Skip to Main Content
Overview

Real estate lawyers work in a variety of areas, including purchases, sales, joint ventures, and financings for projects, as well as navigating the state and local land use regulations. Clients can include owners, developers, landlords, tenants, investors, REITs, and lenders involved in a real estate market. Real estate finance attorneys help to secure financing of residential and commercial buildings and complexes.  The practice can be similar to project finance but with different types of projects. Real estate finance attorneys are often drawn to the work because of the tangible result at the end of the day. Land use attorneys help developers get local and state approval for their projects. Attorneys will negotiate with various government entities and advise clients on regulations that affect their developments. Real estate law is practiced both in large and small law firms, and there are many in-house opportunities with the various players in commercial real estate markets.

Featured Q&A's
Get an insider's view on working in Real Estate from real lawyers in the practice area.
Kathleen Mylod, Partner • Kelly Mathews, Associate—Finance and Real Estate
Dechert

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Kate: My practice area is commercial real estate finance. I help investors deploy their capital in real estate assets globally, but mostly concentrated in the U.S. In doing so, I originate mortgage loans, handle property acquisitions and dispositions, and facilitate joint ventures and other co-invest platforms. Also, if a commercial real estate asset becomes distressed, I will help my clients resolve the matter or seek an enforcement action.

Kelly: As part of Dechert’s Structured Credit and CLO team, I advise asset managers and borrowers, in addition to underwriters/arrangers (typically large investment banks), lenders, and investors in connection with collateralized loan obligation (CLO), collateralized bond (CBO), and hybrid transactions, leveraged loan warehouse facilities and other asset-backed credit facilities, as well as funds that are set up to manage and acquire CLO securities. I also advise managers and borrowers in a variety of fund financing structures, including rated feeders and collateralized fund obligations (CFOs). Increasingly, I advise, structure, negotiate, and draft bespoke and hybrid transactions that involve components similar to the ones described above. We are involved in every stage of a deal (and ancillary issues that arise out of a deal), beginning with the initial structuring and, in most cases, warehouse financing used to acquire assets before marketing and engaging rating agencies to rate the deal; then at the marketing and closing stages where terms are negotiated with prospective investors, rating agencies, and other participants (such as the trustee); then closing the deal and everything in between. We see most of the market, so clients rely on us to help negotiate terms (both business and legal) with counterparties, with an emphasis on winning flexibility for our clients. We are also engaged after a deal closes, for example, when a loan acquired by a CLO that has become distressed enters a workout or restructuring.

What types of clients do you represent?

Kate: Dechert represents a spectrum of clients, which makes the legal work interesting! My clients include commercial banks, private equity funds, insurance companies, and sovereign investors. Most are U.S. based, but some are foreign.

Kelly: We serve a diverse global client base, including some of the largest asset managers (generally private equity firms and hedge funds), borrowers and equity investors, and some of the most prolific CLO underwriters (major investment and commercial banks). We also represent large bank lenders in various asset-backed lending facilities.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Kate: My practice is transaction based, so I regularly put deals together (and take them apart). For example, on my plate today is a mortgage loan origination on a hotel in Missouri, a consensual NYC office property handover in connection with a distressed lease, and a joint venture between a property developer and an equity partner to hold a portfolio of apartment buildings located throughout the U.S. Over the years, I have worked on several investments related to some well-known properties; it is always fun to visit a city and say, “Oh, I worked on that!”

Kelly: I work on CLOs, leveraged loan and other asset-backed lending facilities, CLO funds set up to acquire CLO securities and—in many cases—manage CLOs, fund financing transactions such as rated feeders and CFOs, and bespoke and hybrid-type transactions which are structured to address the needs/desires of a particular client (or to cater to one of its own clients or investors) or to capitalize on unique opportunities in the space. These types of deals can range from ~$300 million to over $1 billion.

How did you choose this practice area?

Kate: It was serendipitous! I never expected to go into finance. As a junior attorney, I was staffed on a mortgage loan origination with a partner that everyone was afraid of…but, for some reason, she took a shine to me. She taught me the fundamentals of commercial real estate finance, as well as the nuances of negotiation. I fell in love with the art of bringing together people in a deal and found real estate made sense to me—you can see it and touch it.

Kelly: First, the work never gets boring—each new matter presents unique challenges. Likewise, it is intellectually stimulating given the complex nature of the transactions and the constantly changing landscape (industry, market, regulations, etc.). I also recognized that working in the group offered tremendous opportunity, given our group is one of the most highly esteemed and award-winning in the industry (including for best CLO law firm). I had the privilege of working and learning from incredibly talented attorneys and was impressed by the expertise and innovative approach of our practice leaders, some of the most highly respected in the business. When I started, I was excited by the opportunities offered—junior associates who excel in our practice group have a unique opportunity to take on additional responsibility early.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Kate: There is no typical day! Each night, I make a “to do” list to tackle the next day. Without fail, the next day, before I can even cross off the first few items, I get interrupted with a new matter, an unexpected issue, or a colleague who needs assistance. My work is never boring. In a typically unpredictable day, I find myself revising contracts, holding team meetings, talking with clients, and negotiating with opposing counsel. On other days, I may run a teaching session for a client, make a pitch for new business, take a mentee out to lunch, or research an issue for an upcoming publication. The “to do” list is always changing, and I do manage to get it all done.

Kelly: Although there is no “typical” day, at a high level, my days are generally comprised of phone calls, emails, and drafting, reviewing, and negotiating transaction documents. My practice is very dynamic, which is one of the things I like most about it because it always presents new issues and challenges. The way my day ends up often does not resemble how I had mapped it out—our deals are often fast-paced, timing changes, and unexpected issues always arise. Our clients operate in a large, competitive, and growing industry, and are subject to multiple regulatory regimes across their businesses, which constantly change, presenting unique problems we get to help solve.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Kate: For someone interested in a transactional practice, I recommend taking negotiation classes and/or participating in negotiation workshops and competitions. So much of what I do is about the push and pull between stakeholders, and you need to deftly identify their true goals and leverage points. In many instances, how a transaction goes will come down to relationships, so understanding what motivates people is key. Much of the substance in commercial real estate finance can be learned by doing, but for the academically inclined, I suggest classes on the Uniform Commercial Code, contracts, real property, and tax. Also, regularly following commercial real estate news will help one learn who the major players are in the industry.

Kelly: For me, there is no rival to hands-on experience and in-house training. I recommend courses focused on contract drafting and negotiation. Some classes I found helpful include Secured Transactions, Bankruptcy, and Securities Law. The good thing is that finance experience is not necessary. Skills-wise, our most successful associates are intellectually curious, take ownership of their assignments and careers, take initiative to add value and understand the bigger picture, are detail-oriented, organized, and engaged, and strive to cultivate relationships with folks within and outside the firm.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Kate: Two things: (1) No two financing matters in commercial real estate are the same. While you can work with the same blueprint from deal to deal, the outcome will be informed by the uniqueness of the real estate asset and the relationships driving the matter. (2) While the commercial real estate industry is quite large, it feels like a small place among the businesspeople and the attorneys. You never know who you will run into on a new deal, or where that person will go. Relationships matter.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area? 

Kelly: Initially, typical tasks junior associates perform include: 

  1. Prepare and manage closing checklists, which organize and track the status of transactions; manage timing, deal flow, and outstanding items needed to close
  2. Review transaction documents
  3. Draft ancillary transaction documents
  4. Due diligence on opinion letters

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

Kate: Everyone is focused on artificial intelligence and how it may streamline diligence on real estate assets and document production. Opportunities for innovation with AI will enable the provision of legal services to our clients to be even more meaningful.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

Kelly: Summer associates can immediately gain hands-on experience, working on the same types of assignments as a first-year associate would. Summer associates are often invited to sit in on calls with clients and research questions related to new regulations and new approaches to issues that arise in our space.

Kathleen (Kate) M. Mylod is a partner in Dechert’s global finance practice, advising on a range of commercial real estate finance matters. Ms. Mylod’s practice focuses on mortgage and mezzanine debt origination; intercreditor, co-lender, and participation arrangements; equity investment and joint venture formation; preferred equity financing; real property acquisition, disposition, and asset management; secondary market acquisition and sales (including mortgage and mezzanine loans); and loan modifications, restructurings, workouts, and enforcement actions. She advises clients investing in a variety of commercial real estate asset classes, whether stabilized or transitional, including hospitality, retail, multifamily, office, and condominium.

Kelly Mathews, a senior associate in Dechert’s global finance practice, focuses his practice on a broad range of structured and leveraged finance transactions, with particular emphasis on representing asset managers, underwriters, sponsors, and issuers in collateralized loan obligation transactions, collateralized bond transactions, and asset back securitizations, as well as managers, lenders, and borrowers in connection with revolving and term leveraged loan warehouse facilities, repurchase facilities, loan to SPV facilities, and other structured lending transactions. Kelly received his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law. Prior to joining Dechert, Kelly interned for the Honorable Justice Paul Newby of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Cecilia Gordon, Partner
Goulston & Storrs PC

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

As a member of the real estate group at Goulston and our cross-practice hospitality and resort industry group, I work with real estate developers and real estate investors in building multi-partner deals to acquire and develop a wide range of real estate assets—multifamily residential, office buildings, retail shopping centers and, of course, hotels and resorts. Over the years, my practice has coalesced around joint ventures and other equity investment structures and around hotels and resorts, both of which are fundamentally about long-term relationships. I counsel clients on how to build those relationships so that everyone around the table can work together productively over many years together, while delivering the returns that each party needs.

