Legal Marketplace Analysis

This year we identify 714 practitioners from 375 firms in 41 countries who are considered leading experts in real estate law. Several firms stand out in our research due to the high number of inclusions they receive, with DLA Piper leading the way. The firm has 26 lawyers recognised across 17 offices throughout Europe, Asia-Pacific and the US. Clifford Chance performs strongly with 14 individuals singled out. The firm is also home to three of our most highly regarded individuals in the EMEA region. Berwin Leighton Paisner is another heavyweight in this area and is represented by 10 lawyers, five of whom hail from the London office. Following closely behind, Ballard Spahr, Linklaters and Herbert Smith Freehills all perform impressively this year with nine lawyers apiece.

We also identify the most highly regarded individuals in the world in three different sections: the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. 

 

Who's Who Legal: Real Estate 2014
Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Lawyer Firm
The Americas
Joshua Stein Joshua Stein, New York
Jonathan Mechanic Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, New York
Ira Waldman Cox Castle & Nicholson, Los Angeles
Steven Horowitz Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, New York
Richard Fries Sidley Austin, New York
Robert Ivanhoe Greenberg Traurig, New York
Michael Meyer DLA Piper, Los Angeles
Dean Pappas Goodwin Procter, Los Angeles
Jay Neveloff Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, New York
Carlos Azia Creel García-Cuéllar Aiza y Enríquez, Mexico City
 
EMEA
Klaus Minuth Clifford Chance, Frankfurt
Kevin Stimpson Nabarro, London
Joe Conder Goodwin Procter, London
Jonathan Solomon Clifford Chance, London
Pierre Popesco Herbert Smith Freehills, Paris
Christian Keilich Clifford Chance, Frankfurt
Stephen O'Riordan A&L Goodbody, Dublin
Yves Delacroix Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick, Brussels
Mohammed Kamal Berwin Leighton Paisner, Dubai
 
Asia-Pacific
Hardeep Sachdeva AZB & Partners, New Delhi
Stuart Dixon-Smith King & Wood Mallesons, Sydney
Les Koltai DLA Piper, Sydney
Julie Couch Herbert Smith Freehills, Sydney

DLA Piper once again leads our research in this field, achieving an impressive total of 26 listings from 17 of its offices across Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the US. In California, Michael Meyer is the co-managing partner of the Los Angeles area offices and is hailed for his knowledge of fair market rental rates and is involved in arbitrations on the matter. He is joined by Michael Hamilton, who focuses on real estate finance and transactions and is “simply top notch”. Stephen Cowan in San Francisco specialises in real estate finance, real estate fund formations and bankruptcy/workouts. Peers attest to his “strong command of the law”. A trio of lawyers represent the firm’s New York office including Martin Polevoy, a “dean of the real estate bar” who is known for his broad range of expertise in the real estate field. Joseph Philip Forte is also renowned for his work in this sector, receiving particular praise for his real estate finance experience. The Washington, DC office also garners three inclusions including the “distinguished” Jay Epstien, chair of the US real estate practice and co-chair of the global real estate practice. Epstien is a “key name” in the sector praised by peers and clients alike for his “unrivalled expertise”. Philip Weller in Dallas is a “star” in the Texas market known for his expertise in relation to real estate acquisitions, dispositions, development, finance and private equity transactions. The Chicago office is home to four “superb” individuals including chair of the land use, development and government relations practice Theodore Novak. Sydney-based Les Koltai is heavily involved in real estate and real estate funds management transactions; he heads the firm’s Australian real estate practice. Susheela Rivers is head of real estate for the Asia-Pacific region. Based in Hong Kong her practice covers acquisitions and disposals, financings, developments, leases, hotels and private funding initiatives. She is described as a “trailblazer” in the region. In Milan, Olaf Schmidt is the EMEA real estate group head and a “sensational” lawyer with experience in real estate investments.

Fourteen individuals represent Clifford Chance in this edition, three of whom are mentioned in our most highly regarded individuals section. The Frankfurt office is home to three “dedicated professionals” including Klaus Minuth, a “specialist” in large-scale portfolio transactions, commercial leases and real estate financings, and Christian Keilich, who advises on real estate financings and securitisations, as well as development projects. The London office is similarly well represented with head of the London real estate practice Jonathan Solomon garnering praise for his “astute legal mind” and expertise in joint ventures and developments. Head of the Brussels real estate team Henri d’Ursel has a broad real estate practice covering transactions and developments in domestic and international markets, while Emil Holub heads the real estate team in Prague and has played a major role in many of the large-scale transactions to have taken place in the Czech Republic in the last decade. As chairman of the firm’s real estate practice in the Americas, Douglas Wisner represents investment banks, commercial banks, joint ventures and funds in capital markets and leveraged bank transactions, as well as in the workout and restructuring of distressed real estate.

