Construction & Real Estate

The following law firms boast an excellent team of leading lawyers, who are recognised for the high quality of their advice on complex transactional and contentious matters. This includes expertise relating to national and cross-border real estate issues, as well as counsel to owners, contractors and subcontractors in both contentious and non-contentious construction matters. 


1 Pinsent Masons

2 Peckar & Abramsom

3 DLA Piper

4 Jones Day

5 Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

6 Herbert Smith Freehills

7 Carlton Fields Jorden Burt

8 Hogan Lovells

9 Ballard Spahr

10 Farella Braun + Martel

11 Bradley Arant Boult Cummings

12 White & Case

13 Clayton Utz

14 Clyde & Co

15 Conner Gwyn Schenck

16 Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz

17 Norton Rose Fulbright

18 Dentons

19 Clifford Chance

20 Cox Castle & Nicholson

Pinsent Masons is awarded the accolade of Construction Law Firm of the Year for the 10th time, cementing its position as “the world’s best provider of construction law services”. The firm recently worked on Redefine International’s conversion to a REIT and its reverse take-over of Wichford, including its £1 billion in property assets. It also previously acted in the City Inn v Shepherd dispute regarding construction completion date extensions, a landmark case on the subject. Pinsent Masons’ “spectacular expertise” in the sector is likely to see the firm maintain its position “at the top of the market” for years to come.

The firm’s Asian offering is particularly strong and marks the firm out from its competitors in the market. Head of the Beijing office John Bishop’s expertise spans transport, power, oil and gas and general construction and engineering projects in the UK and the Far East. His “encyclopaedic knowledge” and “international outlook” ensures he is “the first port of call” for many clients.

In Singapore, Mohan Pillay has almost 30 years of experience in commercial litigation and regional arbitration work, particularly in disputes relating to construction and engineering projects. His experience as lead counsel before the High Court and Court of Appeal in Singapore make him a “leading name” in the field. Alongside him, Jon Howes has “significant and impressive experience” across dispute resolution in the construction and engineering sectors, with his “strategic approach” lauded by clients.

Dean Lewis from the Hong Kong office has advised on the construction aspects of projects in almost all South East Asian countries, and has a particular speciality in contentious issues.

In the UAE, Michelle Nelson advises clients ranging from employers, consultants, contractors and subcontractors on contentious construction matters.

The firm also has a strong showing in the UK. Fraser McMillan is head of construction advisory and disputes and regularly works in both the English and Scottish courts on a range of engineering and construction project contentious issues. His “focused approach” and “bespoke solutions” have seen him gain “legendary” status in the market. Mark Roe is head of international arbitration and specialises in disputes resulting from construction in the energy sector. He offers “intelligent and well-considered advice” and someone that clients “would always recommend”. The “unrivalled” Brandon Nolan advises on all aspects of construction law including contract drafting, consultancy, advisory and disputes work in the engineering, and oil and gas sectors. Martin Harman CBE has almost 40 years of experience advising contractors, owners and consultants on major infrastructure projects, both nationally and internationally. His “wide-ranging experience” has led to his reputation as a “construction law guru” and a “dean of the bar”.

Ewan Alexander is recognised from the firm for his real estate work. Head of the firm’s Edinburgh office, he has particular experience in house building, development, investment and leisure related work and is a “extremely knowledgable”.

Peckar & Abramson boasts an “undisputed reputation for excellence” in construction law. With offices in 10 major metropolitan areas across the US, the boutique firm has enjoyed a leading position in the market for over 30 years. The firm prides itself on having one of the largest and most experienced construction practices in the US. Almost 90 lawyers specialise in the sector, impressing with their “detailed understanding of the sector’s nuances”.

Adrian Bastianelli III is the recipient of our Construction Lawyer of the Year award for the second time. He is a “true star of the bar” and focuses his expertise on construction claims and litigation, with a particular emphasis on government construction contracts. His “technical abilities” and “business-oriented approach” ensure he is “in high demand”. Robert Peckar is a founding partner of the firm and a “long-serving member of the construction bar” in the US. His “unsurpassed experience” and “leading reputation” distinguish him as an “all-time great” in the market. Steven Charney is chairman of the firm and receives praise for his “sharp mind” and “impressive record in the field”. Jerry Brodsky specialises in multicultural domestic or cross-border construction transactions and disputes and his “international expertise” is commended throughout our research. Michael Branca is a “force to be reckoned with” and a “quick thinker”, who is described as “very user-friendly”.

