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United States > Real estate and construction > Land use/zoning > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


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.

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