pittsburgh-based Dusty Kirk, include W.P. Carey, The Peterson Companies, GE Asset Management and Volvo Construction Equipment. The team is noted for expertise in PPP projects.

Highlights for Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP’s team in New York included advising Comcast on the approvals for changing the signage at the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza from GE to Comcast, and advising KNIC Partners on the redevelopment of Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx. Ross Moskowitz heads the team.

Venable LLP advises investors, developers, landowners and public agencies on a range of zoning and land use matters from its offices in Washington DC, Maryland, New York, Northern Virginia and California. Key individuals include Susan Golden and Gordon Davis in New York. Robert Hoffman and David Karceski, who split their time between Towson and Baltimore, are also recommended.

Boutique outfit Withey Morris PLC is an ‘excellent choice’ for land use and zoning. The Phoenix-based firm advises on a range of real estate projects, and acts for developers, land owners, tenants and investors. Clients include Amazon, Cisco, ExxonMobil and Beazer Homes. Michael Withey, Adam Baugh and Jason Morris are names to note.


Real estate

Index of tables

  1. Real estate
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP is particularly well known for its dirt practice and continued to be involved in many of New York’s most high-profile real estate deals. The ‘terrificJonathan Mechanic, who heads the practice, and Janice Mac Avoy advised CW Capital Asset Management and Fortress Investment Group on the $5.4bn sale of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village to Blackstone Group, while Tal Golomb assisted Related Companies with numerous matters relating to Hudson Yards, including leases with L’Oréal USA and SAP. The firm’s corporate transactional lawyers were also busy, with Lee Parks and Joshua Mermelstein advising RXR Realty on its agreement to sell a stake in a portfolio of New York City office buildings to Blackstone Property Partners. On the debt finance side, the practice has been further strengthened by the hire of Julian Chung from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, and the team’s weighting towards borrower work has been evened out thanks to the acquisition of a number of new lender clients. Michael Barker has ‘tremendous real estate finance knowledge, particularly on construction loans’. All named partners are based in New York.

Increasingly, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s ‘great presence in California’ is being matched by its offering in New York, a trend which continued through the hire of Victoria Shusterman from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. As well as handling a large number of debt finance matters for key client Deutsche Bank, the New York team also acted for the bank on the sale of a 75% interest in a $2.5bn real estate portfolio to TPG Real Estate. Another key piece of work for the New York team was advising Related Companies on KKR’s relocation to 30 Hudson Yards. In Los Angeles, Jonathan Layne assisted The Ryland Group with its transformational $5.2bn merger of equals with Standard Pacific Group, while Stuart Graiwer advised Prime Residential on the $900m refinancing of the Park La Brea housing development. The 'exceptional'Jesse Sharf in Los Angeles and New York-based Eric Feuerstein are global practice heads, and Fred Pillon is a key individual in San Franciso.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP stands out for its ‘tremendous footprint’, drawing on a network of 29 US offices to handle work across the full range of sectors, including office, mixed use, retail, affordable housing and hospitality. In New York, the highly regarded Robert Ivanhoe is co-chair of the global practice and led a team that acted for Anbang Insurance Group in the $1.9bn purchase of the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel. While Ivanhoe’s team was particularly active on significant dirt deals, his fellow co-chair, Chicago-based Corey Light, was involved in a number of high-value corporate transactions, including representing Albertsons in the $9bn acquisition of Safeway and advising Kimco Realty on the $925m acquisition of the remaining interest in the 39-property Kimstone portfolio from Blackstone Real Estate Partners VII. The practice also has significant numbers in Miami, where Richard Giusto acted for long-time client Invesco Real Estate in its $1.2bn sale of 230 Park Avenue building in New York to RxR Capital Holdings.

Paul Hastings LLP is best known for its presence in California, but also has considerable strength in New York, Chicago and Atlanta. Areas of expertise range from dirt work through to acquisitions, dispositions and finance. On the finance side, the practice has a stellar list of lender clients that includes the likes of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Prudential. In Los Angeles, practice chair Philip Feder’s team includes Rick Kirkbride, who is handling a $750m redevelopment project for Related Companies, and James Han, who represented IMI in the $1.2bn refinancing of the Houston Galleria. The practice wins particular praise for its hospitality sector expertise, and in addition to advising on a number of hotel acquisitions by significant private equity clients, it represented Hotel Lotte in the acquisition of the New York Palace Hotel for $805m. Gregory Spitzer and Steve Berkman, in Chicago and San Francisco respectively, have been handling data center acquisitions and dispositions for clients such as Facebook and SoftLayer Technologies.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s New York-based team handles a significant volume of ‘gold standard’ transactions for its largely private equity client base. For instance, it advised key client Blackstone on the joint acquisition with Wells Fargo of $23bn of GE Capital Real Estate assets, and assisted Blackstone Real Estate Partners VI and VII with the $8.1bn sale of IndCor Properties to affiliates of GIC. Another major client is The Carlyle Group, and Scott Kobak assisted affiliates of Carlyle Real Estate with the $700m sale of three development parcels at the Riverside Center, Manhattan. The team was also active in the debt finance space, with Krista Miniutti representing affiliates of Motel 6 Operating in connection with a $2bn mortgage and mezzanine loan refinancing of over 500 properties across the US and Canada. The ‘remarkably impressive’ Gregory Ressa heads the practice.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP broad client base includes developers, lenders, REITs, private equity funds and major corporations. The team handles the full complement of real estate work and is singled out as being ‘very strong on the M&A side’; recent examples include representing Select Income REIT in its $3bn acquisition of Cole Corporate Income Trust, and advising Lone Star Funds on its definitive agreement to acquire Home Properties. Practice head Harvey Uris was active in debt finance mandates, advising SL Green Realty on the $1.4bn mortgage financing of 388-390 Greenwich Street, New York, while the ‘excellent’ Audrey Sokoloff acted for key client Deutsche Bank on $1.2bn of financing to General Growth Properties for its acquisition of the Crown Building in New York. Other key players in the team are Benjamin Needell, who is considered by some to be ‘the best real estate lawyer in New York’, and Evan Levy, who heads the real estate capital markets practice. All named partners are based in New York, but the team also has practitioners in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s ‘blue-chip’ practice, which services key clients such as Goldman Sachs and Vornado Realty Trust, is hailed for being ‘outstanding for corporate transactional deals’. In one highlight, the team advised Christopher Cole and other executives on the $11.2bn acquisition of Cole Real Estate Investments by American Realty Capital Properties. The team was also active on numerous dirt and debt finance matters, including advising Lexington Building Co. on its $1.7bn sale of the Crown Building to General Growth Properties, and assisting Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds with the $1bn mortgage and mezzanine refinancing of its Equity Inns portfolio. A particular specialty of the practice is sports real estate and the team was busy in this respect on behalf of clients such as ATL Investco, the New York Giants and the New York Jets. Key players include practice head Robert Schlein, the ‘terrificArthur Adler and Anthony Colletta, all based in New York, and Los Angeles-based Alison Ressler. The team also draws on the experience of New York-based chairman Joseph Shenker.

Thought by some to have ‘the best debt finance practice in the country’, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP’s six-partner team operates out of New York and Charlotte, handling work for a roster of leading financial institutions, such as JPMorgan, HSBC and Bank of America. Examples of recent transactions include advising Deutsche Bank Securities, JPMorgan Chase and Barclays as lenders in relation to Blackstone’s $1.2bn acquisition of three hotels from Paulson & Co, and acting for Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank as lenders in a $1.4bn securitized mortgage loan to Tishman Speyer secured by the MetLife Building in New York. The practice has been enhanced by the hire of special counsel Joshua Dill from American Realty Capital and the promotion to partner of Bonnie Neuman. Other key partners are Steven Herman, who has significant healthcare sector expertise, Melissa Hinkle, who specializes in the hotel and hospitality industry, and department chair William McInerney. All mentioned attorneys are based in New York.

Best known for its work in the debt finance space, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s New York-based practice also handles a mix of development and corporate transactional work. Recent examples include acting for Empire Resorts and Kien Huat Realty in connection with the development of Montreign Resort and Casino, and advising Brookfield on a $2.5bn REIT acquisition. Debt finance remains at the heart of the practice, with Michael Weinberger (‘one of the top US debt lawyers’), Kimberly Brown Blacklow and John Harrison continuing to handle loan origination transactions totaling more than $8bn for key client Goldman Sachs. Blacklow was also active on behalf of H/2 Capital Partners and JPMorgan, advising on $1.3bn of mortgage and mezzanine financing related to the transfer of 200 Sears stores to a REIT. Other key players in the team are Steven Wilner and associate Daniel Reynolds, who acted for a number of the firm’s sovereign wealth fund clients on real estate acquisitions and related financings.

In addition to Washington DC and Boston - where department chair Jay Epstien and newly appointed co-chair John Sullivan are based respectively - DLA Piper LLP (US) has substantial teams in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Indeed, the practice remains one of the largest in the country despite the loss of eight attorneys to Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, including Jeffrey Keitelman and Kim Pagotto in Washington DC, and Marc Hurel in New York. Highlights in 2015 included representing Ventas in its $2.3bn acquisition of American Realty Capital Healthcare Trust, and advising New York Life Insurance Company as lead lender, along with Northwestern Mutual and NYSTRS, on a $507m loan for the refinancing of 11 Times Square. Key client Harrison Street Real Estate Capital also kept the team busy, with Chicago-based Jesse Criz and David Sickle advising on its $1.9bn acquisition of Campus Crest Communities. The practice benefits from the firm’s international profile and handles a stream of work for international investors such as Ping An Real Estate, for which it acted in relation to an investment in Tishman Speyer’s $500m Pier 4 project in Boston’s seaport district.