This year’s Real Estate Firm of the Year for an outstanding 12th consecutive time is DLA Piper. The firm is a “dominant force” at the top end of the market and draws on the expertise of over 500 lawyers. The firm has recently advised an affiliate of Shanghai-based Greenland Group in forming a joint venture with Forest City Ratner to complete the development of the US$5 billion Atlantic Yards project in New York. It has also worked with Tesco on all of its real estate structuring, investment, acquisition and development transactions in the People’s Republic of China, with this experience highlighting the firm’s true international reach.

Across the US the firm boasts some of the “leading talent” in the market. Jay Epstien “expertly represents” local and national owners, developers and users in all aspects of real estate transactions involving urban office buildings, shopping centres and multifamily residential projects. Martin Polevoy has a broad practice covering real estate acquisitions and dispositions, development, leasing, financing, joint ventures, construction contracts. His “ability to get to the heart of an issue” is highly commended and he is a “distinguished player” according to peers. Stephen Cowan is a “top name” in real estate fund formations and is “always willing to go the extra mile for clients”.

The “exceptional” Philip Weller is head of the firm’s Texas real estate practice while Michael Meyer has a “stellar reputation” in the field for his work on major lease transactions.

The firm also has a strong showing across its European offices. Olaf Schmidt in Milan is the EMEA real estate group head, with “strong experience” advising national and international investors and developers in all aspects of real estate law, including investment and tax law. In Paris, Antonia Raccat is a “pre-eminent real estate expert” and “highly responsive” according to clients. Madrid-based Orson Alcocer advises Spanish and international clients on all aspects of real estate investments, development, funding and construction and is “famed” for his “forensic approach”.

Jones Day has an “impressive reputation” in the real estate and construction markets, boasting some of the leading names in the field among its ranks. Recent work includes representing Verizon in the leasing of over 11,300 wireless towers to American Tower in a deal worth US$5 billion, and representing Georgia Power Company and other owners of the Vogtle Units 3 and 4 Project in Waynesboro in a three-year litigation concerning more than $1.5 billion in alleged cost overruns.

Andrew Ness assists owners and contractors with troubled projects, assisting clients with complex construction and design-related problems. His “dedication to clients’ needs” and “thorough approach” makes him a “leading choice” for many. David Buoncristiani has almost 40 years of commercial litigation experience in the construction industry, and is “greatly respected” by peers.

David Smith in London is recognised for his work in the real estate sector. His practice focuses on complex investment and development real estate transactions, often involving detailed tax or corporate structuring, and he is a “bona fide expert” according to clients. He recently advised the REPIA division of Goldman Sachs in connection with the formation of a $2 billion student housing business to be known as the Vero Group. He is joined by David Roberts, whose work in commercial property investment and development is “truly exceptional”; he has previously advised LondonMetric property on the sale of its WHSmith distribution warehouse in Birmingham.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman represents a broad range of clients across the real estate and construction industries, offering advisory and dispute resolution services. The firm’s commitment to offering clients “innovative solutions” to problems is widely recognised and commended. Recently the firm has been involved in the $5 billion Panama Canal expansion project and a range of energy based projects with its international team impressing clients throughout.

John Heisse is a “phenomenal talent” in the construction market. With his “wide-ranging experience” from initial planning through to dispute resolution, he is described by a client as “one of the best lawyers I’ve worked with”. With over 30 years of experience in the sector, Michael Evan Jaffe focuses on dispute resolution both internationally and domestically in court and arbitration proceedings. His “reasoned approach” and “excellent attention to detail” are praised by clients. David Dekker specialises in civil litigation and dispute resolution in construction matters, and is a “consummate professional”. David Miller is recommended for his work in the real estate sector, handling purchases, sales, and leases of assets. He is lauded for his “intricate knowledge” of the sector.