What types of clients do you represent?

I work with companies and families that invest in a range of real estate assets and with companies that operate and brand hotels. It has been my privilege to work with Pyramid Global Hospitality for over 20 years, working with them to grow their hotel management business through management agreements, joint ventures, and several corporate-level transactions, most recently the merger with Benchmark Global Hospitality. I have also been able to work with The Mirbeau Companies as they grow their luxury boutique brand in the northeast, including their acquisition of a historic property in Beacon, NY. I am part of the cross-practice and cross-office team that supports CrossHarbor Capital Partners LLC in their equity investments, working with them on joint venture investments with developers across the country and also on the luxury and ultra-luxury resorts they are developing in Big Sky, Montana.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Every year my project mix varies, depending on market activity and our clients’ growth. When COVID hit, I spent many months helping our hotel clients navigate through the shock of shutdowns and layoffs. The following year, when the summer “staycation” boom hit, I worked with them to re-open hotels while also creating joint ventures for our equity investor clients for multifamily developments across the southeast and southwest. This year, I have been primarily helping clients negotiate hotel management agreements and hotel franchise agreements as hotels are refreshed with new operators and new brands, but have also had the opportunity to help a family investment group dispose of several multigenerational real estate assets and help another client negotiate his first development joint ventures for multifamily residential projects in one of our core cities.  

How did you choose this practice area?

Real estate is wonderfully tangible. As a junior associate, I worked on the team that helped The John Hancock Life Insurance Companies sell their headquarters complex in Boston, and we had to delve into the service tunnels and the tuned mass damper and the pedestrian plazas. In this practice, site visits really bring deal terms into focus. And once I worked on my first hotel deal, I knew I wanted to be part of the hospitality industry, with the challenge of coordinating multiple parties with different goals to get a hotel up and running.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

My days are so variable! Some days I am on Zoom calls all day, asking clients questions to understand a new deal and how it is best staffed and scoped, getting a client’s feedback on key deal issues before a group call, negotiating deal documents with lawyers on the other side, brainstorming with colleagues on ways to resolve a thorny issue, congratulating a client on a successful closing, and walking a client who is new to the hospitality industry through its quirks and complexities. Some days are quieter, when I can review diligence documents on a potential acquisition, draft joint venture agreements, and review opposing counsel’s comments and changes to hotel agreements. Most days are a mix of the two, with the quieter hours at the beginning and the end. I love mornings and try to spend a few hours drafting or reviewing documents before calls start. One common element to all my days is that I regularly connect with colleagues for ideas, support and brainstorming.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Many national and local real estate groups offer in-person and online seminars, talks, and meetings that are a great way to become familiar with real estate projects and terminology. I also recommend classes on accounting and the economics of real estate investment, which cover key concepts that real estate lawyers need to know. Becoming comfortable with corporate and partnership income tax basics is also very helpful. Outside the classroom, I would take every available opportunity to get underneath cities and into the working spaces of buildings—tour a metropolitan sewer system or a subway system, take a back-of-house tour of a hotel or restaurant, and ask how the kitchens vent. Be curious about the built environment and how it all connects.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Real estate is a cyclical practice. There are economic cycles of ups and downs, which have to be weathered, but it also means that properties and projects swing back into your life at different parts of their life cycle. I helped acquire the land for a shopping center as a first year, helped permit and finance the construction as a mid-level associate, refinanced it as a junior partner, recapitalized the equity a few years later, and I love to see it bustling with holiday shopping as we drive to visit my in-laws every Thanksgiving. A project that I helped one client sell was then re-developed by another client and we attended the opening of the new hotel on that site this fall. With land and buildings, we can have a longer view in a fast-moving practice.  

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

At Goulston, our summer associates try every aspect of a commercial real estate practice. They join project teams and attend client meetings and calls on deal issues, they assist with the follow-up memos and issues lists from those calls, and they join site visits and attend permitting hearings at the local and state levels. We ask summer associates to work on drafting projects that fit the summer timeline and provide the chance to work on diligence teams reviewing and summarizing real estate diligence documents such as title commitments and surveys. One of the most important parts of our summer program is the opportunity to meet and talk to our clients, many of whom have worked with Goulston for years.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Law firms are the most common place for lawyers to start a real estate practice, as this is a practice area where you learn best by doing. When I was coming out of law school, my preference was for a firm with a full-spectrum real estate practice like Goulston’s, so that I could gain experience in every area of commercial real estate, and I continue to believe that is the best training base. What I learned from financing deals and lease negotiations allows me to give the best advice to my clients on joint venture deals and to anticipate and preemptively solve issues that could come up down the road. The broad training made possible in a real estate practice provides an excellent base for people to also move in-house to roles counseling companies about real estate transactions and on the broader matters that senior general counsel face. Real estate lawyers also make the jump to become developers and investors themselves, joining clients or starting their own companies; a number of our partners have made that move over the years and are now our clients.  

How important is collaboration in effectively practicing real estate law?

In law school, I expected that practicing law would mean long hours by myself researching, reading, and writing. As a summer associate at Goulston, participating on deal teams, I saw that real estate is an incredibly collaborative practice where information and ideas are shared regularly among the lawyers at our firm, with our clients and their consultants, and even with opposing counsel. Real estate projects have surveyors and accountants and traffic consultants and architects and tax advisors, and the expertise and input from the whole team is part of the process.

Cecilia Gordon, Partner—Real Estate

Cecilia Gordon serves as Co-Chair of the firm’s Hospitality and Recreation Industry Group. She frequently advises clients in the hospitality industry regarding the investment in, and branding and management of, hotel and resort properties across the country.

Cecilia provides the firm’s clients with the benefit of her experience handling all kinds of acquisitions and dispositions, joint venture arrangements, franchise agreements, and management agreements. Her legal work in this space often involves advising clients with respect to contracts with hospitality industry brand names such as Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Choice, and Kimpton.

Cecilia also devotes much of her time to advising clients with respect to equity investments in all real estate asset classes. Cecilia has particularly strong experience in creating optimal structures for joint ventures and counseling clients looking to partner with others in the development and ownership of multifamily properties, office buildings, senior living developments, hotels, and resorts.

Justin R. Quinn, Partner • Borna Khoshand, Associate—Real Estate
Kramer Levin

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Borna: I work on real estate transactions, which include the acquisition, disposition, financing (debt or equity), and leasing of real property. The primary tasks are drafting and negotiating transaction documents, conducting due diligence, and coordinating closing.   

Justin:  My practice focuses on commercial real estate finance and investment, which is effectively putting money to work in real estate. This ranges from senior secured indebtedness to subordinated and unsecured equity, with tons of variation in between.

What types of clients do you represent?

Borna: There’s a great range, from religious organizations selling their legacy properties to global private equity groups, developers, Midtown office owners, banks, REITs, and many more. I have also had the opportunity to represent on a pro bono basis a number of small business owners entering into their first retail leases. 

Justin: Our regular finance clients include banks, debt funds, private equity funds, high-net-worth individuals and their family offices, and publicly traded companies.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Borna: It runs the spectrum of the transaction types I mentioned above. I have recently worked on a few construction loans on behalf of lenders. I also often work on joint venture development transactions on behalf of equity investors. I recently worked on a film company’s acquisition of its future performance space in Manhattan. Usually, there’s a lease or two going on at any moment. There’s always something new. 

Justin: Finance is effectively involved in every type of transaction, so there is a great variety in the day to day. We represent our clients in originating or otherwise investing in senior mortgage loans, mezzanine loans, secured and unsecured preferred equity, limited partner equity, “Co-GP” equity, programmatic ventures, and financings of financings. We also help these clients exit each of these positions, both in the ordinary course as well as in distressed situations.

How did you choose this practice area?

Borna: I went into law school thinking I would do zoning or land use law. I was interested in real estate development and urban planning and figured this would be an interesting angle to work in that area. As a summer associate, I gravitated towards the more transactional side and enjoyed the puzzle-solving element of working through documents and learning how the different business and legal points interact. 

Justin: I thought I was going to be an IP lawyer heading into a 2L summer associate position, but happened to be assigned an office on the real estate floor. Sheer proximity led to me getting involved in various real estate transactions over the course of that summer and I was drawn by how quickly someone without years of experience could actually pitch in and feel like a contributing member of the team.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Borna: No two days are alike, but I may be preparing the initial draft of a lease in the morning, then discussing a borrower’s comments to loan documents with a partner in the afternoon before jumping on a call about a joint venture term sheet, among many smaller tasks and emails throughout the day. Rarely does a day go quite like I expect it to when I am planning it out in the morning, but the variety is the best part!

Justin: At its heart, this is a transactional practice, so there are always diligence materials to go through or documents to draft. As you grow in seniority, more and more of the day involves talking through open issues with the client and then negotiating with your counterparts across the table.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Borna: Conventional advice is that what you take in law school will not really matter, but I really enjoyed the 2L/3L classes I took on real estate transactions, finance, and contract drafting. Once you start working, I think it is about working on a variety of transactions and asking the senior lawyers you are working with about different tasks and issues as you go (after you have tried to find the answer on your own!). 