Praised as ‘better than all the other large firms in the CMBS space’, Dechert LLP’s ‘deep bench’ of attorneys includes head of practice Richard Jones, who divides his time between New York and Philadelphia, and Philadelphia-based David Forti and Jason Rozes. The team continued to be very active in high-value loan origination and securitization mandates for key clients such as Bank of America and Citigroup, and also advised Wells Fargo in relation to its agreement to purchase commercial real estate loans valued at $9bn from GE Capital Real Estate. In New York, Laura Swihart advised Freddie Mac in multiple securitizations totaling more than $120bn, and, in San Francisco, the ‘extremely goodKahlil Yearwood, who has ‘developed a strong, young and diverse team’, represented Prudential in multiple mortgage loan origination transactions. The practice has outlets in Charlotte, Boston and Hartford and was further developed in Philadelphia by the promotions to partner of Justin Gdula and Matthew Ginsburg.

Goodwin Procter LLP’s 44-partner practice is ‘top notch for transactions of significant size and has an intimate familiarity with multiple classes of real estate, as well as the nuances related to each class’. The team’s strength in REITs was demonstrated when Boston-based Samuel Richardson advised American Realty Capital Hospitality Trust on its $1.8bn acquisition of the Equity Inns lodging portfolio from affiliates of Goldman Sachs’ Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds. Investment and private equity funds also form a substantial part of the firm’s client base, and the team was engaged in a number of high-value acquisitions, dispositions and financings for such clients, often in relation to the hospitality sector. On the dirt side, Los Angeles-based Dean Pappas advised Hearst on its joint venture with the Georgetown Company to restore and redevelop the Herald Examiner Building in downtown Los Angeles. The practice is particularly strong in Boston, where key practitioners such as capital markets chair Gilbert Menna, hospitality chair Christopher Barker and investment management and finance co-chair James Broderick are based, but it also has increasingly significant presence in both New York and Los Angeles. The Los-Angeles team was boosted by the hire of Chauncey Swalwell from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP had a busy year representing a range of private equity firms, sovereign wealth funds, major pension organizations and other institutional investors on substantial acquisitions. New York-based Scott Berger advised key client Starwood Capital on a number of significant matters, including its agreement to acquire a portfolio of apartment units in 72 communities across the US from Equity Residential. Berger also led a team that represented GID Investment Advisers in its $3.2bn bid for Gables Residential. Also in New York, Stephen Tomlinson represented Al Faisal Holding and its subsidiary in the $500m acquisition of The Times Square Hotel. In Chicago, Daniel Perlman handled a mix of equity and debt transactions, acting for Ventas in connection with its agreement to acquire privately owned Ardent Health Services for $1.75bn, and assisting Equity Commonwealth with a $1.1bn credit agreement involving 19 financial institutions. The Chicago office was further enhanced by the promotions to partner of Krystle Lamprecht and Jessica Schultz, however the New York office lost Jennifer Morgan to King & Spalding LLP.

Latham & Watkins LLP sizeable practice covers a wide range of real estate asset classes, including hospitality, gaming and destination resorts, and healthcare and life sciences facilities. Recent highlights include Los Angeles-based David Meckler advising Lineage Logistics on the financing and acquisition of a portfolio of cold storage facilities, and, in Chicago, Gary Axelrod representing GEM Realty Capital in the acquisition of a large resort property. In the debt finance space, the team’s impressive client roster includes ACORE Capital, Barclays and Deutsche Bank; New York-based practice head James Hisiger was busy in this regard, representing Citigroup Global Realty Markets in financing the $423m acquisition of five properties in California and a non-performing loan. Los Angeles-based Scott McPhee has ‘great knowledge of mezzanine lending and excellent negotiation skills’. The firm’s strong international offering ensures a reliable stream of inbound investment matters, as demonstrated by New York-based Michelle Kelban advising a foreign investor on the development joint venture, acquisition and pre-development financing of One Wall Street.

From its offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, Sidley Austin LLP fields a substantial team that has a strong focus on all types of debt finance, including CMBS, acquisition loans, construction and development loans, term loans, bridge financings and mezzanine loans. As well as advising Deutsche Bank and other lenders in connection with multibillion-dollar financings for a number of trophy office buildings in New York, the team also represented M&T Bank in more than 50 separate commercial real estate loan originations to major developers. The team also handles corporate transactional work for clients such as Canyon Capital and Fortress Investment Group, and in 2014 it acted for the latter in relation to the $450m acquisition of United El Segundo, Rapid Gas and Apro. Key players in New York include practice co-chair Alan Weil, who has ‘vast and unparalleled experience in construction loans’, and ‘excellent real estate litigatorRichard Fries, while in Chicago, co-chair Charles Schrank is the main contact. In Los Angeles, co-chair Marc Hayutin’s team was boosted by the arrival of Joel Rothstein from Paul Hastings LLP. Matthew Fernand left the firm to work in-house.

Although best known for advising corporate clients in relation to distressed properties, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is also extremely active on the transactional side. Co-chair Philip Rosen has particular experience in the industrial real estate sector and advised KTR Capital Partners on its $5.9bn sale to Prologis; Rosen also assisted IDI Gazeley with the $302m sale of its entire Mexican industrial portfolio to FINSA. In another notable transaction, David Herman acted for Herald Square Properties in the sale of two REITS for $118m. The well-regarded Michael Bond, who co-chairs the practice with Rosen, was also busy, advising Macquarie Capital as lead lender on mezzanine and bridge loans relating to the American Dream development in New Jersey, and acting for Silverpeak in the $3.2bn sale of Gables Residential to a consortium led by Clarion Partners. All attorneys mentioned thus far are based in New York, but the practice also has a solid base in Miami, where key players include Beatriz Azcuy-Diaz and Nellie Camerik.

Talented negotiator’ Kenneth Jacob leads the team at Arent Fox LLP, which thrives in sectors such as nonprofit, hospitality, senior living and sports. Kimberly Wachen and Steven Cohen acted for Marriott International and Capstone Development in relation to hotel development projects nationwide, while in New York Mark Fawer and Carolyn Austin advised TIAA-CREF on its acquisition of a 16-story office building at 21 Penn Plaza, Manhattan. In the debt finance space, the team increased its work on behalf high-profile lenders, with one highlight being New York-based David Dubrow representing investors in a $1.6bn municipal bond financing deal that will enable the World Trade Center to add a fourth tower. The firm’s San Francisco office was boosted considerably by the relocation from Washington DC of ‘expert strategist’ Richard Brand, and the hire of land use specialist Timothy Tosta and his team from McKenna Long & Aldridge. All named attorneys are based in Washington DC unless otherwise stated.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s ‘top-notch’ practice wins praise for its ‘smart lawyers with great people skills, who understand the business imperatives that underlie the legal issues’. As well as acting for key client Westfield Corporation on a number of high-value mandates, including the $1.1bn divestiture of five shopping centers to an investor group led by Centennial Real Estate Company, the team was also busy on behalf of the firm’s large private equity client base. The ‘outstandingPeter Irwin advised JPMorgan Asset Management on the sale of 7 Bryant Park in New York to an affiliate of Bank of China, and Nicole Levin Mesard assisted Rockwood Capital in providing two separate mezzanine financings secured, indirectly, by two hotels located in New York. Edward Rishty was also active, representing Oaktree Capital Management, as part of its joint venture with the Kushner Companies, in a refinancing of Northern Liberties, a mixed-use development in Philadelphia. All named attorneys are based in New York.

Hogan Lovells US LLP is noted for its ‘very strong REIT practice’ and was involved in a number of major corporate transactions in this space. Lee Berner advised Home Properties on an agreement to be acquired by Lone Star Funds in a cash transaction valued at approximately $7.6bn, and also acted for Industrial Income Trust in its $4.5bn acquisition by an affiliate of Global Logistic Properties. In another major deal, Berner assisted General Electric with the $23bn sale of its real estate portfolio. Head of practice Bruce Parmley has particular expertise in the hotel sector and advised on the structuring and negotiation of agreements for a new hotel development in Todos Santos, Mexico. Parmley also represented GTIS Partners and its subsidiary Palácio Tangará Desenvolvimento Imobiliário on the formation and structuring of agreements relating to the ownership and management of a hotel in São Paulo. All above named attorneys are based in Washington DC, but the practice also has a presence in New York and Los Angeles, where Lee Samuelson and Albert Stemp are the key contacts respectively.

Holland & Knight LLP’s substantial practice is headed from New York by Joseph Guay who, with Martin Miner and Fort Lauderdale-based Allison McCarthy, represented Sunshine Insurance Group in its $230m purchase of the Baccarat Hotel in Manhattan from Starwood Capital Group. In another example of the firm’s strength in the hotel and hospitality sector, San Francisco-based Stacie Goeddel assisted key client Marriott International with a residential condominium project in California. Other important work for the team included Goeddel and Los Angeles-based Susan Booth representing Digital Realty Trust in the real estate component of its $1.89bn acquisition of Telx Group from ABRY Partners and Berkshire Partners, and Atlanta-based Matthew Joe assisting Corvias Group with the $565m privatization of a student campus in Georgia. The firm is also known for its debt finance expertise, and as well as acting for Colony Capital in connection with the origination and securitization of mortgage loans throughout the country, it has been representing lenders in EB-5 loans for real estate projects.