Berwin Leighton Paisner is represented by 10 lawyers, five of whom are based in the firm’s London office where head of real estate Chris de Pury resides. He acts on purchases and restructurings, as well as large developments in the UK and overseas, and is noted for his experience in relation to fund formation and joint ventures. James Knox is recommended for his “wealth of expertise” in the sector, having advised on significant large-scale real estate deals in the UK and coordinated transactions in over 15 European countries. Robert MacGregor is executive chairman of the firm and a “specialist” in real estate development, joint ventures, investments and pre-letting transactions. Managing partner of the German offices Roland Fabian focuses on cross-border real estate transactions and is highly knowledgeable on German investment and tax law. In Dubai, office head Mohammed Kamal is a “trusted adviser” who acts for leading institutions in the MENA region.

Nine practitioners are selected for inclusion at Ballard Spahr. The Philadelphia office is best represented with four listings, including Philip Korb who specialises in real estate development, acquisitions, financings, taxation, workouts and leasing. David Pollack is well known for his work in relation to shopping centres and commercial leasing. He is a “firm favourite” among clients. Beverly Quail in Denver is a specialist in real estate financing and development. Her representative experience includes representing a large life insurance company in the workout of loans secured by 10 buildings at Westmoor Technology Park, Jefferson County in Colorado. Gary York concentrates on major real estate finance matters and is a “very fine lawyer” according to his peers.

Linklaters is also represented by nine lawyers from across its offices in Europe and Asia. Two hail from the firm’s Brussels office: Yves Moreau and Jacques Périlleux. Moreau is praised for his “diligent” approach to clients’ matters and his significant expertise in real estate financing and development. He also handles capital market transactions relating to companies active in real estate. Stockholm-based Magnus Lidman has an “impressive track record to his name”. His transactional experience includes advising Commerz Real on its 4.35 billion kronor divestment of the office, shopping and residential property Klara Zenit in central Stockholm to Vasakronan – Stockholm’s largest ever single property transaction. Simon Clark is an experienced practitioner in London who currently serves as head of European real estate. He is particularly well known for advising on the UK taxation of real estate transactions and investment structuring. Françoise Maigrot heads the real estate team in Paris and is a “trusted adviser” to clients.

Herbert Smith Freehills garners nine listings, with its strongest contingent of five lawyers from its London office. Ian Cox is hailed as a “rainmaker” at the firm. He advises clients on their investments in the UK property market and his experience includes advising Moorfield Real Estate Fund on its £400 million-plus acquisition of 24 hotels from Macdonald Hotels. Alongside him, Richard Forsdyke has a “very active” practice advising on property development and represented London and Continental Railways on the King’s Cross Central and Stratford City urban regeneration projects. Sydney-based Julie Couch specialises in the leasing, development, sale and acquisition of commercial, retail and industrial properties, while Michael Back, head of the Brisbane office, has been involved in a number of key property floats. He is held in high esteem by peers for his knowledge of the environmental aspects of projects. Pierre Popesco in Paris is also deserving of mention; he assists corporate investors and property developers in France and abroad.

At Goodwin Procter, Dean Pappas is hailed as a “leading expert” in the field of real estate capital markets. Based in Los Angeles, he is described as “incredibly smart”. Joe Conder in London is also highly recommended. He has significant experience representing ultra-high net worth managers, sovereign wealth funds and open-ended funds investing in UK real estate. Three additional lawyers at the firm are also listed.

Seven Mayer Brown individuals feature, representing six of its offices in Europe, the US and Asia. Standouts include London-based partners Martin Wright and Jeremy Clay. Wright heads the real estate team in Europe and is described as a “sophisticated operator” who is “highly deserving of his reputation in the field”. Hans Hofmann in Frankfurt advises on acquisitions, leasing arrangements, financings and restructurings; sources declare him a “great strategist”. Keith Willner in Washington, DC is one of the firm’s practice leaders of the real estate group. He is noted for his work on complex structuring issues.

Paul Hastings garners seven listings in this edition. A trio of individuals are recommended in the New York office. Martin Edelman has more than 30 years’ experience in the sector and focuses on large, complex transactions. Eric Landau specialises in development work and is outside general counsel for Millennium Partners, a national real estate development firm based in New York City. Robert Wertheimer represents entrepreneurial investors, prominent individuals and families and institutional and investment fund clients. He is “a pleasure to work with” according to peers. Chair of the global real estate practice Philip Feder is based in the firm’s Los Angeles office. He has extensive experience representing US-based investors in transactions in Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East.