Herbert Smith Freehills is a truly international firm, with 24 offices spanning Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Australia. It boasts a “proven track record” in the construction and real estate markets, with its integrated international teams supporting one another to provide clients with the strongest advice. The firm has recently worked on the multibillion-pound redevelopment of Earls Court and Olympia in London, and the construction of a 678-kilometre gas pipeline for the transportation of gas from Nigeria to Benin, Togo and Ghana.

Craig Shepherd advises on all forms of dispute resolution, and represents clients in domestic and international arbitrations arising out of international commercial transactions. His “dedication to clients’ matters” and “creative solutions” are cited as his distinguishing qualities. Mark Lloyd-Williams has over 30 years' experience in construction law, and previously headed the Herbert Smith construction and arbitration practices in Asia before joining the London office. With his “impressive roster of clients” and “great flair” he is a “go-to name” in the market.

Pierre Popesco in Paris advises on all aspects of real estate law and offers clients a “high quality service”. Richard Forsdyke is experienced in all aspects of property finance, investment and development projects and clients value his “finely tuned skills”.

With an “impressive” national and international reach, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt is one of the leading firms on the global construction and real estate stage. The firm has a “strong reputation” in litigation, with over 100 practitioners representing clients in both national and international disputes, and spreads its experience across 10 US-based offices.

The “very versatile” George Meyer is a construction and real estate lawyer, with extensive experience representing clients on large, complex development projects, including transactional work. Patricia Thompson specialises in complex commercial construction disputes, acting in front of state and federal courts and in arbitration, with her “ability to get the judge to see things her way” lauded by clients. Roger Dean Schwenke is a “great problem-solver” whose expertise in the real estate market has earned him a reputation as a “trusted adviser” to clients.

Hogan Lovells is a “global heavyweight” in the construction and real estate markets, offering “top-drawer” legal advice to clients around the world. The firm has advised on a range of complex high-value deals including advising M&G Real Estate on the acquisition of €175 million of Madrid office space and assisting Nevskaya Medicinskaya Infrastruktura with a €240 million PPP project with the City of St Petersburg.

Tony Marshall has 30 years' experience advising on all manner of contractual documents required in the procurement of construction and infrastructure projects. He boasts “unrivalled efficiency” and is “very responsive” to client needs. Gillian Thomas advises on the procurement of domestic and international construction and engineering projects, and is a “key player” in the field.

Timothy Hill is head of the projects (engineering and construction) group in Asia, where he “expertly assists clients” with both advisory and dispute matters. Roland Bomhard specialises in real estate transactions, project developments and real estate financing, while Dion Panambalana advises on complex property joint ventures and major corporate relocations.

Ballard Spahr boasts a “stellar” real estate practice, with lawyers across the US advising clients on acquisition, financing, leasing, sale and restructuring transactions. The firm also has specialist litigation, complex transaction and finance practices at its disposal ensuring the firm is able to provide the full complement of services to its real estate clients. Ballard Spahr boasts over 120 real estate specialists, and has recently been involved in the Comcast Innovation and Technology Centre, a $1.2 billion 59-story skyscraper in Philadelphia.  

Beverly Quail concentrates on all aspects of real estate matters, with an emphasis on financing and development. Her “no-nonsense approach” and “quick thinking” are praised by clients. Roger Winston leads the firm’s mixed-use development and condominium team, representing developers, investors, and lenders in a variety of matters. Gary York is “outstanding” on major real estate finance, banking, and creditors' rights matters. David Pollack focuses on matters relating to shopping centres, with an emphasis in the areas of commercial leasing and the national representation of landlords in retail bankruptcy matters.

Farella Braun + Martel boasts a “fantastic” construction practice, with “vast and varied experience” working with clients ranging from public and private owners to contractors, suppliers and design professionals across the US and internationally. The firm represents clients including BP Solar International, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Coca-Cola and Visa and is “the first port of call” for many more.

Deborah Ballati has a broad civil and commercial litigation practice with an emphasis on construction and insurance coverage. Her “ability to make complex matters seem simple” is commended by clients throughout our research. Charles Sink has over 35 years of commercial litigation experience, largely involving construction or energy claims, and is noted for his “insightful solutions”. Alan Harris litigates complex construction cases with over 30 years of experience in the field, and is a “very effective” advocate.

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings has expertise across both the construction and real estate markets, with “leading practitioners” listed for each. Its members have decades of experience representing clients around the world on matters including contract negotiation, financing and dispute resolution.