At Hunton & Williams LLP, ‘knowledge of the deals and overall business acumen is tremendous’, and recently the team has been busy on a number of high-value debt and equity deals. Dallas-based Howard Schreiber co-chairs the practice and was part of a team that advised a private equity firm on a $7.6bn merger with a public REIT. Also in Dallas, Daryl Robertson and counsel James England assisted LStar Management with the $1bn acquisition of all the membership interests in LNR South Shore. In New York, where practice co-chair Carl Schwartz is based, Laurie Grasso and newly promoted partner Matthew Scoville represented Chatham Lodging Trust in the $1.1bn acquisition of a 52-hotel portfolio from Inland American. In another piece of work, Grasso acted for World Wide Group in the $300m sale of six buildings on 60th Street in Manhattan to Kuafu Properties. On the debt finance side, the team was active on behalf of lenders in various billion-dollar loan originations.

From its nationwide platform, Jones Day handles a mix of real estate work for clients such as Mill Creek Residential Trust, Goldman Sachs and the Blackstone Group. Highlights in 2015 included advising Associated Estates Realty on its $2.5bn sale of a public REIT to an affiliate of Brookfield Asset Management, and acting for Goodyear Tire in the acquisition of land in an industrial park in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. In the debt finance space, the team represented a subsidiary of Blackstone in relation to mortgage and mezzanine syndicated financing required to acquire an office portfolio with over 113 assets, and also acted for key client Wells Fargo on more than a 100 real estate financings. One particular specialty of the practice is affordable housing, and in New York Steven Koppel and Aviva Yakren assisted Goldman Sachs with the negotiation of a three-phase joint venture for the development of land, including 2,000 housing units, in and around the Seward Park area, Manhattan. Chicago-based Robert Lee and Dallas-based David Lowery head the practice. The Chicago office was enhanced by the addition of John Rafkin and David Woods from Sidley Austin LLP.

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP’s ‘responsive, timely and insightful’ team has boots on the ground in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Irving, Texas, Charlotte and Washington DC. The practice is particularly noted for handling debt finance mandates for key clients such as Wells Fargo, AIG and iStar, however it is also well established on the equity side. Practice head David Bryant advised Ivanhoé Cambridge and Callahan Capital Properties on the $2.2bn acquisition of Three Bryant Park, Manhattan from the Blackstone Group, and also assisted Blackstone with the acquisition of various hotel and resort properties. Other key players in the team are David Dlugie, who represented General Electric Capital Corporation and its affiliates in relation to the sale of a $1.5bn mortgage loan pool to Deutsche Bank and German American Capital Corporation, and New York-based Kenneth Lore, who advised TF Cornerstone on financing a construction loan for the development of a 25-story building at 33 Bond Street, New York. Alvin Katz is singled out for his ‘vast knowledgebase on joint ventures’, Charlotte managing partner Daniel Huffenus has the ‘highest level of business acumen’, and in Washington DC, Jeffrey Scharff is a ‘leader in the field of transactional law’. All named attorneys are based in Chicago unless otherwise stated.

Kaye Scholer LLP’s New York-based team is ‘very goal-oriented and pragmatic in resolving issues and negotiating documents’. The practice focuses on advising lenders on real estate finance and, as well as continuing to serve bank clients such as Deutsche Bank and Jefferies LoanCore, it has also grown its representation of non-bank lenders; for example, practice co-head Stephen Gliatta, Michael Damast and Aaron Lehrfield have been advising new client Silverpeak Real Estate Finance on various mortgage and mezzanine financings. On the corporate transactional side, the practice serves a number of private equity firms, and recently it has been particularly active in the hospitality sector; Jeffrey Kapner, who wins praise for his ‘great judgment and great ability to negotiate’, assisted Magna Hospitality Group with the $62m acquisition of the Hilton Garden Inn in Washington DC, while Kapner and Gliatta advised Greenfield Partners on the $103m sale of Los Angeles’ Ace Hotel and Theater to Chesapeake Lodging Trust. Also in the hospitality sector, practice co-chair Warren Bernstein advised Aareal Bank on the $104m acquisition and renovation financing of Lake Buena Vista Hotel & Spa in Orlando, Florida.

At King & Spalding LLP, Atlanta-based Sarah Borders leads the team, which wins praise for being ‘extremely knowledgeable, business savvy, quick to respond and possessing a broad team of professionals who can respond to different facets of an issue’. The practice is noted for its strong fund and REIT client base and, in Atlanta, Timothy Goodwin, who has a ‘wide variety of deal experience’, and ‘detail-oriented’ Davis Powell represented Columbia Property Trust on a number of financing transactions, including a $300m bridge loan and an $800m syndicated revolving credit and term loan facility. Powell also advised Mitsui Fudosan America on its joint venture with Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group to develop an office tower at 55 Hudson Yards. In another deal, Charlotte-based Mark Thigpen and New York-based Sheryl Kass acted for EDENS in connection with its $763m acquisition of AmREIT. The team was enhanced in New York and Washington DC by the respective hires of Jennifer Morgan and Christopher Hoffman, both from Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Mayer Brown’s team, which spans the firm’s offices in Chicago, New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Palo Alto and Houston, continued to serve its broad client base on a large number of multimillion-dollar transactions. In addition to expertise in financings, transactions and joint ventures, the team leverages the firm’s international reach to handle cross-border matters for foreign investors. Key mandates included assisting HFZ Capital Group with $1bn in debt and equity financing for the purchase of a development site in New York, and advising a leading real estate investment company on a joint venture with CA Student Housing for the acquisition of three portfolios of student housing campuses. In Washington DC, Nathan McMichael was promoted to partner, while in New York, the team was boosted by the arrival of Kwon Lee from Lee International IP & Law Group. Lee and Chicago-based Brian Davis represented a Korean investor in the $314m acquisition of a bank headquarters complex in Chicago. Other key players are Jeffrey Usow, who leads the practice from Chicago, and Washington DC-based Keith Willner.

Morrison & Foerster LLP 44-partner practice advises a full range of clients, including lenders, developers, equity investors and equity REITs. In New York, practice co-chair Mark Edelstein specializes in debt finance work, and recently advised Wells Fargo and Bank of America on a $640m loan to finance the construction of three large multifamily, mixed-use buildings in Long Island City. In another piece of work, Edelstein and Jeffrey Temple acted for the New York Wheel Company in connection with investment financing related to the construction of the New York Wheel. In Los Angeles, key players include practice co-chair Marc Young and Tom Fileti. Fileti in particular has been active on a number of significant matters, including advising UDR on a series of development joint ventures with MetLife relating to apartment projects in California. The practice also handles corporate transactional work and in one standout deal advised Global Logistic Properties on the acquisition of a $4.5bn US logistics portfolio from Industrial Income Trust. Thomas McGovern and two other lawyers relocated from the New York office to the firm’s newly opened office in Boston.

Recently appointed co-chairs Meredith Kane and Harris Freidus lead the practice at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, which remained busy in key sectors such as gaming, hospitality and healthcare. Freidus represented Las Vegas Sands in connection with the $5bn refinancing of its Macau, Singapore and Las Vegas resorts, and together with Salvatore Gogliormella acted for HCP in its $849m acquisition of 35 private-pay senior housing communities from Chartwell Retirement Residence. In other highlights, Kane continued to advise Metropolitan Transportation Authority on all of its significant real estate development transactions, including Hudson Yards, One Vanderbilt and 341-347 Madison Avenue, while Peter Fisch and Steven Simkin assisted SL Green Realty with a $360m mortgage loan provided by a syndicate of banks secured by a 36-story office building in Manhattan. Simon Property Group, NorthStar Realty Finance Corp and CIM Group are also active clients of the firm. All named lawyers are based in New York.

Proskauer Rose LLP’s strength in representing REITs was once again in evidence, with the team handling a number of significant matters for American Realty Capital Healthcare Trust, including its $2.6bn merger with Ventas. In the hospitality sector, where the practice is also well established, the team represented American Realty Capital Hospitality Trust in the acquisition of the Equity Inns lodging portfolio from affiliates of the Whitehall Real Estate Funds for $1.8bn. Leading individuals in the team include Steven Lichtenfeld and Peter Fass, who worked on the above mentioned deals, and practice co-heads Ronald Sernau and Perry Cacace, who advised Hines Interests Limited Partnership and JPMorgan on the $600m sale of 7 Bryant Park to Bank of China. On the debt finance side, David Weinberger advised on various high-value construction loan financings. The practice is deepest in New York, but it also has a presence in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boca Raton; in Los Angeles, Eric Remensperger assisted Grifols Diagnostic Solutions with the $250m acquisition of a biotech campus in Emeryville. All named lawyers are based in New York unless otherwise stated.

Private equity powerhouseSchulte Roth & Zabel LLP was involved in a stream of multibillion-dollar projects, including advising Albertsons and an investor group led by Cerberus Capital Management on the $9.2bn merger with Safeway, and assisting Invesco Real Estate and Monday Properties Investments with the $1.2bn sale of the Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue to RXR Realty. The ‘responsive and thoroughJeffrey Lenobel leads the team and continues to represent Oxford Properties Group in connection with all aspects of its interest in the joint venture with Related Companies to lease and develop Hudson Yards. Lenobel also acted for the Museum of Modern Art in connection with the expansion of its existing museum facility and the sale of air rights to an affiliate of Hines Interests. Bruce Cybul represented Credit Suisse Group in the $525m financing of the Four Seasons Resort Maui, the sale of several mezzanine portions thereof and the securitization of the senior mortgage loan. The ‘very user-friendlyJulian Wiseknows how to build consensus’. All named attorneys are based in New York.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s practice handles transactions in all 50 states and has grown further (now 76 partners) through the hires of Los Angeles-based Dana Treister from Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Atlanta-based Timothy Sullivan from Beazer Homes USA, as well as the promotions to partner of Arren Goldman and Melissa Vandewater, who are based in New York and Chicago respectively. As well as being singled out for its ‘superior skill and expertise in real estate lending, CMBS and securitization matters’, the practice also enjoys a good reputation on the dirt side; Los Angeles-based Richard Mendelson and Stacy Paek represented LBA Realty in a number of acquisitions and dispositions, including the $240m sale of an office building in downtown Los Angeles, while Chicago-based Gregg Dorman assisted Los Angeles FC with the $280m redevelopment of the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Other names to note are Andrew Pearlstein, who is ‘top for business acumen and industry knowledge’, and ‘skillful professionalCatherine Burns, both in Boston; Washington DC-based Robert Bodansky, who is ‘a good draftsman and a reasonable and thoughtful adviser’; and, in Chicago, the ‘very perceptiveJay Gitles and the ‘trustworthyAlvin Kruse. Head of practice Paul Mattingly leads the team from Atlanta. In May 2016, Thomas Masenga joined Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.

