Legal Growth Story
By Paul Fiorilla
A number of trends are leading to the growth of legal practices, both in numbers and importance to the commercial real estate industry. Probably the biggest change is the increased number of regulations on capital sources implemented in the wake of the global financial crisis.
For one thing, real estate companies need legal advice on how to comply with the new regulations, which are driving growth in the compliance departments at financial institutions. Our survey found that the number of attorneys dedicated to real estate in 2015-16 rose 7 percent year-over-year, while revenues increased by 2 percent during that time. Also, the impact of the regulations is altering the financial landscape, changing the mix of lenders that are part of real estate deals. The list of real estate transactions involving our highest-ranked law firms also featured some of the top headlines of 2015, including the on again-off again merger talks between Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Marriott International, the merger of Cole Corporate Income Trust Inc. and Select Income REIT, CW Capital Asset Management’s multibillion-dollar sale of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village and Related Cos.’ construction financing for portions of Hudson Yards, to name just a few.
International law firm Greenberg Traurig topped the CPE-MHN 2016 ranking of real estate law firms. Greenberg Traurig—which has 295 lawyers dedicated to its commercial real estate division across 38 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East—easily bested Mayer Brown, which took second, and third place finisher Goodwin Procter. DLA Piper and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher rounded out the top five.
Among individual categories, Greenberg Traurig headed the survey with the greatest number of lawyers dedicated to CRE, while Gibson Dunn participated in the largest volume of deal flow among respondents. Gibson Dunn’s deal list includes representing Marriott International in its talks with Starwood; Hudson Pacific Properties in its $3.5 billion acquisition of a Northern California office portfolio from The Blackstone Group in April 2015; and Lion Gables Apartment Fund in its $3 billion sale of Lion Gables Residential Trust in March 2015. Greenberg Traurig’s signature deal was its representation of Albertson’s in connection with the $9 billion leveraged buyout of the Safeway grocery store chain, which closed in January 2015.
CPE’s law firm ranking is a weighted formula based on a variety of factors (only a few of which are specified on these pages), including revenue, revenue growth, the number of offices and lawyers dedicated to the sector, the growth of the real estate practice, and the size and nature of its top deals. The ranking represents what we feel is a logical balance between growth and market share.
To be included in upcoming surveys, email Samantha Goldberg at email@example.com