Justin: I would recommend a class on secured transactions and the Uniform Commercial Code to anyone interested in transactional work. As far as skills development, being organized is a huge plus and is something that lets you contribute value from the start.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Borna: Real estate transactions often require pushing along different workstreams at the same time. As an example, for the purchase of a property, you will be negotiating the purchase contract, preparing closing deliverables, and otherwise coordinating the acquisition. But the client may need equity and/or debt financing to acquire the property, so you may also be negotiating joint venture and loan documents at the same time, all while finalizing due diligence. Each piece has to be ready simultaneously for closing. 

Justin: There are so many different stakeholders involved in each particular transaction, and the client you are representing typically considers each to be its client. It is thus important to find solutions that work for everyone. A big part of advocating for your client is understanding what each of the other participants is trying to accomplish and finding creative ways to preserve the same while also ensuring that your client’s interests remain protected.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Borna: I love that we have the opportunity to work on transactions that are so tangible. It’s a bit of a real estate lawyer cliché, but being able to see buildings you have worked on when you walk around the city is really fun. The work gives you a unique inside view on how massive projects in a city actually come together and how many moving parts they entail. It helps keep the transactions exciting. 

Justin: To me, the biggest plus to Kramer Levin’s real estate group is the variation within our individual practice focuses. I find it invaluable to be able to bounce ideas off folks who are often addressing similar issues from an entirely different perspective. And enough cannot be said about having access right down the hall to best-in-class condominium, land use, bankruptcy, litigation, tax, and environmental counsel.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Borna: Junior lawyers typically begin their careers conducting due diligence, maintaining the transaction checklist, and drafting ancillary documents. But opportunities will quickly present to move towards being the lead associate on transactions and working with the partner in negotiating the primary documents and coordinating the closing, even during the first year on the job. There is no strict separation of roles by seniority, and juniors do not have to wait until they are senior enough to take a bigger role. Of course, that helps accelerate skill development. 

How important is collaboration in effectively practicing real estate law?

Borna: Collaboration is essential in successfully closing transactions. On any matter you are working with, you will have—at least—the other lawyer(s) at Kramer Levin, the client team, the counterparty, and their counsel. Real estate transactions touch on so many other areas of practice, so it’s not unusual if a construction loan, for instance, requires you to seek input from other lawyers specializing in affordable housing, environmental, land use, or tax law—to name a few. 

Justin: Collaboration is key, as real estate tends to be a national and international practice, and thus even though the parties will likely choose to have the transaction be governed by NY or DE law, you are always working with various specialists in different jurisdictions to address matters critical to your client’s goals. Whether it be local counsel or practice area experts, it is very unusual to complete a deal without consulting with others outside my immediate practice area.

Justin R. Quinn represents commercial real estate lenders, investors, and other providers of capital at all levels of the capital stack, from origination through maturity, including restructurings and workouts. Justin has represented both originators and purchasers in various types of secondary market transactions, including the negotiation of participation agreements, co-lending agreements, and intercreditor agreements, as well as the origination and restructuring of repurchase and warehouse lending facilities, programmatic investment vehicles, and “co-GP” operating agreements. He also has broad experience representing owners and developers in commercial real estate transactions, including the acquisition, financing, and disposition of office, retail, multifamily, and hospitality properties.

Borna Khoshand works on real estate matters, assisting in the representation of clients in real estate transactions, including purchases and sales, joint ventures, commercial leases, and debt financings on behalf of both lenders and borrowers. Borna’s work involves drafting and reviewing transactional documents, conducting due diligence, and coordinating closing and post-closing activities.

Gregory LaHood, Associate • Laura A. Franklin, Partner—Real Estate
Mayer Brown LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Gregory: The Real Estate practice group at Mayer Brown is multifaceted, and associates have the opportunity to experience many different aspects of the practice. I focus most of my attention on financing work (particularly credit tenant lease financing transactions, ground lease financing transactions, and other similarly structured transactions) and purchase/sale work. 

Laura: I am what is known in the real estate world as a “dirt lawyer.” That may not sound very flattering, at first! Essentially, it means that I have a well-rounded real estate practice, representing clients in acquisitions, dispositions, borrower-side finance, joint venture, development, and leasing transactions. 

What types of clients do you represent?

Gregory: The clients that we represent in the credit tenant lease transactions and ground lease financing transactions are insurance companies and investment managers for insurance companies. I also represent large institutional clients (asset managers, private equity firms, etc.) in their purchase, sale, and financing of real estate. Others within the group represent traditional bank clients, parking structure owners and operators, and hotel brands, among others. 

Laura: I represent a wide variety of clients and routinely deal with institutional owners of real property, private developers, and asset managers. In my leasing practice, I also work with several global and national retail banks, restaurants, corporations, telecommunications providers, and media companies. 

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Laura: Primarily, I handle commercial leasing, ancillary asset management matters, and borrower-side financing transactions. In my leasing practice, I represent both landlords and tenants. On the landlord side, I represent the owners and asset managers of several high-rise, class A office towers in Manhattan and handle the drafting and negotiation of all office and ground-floor retail leases at those buildings. I also routinely advise our landlord clients on the day-to-day issues that arise in the ownership and operation of real property, including in their dealings with property managers, real estate brokers, tenants, and adjacent property owners. On the tenant side, I have had the chance to represent office tenants, retailers, banks, restaurants, and telecommunications and media companies in their leasing matters. 

How did you choose this practice area?

Gregory: I went into law school with the goal of focusing on real estate work. The primary draw for me is that real estate is tangible. While it is not necessarily easy to explain the intricacies of my practice, at the end of the day real estate practice is what makes the exchange and development of individual properties (and, on a larger scale, communities) possible. 

Laura: I knew going into law school that I wanted to be a transactional lawyer. Being in a courtroom didn’t appeal to me, and I really enjoyed the writing and analysis that forms an integral part of transactional practice. After my first year of law school, I worked as a summer intern in the Town Attorney’s Office of my hometown on Long Island, and I was assigned to assist the real estate attorney in all of the town’s real-estate-related matters. I was exposed to a host of interesting real estate issues and had a chance to see how the ownership, operation, and development of real property can shape and affect the community around us. I was hooked.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Gregory: Honestly, exciting. Our deals oftentimes move at a fast pace and involve unique issues for which we must work to develop solutions (often through drafting of complex contractual provisions and negotiating the same with opposing counsel). I spend about 25 percent of my time emailing with clients, opposing counsel, fellow Mayer Brown attorneys, and other third parties. Another 25 percent of my time is spent preparing for and participating in phone calls, (including regular status calls to keep transactions on track and to counsel clients). The remainder of my time is spent drafting and revising documents, reviewing due diligence deliverables, and engaging in other miscellaneous tasks such as title and survey review.

Laura: I spend a significant amount of my time drafting and negotiating contracts. I review and analyze contract drafts, identify open issues, and communicate those issues to our clients in ways that are accessible and easy to understand. I negotiate with opposing counsel and ultimately redraft the documents to reflect the agreement between the parties. 

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Gregory: I recommend taking any courses that provide an opportunity to practice drafting skills. While everyone in law school takes Contracts and learns about what is required for a contract to be created, enforced, terminated, etc., surprisingly, a core part of the curriculum at most law schools is not contract drafting. One of the most beneficial courses that I took in law school was one that delved into the intricacies of drafting contracts, including hands-on practice. As a transactional attorney, the lessons learned in a course like this will be invaluable. I also recommend any real-estate-specific courses that you are able to fit into your schedule. While most learning in a real estate practice will be on the job, the few real estate-related courses that I was able to take in law school served as a wonderful primer for practice. 

Laura: One of the most useful classes that I took in law school was an introductory course in contract drafting. Most of my other classes were litigation focused (reviewing opinions, writing briefs, etc.), and my drafting class gave me my first taste of what it might be like to work as a transactional attorney. Drafting may seem relatively simple at first, but it requires a great deal of analysis and thought. It’s our job as attorneys to try to think about, and draft for, otherwise unforeseen circumstances, and having some experience with this in class made me feel better prepared for life after law school. I even brought my textbook from the course to the office with me when I started my first job!

What do you like best about your practice area?

Gregory:

  1. No two deals are exactly alike. 
  2. The fast-paced nature of most of our transactions.
  3. The complexity of most of the transactions that land on my desk.
  4. Working with sophisticated clients that are leaders in their respective fields.
  5. The sense of fulfillment that comes with each closing (associates in our group typically close dozens of deals a year, so you get this quite often).
  6. The tangible nature of most of our deals.

Laura: The wide variety of matters and issues that I encounter—no two days are alike! I am also very fortunate to have a great group of colleagues to work with and long-term clients who I’ve had the chance to get to know well over the years. It makes it fun to come to work each day. 

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Gregory: Our real estate group focuses predominantly on real estate deals, as opposed to support work for other practice groups (though we certainly assist when called upon to do so by our colleagues). It is something that I think sets Mayer Brown’s Real Estate group apart from those at many other firms (and something any associate interested in real estate should ask about before joining a firm). The benefit of a practice structured this way is that it enables associates to be central to the whole deal, as opposed to a small piece of a much broader deal in which the real estate issues are ancillary.