Chris Smith, who leads the practice at Shearman & Sterling LLP, was busy on a number of high-profile leases, including assisting SportsNet New York with a 15-year headquarters lease at 4 World Trade Center. On the corporate transactional side, Smith advised AIG Global Real Estate on the sale of 100% of its interests in the joint venture management company formerly known as AIG/Lincoln to White Star Real Estate. The well-regarded Malcolm Montgomery handles debt finance matters and, as well as undertaking key mandates for Deutsche Bank and Citibank, also represented Citigroup Global Markets as lead arranger and administrative agent in connection with the $1.19bn bridge financing for Washington Prime Group’s acquisition of Glimcher Realty Trust. John Opar specializes in shari’ah-compliant investment structures and is recommended in relation to his work for sovereign wealth funds. All named lawyers are based in New York.

Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP significantly strengthened its real estate practice with the hire of eight attorneys from DLA Piper LLP (US), including new co-head of the practice Jeffrey Keitelman and Kim Pagotto in Washington DC, and Marc Hurel in New York. The firm’s newly established presence in DC was underlined by Keitelman acting on a number of significant mandates, including representing Columbia Property Trust in the sale of 22 buildings to affiliates of Griffin Capital for $521m; and advising Verizon on the $650m sale and leaseback of its corporate headquarters. In New York, practice co-head Brian Diamond and Steven Moskowitz continued to act for key client JPMorgan Investment Management on numerous high-value matters, including the $2.5bn recapitalization of Century Plaza Towers in Los Angeles and the $1bn acquisition/joint venture/financing of the Market Square office project in San Francisco. The practice also has numbers in Miami, from where Ira Teicher advised JPMorgan Asset Management on the redevelopment of an office park in downtown Doral, Florida. In Los Angeles, Chauncey Swalwell joined Goodwin Procter LLP.

New York ‘titanWachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is well known for its expertise in real estate M&A and the team continued to be busy in this area. In 2015, highlights included advising Sears Holdings on its $2.5bn sale and leaseback of 254 stores to a newly formed REIT, acting for the special committee of Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust in relation to its merger with Colony American Homes, and assisting Gaming and Leisure Properties with its $5bn proposal to acquire Pinnacle Entertainment’s real estate assets. Robin Panovka heads the team.

Akerman LLP’s 61-partner practice continued to be at the forefront of large-scale development projects, particularly in Florida and New York, where the team acted for multiple national homebuilders and developers in land use and transactional matters and also finalized Bottega Veneta’s lease with the Wildenstein Organization for its flagship location in Manhattan. The practice also handles corporate transactions and debt finance mandates for clients such as Northstar Commercial Partners and Rialto Mortgage Finance. Further experience was added in areas such as multifamily and mixed-use projects, the environmental aspects of real estate development and private equity and M&A via the introduction of a number of lateral hires, including Denver-based Howard Gelt, who joined from Polsinelli PC, New York-based Richard Leland, who joined from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, and Miami-based Andres Mendoza, who joined from Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP. Richard Bezold in Miami heads the team.

Arnold & Porter LLP’s 14-partner practice is led from Washington DC by the ‘extremely strongMichael Goodwin, whose recent work includes representing Vornado Realty Trust in the $182m sale of 1750 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC to the John Hancock Life Insurance Company, and advising Penzance Properties on the buyout of a ground lease at 3003 Washington Boulevard, Virginia. The Washington DC team is also noted for its ‘excellent hospitality practice’, which services REITs such as Host Hotels & Resorts and DiamondRock Hospitality; the team acted for the latter in a series of hotel acquisitions around the US. In New York, John Busillo focuses on debt finance and assisted American Finance Trust with a $655m commercial mortgage loan from Barclays, Column Financial and UBS Real Estate Securities. The New York arm was developed on the equity transactions side by the hire of Gerald Shepherd from Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP. Kenneth Neale and Thomas Larsen are key contacts in the San Francisco office.

The ‘professional and very efficient’ practice at Baker & McKenzie LLP handles a range of real estate matters for its global corporate clients. Recent highlights include advising Hewlett-Packard on the planned spin off of its Enterprise business and representing Sears in connection with global lease portfolio management. Key players in the firm’s strong Chicago office are practice head Michael Smith, hotel specialist Richard Cremieux and Michael Rechtin, who joined from Quarles & Brady LLP and has expertise in data centers and retail leasing. Also in Chicago is newly promoted partner Mona Dajani, who represented Mohammed I. Alsubeaei & Sons Investment Company as mezzanine lender in relation to the acquisition and construction of a multi-use high rise at 45 Park Place, Manhattan. In New York, Gerard Hannon has significant experience in cross-border real estate transactions, and assisted Benetton Group with the $161m sale of 100% of the shares in Benetton USA to Ramsbury Property.

Baker Botts L.L.P.’s practice has particular strength in complex development projects. It continued to benefit from the firm’s longstanding relationship with Hines, acting for the client on numerous matters, including in relation to a joint venture with a Chinese public company for the $900m development of a mixed-use, multi-phase project to be built above Boston’s South Station. In another piece of work, Houston-based Paul Landen and Kimberly Schlanger and Dallas-based Stephen Marcus represented Hines in a joint venture with Urban Atlantic to redevelop the existing Walter Reed US Army medical base in Washington DC. On the debt finance side, Dallas-based Jonathan Dunlay, who is ‘practical on the probability of risks’, represented Clarion Partners affiliates in connection with a $660m mortgage refinancing secured by 65 Marriott-managed hotels located in 29 states. ‘Very fine lawyer’ Patricia Stanton, who heads the practice, is relocating from Dallas to the firm’s new San Francisco office.

Ballard Spahr LLP’s ‘preeminent’ practice has been particularly busy in Philadelphia, where the team has been active on behalf of a range of developer clients. Recent work includes advising Comcast on a joint venture with Liberty Property Trust regarding the building of the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center and the long-term lease of the building. In another highlight, practice head Bart Mellits advised Wexford Science & Technology on the expansion of the University City Science Center campus in West Philadelphia. In Baltimore, Thomas Hauser and newly promoted partner Anna Mahaney handled a variety of lending mandates, including representing PNC, Wells Fargo, Grandbridge, Walker & Dunlop and Red Mortgage Capital in relation to the financing of Sun Communities’ $1.3bn acquisition of the American Land Lease Manufactured Housing Portfolio from Green Courte Partners. The practice has a presence in 13 states and was enhanced further by the hires of Christopher Bell in Washington DC from Fannie Mae and Laura Seidel in Atlanta from Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice and the promotion to partner of Washington DC-based Erica Leatham.

Dentons’ recent merger with McKenna Long & Aldridge saw the addition of 18 real estate partners. One of these was Atlanta-based co-chair William Timmons, who advised KeyBank National Association on the amendment and restatement of Kite Realty Group’s syndicated corporate liquidity facility and a parallel term loan. The team’s expertise in acting for lenders on finance transactions was also on show in Chicago, where co-chair Robert Fernandez advised MetLife on the $350m financing of a shopping center in San Antonio, Texas. On the dirt side, San Diego-based Robert Bell is acting for Navarra Properties regarding the development of a site in downtown San Diego, while Atlanta-based Jess Pinkerton has been busy on a variety of developments for student housing developer Landmark Properties. Other key players in the practice are co-chair David Hall, who is based in New York, and hotel and leisure specialist Richard Ross, who is based in Phoenix.

Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP’s three-partner practice is singled out as being ‘creative in finding solutions to some extremely complex issues’. From its New York base, the team continued to handle a significant amount of joint venture development work, including financing and leasing of residential, office, hotel, retail and mixed-use projects both in New York and around the country. ‘Deal-makerWallace Schwartz heads the practice and represented Blackstone in the development aspects of its $680m acquisition of the SkyView Center in Queens. Schwartz is also acting for Related Companies and Oxford Properties in the leasing of a multi-level shopping center being built at Hudson Yards. On the debt finance side, Douglas Heitner advised JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group on a $725m loan for the construction of a 90-story tower at 57th Street, New York. Adam Endick specializes in leasing and assisted Extell Development Company with the ground leasing of 23rd Street, New York to a joint venture between Kaufman Organization and Goldman Sachs. The practice was further developed by a number of new hires, including special counsel Sander Ash from Moses & Singer.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP’s seven-partner practice is especially known for its dirt expertise and wins praise as being ‘top tier for large lease matters’. The practice continued its involvement in a number of New York’s foremost development projects, such as practice head Jay Neveloff advising Forest City Ratner Companies on the $4bn Pacific Park redevelopment project in Brooklyn, and Jonathan Canter assisting Related Companies with the $20bn Hudson Yards project in Manhattan. Other significant work included James Godman advising Deloitte on the lease for its new headquarters at the Gas Company Tower in Los Angeles, and Neil Tucker acting for The Continuum Company and its founder Bruce Eichner in connection with the development of a $100m residential tower at 41 East 22nd Street, New York. The team was boosted by the hire from King & Spalding LLP of ‘great negotiator and deal-maker’ Andrew Charles, who focuses on joint ventures and related financing. All named lawyers are based in New York.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP practice is headed out of Philadelphia and Boston by Eric Stern and Richard Toelke respectively. Acting for developers and owners of real estate across the US, the team has particular expertise in multifamily apartment complex projects and, increasingly, higher education projects. One example of the latter was Stern assisting American Campus Communities with the development of new student residences in Boston, California and Virginia. Other highlights in 2015 included representing Brookwood Financial Partners in the purchase of a portfolio of 29 office buildings in the Greater Philadelphia suburbs for approximately $183m, and acting for the Berkshire Group in the acquisition and financing of a $400m multifamily portfolio in Georgia and North Carolina. On behalf of key client JBG Companies, Washington DC-based Michael Pickett advised on a $245m loan from Bank of America to finance the construction of a 31-story office building and parking garage in Rosslyn, Virginia, while Thomas Klanderman assisted in two joint ventures with Brandywine Realty Trust related to a multi-phase development in the heart of NoMa, Washington DC. The practice also has boots on the ground in Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

Real estate remains the largest and most significant practice area at Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP, where clients range from developers and banks to private equity firms. In Atlanta, practice co-chair Robert Reardon’s team includes Christina Graham and Frank Bazzel, who continued to act for key client Wood Partners on various matters, including the $200m sale of a luxury high-rise apartment building in Los Angeles. The ‘growing finance practice’ includes Frederick Boyd, who was active on commercial finance transactions for banks such as Wells Fargo and Regions Bank. On the corporate transactional side, Lauren Prevost assisted Cole Corporate Income Trust with its $3.1bn merger with Select Income REIT, while hospitality specialist Thomas Gryboski was busy with a number of acquisitions, including representing Noble Investment Group in the $300m sale of a 13-hotel portfolio to American Realty Capital Hospitality Trust. In Washington DC, where practice co-chair Wendelin White is based, new hire from Hogan Lovells US LLP, Carol Weld King, acted for Starr Companies in forming a joint venture with AWH Partners to acquire the Marriott Burbank Airport hotel in Los Angeles. All named attorneys are based in Atlanta unless otherwise stated. Rusty Fleming left for Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.

Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP’s practice has strong presence in Texas where it acts for a diverse range of clients, including insurance companies, REITs, real estate developers, financial institutions and retail and manufacturing companies. Jane Snoddy Smith heads the practice from Austin and has particular expertise in transactions involving shopping centers; Smith acted for BlackRock Realty Advisors in four joint ventures to acquire, finance, develop and operate mixed-use, multifamily projects and shopping centers in numerous states. In Dallas, Winston Walp advised Beck Ventures on the $2bn acquisition of Valley View Mall and also assisted Capital Senior Living Corporation with the acquisition and financing of a number of senior housing properties. In San Antonio, James Summers is representing Cirque du Soleil in connection with the development of a $500m theme park in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. The team also has practitioners in New York, where Douglas Danzig has been active on behalf of foreign investors.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s ‘high- quality’ practice was busy on behalf of its sizeable private equity client base, which includes the likes of Walton Street Capital, Colony Capital and Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management. In one piece of work, Los Angeles-based Gerard Walsh assisted Westbrook Partners with the $365m mortgage and mezzanine finance for its purchase of a stake in the St. John’s Center in Manhattan. Walsh was also active in the hospitality sector, advising in connection with the mezzanine financing of the Waldorf Astoria Chicago. In San Francisco, practice head Michael Liever handled a number of significant matters, including advising USAA on the $1.1bn purchase of stakes in five Westfield malls across the country, and assisting Heitman America Real Estate Trust with its $342m acquisition of a shopping mall complex in Maui, Hawaii. The team also advises inbound investors and lending institutions on cross-border real estate investments. For example, New York-based Michael Haworth and San Francisco-based Dennis Martin acted for a subsidiary of Tokyu Land Corporation on its equity investment in the 425 Park Avenue development project in Manhattan.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP wins praise for its ‘knowledgeable attorneys who show great business judgment’. In San Francisco, the ‘excellent’ Robert Herr heads the practice and advised Spear Street Capital on the $147m sale of an office campus in Santa Clara to Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, and Rachel Horsch continued to serve key client Shorenstein Properties on a variety of acquisitions, dispositions and financings. In Los Angeles, office managing partner William Waller and James Rishwain (who divides his time between Los Angeles and San Francisco) were active on behalf of investor clients such as Fifth Street Properties and NIMES Investments. Other key players in the team are San Diego-based Steven Hamilton, who specializes in advising banks on loan modifications and originations, and Caroline Harcourt, who joined the New York office from Kaye Scholer LLP. Brant Maller left for Winston & Strawn LLP.

Polsinelli PC offers ‘great value for money’ and handles an increasing number of debt finance mandates for lender clients such as KeyBank and Prime Finance. Practice head Dan Flanigan has a ‘wide skill set and breadth of knowledge’ and acted for Prime Finance on the $600m securitization and sale of commercial mortgages. On the borrower side, Lonnie Shalton, Lisa Haines and Robert Adams advised Extell Development Company on the $337m loan financing with Deutsche Bank for a 90-story mixed-use building in Manhattan. In other highlights, Irwin Blond and New York-based Brooks Clark assisted Colony Capital Acquisitions with the $170m acquisition and leaseback of two international culinary and hospitality schools, while Flanigan and Adams advised Abraham Kamber & Company on various acquisitions and dispositions, including the $330m sale of a leasehold interest in 1407 Broadway, New York. Aside from its strong offering in Kansas, the practice also has a solid presence in Chicago, where it played a key role in the development aspects of a $3bn REIT transaction. All named attoneys are based in Kansas unless otherwise stated.

Venable LLP’s practice was busy on behalf of its strong REIT client base, with Baltimore-based Christopher Pate representing Chambers Street Properties in its $5.8bn merger with Gramercy Properties Trust, and advising Inland Real Estate Corporation on its $2.3bn acquisition by DRA Advisors. Washington DC-based Lawrence Gesner continued to act for key client Fannie Mae on debt finance mandates and has a particular focus on multifamily projects. In Los Angeles, office managing partner Mitchell Evall and Andrew Schmerzler assist a range of major motion picture studios, theatre chains, investment banks, real property developers and retailers with acquisitions and dispositions, leasing and financing matters. Thomas Millspaugh heads the practice and divides his time between Baltimore and Washington DC. The team was weakened in New York by the loss of Michael Peskowitz and two counsels to Thompson & Knight LLP.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP’s New York-based team, lauded as ‘second to none when negotiating and executing complex equity and debt real estate transactions’, is led by Thomas Henry and senior counsel Eugene Pinover. The practice handles a good balance of corporate transactional and finance work and, in a recent highlight, advised Hudson’s Bay Company on its $1.8bn real estate-focused joint venture with Simon Property Group and the subsequent $846m of debt finance required for the joint venture’s acquisition of 41 GALERIA properties. In addition to a strong private equity client base, the practice is active on behalf of REITs and, as well as advising WP Glimcher on its loan arrangements following a major acquisition, it also assisted Paramount Group with the $230m buyout of its joint venture partner’s interest in an office building on 52nd Street, Manhattan. The other name to note in the team is David Drewes, who represented B&L Management Company in connection with the $690m sale of 24 apartment buildings to a joint venture led by Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII and Fairstead Capital.

Allen & Overy LLP’s New York-based practice handles a mix of debt finance and acquisition work for its global investor and developer clients. The well-regarded Kevin O’Shea heads the practice and acted for Ivanhoé Cambridge, a cornerstone investor in TPG RE Finance Trust, in relation to the Trust’s purchase of an interest in a portfolio of high-yield commercial real estate loans originated by Deutsche Bank. Another key name in the team is Erwin Dweck, who, with O’Shea, assisted Oxford Properties Group and OMERS with their purchase of mezzanine loans made to affiliates of General Growth Properties and Jeff Sutton. The team also has expertise in advising on inbound equity and debt transactions by Asian, European, Canadian and Middle Eastern real estate investors.

Real estate is a strong feature of the work at California-based Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP, where the team advises on a full range of assets, including office, industrial, multifamily, shopping center, mixed-use and hospitality. Key players include Los Angeles-based practice chair Anton Natsis, San Francisco-based Stephen Lieske, who acts for a variety of banks, life insurance companies and securitization lenders on debt finance matters, and Richard Stinehart, who is based in Orange County and is a director of the real estate group. Equity Office Properties, Hines and Tishman Speyer are all clients of the practice.

Jack Fields and Michael Boyd lead the practice at Andrews Kurth LLP, which has a particular strength in retail and office leasing. In one example, the team acted for Stage Stores in the negotiation and execution of an office lease relating to the client’s consolidation of multiple offices into a single corporate headquarters. The team was also active in a range of equity and debt mandates, with hotel specialist Daniel McCormick assisting BW RRI with the $600m purchase and financing of 90 hotels in 22 states, and David Runnels and Callie Parker acting for MetroNational on the $140m construction financing of the Air Liquide Campus in Houston, Texas. All named above attorneys are based in Houston, but the practice also has a presence in Dallas, where Andrew Campbell handled various joint venture formations, loan assumptions and acquisitions relating to residential and office developments.