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher fields seven lawyers to this edition. Dennis Arnold in Los Angeles is a “commercially oriented and effective” lawyer who has experience in real estate finance, workouts, bankruptcies and restructurings. Jesse Sharf co-chairs the firm’s real estate department and is known for his broad practice representing investors, lenders and developers in all areas of real estate. Amy Forbes specialises in land use planning issues and is “in high demand”. Andrew Lance in New York co-heads the firm’s real estate practice group’s hotel and hospitality practice. He is “sensational” according to peers who praise his vast experience.

At Baker & McKenzie, seven lawyers are highly recommended. In Brussels, Rudy Dupont and Dominique Lechien are noted for their expertise in this sector, with the former garnering praise for his “ability to combine technical expertise with commercial solutions”. The Zurich office is also represented by two lawyers, Martin Furrer and Alexander Wyss, who co-head the real estate transaction group at the office. 

Dentons also garners seven listings. Chairman of the European real estate group Paweł De˛bowski in Warsaw is a “key name” in the marketplace with “unsurpassed experience” in the office and retail sectors. Chicago-based Mark Mehlman concentrates his broad real estate practice on financing, workouts, development and joint venture relationships. Florian Schneider, managing partner of the Moscow office, is also recommended. His experience includes advising UFG Real Estate on the acquisition of a 5,078 square metre office building in the centre of Moscow.

Seven individuals are recommended at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Johannes Conradi heads the global real estate practice group and is based in Hamburg. He focuses on real estate transactions, project developments and real estate finance. At the same office, Niko Schultz-Süchting specialises in real estate transactions and is a “top talent” in the field. Friedrich Heilmann in Frankfurt is noted for his “strong negotiation skills”. He represents national and international corporations and investors, financial institutions and property developers. Mark Wheelhouse in London is described as “user-friendly”. He advises on complex, large-scale real estate developments and investments, as well as joint ventures. He is noted for his “pragmatic solutions”.

 

The Americas

Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson is represented by an “exceptional” group of six lawyers, five of whom are based in New York. Chairman of the real estate department Jonathan Mechanic garners particular praise for his “top-notch” abilities in the sector; he is one of the most highly regarded individuals in our research. Clients benefit from his “insightful advice” and experience garnered from previously serving as general counsel of a real estate development organisation. Joshua Mermelstein is a “sophisticated” practitioner specialising in financings, joint ventures, acquisitions and dispositions, development and fund formations. He also has experience in out-of-court loan restructurings and workouts, particularly in relation to office buildings, assisted living facilities and hotels. Robert Sorin is an “impressive” lawyer whose works spans real estate transactions, joint ventures, financing, developments and restructurings. Clients praise his “strong technical skills”. Stephen Lefkowitz is admired for his expertise in real estate development. His practice emphasises land use, zoning and structuring large-scale projects.

At Greenberg Traurig, six individuals are highly recommended. Robert Ivanhoe is “sensational” according to peers and clients alike who praise his “commercial acumen” and “ability to think outside of the box”. He serves as the firm’s chair of the global real estate practice and is also co-chair of the REIT group. He is joined in the New York office by Stephen Rabinowitz, who has experience in all classes of commercial properties including office, hotel, multi-family and condominium. He is particularly noted for his work in relation to joint ventures. Steven Fleissig is based in New Jersey and he advises real estate owners on purchase, sale, leasing and financing matters, and lending institutions in real estate and asset-based financing transactions, restructurings and workouts.

Six lawyers are also selected from Blake Cassels & Graydon. In Toronto, John Hutmacher recently advised on the real estate aspects of H&R REIT’s C$2.75 billion acquisition of Primaris Retail REIT and agreement to sell portfolio of 18 Primaris properties to a consortium led by KingSett Capital for C$1.28 billion. Alongside him, Silvana D’Alimonte has vast experience in commercial real estate transactions and is known for her “high-quality and timely advice”. Richard Dawson in Calgary is also highly recommended for his experience in major development projects including land assemblies, build-to-suit arrangements, subdivisions and major tenant leases.

McCarthy Tétrault garners five listings across its offices in Canada. Abraham Costin in Toronto specialises in leasing, acquisitions, development and financing and is hailed as a “smart and effective” lawyer. Danny Grandilli represents a significant number of pension funds in acquisitions, dispositions and joint ventures. Montreal-based James Papadimitriou is the leader of the real property and planning group for the Quebec region. He is “internationally renowned” for his experience in the field and maintains a “very active” practice.

California-based firm Cox Castle & Nicholson is represented by five “leading lights” in the sector. Ira Waldman is a “world-class” lawyer who receives praise for his “sensational” real estate practice. He advises on real estate finance and public-private partnerships and is “unrivalled” according to peers. Founder and emeritus partner Phillip Nicholson is a “veteran of the real estate bar” whose knowledge is “highly valued”. Adam Weissburg chairs the capital markets team and specialises in real estate finance.