Laura: Mayer Brown’s Real Estate practice represents premier clients of the firm in a wide variety of real-property-related transactions around the globe. We have a sophisticated practice with top-notch clients for whom we do interesting and intellectually challenging work. Mayer Brown’s Real Estate group offers the best of both worlds: we have a deep bench of smart and sophisticated attorneys and all of the resources that you would expect from a large firm, but the group is also small enough that we are able to truly get to know our colleagues, invest in and train our younger attorneys, and support each other as we work together to grow our practice. 

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area? 

Gregory:

  1. Review and organize diligence items (zoning reports, environmental reports, property assessment reports, appraisals, etc.).
  2. Prepare and manage closing checklists to track the status of transactions.
  3. Run due diligence status calls.
  4. Prepare initial drafts of ancillary contract documents and assist with revising documents. 
  5. Perform title and survey review.
  6. Participate in calls (status calls, document negotiations, etc.).
  7. Prepare abstracts of documents (leases, financing documents, declarations of restrictive covenants, etc.).

Laura: Junior lawyers get hands-on experience at an early stage. They may begin by assisting with due diligence matters, such as reviewing title (real property records), surveys, contracts, leases, and other documents affecting the real property, or by preparing and updating a “checklist” for a closing to track all required documents and deliverables for the deal and to keep the team on target. They also assist with preparing initial draft documents and drafting issues lists for clients. We try to get juniors involved in matters early on and to avoid giving discrete tasks without context. Once junior attorneys are assigned to a matter, they typically become part of the deal team and work with the team until the matter is closed.  

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

Gregory:

  1. Sit in on calls (status calls, document negotiations, etc.).
  2. Review contracts and prepare closing checklists.
  3. Assist with title and survey reviews.
  4. Prepare abstracts of documents (leases, financing documents, declarations of restrictive covenants, etc.).

Laura: The Real Estate group assigns junior-level client work to our summer associates, to give them real world experience right out of the gate. Some of the best experience also comes from mirroring senior attorneys (joining a meeting, sitting in on a conference call or negotiation session, etc.). We understand that it can be difficult for law students to know exactly which practice area they would like to join, so it is our goal to help our summer associates gain a better understanding of what we do on a day-to-day basis so they are able to make an educated decision about their career.  

 

Gregory LaHood is a Real Estate associate in Mayer Brown’s Chicago office. He represents equity investors and developers in connection with acquisitions, financings, and dispositions of multifamily, office, hotel, industrial, and other commercial real estate assets. He also represents insurance companies and other institutional investors in credit tenant lease financings and ground lease financings.

Laura Franklin is a partner in Mayer Brown’s New York office and a member of the Real Estate practice. She focuses her practice on real estate acquisitions and sales, leasing, and complex real estate financing transactions. Laura routinely represents institutional owners and public and private companies in the ownership and leasing of Class A office buildings. She also represents office, retail, and telecommunications tenants and helps her clients negotiate and draft effective leases and understand all of their implications.

Eric Schwitzer, Partner • Gerd S. Alexander, Partner—Real Estate & Corporate Finance
Paul Hastings LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Paul Hastings’ real estate and real estate corporate finance practice handles some of the largest, most complex, and sophisticated matters for some of the largest U.S. and multinational financial institutions and private equity funds. Our vibrant practice handles the full spectrum of financing transactions, ranging from single property mortgage financings to portfolio transactions of 100+ properties, as well as fund-level financings over which some of the largest asset managers will leverage the assets of the fund. The firm stands out in this arena as the team offers strong expertise in both lender and borrower-side work, bringing a multidimensional offering unmatched by most firms.

What types of clients do you represent?

The firm typically represents some of the top developers, investors, sellers, and real estate portfolio companies globally. Some names include: Basis Investment Group, Blue Owl Capital, City National Bank, Galaxy Realty Capital, JDS Development, L&L Holding Company, Mizuho Bank, Morgan Stanley Bank, N.A., Nuveen/TIAA, Oaktree Capital Management, PIMCO, Prologis, Related Fund Management, Siemens Financial, Starwood, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and The Praedium Group

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Gerd has recently worked on: representing Nuveen Real Estate and Teachers Insurance and Annuities Association of America in the reported-value $3+ billion acquisition of a fully integrated affordable housing company, the second largest and most complex transaction in Nuveen’s history and one that is transformative for Nuveen’s affordable housing platform; a joint venture comprised of JDS Development, Spruce Capital, Madison Capital, & Kevin Maloney in the refinancing of 111 West 57th Street in New York—the supertall residential skyscraper in midtown on “Billionaire’s Row”—with complex mortgage financing with five tranches of mezzanine debt as well as preferred equity, which transaction was one of the largest refinancings in Manhattan reported in September 2022; and representing Starwood Capital in its first transaction for its recently launched Starwood Impact Investors initiative, including forming and seeding an investment in an operating company with Obsidian Capital Partners for the acquisition and operation of multifamily properties in certain target markets as the first of many intended joint venture and operating arrangements in which Starwood will partner with minority- and women-owned real estate operators.

Eric has recently worked on: representing a large international banking institution in the origination of multiple capital commitment-backed credit facilities made available to U.S. and international sponsors in the amount of $3.6 billion; representing a large international banking institution in the origination of a capital commitment-backed credit facility made available to a U.S. sponsor in the amount of $3.3 billion; representing multiple private debt funds in the origination of multiple acquisition and construction mortgage and mezzanine loans and preferred equity investments in the amount of $1 billion; representing multiple large multinational asset managers and their respective real estate debt funds in the origination of multiple capital commitment-backed credit facilities in the amount of $8 billion; and representing a U.S. financial institution in the origination of a $390 million real estate portfolio financing, secured by more than 70 retail strip malls across the U.S.

How did you choose this practice area?

Eric: When originally deciding among law firms as a summer associate candidate, I was sold on the entrepreneurial spirit exuded by many of the Paul Hastings associates with whom I met. I found that the partners and associates I shadowed displayed more than just a technical expertise over the area of law that they practiced. Each proved to be a skilled advisor and strategist when discussing issues of material consequence to clients on their transactions. It felt as if the lawyers were taking on the role of both attorney and business consultant. I was excited by the prospect of learning the same skills while becoming a vital part of each client’s business.

Gerd: Although the substantive work was certainly a major factor, it was not my only consideration. I recall closely observing the people in each practice area—trying to discern the extent to which there were common attributes or personalities that made them successful. While not exclusive to my practice area (or real estate more broadly), the people I encountered in the development/equity side of our practice generally demonstrated a relatively high level of social and emotional intelligence and strong ability to connect with people. They talked about markets and the business of real estate with fluency, and connected with clients on the commercial side (even more so than on the legal side). The approach to negotiations and client discussions demonstrated psychological, intellectual, and emotional range, reminiscent of a good Texas Hold’em player—where it’s just as important to technically evaluate your cards as it is to read the people around the table. I found myself attracted to this group of individuals, sensing that my upbringing in the Bronx, appreciation for social dynamics, and background in economics would serve me well in this practice area. 

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Eric: As a transactional lawyer, I’ve come to appreciate that each day can be quite different than the one before. I often have many conference calls scheduled with clients, opposing counsel, and colleagues within the firm, but the topics of those calls will vary depending upon the day of the week and the matters my team and I are then working on. For example, I may be assisting one client on the negotiation of one or more term sheets, while working on a number of live transactions for other clients. 

Gerd: A typical day for me begins at around 5:45 a.m. I start with a workout, get dressed, make breakfast for my daughters, and see them off to school. Then I head to the train station for my 50-minute commute into the office. My workday often includes a mix of conference calls. I also allocate a chunk of time for drafting and working closely with associates, reviewing documents, and seizing teachable moments. During any given work week, I engage in several business development activities, such as lunches or dinners with clients. 

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Eric: If you are interested in becoming a finance practitioner, I believe it is important to take courses focused on secured transactions and bankruptcy matters. Every financing my team and I work on is a secured financing, meaning that the lender receives some collateral in consideration for the loan it has made to a borrower. In addition, as we are often asked to lead negotiations, I would recommend practical skills courses, if available.

Gerd: I often analogize the practice of real estate to the skill of driving, where I believe experience and hours “behind the wheel” ultimately trump natural talent. To excel, a junior associate should aim to be responsive, hardworking, open-minded, and maintain a positive attitude. Success in this area requires practice, and to get that, one must become the associate that everyone wants to work with. Lastly, it’s important to look ahead and prepare for where you want to be. The skillset required to be a rock star junior associate does not perfectly overlap with those necessary to be a terrific mid-level associate, and so on.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Gerd: The most challenging aspect of real estate practice is also the most exhilarating: dealing with sophisticated, complex issues that demand creative problem-solving and rapid learning to address client issues effectively. This level of practice truly embodies the idea that there’s no single right answer to any problem.  Another challenging aspect of this practice area is negotiating from a less advantageous position, such as being a borrower or a minority capital partner in a joint venture. In these situations, I take great pride in knowing that our clients have confidence in our ability to support them.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Gerd: What I love most about my practice area is the thrill of driving through a city and recognizing projects I’ve played a significant role in.