Bryan Cave LLP’s 45-partner practice operates across the US and continues to be active on behalf of its strong private equity and REIT client base. In New York, Sandor Green represented Aimco in connection with the acquisition, disposition, new development and rehabilitation of multifamily residential apartment complexes, while in Denver, Robert Bach advised Dividend Capital on various multimillion-dollar loans as well as the $36m acquisition of a retail facility in Cape Cod. Other active clients are Och-Ziff Real Estate and Arbor Realty Trust. The team is also known for its leasing expertise and handled over $300m worth of new leases for Regus Group. Key contacts are St. Louis-based practice head James Buell and Andrew Auerbach, who is based in New York.

Clifford Chance’s 17-partner practice advises funds, private investors and lenders on a full range of real estate issues, and benefits from the firm’s broad international network in obtaining a steady stream of inbound work on behalf of major foreign investors. Highlights in 2015 included advising key client Madison International Realty on structuring and purchasing a $300m interest in two joint ventures relating to a portfolio of 42 US retail assets, and representing Bank J. Safra Sarasin (Luxembourg) and Safra National Bank in connection with a first priority mortgage loan encumbering the sub-ground leasehold interest in Union Station in Washington DC. Names to note in the New York-based team are practice head Douglas Wisner and Ness Cohen.

Cox, Castle & Nicholson is one of the largest full-service law firms focusing on real estate in the US, and continued to be active on behalf of clients that include public and private businesses, major financial institutions, pension funds, industry entrepreneurs, REITs and public agencies. In Los Angeles, the recommended Ira Waldman and Adam Weissburg handle debt finance for both borrowers and lenders, while in San Francisco, Mathew Wyman advises on joint ventures and corporate transactions for a range of developers and investors. The practice also has boots on the ground in Orange County, where Randall Black is the name to note.

Davis & Gilbert LLP’s New York-based practice is well known for its leasing expertise, particularly in the retail sector, where it acts for clients such as Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Fast Retailing. On the landlord side, the practice has a longstanding relationship with Tishman Speyer and acted for the client in relation to a lease with MetLife for 550,000 sq ft of office space at the MetLife Building at 200 Park Avenue. Key players in the team include ‘leasing supremoGerald Uram and Robert Karin, with the latter active on behalf of the Feil Organization on various asset purchases, refinancings and dispositions, including the sale of a shopping center in Bloomington, Illinois. Mark Maltz and Donald Sonnenborn co-chair the practice.

Foley & Lardner LLP’s busy practice has a presence in California, Florida, Wisconsin and the Northeast. Head of the practice Fred Ridley is based in Tampa and handles a mix of work for developers, with one recent example being his representation of Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach Resort in its negotiation with Bank of America for a $108m construction loan relating to the Wyndham Hotel/Timeshare resort. On the lender side, the team increased its work for Regions Bank, with Tampa-based Thomas Little advising the bank as administrative agent in relation to syndicated loans for a $137m mixed-use project. In Jacksonville, David Cook works frequently for private equity clients and represented an affiliate of Starwood Capital in relation to the $149m sale of the Westin Beach Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale to DiamondRock Hospitality. Other key contacts are Orlando-based Pamela Brown, who assisted Hall Equities Group with the $225m purchase of a portfolio of 29 hotels across the US, and Los Angeles-based Jason Barglow.

Gardere Wynne Sewell’s Texas-based practice focuses on advising owners, landlords and developers on development projects and has particular expertise in the hospitality sector. In one highlight, Cynthia Nelson acted for Ashford Hospitality Trust in the $63m acquisition and financing of Le Pavillon Hotel in Louisiana. Key client KDC once again kept the team busy - George Dunlap advising it on a number of matters, including the $1.5bn mixed-use CityLine development in Richardson and the $300m development of Toyota’s new US headquarters in Plano, Texas. Kevin Kelley chairs the practice and is representing American Airlines in the $550m development of its new headquarters. All named attorneys are based in Dallas, although the practice also has presence in Houston.

New York-based Walter Schleimer, who heads the practice at Haynes and Boone, L.L.P., focuses on finance transactions. Schleimer continued to be active on behalf of Natixis Real Estate Capital, advising the client on financing related to Newmark Holdings’ affiliate’s $115m purchase of 40 Exchange Place, Manhattan. Also in New York is ‘rising star’ Aaron Beim, who represents a variety of institutional real estate investors (as lenders and borrowers) in the origination, workout, restructuring, sale and purchase of structured financings. In Dallas, key players include managing partner Timothy Powers, who has been busy assisting foreign investors with a large number of US real estate investments, and Matthew Schindel, who focuses on private equity transactions for clients such as Woods Capital.

Herrick, Feinstein LLP’s New York-based practice was enhanced by the hire of Ellen Shapiro from Squire Patton Boggs and the promotions to partner of Michael Smith and Christina Ying. The practice has particular strength on the dirt side and handled a number of leases of blue-ribbon properties in New York. Leading individuals in the team include the recommended head of practice Belinda Schwartz, Sheldon Chanales, who advised a borrower on a significant refinancing, and Jonathan Adelsberg, who was active in the acquisition of multifamily properties.

K&L Gates’ ‘very responsive and user-friendly team’ benefits from its international platform in receiving a notable volume of inbound investment work for clients such as Mirae Asset Global Investments. The team is acting for Mirae Asset in the acquisition and financing of a class A office building on 1750 K Street, Washington DC. Another area of strength is the resort, hospitality and leisure sector, with the firm’s offices in Charleston, Raleigh and Seattle particularly active in this regard; in one example, Raleigh-based Anthony Barwick advised Concord Hospitality Enterprises on a series of hotel portfolio sales totaling approximately $350m to a sovereign wealth fund. The practice was boosted by a number of hires, including Benay Lizarazu in Charlotte, who joined from Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, and Marisa Bocci in Seattle, who was previously in an in-house role. Charleston-based Matthew Norton leads the team.

Loeb & Loeb LLP’s New York offering has particular expertise in leasing for both landlords and tenants, and was again active on behalf of key clients such as RFR Realty and Brookfield Properties. Head of the practice Raymond Sanseverino advised BNY Mellon on a 20-year lease for its new world headquarters at 225 Liberty Street, Manhattan, while Scott Schneider acted for JPMorgan Chase on a number of matters, including the lease of office space at 33rd Street, Manhattan. The practice also shows strength in debt finance work, with one example being Steven Kornblau’s advice to Aareal Capital Corporation as senior lender on a $275m loan for the construction of the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills and the refinancing of the renowned Beverly Hilton. All above named lawyers are based in New York, but the practice also has a presence in Los Angeles, where key contacts include Thomas Hanley and senior counsel Adam Knowlton.

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP’s California-based practice continued to handle big-ticket matters for major clients. In Los Angeles, co-chair Tom Muller and Anita Sabine assisted Macerich with various acquisitions and dispositions, including the sale of minority stakes in eight retail properties across the country for $2.3bn. In San Francisco, Clayton Gantz represented Jay Paul Company in a $610m senior secured non-revolving loan to finance the first phase construction of a new office campus for Google. Also in San Francisco, James Eastman continued to advise the Prudential Insurance Company of America as the lender on debt finance mandates. Palo Alto-based practice co-chair Michael Polentz was active on leasing portfolios and development projects.

Entering the rankings this year is Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP, which stands out for its strong REIT practice. A major highlight was the team’s representation of key client Equity Residential in its agreement to sell 72 properties to Starwood Capital for $5.3bn. In another sizeable transaction, Avram Feldman and Douglas Ellis advised O’Connor Capital Partners and its joint venture partner on the $800m acquisition of a 49% indirect ownership interest in five malls from WP Glimcher. The practice wins praise for its ‘extremely efficient and top-notch service’ and is led by Douglas Lubelchek, who has a ‘depth of real estate and legal knowledge combined with practicality and a very calm demeanor’; Darrin Forbes is also recommended. All named partners are based in Chicago.

Ropes & Gray LLP drew on its strong private equity client base to advise on a number of significant mandates in the debt finance and acquisition space. For Blackstone Mortgage Trust, New York-based David Djaha and Daniel Stanco advised on a $4bn credit facility from Wells Fargo to finance its acquisition of a portfolio of commercial mortgage loans from General Electric; and for TPG Capital, Djaha and Jack Creedon handled the acquisition of a majority interest in a high-yield real estate loan portfolio from Deutsche Bank. In other highlights, practice head Marc Lazar advised a joint venture on the $145m sale of two master-planned communities in Texas and Colorado, while Walter McCabe had a key role in the $200m acquisition and financing of a mixed-use office tower and data center in Houston. Richard Gordet is ‘very client friendly’ and has ‘solid technical and market knowledge’. All named partners are based in Boston unless otherwise stated.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP’s 43-partner team has a presence in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. San Francisco-based Doug Van Gessel has been particularly active, advising Moffett Place on a number of significant transactions, including a $610m loan for the construction of an office campus, and the $1.1bn lease to Google of a corporate campus development in California. In Los Angeles, Pamela Westhoff advised on various dispositions for SteelWave, including the $195m sale of 160 Spear Street in San Francisco, while in Chicago Terrence Budny and Larry Eppley remained active on the debt finance side for lender and borrower clients such as The PrivateBank, Sapir Group and Oxford Capital Group. Domenic Drago co-chairs the practice from San Diego and, as well as assisting San Diego Ballpark Hotel Company with its $140m refinancing of the Omni Hotel, also represented the Irvine Company in multifamily acquisitions and ground lease transactions in Silicon Valley. San Francisco-based co-chair Keith Garner is the other name to note. In May 2016, Thomas Masenga joined from Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

Sullivan & Worcester LLP’s ‘knowledgeable and thorough attorneys invoke trust and assurance’ and the firm enters the rankings on the back of its busy REIT practice. For key client Senior Housing Properties Trust, the team handled the $790m acquisition of 38 senior living properties in 16 states, and also the $539m acquisition of 23 medical office buildings in 12 states. John Steiner was particularly busy, representing Hospitality Properties Trust in a $397m sale-leaseback transaction with TravelCenters of America relating to 19 travel centers, and also advising Select Income REIT on its $153m acquisition of an office building in Kansas City. Adam Weisenberg and Eric Lemont are ‘good to work with’ and acted for DivcoWest and Synergy Investments in the $56m sale of a parking garage in Boston’s Fort Point Channel area to NewTower Trust. John Balboni heads the Boston-based practice.

