By Chris Nebenzahl, Senior Analyst, Yardi Matrix
Real Estate Representation Revs Up
As the real estate industry continues to adapt to new regulations impacting its business, legal counsel is becoming increasingly vital when completing transactions. While real estate represents only a portion of the top firms’ overall operations, a number of firms participating in our survey have dedicated real estate practices of more than 100 attorneys and were involved in some of the largest real estate transactions of 2016. Of all the firms in our ranking, the average real estate division included 77 dedicated real estate attorneys, and made up roughly 15 percent of the overall headcount of its firm.
Goodwin Procter LLP topped our rankings, after its involvement in several notable deals such as Mid-America Apartment Communities’ nearly $4 billion acquisition of Post Properties. The firm also increased its dedicated real estate staff by 17 percent and opened two new offices in 2016.
Another top firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, represented Marriott in its $13.6 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels. While the hotel merger was its largest transaction, the firm represented clients in several deals greater than $1 billion, such as Diamond Resorts in its $2.2 billion acquisition by Apollo Global Management.
Fried, Frank, Shriver, Harris & Jacobson LLP grew its dedicated real estate team by 11 percent, with more than 20 percent of the firm focused on the sector. The firm was also involved in several transactions valued
at more than $1 billion, including Brookfield Asset Management’s $2.1 billion purchase of Colony Northstar’s manufactured housing portfolio.
The CPE-MHN 2017 survey of the Leading Real Estate Law Firms utilized self-reported data for all firms. The ranking uses a weighted formula based on a variety of factors (only a few of which are specified on these pages), including revenue performance, the number of 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.
Originally appearing in the September 2017 issue of CPE.