Eric: The career of a lawyer is certainly demanding, but when you have the opportunity to work with colleagues and clients who become friends (many of whom become great friends), it will make for a more fulfilling and rewarding experience.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Eric: I chose Paul Hastings because of that entrepreneurial spirit the firm exuded when I was a summer associate candidate. That same energy is as strong as ever today.  I have found that being an entrepreneur has a different connotation at each level of one’s career. A junior lawyer who excels at being an “entrepreneur” is someone who displays a desire to learn, evidences an ability to take on assignments that are not defined by “class year,” and becomes an integral part of the team. Junior lawyer tasks on my team include assisting with turning drafts of transaction documents, managing deal checklists, performing and preparing summaries of due diligence, and engaging with clients and opposing counsel.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Gerd: Typical career paths in this field can be quite dynamic. Starting in a major law firm like Paul Hastings provides a foundation not just in legal expertise but also in the business side of real estate. Career transitions can include moving to in-house counsel or general counsel positions, or even shifting to the business side. For instance, my mentor, a former associate at Paul Hastings, took a job as General Counsel at The Praedium Group. He then successfully transitioned from a legal role to a business position, and now runs his own multifamily operation. 

Eric Schwitzer is a partner in the Real Estate practice of Paul Hastings and is based in the firm’s New York office. He practices in all areas of commercial real estate transactions, with a primary focus on real estate and real estate-related corporate finance. Mr. Schwitzer represents major financial institutions and private equity funds in connection with complex domestic and international commercial matters, including cross-border corporate credit facilities, capital commitment-backed credit facilities, mortgage and mezzanine loans, preferred equity investments, restructurings, loan sales, and loan workouts.

Gerd S. Alexander is a partner in the Real Estate practice of Paul Hastings and is based in the firm’s New York office. Mr. Alexander represents real estate developers, operators, and investors on a wide range of real estate transactions (including acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, and debt financings) in connection with office buildings, hotels, condominiums, self-storage facilities, multi-family properties (including affordable housing), and retail properties.

Linda Bartosch, Partner • Parker Lacoste, Associate—Global Finance
Dechert

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Parker: I focus my practice on various real estate, structured finance, and securitization matters, with a particular emphasis on commercial mortgage-backed securities. In basic terms, we help take individual mortgage loans or pools of mortgage loans and issue bonds to investors that are backed by the payments on the mortgage loan(s).

Linda: I focus my practice primarily on capital markets and structured finance transactions that are often secured by real estate but sometimes other asset types. This is a transactional, “deal-based” practice. The point of these deals is to get businesses the capital they need to operate and grow on the one hand, and on the other to create opportunities for people (through institutions) to save and invest, whether for retirement, for supplemental income, or simply to grow their net worth.

What types of clients do you represent?

Parker: I represent a variety of issuers, underwriters, government-sponsored enterprises, mortgage loan sellers, depositors, and investors in the CMBS, SFR, and AMBS sectors. I also provide pro bono representation to various underserved individuals, including displaced Afghans refugees, elderly persons in need of basic estate planning, and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Linda: I represent institutions ranging from small startups to large investment managers and hedge funds, as well as state and nationally chartered banks, in a variety of roles including issuers, underwriters, loan sellers, depositors, borrowers, lenders, investors, asset managers, participants, lessors, and lessees. Often, we represent clients across a number of asset classes.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Parker: I work primarily on CMBS transactions ranging from billion-dollar conduit and GSE securitizations to hundred-thousand-dollar SASBs, which have included deals at the forefront of the LIBOR-to-SOFR transition. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with Farmer Mac on the development of the FARM Series program, which securitizes agricultural mortgage-backed securities.

Linda: My deals run the gamut. At any given time I might be working on a loan origination secured by a specific property, a securitization of a large pool of assets, a project financing for a new construction project, a new lending platform that will utilize blockchain, or a corporate credit matter. That’s what keeps it interesting!

How did you choose this practice area?

Parker: I took on a few CMBS assignments as a summer associate and really enjoyed both the subject matter and working with the Dechert CMBS team. The tangibility of the real estate assets helps keep things grounded while the structure and finance side of the practice has provided a great opportunity for me to expand my subject matter expertise. I also love being part of the Dechert team—we have an outstanding group of very talented attorneys and support personnel, and we genuinely enjoy working together and spending time with each other outside the office.

Linda: I graduated from college right when the financial crisis was gripping America in 2008 and I wanted to understand how it was that Wall Street, an industry filled with spreadsheets and jargon that was described on the news as a walled-off, isolated industry, could have such a wide-ranging and deep impact on seemingly every aspect of American life. The Dechert attorneys I met while interviewing were on the front lines of advising the financial industry and seemed like really smart, earnest, and collegial people. I wanted to work with them and learn as much as I could from them, while doing interesting and important work.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Parker: Early on I spent a lot of my time mastering collateral due diligence—i.e., learning the ins and outs of each property and loan for a particular securitization. Now I spend more time drafting and reviewing transaction and offering documents and addressing client requests. On any given day I typically am working on multiple securitizations that are often at different stages of the deal; some might just be kicking off, others are printing or pricing, and some might be closing.

Linda: Every day I start out with a plan for how the day is going to go, and usually by 10 a.m. that plan has gone completely out the window! We deal with surprises and emergencies on a regular basis, so it is important to be flexible and have the ability to adapt and multitask. I spend much of my day on the phone with clients, opposing counsel, and colleagues. I review documents critically and collaborate with others to draft new provisions. I also get to teach and mentor my junior colleagues, and I love seeing the look on someone’s face when they suddenly get it! I always try to find some time to learn something new every day.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Parker: Organization, time management, and attention to detail are critical; some people are able to develop these skills in law school, but I think prior work experience is really valuable. It’s also important to remember that we’re in a transactional practice, so a lot of the job revolves around relationships. Whether it’s building effective deal teams, developing rapport with clients, or being able to pick up the phone and articulate your position to opposing counsel, you’re going to have to be comfortable interacting with people beyond email. Don’t lose sight of the fact that we’re all human, and a lot of your reputation in the industry will revolve around how you treat others in both good times and bad.


Linda: A lot of the skills just have to be learned on the job and no amount of coursework can teach you everything you need to know. Work on your writing, editing, and critical reading skills. Learn some accounting basics. Substantively, securities laws, property law, and the UCC are all important in our practice, but it's the soft skills that will really make your career. Work on developing negotiation skills and increasing your emotional IQ. The ability to read between the lines is often the key to success in a transactional practice. It is also important to learn to think beyond the words on the page and run through the whole “consequence chain” in your mind to make sure those contractual requirements result in the intended outcome without other negative externalities or unforeseen consequences.


What do you like best about your practice area?

Linda: I chose an area of law that matched as closely as possible to what I would want to do if I was not a lawyer. Real estate finance is complex and constantly evolving, but also has a real-world impact on the built environment around us and is one of the most tangible ways that finance impacts our daily lives. I love that our clients see us at partners and come to us with strategic and business questions as well as legal questions.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Parker: Junior associates on my deal teams will often have a lead role in conducting due diligence on the loans and properties, which includes reviewing loan files and third-party reports. Junior associates are also often asked to draft and manage closing checklists, draft ancillary documents, and review third-party deliverables. Early on they’re given an opportunity to take on as much responsibility as they feel comfortable with and as they show they can effectively handle. We often encourage client contact within the first year or two, particularly with their peer counterparts, and try to involve junior associates with client events or presentations.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

Linda: Luckily, people will always need places to put stuff (and people), so real estate and paying for real estate will always be in demand. How we use real estate and how we pay for real estate is always evolving though, whether in response to legislative or statutory mandates, consumer preferences, macroeconomics, interest rates, global pandemics, or the next black swan event. Working with clients to find opportunities in the evolving market is a fun source of change. For example, when I graduated from law school, there was no institutional-scale single family rental asset class, and now I spend about half my time working on that. What will the next new asset class be? How a transactional legal practice is performed is changing too. New software is always being developed that lets us streamline or automate more administrative or word processing-based tasks so that we can focus our time and energy on solving more complicated legal issues or being creative to try to think of new ways to solve problems.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

Parker: Summer associates at Dechert get the “choose your own adventure” experience, so they can seek out as much work from our finance and real estate practice as they’d like to try. We give them the same assignments they can expect to receive as a first- or second-year associate, and we take the time to explain how those assignments fit in to the overall transaction and how their role will grow over time if they join our group. My own summer associate experience at Dechert led me to choose the CMBS team, and I’m still glad to be here every day five-plus years later.

Parker Lacoste, an associate in Dechert’s global finance practice, focuses his practice on real estate, structured finance, and securitization matters, with a particular emphasis on commercial mortgage-backed securities. Parker represents issuers, underwriters, government-sponsored enterprises, mortgage loan sellers, depositors, and investors in connection with public and private commercial mortgage-backed securitizations. Parker received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and his B.S. from Roger Williams University. Prior to joining Dechert, Parker worked extensively in the field of national security in Washington, DC, with an emphasis on training, cross-cultural communication, and civil-military relations.


Linda Bartosch is a partner in Dechert’s global finance group. Ms. Bartosch’s practice encompasses a broad range of real estate finance and structured finance. Her expertise includes the purchase, sale, and financing of single-family rental portfolios, residential mortgage loans, mortgage servicing rights, and other types of commercial and consumer-facing products, with a particular focus on securitizations. In addition, she advises clients on construction lending and lease financing. Ms. Bartosch advises clients on the use of blockchain in the origination, purchase, sale, servicing, and financing of financial assets. She also advises clients on the lending of cryptocurrencies and digital assets, as well as lending secured by cryptocurrencies and digital assets.