Mabry Rogers is a “construction law guru” whose “deep understanding” and “true passion” for the field see him consistently lauded by clients. Douglas Patin has an extensive government contracts practice with a strong focus on construction projects. He is “greatly respected” by peers and is “someone you can rely on when the pressure is on”. Ann Peldo Cargile represents parties in all aspects of commercial real estate including leasing, finance and joint ventures, and is praised for her “commercial approach”.

White & Case is a global firm with 39 offices spanning the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia with 57 specialised construction practitioners offering clients “bespoke and leading advice”. Representative work includes working on the development and project finance of the €9 billion Nord Stream Baltic pipeline and advising Labregah Real Estate Company on the approximately US$2.07 billion acquisition by Labregah of Barwa City.

The “widely renowned” Christopher Seppälä is an international commercial arbitration practitioner, specialising in international construction claims and disputes relating to large, complex civil engineering, industrial and building projects. He has recently acted as lead counsel to a consortium of major European contractors in a London-based arbitration relating to the construction of one of the largest privately funded infrastructure projects in Europe. Phillip Capper is head of international arbitration in the firm’s London office, with a focus on construction and engineering matters. He “handles complex matters with ease” and is a “pleasure to work with”.

Head of the firm’s construction practice, Ellis Baker advises clients on all aspects of the delivery of construction and engineering projects and is a “seasoned expert” according to peers. Franck Peter advises both French and international clients on all matters relating to construction and real estate law and is a “powerhouse of knowledge”.

Clayton Utz is an “internationally renowned” full-service Australian firm, with eight offices offering legal services across all major states and territories in the country. The firm’s construction and real estate teams are praised for their “broad experience” and “fantastic service from all levels”, with over 140 practitioners specialising in the fields.

Arch Fletcher has advised clients in the construction industry for over 30 years, specialising in major projects, and offering clients “bespoke solutions” and “well-reasoned solutions”. Sergio Capelli is a construction and infrastructure “genius” specialising in drafting and advising on contract documentation and procurement for major projects. Marko Misko has experience working in various commercial aspects of major infrastructure projects and general construction work and is a “standout talent” in the market. Dale Brackin has “extensive experience” in drafting and negotiating construction and engineering contracts, and in structuring projects. He regularly provides assistance in negotiations and at the pre-contract stage. Gary Best is a “leading name” in the real estate sector with specialist knowledge of major projects, structured property investments, government and public sector tendering, and financing.

Clyde & Co is a “global heavyweight” in the field, assisting with projects and matters around the world. The firm recently advised Southend Airport Company on securing planning permission for the expansion of London Southend Airport and acting for an Australia-based hotel operator in a property management and leasing agreement dispute regarding a residential apartment building in Dubai.

Ian Cocking is head of the firm’s Hong Kong and China construction group and has over 20 years' experience in negotiating and managing major projects and is a “valuable asset” to clients. Michael Grose has been based in the Middle East for almost 20 years and has gained an “unmatched knowledge” of the region’s construction market in that time. Also in Dubai, Mark Blanksby specialises in advising clients on infrastructure projects and is a “superb strategist” according to clients.

The “excellent” Martin Quicke in London is recognised for his real estate expertise on development and investment work primarily for property companies and overseas investors.

Conner Gwyn Schenck is a construction boutique firm based across two offices in North Carolina. The firm’s “unbeaten experience” and “depth of expertise across the board” makes it “indispensable” to clients. With experience working across disputes, contracts, corporate and regulatory matters the firm has earned its reputation as a “one stop shop for construction matters”.

Holt Gwyn is a “world renowned trial lawyer” whose “brilliant expertise” in construction disputes is “unmatched in the market”. Richard Conner specialises in the resolution of design and construction related disputes in arbitration and litigation for local government and private industry clients. He is a “huge talent” and a “bright star”, according to peers. James Schenck focuses his practice on state and local government construction projects and is a “bona fide expert in the field”.

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz is a US-based firm with 20 offices across the southeast, Texas and Washington, DC. The firm offers clients “stellar advice” on construction and real estate matters, ranging from construction disputes, real estate transactions and the establishment and management of REITs.