Praised as a ‘hidden gem’, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP’s Atlanta-focused practice was further enhanced by the hire of institutional investor specialist Clayton Howell from King & Spalding LLP. Other key players in the 12-partner team are practice chair Victor Haley, whose expertise ranges from timber transactions to hotel and resort projects; Robinson Plowden, who is particularly proficient in data center developments; and James Jordan, who is singled out for his ‘knowledge, attention to detail and timeliness’. On the debt finance side, John Benson ‘meets deadlines without ever missing details’, and Washington DC-based Lisa Rosen ‘provides practical and sound advice’; Benson and Rosen represented a range of prominent lenders on various billion-dollar CMBS securitizations and defaulted loan transactions. New client wins include Citizens Bank, Hines, and Pollack Shores Real Estate Group. All named partners are based in Atlanta unless otherwise stated.

Thompson & Knight LLP’s practice has a strong focus on acting for lenders, such as BBVA Compass Bank and Midland Loan Services, on debt finance matters. Recent examples include advising a leading real estate investment company on a $120m loan sale and acting for Wells Fargo in a $180m loan to Simon Property Group regarding the construction of the Smith Haven Mall in New York. The team also handles a variety of leasing work in areas such as commercial office, retail, healthcare and hospitality. Fort Worth-based Susan Coleman represented Tempe Campus Lot 8 in the negotiation of a lease to Northern Trust Company for a $95m office complex to be constructed in Tempe, Arizona. While the team has a particular presence in Texas, it also has practitioners in New York, where recent additions include commercial lending specialist Michael Peskowitz and two counsels from Venable LLP. Andrew Ingrum heads the practice from the firm’s Dallas office.

Thompson Hine LLP’s practice was again busy on behalf its strong REIT client base, with James Aronoff advising Brookfield Asset Management on its $2.5bn takeover of Associated Estate Realty Corporation. For key client DDR, Robyn Minter Smyers was active in various acquisitions and dispositions, including the purchase of Willowbrook Mall in Houston; for the same client, Jared Oakes handled numerous leasing transactions. The team also works regularly for domestic and international corporates; in recent examples, Smyers acted for AkzoNobel in the sale of its Zeta Fraction business to Ashland Specialty Ingredients, and practice leader Thomas Coyne assisted Pratt & Whitney with the $180m development of its corporate headquarters in Connecticut. All attorneys named so far are based in Cleveland, but the practice also has numbers in Atlanta, Dayton and New York. Atlanta-based Stephen Schrock joined from Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP.

Troutman Sanders’ practice is particularly well known for representing lenders in multifamily financing. It acted for Berkadia Commercial Mortgage in securing $1.36bn in Freddie Mac debt financing for a portfolio of 56 multifamily properties across eight states. The team was also busy on the corporate transactional side and advised Trinity Capital Advisors on a joint venture with Starwood Capital and Vanderbilt Office Properties to acquire a $1.12bn portfolio of suburban office buildings located in four states. In another deal, the team assisted Crescent Communities with the $700m portfolio sale of nine newly constructed luxury multifamily projects located in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. The practice was strengthened in Charlotte and New York by the respective hires of Michael Tomlinson and Jeffrey Weitzman from K&L Gates. Atlanta-based Mark Elliott and Richmond-based Mark Shiembob lead the team.

Vinson & Elkins LLP’s Texas-based practice represents clients in all facets of the real estate industry, including banks, insurance companies, developers, consultants and governmental entities. Head of practice Paul Martin advised 7-Eleven on the $130m relocation of its corporate headquarters from the Dallas Arts District to the Cypress Waters Development in Irving, Texas, while Michael Boulden handled a number of dirt transactions for GE Capital, including the sale of a 162-unit apartment complex in West Covina, California. Joel Ross and newly made-up partner Russell Oshman advised a major real estate investment management company on a number of significant REIT acquisitions. Other key players in the team are Houston-based ‘dean of real estate’ Sanford Weiner and Randy Jurgensmeyer. All named partners are based in Dallas unless otherwise stated.

Miami-based Steven Vainder leads the team at White & Case LLP and advises on the full range of real estate assets, including shopping malls, hotel and hospitality, and office and industrial parks, with one particular specialty being projects involving green or sustainable building practices. Vainder recently advised Codina Partners on obtaining $200m worth of construction loans for various developments in Florida. In New York, the newly promoted Steven Lutt was busy on behalf of foreign investors on a number of substantial inbound investments, including the purchase of hotels and commercial office buildings in New York and Washington DC.

WilmerHale’s Boston-based practice has strength across a range of asset classes, including senior living, retail and life sciences. In 2015, highlights included Sean Boulger advising Benchmark Senior Living on the $360m recapitalization of a nine-property portfolio of senior living communities with a healthcare REIT, and Keith Barnett representing key client Carpenter and Company in relation to the $360m conversion of the World Trade Center in New Orleans into a Four Seasons hotel and condominium. Head of the practice Paul Jakubowski has particular expertise in tenants’ headquarters lease transactions and assisted various clients in this respect, including SharkNinja. In another piece of work, Jakubowski and Katharine Bachman advised Murphy & McManus on the $350m acquisition, leasing and development of a proton therapy center in New York. The practice was further developed by a number of junior hires.

From its offices in New York and Chicago, Winston & Strawn LLP assists purchasers, sellers, developers, borrowers and lenders with the development, financing, acquisition and sale of commercial, industrial and multifamily properties. In New York, Christine Spletzer handles commercial mortgage-backed securitization, while practice head Corey Tessler and Michael Moser focus on commercial real estate finance transactions for lending institutions such as Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland. Christopher Murtaugh is the key contact in Chicago.


Real estate investment trusts (REITs)

Index of tables

  1. Real estate investment trusts (REITs)
  2. Leading lawyers

Regarded as ‘top among the tops’, Clifford Chance covers the entire REIT space, providing depth and breadth as well as ‘outstanding counsel in a timely manner’. Jay Bernstein leads the New York-based team, which advises both issuers and underwriters on tax and corporate matters related to the structuring and restructuring of REITs. The team recently acted as co-adviser to Chambers Street Properties in its merger with Gramercy Property Trust, creating one of the largest industrial and office net lease REITs, with 288 properties and 52m sq ft in major markets throughout the US and Europe. In the area of non-traded REITs, it advised Carey Watermark Investors 2 on its IPO, which was one of the first non-traded REIT offerings to offer more than one class of share, in anticipation of forthcoming FINRA regulatory changes; the ‘terrific and very knowledgeableKathleen Werner led the advice. Recently promoted partner Jake Farquharson is regarded as a ‘great professional’ with an ‘outstanding capability to identify challenges and find solutions’. ‘Tax mastermindRichard Catalano is also recommended. Other clients include National Storage Affiliates Trust, Sutherland Asset Management and Apollo.

The REIT practice at Goodwin Procter LLP is ‘second to none’. The ‘well-oiled, integrated team’ is highly praised for its ‘intimate familiarity with all things REIT related, from tax to business concerns to the underlying real estate’. The team recently assisted Easterly Government Properties with its IPO of 13.8m shares and a private placement of approximately $106m worth of shares to two institutional real estate funds managed by its predecessor. Elsewhere, it represented Macerich in connection with an unsolicited takeover bid by Simon Property Group. The practice is co-led from Boston by Gil Menna (‘hands down the best REIT lawyer in the country’) and Ettore Santucci. The ‘deep bench of talent’ also includes Yoel Kranz in New York and the Boston-based Mark Opper and Neal Sandford. Other clients include VEREIT, Monogram Residential Trust and Paramount Group.

Hogan Lovells US LLP comes highly recommended as ‘one of the very best firms in terms of its REIT practice’. The Washington DC-based team has a longstanding reputation for advising on REIT formation and regulatory compliance, as well as M&A deals involving publicly traded or privately held REITs. Its list of clients includes Equity Commonwealth, Kite Realty Group Trust and Apple Hospitality REIT. In recent highlights, a team led by Warren Gorrell assisted GE in connection with its agreement to sell its $27bn global real estate equity and debt portfolio business to Blackstone and Wells Fargo. Practice co-head David Bonser represented Industrial Income in its $4.6bn merger with Global Logistic Properties. Gorrel and Bonser are also advising Home Properties on its pending merger with Lone Star Funds valued at approximately $7.6bn. Paul Manca and REIT tax expert Prentiss Feagles are also recommended. Carol Weld King is now at Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP.

Latham & Watkins LLP has a sizeable practice in this space, with more than 40 partners and counsel providing specialist REIT-related advice. Chaired from Los Angeles by Michael Brody and Julian Kleindorfer, the team advises a strong portfolio of clients on the full breadth of REIT matters, including formation, the conversion of existing corporations and partnerships into REITs, private and public offerings securities offerings, M&A and real estate transactions, executive compensation structures, and compliance issues. In 2015, the practice was very busy on M&A deals, with highlights including advice to Hudson Pacific Properties in its $3.7bn acquisition of a portfolio of 26 Bay Area properties, and assisting Digital Realty Trust with the $1.8bn acquisition of The Telx Group. The team was reinforced by the recent promotion to partner of San Diego-based Michael Sullivan.