Diane McCabe, Partner • Mary McQuinn, Counsel—Real Estate
Goodwin

Describe your practice area and what it entails.


Diane: Goodwin’s real estate practice is experienced across the full spectrum of real estate specialties, enabling us to represent clients through the full life cycle of their real estate investments. From private fund formation and financings to REITs and M&A, we specialize in structuring, raising, and deploying capital. As co-chair of Goodwin’s Joint Venture/Real Estate Finance practice area, my practice in particular focuses on a variety of commercial real estate transactions, including complex debt and equity investments and restructurings; joint ventures; preferred equity transactions; mezzanine, construction and permanent financings; debt purchases; and acquisitions and sales across various property types, including office, retail, hospitality, self-storage, multi-family apartments, senior housing facilities, manufactured housing, and industrial. I’m also involved in highly structured finance transactions, debt purchases, workouts, restructurings, and other transactions involving distressed assets.

Mary: As a counsel in Goodwin’s Business Law Department and a member of the Real Estate Industry group, I represent real estate investment funds, real estate investment trusts, institutional investors, and other owners and operators of commercial real estate in a variety of transactions including joint ventures, financings, developments, acquisitions, and sales. I also often represent luxury brands or owners of hotels in the negotiation of long-term hotel management agreements.


What types of clients do you represent?


Diane: I represent a wide variety of clients that range from institutional investment funds (including funds sponsored by a Fortune 500 company), pension fund advisers, individual investors, real estate operators, and insurance companies, to name a few.

Mary: I represent institutional investors in joint ventures, borrowers in financings, and owners and luxury brands in hospitality transactions. In sales and acquisitions, I represent sellers on some and buyers on others—it’s quite evenly split, depending on whether a particular client is looking to build a portfolio or realize the benefits of an investment already made.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?


Mary: Not only do the types of deals vary in real estate transactions, but the types of real estate assets also vary, which keeps things interesting. For example, this past year, I have represented a client in the negotiation of multiple management agreements for hotel and/or branded residential developments in Mexico, the Bahamas, and Las Vegas. I also represented a client in several joint ventures to acquire and develop multi-family projects in Boston, San Diego, and Minneapolis. I helped a client sell a multifamily building in New York City and represented another client in the negotiation of management for flex warehouse space under their new brand in California and Texas.

How did you choose this practice area?


Diane: While on our way to a client meeting as a summer associate, a partner pointed out to me all of the projects that the firm had worked on over the years in Boston. I was also intrigued because the group works on real estate transactions not only in Massachusetts, but throughout the United States and globally. That, together with the people practicing in the real estate group at Goodwin, convinced me this was an area I wanted to practice in, and Goodwin was the place I wanted to practice.

Mary: As a summer associate at Goodwin back in 2008, I was focused on corporate practice rather than litigation, and after working on a real estate project that summer, was convinced commercial real estate was where I wanted to be. I never looked back. The first step I take on any deal I work on is to look at the land through Google Earth. I enjoy working with something tangible—a piece of land, a building that needs to be renovated, plans for a high rise office building. Nothing is so rewarding as attending an opening ceremony or seeing the finished product of a project you work on, understanding just how much time and effort was put into creating it.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?


Diane: On any given day, I advise and strategize with clients regarding proposed deal structuring, including joint venture formation, existing transaction restructurings and modifications, financing transactions (including mortgage and mezzanine debt, preferred equity and recapitalizations), and acquisitions and sales. You’ll also find me reviewing and revising joint venture documents, loan documents, and other acquisition and sale documents. I spend a lot of time on Zoom/conference call negotiations with our clients and/or opposing counsel, reviewing associate and paralegal work product, and proposing revisions to the same. I aim to prioritize business development activities including calls/Zoom with clients, lunch and learns, attendance at industry events, and hosting informal client gatherings. I’ll also note that I’m quite passionate about mentoring associates in the group.

Mary: In the morning on any given day, I may have a call with an associate who is confirming status of the team’s review of diligence materials for a potential acquisition of undeveloped land a client wishes to develop. In the afternoon, I may be preparing for an all-hands call with clients and counsel to negotiate the terms of a joint venture agreement. I draft venture documents, purchase and sale agreements, and hotel management agreements. I review and analyze comments from opposing counsel to deal documentation, and prepare issues lists. I brainstorm with colleagues when a client is faced with a tricky issue, and I problem solve in real time with clients on calls when they seek time-sensitive advice. I also review draft documents prepared by associates on deal teams, and take time to talk through issues and provide drafting and practice tips to help them hone their practice.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?


Diane: For students: I encourage you to take a uniform commercial code class, a real property class, and a tax class in law school. Those classes will familiarize you with some of the terms and the concepts. For young professionals: Network, network, network—early and often. Offer to host lunch and learns for clients. Take advantage of any and all trainings offered by your firm, and then take those trainings again a year later. The first time the concepts can be overwhelming, the second time many of the concepts will be familiar to you. Work with many different senior attorneys as this will help you develop your own unique style and figure out what parts of any practice you enjoy most.

Mary: If you’re in law school and can take a course focused on negotiation and drafting documents, I would highly recommend it. Be sure to attend trainings offered by the firm. So much effort is put into making those trainings as meaningful and practical as possible, and it’s a great opportunity to learn from colleagues. If you are already practicing law, I would suggest trying to expose yourself to a real estate deal or a deal with a real estate component (a lease, a mortgage, etc.). Beyond that, so much of our practice is focused on the people and how we communicate—our clients, counsel who sit across the table from us, members of our deal team—so I would recommend focusing on developing working relationships and on fine tuning drafting emails, memos, and documents with a certain audience in mind.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?


Diane: A misconception about being a real estate lawyer is that it is a local practice involving buying, selling, and leasing real property. The commercial real estate practice at Goodwin involves all aspects of the life cycle of a real estate investment including the aggregation of capital (in funds, public and private REITs, separate accounts, and other structures), the negotiation of ownership governance documents (including with respect to the acquisition, management, financing, sale, transfer, leasing, development, and operation of real estate (including tax and ERISA matters)), purchase and sale agreements, conveyance documents, leases, matters of record (including easements and restrictions), financing documents, and development and construction documents with respect to all real property asset classes and geographies.

Mary: I think sometimes people think real estate is a very niche type of practice, when it’s quite the contrary. We work with enormous corporations and smaller startups, we work with multifamily houses, industrial warehouses, luxury hotels, and high-rise office towers. I can say with absolute certainty that in my 12 years of practice in real estate I have never felt bored. Each deal brings a different perspective or a new issue to solve.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?


Diane: Drafting authority certificates, operating agreements, and legal opinions, reviewing ancillary loan documents, drafting and updating checklists, negotiating closing documents, title and survey review, and other due diligence review.

Mary: Junior associates are pivotal members of our deal teams. They prepare and maintain closing checklists, they prepare entity and authority documentation, and they help coordinate closing. But beyond that, they listen in on negotiations and have the ability to shadow senior associates and partners. They’re exposed to substantive issues, and once they are able to efficiently handle checklists, entity documents, and signature pages, we encourage them to take on more substantive drafting (preparation of closing documents) and reviewing (review and preparation of issues lists with respect to ancillary loan documents).

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?


Mary: Summer associates can shadow on calls and assist with checklist maintenance, which will give them a sense of the scope of documentation and steps required to close a real estate transaction. Summer associates can also assist with the same type of tasks that junior associates handle (entity and authority documentation, signature pages, etc.). Our group prides itself in finding creative ways to get summer associates engaged in our deals to give them a sense of what it would be like to work in the real estate group on real estate transactions.


How important is collaboration in effectively practicing real estate law?


Diane: Collaboration is extremely important. When building your network, be sure to build your internal and external network. For our large clients, we have client teams that meet monthly to share client, market, and industry updates. This type of collaboration and information sharing is critical in providing the highest quality, effective, and efficient service to our clients.

Mary: Collaboration is essential. Each deal brings a new set of issues and collaboration among colleagues within the real estate group across all office locations has always proven extremely helpful. Nearly every transaction benefits greatly from continued collaboration with colleagues in the tax group, ERISA group, litigation group, and construction group. Collaborating with colleagues and growing from each other’s collective knowledge in various subject areas has consistently resulted in better work product for our clients.

Diane McCabe is a partner in Goodwin’s Real Estate Industry group, and serves as co-chair of its Joint Ventures and Real Estate Finance practice. Ms. McCabe advises on a variety of commercial real estate transactions, including complex debt and equity investments and restructurings; mezzanine, construction and permanent financings; debt purchases; and acquisitions and sales across various property types, including office, retail, hospitality, self-storage, multi-family apartments, senior housing facilities, and condominiums. She has been actively involved in highly structured finance transactions, including CMBS, and has experience with workouts, restructurings, and other transactions involving distressed assets. She regularly advises clients on joint venture formation and restructuring, portfolio transactions, and development transactions.