Danny Shaw is a former chair of the firm’s construction group with a specialism in dispute resolution and avoidance. He is described as a “valuable weapon to have at your disposal”. Ben Shapiro represents owners, general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and design professionals in construction disputes in state and federal courts, arbitration and mediation. His “deep understanding” and “strategic solutions” are lauded by clients. William Sylvester boasts expertise in real estate and related tax matters and is described as “highly responsive” and a “pleasure to work” with.

Norton Rose Fulbright is a “leading player” in the global legal market, with almost 230 real estate lawyers based in offices across Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Australia. Such a global team is able to offer clients “assistance with any problem in any country”, making it a “first choice” for many clients. Recent work has included acting for a consortium on the £400 million purchase and financing of the iconic Battersea Power Station in London and advising DP World on London Gateway, its new 3.5 million TEU container port alongside Europe’s largest logistics park.

John Hollyfield has close to 50 years of experience in the real estate market, advising clients on matters including mortgage lending, leasing and real estate development. His “comprehensive advice” and “personable nature” has earned him a leading reputation. The “outstandingly talented” Jane Snoddy Smith is head of real estate for the US with expertise in shopping centres, office and hospitality projects, hospitals and medical facilities.

Philip Nunn is a dispute resolution and litigation lawyer with 37 years’ experience in the Hong Kong market. As such, he is able to offer clients an “international outlook” with a “strong understanding of the local market and culture”. His clients include government organisations, listed companies and professional services organisations.

Following a merger with Chinese law firm Dacheng at the start of 2015, Dentons is now the world’s largest law firm by number of lawyers. This legal “superpower” has a particularly strong reputation in construction and real estate, having worked on the BC Hydro Site C Clean Energy Project 1100MW hydroelectric project with capital cost estimate of C$8.335 billion, and advising Deutsche Pfandbriefbank on real estate and investment financing.

Peter Richard Shaw has 30 years of experience in the construction market, including projects and engineering law and has advised on matters across the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Peter Ippolito specialises in government contracts relating to the construction and real estate industries, and is a “famed practitioner” who is “very bright”. Mark Mehlman is a real estate “legend” who has “brilliant experience” in large complex transactions, often involving multiple properties in different states. Gary Goodman advises clients on real estate financing transactions. He represents domestic and foreign institutional lenders and borrowers in fee and leasehold construction and term financings, refinancings and workouts, and is a “true star” in the field.

Clifford Chance’s “fabulous” real estate team offers a “forward thinking and commercial approach”, utilising its integrated global network of practitioners to provide clients with a truly “international outlook”.  The firm boasts over 110 real estate experts, based across Europe, the US, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Australia, and have recently adviced IVG Institutional Funds on the acquisition of Eurotower in Frankfurt and Hammerson in a £254.5 million retail park acquisition.

Christian Keilich is the office managing partner in Frankfurt, and is a “leading name” for cross-border real estate investments and development projects. In the same office Klaus Minuth “brilliantly advises” local and international investors, project developers and public authorities on real estate transactions, particularly those in relation to large-scale portfolios. François Bonteil specialises in all areas of real estate work including M&A, private equity and finance. He is a “quick and decisive” adviser who is “in high demand” across the market. Jonathan Solomon is head of the London real estate practice and is “highly commended” for his work in joint ventures and investment transactions and has particular experience in hotels and London office developments.

Cox Castle & Nicholson is a “top-notch” firm with a real estate practice “renowned across the US”. The firm boasts “market leading experience” across all areas of real estate transactional work including joint ventures, REITs and disputes and regularly represents and advises on some of the biggest projects not only in California but throughout the US.

Ira Waldman is the leading real estate lawyer in our research for the second year running. He specialises in real estate finance, but has a practice which also covers all manner of real estate development representations. He is a “dean of the bar” and a “point of reference in the market” for many. Mathew Wyman serves as chair of the firm’s capital markets team, and regularly counsels clients in connection with all areas of real estate finance. He is “outstandingly intelligent” and is a “leading name” in the Californian real estate market. Adam Weissburg focuses his practice on joint ventures, incentive development management agreements, M&A transactions, workouts, and entity restructuring. His “level of dedication to clients is almost unseen in the market” and he is a “firm favourite” of many.

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