Sidley Austin garners four listings including recent hire Richard Fries, a “globally renowned” lawyer. Fries specialises in real estate financing transactions representing national and global institutional lenders, investment banks and private equity firms. Clients “cannot praise him highly enough; an incredible lawyer”. Alan Weil heads the New York real estate group and is an “effective negotiator”. 

At Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, three individuals stand out. The “esteemed” Steven Horowitz focuses on real estate finance and investment transactions and has experience throughout the US, Asia, Latin America and Europe. Michael Weinberger is “superb” with particular experience in workouts, restructurings and commercial mortgage securitisations, while Steven Wilner is a “distinguished” real estate practitioner.

At Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, Jay Neveloff concentrates his practice on the development, operation and financing of real estate projects. He has represented Starwood Hotels in the sale of several hotels including the Sheraton Manhattan as well as the retail portion of the St Regis Hotel in Manhattan. He is joined by Paul Selver, co-chair of the firm’s land use department.

At his own firm in New York City, Joshua Stein is widely regarded as an “authority” on real estate financing, leases, development, workouts, acquisitions and loan modifications.

Carlos Aiza at Creel García-Cuéllar Aiza y Enríquez in Mexico City has a “sterling reputation” for his real estate finance work and has been involved in some of the most innovative transactions in Mexican history.

 

EMEA

Five lawyers are recommended at A&L Goodbody in Dublin. Stephen O’Riordan represents a significant number of clients in the leisure and retail sector on “end user” development and leasing transactions and is “always at hand” to assist according to clients. Niamh O’Sullivan specialises in pre-funding developments, property-based syndicated finance and site acquisitions and disposals; she is “first class”, say sources. Tom O’Connor is praised for his extensive experience in the field and is a “trusted source of advice”.

Nabarro is represented by four lawyers including Kevin Stimpson, a real estate “guru” specialising in investment, development and financing projects. Deborah Parry also earns high praise for her “client-focused approach” and experience in inward investment into the UK.

De Pardieu Brocas Maffei in Paris is home to five “first-rate” lawyers including Emmanuel Fatôme, a specialist in real estate and real estate finance.

At Gide Loyrette Nouel, Frédéric Nouel in Paris is a “high-profile” lawyer in the market who has advised on deals for the French state, La Poste, Goldman Sachs and Casino, to name a few. Two further practitioners are recommended in the Paris office alongside Hugues Moreau in Warsaw who has a broad real estate practice encompassing financing, disputes, leases, development and property management.

At Loyens & Loeff, head of the real estate practice group in Belgium Christophe Laurent is a “tough negotiator” who is “highly valued” by his clients. In Amsterdam, Bram Linnartz advises on commercial property transactions, financing, joint ventures, development, open and closed-end real estate funds and real estate M&A. Wilfred Groen and Hamith Breedveld in the Netherlands are also recommended.

At Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick in Brussels, head of the real estate practice Yves Delacroix is noted for his “vast experience” in transactions. He acts for many domestic and international investors, developers, corporate users and retailers.

 

Asia-Pacific

King & Wood Mallesons is represented by four individuals. Stuart Dixon-Smith in Sydney receives numerous recommendations in our research for his “astute legal mind” and “creative approach to finding solutions”. He specialises in property development and finance. Chris Mitchell is known for his work in relation to property development while Andrew Erikson in Melbourne advises on property development, investment, joint ventures, trusts, leasing and management. Harry Du in Beijing participates in the development, construction, management, leasing and financing of high-profile real estate projects. 

At Clayton Utz, Gary Best enjoys a “high-profile reputation” for his work in the real estate sector advising financiers, developers, investors, public sector bodies and financial packagers. Julie Levis is also recommended, she is praised for her “excellent client service” and “attention to detail”.

Three names are singled out at Allen & Gledhill in Singapore, including Penny Goh, head of the corporate real estate practice. She has advised on projects including the Marina Bay Financial Centre in Singapore and on regional acquisitions and investments in Japan, Indonesia and China.

Anand Desai is the managing partner at DSK Legal and is strongly recommended for his real estate development and financing expertise. He is joined by Sajit Suvarna, an “expert” on real estate law.

Luthra & Luthra is represented by Amaresh Singh, a “star” in the Indian legal market, and Mohit Saraf, who is recommended for his experience in real estate investment.

Hardeep Sachdeva is a partner at AZB & Partners in New Delhi where he specialises in real estate investments. He is described as “dedicated, client-oriented and simply top notch”.

 

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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