Mary McQuinn is a counsel in the firm’s Business Law Department and a member of the Real Estate Industry group. She represents real estate investment funds, REITs, institutional investors, and other owners and operators of commercial real estate in a variety of real estate transactions throughout the United States, including joint ventures, financings, hospitality work, developments, real estate acquisitions, and sales.

Julianne E. Befeler, Partner • Katie Warren, Associate—Real Estate
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Julianne: I represent owners and developers in acquiring, disposing, financing, and developing all commercial real estate asset types (including office, residential, hotel, and mixed-use). My practice is only a subset of the work we do in our industry-leading department, which advises on all facets of commercial real estate law and is consistently ranked as one of the strongest real estate practices in the country. Other work we do in our full-service department includes joint ventures, leasing, lender-side financings, land use, and REIT work. Among other high-profile projects, we are currently working on three transformative Midtown Manhattan development projects—JP Morgan’s new headquarters building at 270 Park Avenue, Citadel’s planned 1.7 million-square-foot office tower at 350 Park Avenue, and the two million-square-foot mixed-use project on the site of the existing Hyatt Hotel adjacent to Grand Central.

Katie: As a fifth-year associate, I work on a broad range of commercial real estate transactions primarily focused on lender-side finance. My practice includes whole loan originations; mortgage and mezzanine loan purchases and sales; negotiation of intercreditor, co-lender, and participation agreements; deed-in-lieu transactions; and other loan workouts.

What types of clients do you represent?

Julianne: Our clients are industry powerhouses that contribute to the development and reshaping of New York City's skyline and those of other major cities around the world. I primarily represent owners and developers, including Blackstone, Brookfield, and Vornado. Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Google, Morgan Stanley, Related, RFR, RXR, SL Green, and Tishman Speyer are just a sampling of some of the clients that we represent.

Katie: While I work with our industry-leading clients across the spectrum, I typically represent banks, debt funds, and other institutional lenders, including JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Oxford Properties.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Julianne: Over the past year, among other interesting transactions, I worked on several construction financings relating to a variety of assets types, including the initial phase of a life science development project in the Boston area for Blackstone and BioMed (a Blackstone portfolio company), as well as several multifamily developments with affordable housing components in the New York metropolitan area on behalf of Brookfield. I also had the opportunity to be a part of the team representing Brookfield in its acquisition of Watermark Lodging Trust, Inc., and its portfolio of luxury and upscale hotels, including a related commercial mortgage-backed securities financing.

Katie: Over the last year, I have been very active on large-scale renovation projects in New York City, including a new hotel and condo residences in Midtown Manhattan and the redevelopment of an iconic Times Square location. I have also worked on intercreditor and co-lender agreements in connection with the syndication of numerous construction loans.

How did you choose this practice area?

Julianne: When I was a junior associate at my prior firm, I worked on the sale of a majority stake in a large national real estate company. At the time, I was still trying to decide which practice area to focus on. The fast-moving pace and the tangible nature of the deal convinced me that I had found a home in real estate. Ultimately, I joined Fried Frank as a mid-level associate in 2015 because the department provided the perfect environment to work on iconic real estate transactions with a fantastic group of people who have become my Fried Frank real estate family.

Katie: I have family members who work in real estate and construction, so I developed an interest in the industry before law school. When I started law school at Boston College, I knew I wanted to be a transactional attorney but wasn’t sure which practice area I wanted to focus on until I attended real estate-focused panels as a 1L. I found the topics fascinating and complex, and I was attracted to how tangible real estate is compared to other finance and corporate areas of the law. Eventually, as a summer associate at another international law firm, I sat on the same floor as the real estate attorneys and was exposed to a lot of their deals. After that summer, I decided I wanted to practice in real estate. When I had the opportunity for a lateral move, Fried Frank was at the top of my list because the Real Estate Department has such a strong market presence and reputation for taking on complex, high-profile deals. When I interviewed with the firm, the partners and associates I met were driven and engaging, and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a part of the practice.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Julianne: My typical day involves checking in with deal teams on various transactions; speaking with clients, opposing counsel, and others involved in my deals; teaching and mentoring associates; and attending to various administrative matters. In addition, a large part of my day is spent reviewing, drafting, and commenting on legal documents. Our deals often have short timelines, so it is important to prioritize, be cognizant of deadlines, and do what needs to be done to shepherd our deals to a successful and timely closing. Lastly, I participate in a number of committees, including our department’s DE&I committee.

Katie: Similar to Julianne, my typical day involves various transaction-related tasks and collaborating with the deal team. I draft loan agreements, co-lender agreements, and intercreditor agreements; review the other side’s comments on these agreements; and draft issues lists for our clients. As a fifth-year, I am able to develop my management skills through leading checklist and open item calls, supervising junior associates on my deal teams, and coordinating diligence reviews, which includes reviewing the borrower’s organizational structure and organizational documents as well as reviewing and summarizing property management agreements, development agreements, leases, and license agreements.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area? 

Katie: I recommend law school students take courses such as Secured Transactions, Tax, and Corporations, which all intersect with real estate and include important basic concepts that are helpful for any junior associate. If your law school offers real estate-specific courses like Real Estate Finance or Land Use, you should also try to take a few of these classes to determine if any particular practice sparks your interest. I also recommend law school students connect with alumni who work in real estate at firms that are of interest because getting to know people in the industry will give you more insight into the types of people you may be working with and the day-to-day work.


Julianne: I agree with Katie’s advice and would recommend taking time to read real estate publications to understand what is happening in the world and how that is affecting our industry. We represent our clients best when we understand what they are trying to accomplish and how current market conditions will affect those endeavors. I’ve also found that on-the-job training is the most effective way to learn. Junior lawyers should not be shy about seeking opportunities to work on different types of matters and taking on challenging assignments. It takes time to develop the skills and knowledge needed for this practice, and the partners and senior associates are available to support those efforts every step of the way.


What do you like best about your practice area?

Julianne: One of the most rewarding aspects of this practice is seeing the tangible effects of our work in the buildings we help our clients buy, sell, and build. This is particularly true in large-scale development deals where, in some cases, our clients are transforming skylines.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Katie: The Fried Frank Real Estate Department works on some of the most complex and bespoke transactions for our clients, who are the biggest players in the industry. We have some of the most intelligent and hardworking lawyers I have ever worked with, in part due to the support from our practice group management team. Our practice group management team and senior lawyers ensure associates receive meaningful feedback and help strengthen partner-associate relationships. The consistent focus on mentorship and training helps to foster associate development and has accelerated my development as a real estate attorney.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Katie: Junior associates play an essential role in the transaction process. Among other tasks, junior associates take the lead in drafting ancillary loan documents, updating legal checklists, reviewing the borrower’s organizational structure and documents, and ordering and reviewing searches on the investors in the borrower’s organizational structure. They also perform other property-level due diligence, such as reviewing and summarizing management agreements, ground leases, space leases, and licenses, as well as coordinating the execution of signature pages and finalizing exhibits and loan documents for closing. They play a key role in issue spotting in our loan documents and diligence review.

How important is collaboration in effectively practicing real estate law?

Julianne: Teamwork is crucial to successfully representing our clients. We regularly collaborate with our clients and our colleagues both in the real estate department and in other departments at the firm. Our expertise across practice areas combined with our collaborative culture allows us to provide excellent work product and service to our clients and an enriching experience for our associates. We socialize with all of our clients so we better understand them and how they think about the issues we face together every day.

Julianne E. Befeler is a partner in the firm’s Real Estate Department, resident in the New York office. She joined the firm in 2015 and was promoted to partner in March 2022.

Katie Warren is a fifth-year associate in the firm’s Real Estate Department, resident in the New York office. She joined the firm as a lateral associate in 2021.   

Daniel Stewart, Counsel—Real Estate
Kramer Levin

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I am a real estate generalist, which means I work on a large variety of real estate transactions, from purchases and sales of commercial property to development joint ventures, as well as a bit of leasing and finance work. I came to Kramer Levin as a fourth-year associate specifically to broaden my practice, as my previous firm (and many other firms) tend to specialize in one or two areas of real estate law. Kramer Levin has a much broader practice than most, with a big variety of clients—that’s what brought me here, and that’s part of what keeps me here.

What types of clients do you represent?

The clients I do the most work for are VICI Properties, which is a gaming real estate investment trust that owns a few dozen casino properties around the country, including about half of the major casinos on the Las Vegas strip, and Mitsui Fudosan America, which is the American branch of Japan’s largest real estate developer. I’ve also done work for other real estate investment companies (both privately held and publicly traded), individual New York City landlords, big Swiss asset managers, and others.

What types of cases/deals do you work on? 

One thing I like about our group is that we work on some really big transactions, like VICI’s $17 billion merger with MGP, and we work on some much smaller transactions, where our client may be investing less than $100 million in a development project in, say, Nashville. And of course, we do many deals in between these two extremes. This variety gives associates different levels of responsibility, exposure to different issues, and experience working on transactions with a very different feel.

How did you choose this practice area?