Sidley Austin LLP is well known in the REIT sector and is regularly involved in high-profile capital markets deals for issuers and underwriters. The team has an outstanding portfolio of clients, including Simon Property Group, PennyMac Mortgage Trust, Ventas, Rouse Properties and Health Care REIT (now Welltower). High-profile transactions included assisting Strategic Hotels & Resorts in relation to its all-cash purchase by affiliates of Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII for about $6bn. Other notable mandates included advising Recall on its $2.6bn acquisition by recently converted REIT Iron Mountain, and assisting Aviv REIT with its $3bn acquisition by Omega Healthcare Investors. Edward Petrosky, J Gerard Cummins and Christian Brause lead the practice form the New York office. Bartholomew Sheehan III and James O’Connor, also at the New York office, are noted.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has a strong real estate capacity and is especially active in the REIT area, advising on domestic and cross-border transactions from its offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. ‘Terrific lawyer’ John Rayis in Los Angeles is assisting Darden Restaurants with a strategic plan to separate a portion of its real estate assets through a combination of selected sale and leaseback transactions and the transfer of a portion of its remaining real estate assets to a new independent and publicly traded REIT. Chicago-based David Polster acted for Windstream in a first-of-its-kind tax-free spin-off of select telecoms network assets into Communications Sales and Leasing, creating the first publically traded telecoms REIT. Polster also represented the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation in several matters, including its co-investment with Global Logistic Properties to acquire IndCor Properties (the largest pure-play US industrial REIT) from Blackstone Real Estate Advisors. Other clients include Pinnacle Entertainment, Fortress Investment Group and Lone Star Funds. New York-based David Goldschmidt is also recommended.

DLA Piper LLP (US) is best known for its expertise in the non-traded REIT space, where it represents clients and their sponsors regarding securities, corporate governance, M&A, tax, ERISA, real estate, litigation and other matters. Raleigh-based Robert Bergdolt heads the team and led recent corporate, securities and tax advice to KBS Strategic Opportunity REIT II and Resource Real Estate Opportunity REIT II on their respective private offerings. The team also operates in the publicly traded REIT market, and in one notable example it assisted W.P. Carey with implementing a $400m at-the-market offering program. Minneapolis-based Robert LeDuc is a ‘bright, well-versed and service-minded lawyer’ and is a ‘pleasure to deal with’. Kerry Johnson joined the New York office from Hunton & Williams LLP. New clients include Corporate Capital Trust, Crossroads Capital Group and CNL Healthcare Properties Trust II.

Hunton & Williams LLP’s practice is spread across seven offices in the US and is well regarded for its work in real estate financing and capital markets transactions, in which it represents issuers, underwriters, sponsors and lenders. The team is particularly active in the hospitality sector, and recently acted for Chatham Lodging Trust in the $1.1bn acquisition of a 52-hotel portfolio from Inland American and in its joint venture with NorthStar Realty Finance. Other clients include Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, New York Mortgage Trust and American Residential Properties. Richmond-based George Howell and David Wright are the key contacts. Kerry Johnson is now at DLA Piper LLP (US).

At Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP, Atlanta-based Lauren Prevost and Heath Linsky co-head the practice, which specializes in assisting clients access the capital markets, particularly through REITs. Highlights included representing Nexpoint Multifamily Realty Trust in its $1.1bn IPO, and Griffin-American Healthcare REIT IV in its IPO, valued at $3.15bn. The Atlanta team was boosted by the return of former judge Charles Beaudrot, following several years at the Georgia Tax Tribunal, and the arrival of Amie Singer Piccola from Jones Day. In Washington DC, the team welcomed Carol Weld King from Hogan Lovells US LLP.

The REIT practice at Proskauer Rose LLP assists clients with the evaluation, structuring and execution of real estate securities transactions. In a notable mandate, New York-based Steven Lichtenfeld represented non-listed REIT American Realty Capital Healthcare Trust in its merger with Ventas, while Peter Fass, also in New York, was in charge of American Realty Capital Healthcare Trust II’s $2bn initial ‘best efforts’ public offering. Other clients include Lightstone Value Plus Real Estate Investment Trusts and American Finance Trust. Chicago-based Michael Choate and Leslie Loffman in New York are also noted.

The ‘fierce advocates’ in Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s REIT practice are ‘capable of doing complex deals on tight timelines’. The team is very active in this space and is best known for representing Blackstone, which in 2015 the firm advised in relation to its acquisition, alongside Wells Fargo, of GE Capital Real Estate for roughly $23bn; the highly recommended Gregory Ressa led the advice. The team also advised Glimcher Realty Trust on its acquisition by Washington Prime Group in a stock and cash transaction valued at $4.3bn. Also recommended are Brian Stadler, Erik Quarfordt and Nancy Mehlman, for their ‘sound REIT experience and good deal skills’. All the attorneys are based in New York.

The ‘up-and-coming’ Boston-based practice at Sullivan & Worcester LLPdoes an outstanding job on all fronts’. It excels at representing clients converting to REIT status and is well regarded for its tax expertise. Ameek Ashok Ponda and Harry Ekblom are advising Ovation Acquisition I on the purchase of a utility transmission and distribution business from Energy Future Holdings. In other matters, Equinix retained the team to assist on its REIT conversion and related global restructuring. David Kaplan and William Curry are also recommended. Ashley Brooks was promoted to partner.

Venable LLP is ‘the best Maryland REIT firm in the market’, say clients. The ‘absolutely first-class’ practice is best known for assisting publicly traded an non-traded REITs on matters of Maryland corporate law relating to IPOs, follow-on equity offerings, debt offerings, M&A and other transactions. In a recent matter, the firm acted as Maryland counsel to Macerich in connection with the unsolicited hostile takeover attempt by Simon Property Group, and to InvenTrust Properties in its spin-off of much of its hotel portfolio into Xenia Hotels and Resorts. James Hanks is ‘the dean of the Maryland REIT’, and Sharon Kroupa is ‘knowledgeable and user friendly’. Carmen Fonda and Christopher Pate are also recommended.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz’s practice is ‘exceptionally good at M&A REIT transactions’ and is headed from New York by Adam Emmerich and Robin Panovka. The team advises clients on strategic domestic and cross-border transactions across the real estate, hospitality and gaming sectors. Recent highlights included assisting Sears in the formation of new REIT Seritage Growth Properties, which will enter into a $2.7bn, 235-store sale-leaseback transaction with Sears, and advising Sears on strategic joint ventures with Simon Property Group, General Growth Properties and Macerich. Elsewhere, it advised the special committee of Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust on its merger with Colony American Homes, creating a company that will manage over 30,000 homes. Other clients include Klépierre, Ventas, Gaming and Leisure Properties and Gramercy Property Trust.

The team at Greenberg Traurig, LLP provides advice to clients in the real estate business on capital market transactions, M&A, construction, development, disposition and financing activities. Recently, it assisted SL Green Realty with its $2.25bn acquisition of 11 Madison Avenue. It also acted for Kimco Realty in its acquisition of the remaining 66% interest in the 39-property Kimstone portfolio from its joint venture partner, a subsidiary of Blackstone Real Estate Partners VII; the portfolio consists of 5.6m sq ft of shopping centers and power centers in New York, Virginia, Texas, Florida, California and Maryland. New York-based practice chair Judith Fryer is praised as ‘an institution in the REIT area since its inception’. Other clients include General Growth Properties, Strategic Hotels & Resorts and Raymond James.

The team at Morrison & Foerster LLP has grown thanks to the recent arrival of Lauren Bellerjeau from Hogan Lovells US LLP to the firm’s Washington DC office, which boosts its corporate finance and M&A capabilities. Recent matters include practice chair David Slotkin advising Global Logistic Properties on its $4.55bn acquisition of a US logistics portfolio from Industrial Income Trust, and on its co-investment with Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Private to purchase Blackstone’s US industrial real estate portfolio for $8.1bn. Other clients include Equity Residential, Whitestone REIT and MedEquities.

At Paul Hastings LLP, the practice is best known for representing issuers, underwriters and investors in public and private debt and equity offerings, with focus on REITs. Recent work includes assisting longstanding client Strategic Hotels & Resorts with its acquisition of the 49% interest in JW Marriott Essex House Hotel previously held by affiliates of KSL Capital Partners. Its expertise in the Latin American REIT market is evidenced by its representation of FHipo, the first Mexican mortgage REIT, in its $633m IPO. Michael Fitzgerald and Arturo Carrillo are the key contacts for Latin America work, and Michael Zuppone is the overall head of the practice; all are based in New York.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP assist clients with the formation, funding and operation of REITs and other real estate investment entities, and is well regarded for its expertise in relation to DownREITs. Key clients include Boston Properties, Lowe Enterprises and Federal Realty Investment Trust. Robert Robbins and Jeffrey Grill in the Washington DC office are the names to note.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has broad experience representing issuers and underwriters in public and private REIT securities offerings, including IPOs, secondary and follow-on offerings, and debt offerings. Recent work includes advising MGM Resorts on the formation of a controlled REIT, MGM Growth Properties, and the implementation of a master lease structure. Elsewhere, it advised the board of directors of Sears in a REIT spin-off to form Seritage Growth Properties. Michael Bond and Philip Rosen in New York are the key names. Other clients include KTR Capital Partners, Iron Mountain and Herald Square Properties.


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