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Sullivan & Worcester LLP

1633 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, NY 10019-6708, USA
Work +1 212 660 3000
Fax +1 212 660 3001
Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Joseph Philip Forte, New York, USA

Lawyer rankings

Joseph Philip Forte

Work (212) 660-3077
Sullivan & Worcester LLP

Work Department

Real Estate


Joseph Philip Forte is a partner and Chair of the New York Real Estate department. Mr. Forte has substantial experience in commercial real estate, capital markets and finance, with a particular emphasis on the origination, structuring, workout and enforcement of commercial mortgage loans. His experience includes permanent, bridge and construction mortgage lending; mezzanine finance; pari passu and subordinate debt; co-lending and participation agreements; loan sales and purchases; loan workouts, foreclosures and restructurings; and environmental risk management for lenders. He regularly advises lenders and investors on mortgage banking, doing business licensing, usury, federal preemption and investment authority, as well as secondary mortgage and capital markets issues.

He has been at the forefront of many major innovations in the real estate finance industry for over four decades. He was involved in the early development of the secondary and securitization markets for residential, multifamily and commercial mortgages and, in 1988, he developed the program and loan documents for the first commercial mortgage loan conduit and other early standardized conduit programs, loan documents and flow purchase programs.

Joe also represents traditional portfolio lenders as well as special servicers in CMBS transactions, whether as stand-alone transactions or in complicated capital stacks involving senior mortgage debt, subordinate B-notes or mezzanine debt with intercreditor, participation and co-lender arrangements. His workout experience began with the failure of the early mortgage REITs in the mid-‘70s; the interest rate spike and disintermediation crisis in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s; the partnership syndication crisis subsequent to the adoption of the Tax Reform Act of 1986; the savings and loan crisis and the RTC workouts in the early ‘90s; the market disruption after the Asian Flu crisis in August 1998 through the most recent financial crisis over the last decade. He has dealt with a wide array of disparate issues in resolving problem loans with the support of experienced partners in litigation, bankruptcy, corporate banking and tax practices.

In addition, Joe has advised FNMA and FHLMC on a variety of issues. He has also represented the nation’s commercial real estate finance industry in the development of the ASTM’s original environmental risk assessment standards; with others in the adoption of the 1994 Bankruptcy Code amendments; as principal draftsman of the Capital Consortium’s Capital Markets Ratable Mortgage form; and in defeating the American Land Title Association’s original creditors’ rights exception to its title insurance policies across the U.S. He was also involved in obtaining the New York state tax authorities’ acceptance of CMBS defeasance and the use of consolidated mortgage notes in commercial mortgage transactions in New York; in the drafting of a standard co-lending agreement for the Life Insurance Company Task Force of the Mortgage Bankers Association; as amicus curia in the GGP and ESH bankruptcies; as a draftsman in the CMBS industry effort to establish standard mandatory nonbinding mediation procedures governing mortgage putbacks for representation and warranty breaches in CMBS transactions; and as co-chair of the Real Estate Roundtable High Volatility Commercial Real Estate (HBCRE) Working Group developing regulatory/legislative clarification of the HBCRE Rule as it affects construction lending


New York, 1974
Chambers USA, Ranked in Real Estate: Finance (New York) (2018)


Founder and publisher, CRE Finance World Magazine (1999 - present)
Contributing Editor, Getting the Deal Through, published by Real Estate Law Business Research (2014 - present)
Chair, Anglo-American Real Property Institute, 2015 (member 1993 - present)
Former member of Board of Governors, American College of Real Estate Lawyers (Fellow 1988 - present)
Former chair Capital Markets Committee, American College of Mortgage Attorneys (member 1994 - present)
President, Commercial Real Estate Finance Council (formerly known as CMSA) (1998-1999) (founding member and member of Board of Governors (1994 - 2004))
Former member of MBA Commercial Board of Governors, 1989 - 1998, and Board of Directors (1998-1999) (member 1985 - present)
Co-Chair, ASTM, Environmental Assessment of Commercial Real Estate Transactions Subcommittee Legal Sector
Served as chair/vice chair of several substantive committees of Bar and Industry Associations, as well as ACREL and ACMA


J.D., St. John's University School of Law, cum laude, 1973
B.A., St. Francis College, magna cum laude, 1969

United States

Real estate

Within: Real estate

Sullivan & Worcester LLP advises on acquisitions and sales, development, environmental issues, financing, leasing, REIT matters and workouts, while Opportunity Zones - a recent initiative to encourage investment in underdeveloped areas - are a new area of focus for the firm. John Balboni represented Equity Resource Investments on several private equity joint venture transactions with an aggregate value of more than $100m. Ashley Brooks advised Cronin Development on the development, financing and management of the construction of a $500m luxury condominium and two-story restaurant in Boston. Adam Weisenberg is also recommended alongside New York-based real estate finance chair Joseph Philip Forte. The firm took on three partners from Murtha Cullina LLP's affordable housing group - Karen Kepler, John Gahan III and Deirdre Robinson - while Eric Lemont left for an in-house role at a national developer. All named attorneys are based in Boston.

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