I knew that I wanted to do transactional law, and real estate seemed less abstract to me than fund formation and capital markets work, for example. In real estate, you’re dealing with an asset class, and within that asset class, there is a huge variety of different kinds of transactions you might work on, ranging from joint ventures to loans and from leases to purchases and sales. I think it’s the variety of deals that distinguishes real estate somewhat from other transactional practices, where the types of businesses you advise may vary widely but you might do a lot of the same types of transactions and work on the same kinds of contracts.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

My days include drafting and revising contracts, conference calls (both internally with clients and externally with opposing counsel and their clients), conversations with junior associates and partners, and lots of emails. As I’ve gotten more senior, I’ve found that I spend less time drafting documents myself and more time reviewing junior associates’ work, providing feedback and mentoring them. I’ve found that I really enjoy the mentoring aspect of my job.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Sadly (considering how expensive law school is), I don’t think the classes that you take in law school that focus on transactional law are particularly relevant to the day-to-day work of a transactional attorney. In my opinion, the most critical skills for a young transactional lawyer are organizational skills—if you are organized and you can demonstrate that to senior associates and partners, you’ll become a valued member of any team very quickly. It also helps to have a thorough understanding of how to use Microsoft Word and Outlook because that’s where you spend a lot of your time, not debating the finer points of real estate case law. Beyond that, I think developing business judgment is important. In many cases, legal issues blend with business issues, and understanding your clients’ goals and concerns, as well as the things that aren’t important to them, is a good way to strengthen relationships with clients and make yourself indispensable to them.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

In real estate law, you often have multiple transactions ongoing at any given time. Some days I may work on eight or 10 different matters in a single day, spending a small amount of time on each one. I think in other practice areas, such as litigation or M&A, you tend to focus on one matter or a few matters at a time. So in real estate you have a bit more variety, but at times this can be tricky because you have to learn how to prioritize, how to manage client expectations, and how to ask for help or backup from colleagues if necessary. I think these are great skills to develop, not just for work but for life in general, but it can be challenging.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I like that after nine years of working in this practice area, there are buildings all over the country that I’ve played a role in—our clients may have bought them or sold them, leased them, made a loan on them, or provided investment capital to build them. It’s a bit harder to see your “work product” in that way with some of the other transactional practices.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area? 

A junior associate will prepare and manage deal checklists, which track the status of the various contracts and other documents that have to get finalized to get a deal to close. They will also draft what we call ancillary agreements, which are the secondary, and typically shorter, contracts that tend to go along with the primary contracts. This allows the junior associate to get experience drafting but without getting thrown into the deep end with a complicated 80- or 100-page contract. In real estate specifically, junior associates will also work with paralegals on title and survey review and property diligence in order to make sure there aren’t any major issues with the property itself that might lead a client to reconsider or withdraw from a deal. 

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

I am very curious about the effects that AI might have on transactional law generally (not just real estate law) over the next five to 10 years and beyond. I was previously slightly on the skeptical side when it came to AI, thinking that the contracts we draft are so unique and bespoke that AI wouldn’t be capable of playing a meaningful role in the drafting and negotiation process for at least a few more decades. However, as I’ve learned more about the natural language processing branch of AI and the frankly shocking progress that has been made in that area in recent years, I am becoming much less skeptical. It’s not that I think lawyers will be replaced by AI bots, but rather that I believe lawyers are going to need to learn how to leverage AI and incorporate it into the deal process. I don’t know enough about this to make any real predictions, except to say that I think it’s going to play a big role and that firms that are open to this rather than resistant to it will probably find themselves in a stronger position a decade from now.

Daniel Stewart represents purchasers, sellers, lenders, and investors in a broad range of real estate transactions in New York City and various major markets around the United States, including acquisitions and dispositions, development projects, debt and equity financings, leasing, and workouts for commercial, residential, and mixed-use properties.

Among his most recent transactions, Daniel represented Mitsui Fudosan America in the formation of a $500 million programmatic joint venture with Tishman Speyer for the acquisition and development of “last mile” logistics facilities in major markets throughout the United States, and VICI Properties Inc. in connection with its acquisition for $293.4 million of two casino resorts in Mississippi that VICI will lease back to the seller, Foundation Gaming & Entertainment LLC, under a long-term triple net lease.

Daniel also has an active pro bono practice, representing small businesses and nonprofit organizations in lease negotiations with New York City landlords.

Megan Watts, Director
Goulston & Storrs PC

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

As a member of the real estate group at Goulston, I have exposure to a full range of real estate transactional work—from master-permitted projects in predevelopment stages in the Boston area to structuring programmatic investment in tangible assets across the country. I have increasingly focused on equity work, negotiating joint venture agreements on behalf of developers and investors, but I also get my hands dirty with more traditional purchase and sale transactions and real estate due diligence as a result of my client mix.

What types of clients do you represent? 

I have the pleasure of working with some of the highest-quality developers in the Boston area whose efforts are seen all throughout New England—New England Development, Samuels & Associates, Leggat McCall Properties, and WS Development, to name a few. My practice also involves work on a national level, particularly with some of our investor clients like CrossHarbor Capital Partners and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. 

Recently I’ve also gotten to see a number of individuals (often from existing clients) striking out on their own as developers. It's been fun to work with these clients at the early stages of their businesses. In addition to the deal work, I have had the opportunity to help them think through (and document) how they want to form and operate these new companies. 

What types of cases/deals do you work on? 

At the moment, I have a lot of development deals (as opposed to existing, built projects), and many of them are local to me. For the last four years I have been involved in a 60-acre development in Woburn where our client has built out the infrastructure for multiple large commercial projects to be constructed, which has required a huge variety of legal documentation—everything from joint venture agreements to purchase and sale agreements to development agreements and construction contracts. And then there are the one-off deals that come and go in a matter of 90 days (until three or four years later, when the client calls in connection with a sale of the same project).

How did you choose this practice area?

I was never interested in litigation, so transactional work was the natural alternative, and I enjoy the tangible nature of real estate projects. I gravitated early on towards the “deal” work because of the pace and level of detail and organization required—there was a lot of instant gratification in being able to literally cross items off a checklist. 

Now that I am more regularly involved in negotiations of the deals themselves, I enjoy the engagement with clients and the other parties to the agreement, where the goal is to reach a positive outcome for all sides.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

My typical day is often a messy mix of calls, review of materials, and drafting of documents. I am often juggling 5 or 6 different matters in a given day (and those are the ones I know about—it’s pretty typical to get one or two calls or emails with out-of-the-blue requests). It is still a constant juggle (which is part of what drew me to this kind of practice in the first place). When I have a few hours free of interruptions, I appreciate the quiet time to focus on drafting and thinking through material business issues.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?*

There is a lot to learn about the business of real estate. Any background learning in accounting and investment economics provides very good context for what our clients do to make their deals pencil out. And exposure to real estate projects, such as by attending talks about developments in process. Oftentimes there are local real estate industry groups that schedule programming with opportunities for people  new to the area to attend. 

For purposes of starting out as a new attorney, I recommend focusing on writing and organizational skills—no matter what area you go into, you will need both of those on a regular basis.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

The breadth and depth of the experience among the 100+ attorneys that work in our real estate group is hard to beat. Different attorneys at Goulston practice in almost every different area of real estate law. Other than local counsel issues in jurisdictions where we do not practice, there is almost always someone you can find for input on a question in real estate. And because of our platform, our clients bring us work that is incredibly varied, challenging, and engaging.  

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area? 

Similar to other transactional practices, a junior lawyer in the real estate group at Goulston will be responsible for reviewing due diligence materials and keeping track of a deal, often by keeping a checklist that identifies what needs to be done for a particular matter. When a deal is closing, junior associates help with all of the paper and signatures needed to formally document all of the agreements that have been made between the parties. There are also opportunities to work on longer-term permitting matters, which often involve research.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

Because the real estate group is the largest group at Goulston, there are usually several opportunities for summer associates to be integrated into a deal team (e.g., helping to close a purchase of property) or be tasked with research for a development project or help draft one-off agreements for clients. We also line up meetings with clients where the summer associates can hear (and often see) about a project in process.

How important is collaboration in effectively practicing real estate law?

The importance of collaboration in doing my job is evident on a daily basis. While there are many examples, I can highlight two in particular. First, there are many, many components to a real estate project, including permits, financing, leasing, and asset management. You cannot be an expert in all of those things. If I were not able to rely on my colleagues to provide good advice in areas that I am not as well versed in, I would not be able to serve our clients as well as I think we do. Second, some of the work I do is just very complicated. I regularly bounce ideas off colleagues with more or different experiences so that I can provide the best advice possible. I encounter new questions pretty regularly, even after 13 years of practice. I’m so appreciative that I have the other attorneys at Goulston as a resource when these questions come up!

Megan Watts, Director—Real Estate (2023)

Megan’s clients rely on her perspective and judgment in a variety of commercial real estate matters. Her work over the years has been wide-ranging, from the nuts and bolts of acquisitions and dispositions of single assets to structuring investments in private real estate funds to affordable housing tax credits. She counsels clients that are involved in developing and investing in retail, office, industrial, and multifamily properties across the United States with an emphasis on rendering practical advice based on experience.

As a result of her regular representation of both developers and investors in joint venture transactions, Megan has a well-built understanding of the motivations and needs of her clients (and their potential partners) that enables her to identify solutions and help them reach successful outcomes on their transactions. She also maintains a steady practice in affordable housing development and investment as counsel to several CDCs and other affordable housing developers in Massachusetts.

Related Vault Guides
Check out some of Vault's guides that are related to this field.
Top Ranked Firms
Check out the top-ranked law firms in Real Estate.