2020 Leading Real Estate Law Firms

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The CPE-MHN 2020 survey of the leading real estate law firms utilized self-reported data for all firms.


You can also read our other Top Real Estate Law Firms rankings.

Rank Law Firm Highest-Valued Transaction Year Founded No. of Offices (2019) No. of RE Attorneys (2019) Partner Experience (Avg. No. of Years)
1 Kirkland & Ellis LLP Represented GLP in the $18.7 billion sale of its U.S. logistics business to Blackstone. The sale includes more than 1,300 properties totaling 179 million square feet. The deal represents the largest-ever private real estate transaction globally. 1909 15 80 18
2 Latham & Watkins LLP Represented a provider of advanced space technology solutions in redomestication and credit facilities of $3.4 billion. 1934 29 11
3 Goodwin Procter LLP Represented TIER REIT in its all-stock merger with Cousins Properties resulting in a company with a total market capitalization of $7.8 billion. The transaction creates a Class A office REIT with more than 21 million square feet in the Sun Belt. 1912 13 164 24
4 Greenberg Traurig LLP Advised on the takeover of Dream Global REIT’s portfolio of more than 200 properties in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, by funds managed by Blackstone. The deal was valued at approximately CAD $6.3 billion (US $4.8 billion). 1967 41 376 26
5 DLA Piper Represented The Walt Disney Co. in the real estate portion of its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Included analysis of some 350 properties, negotiating and closing leases, license agreements and other arrangements to reflect occupancy and co-occupancy of assets between Disney and the remaining Fox entity. 2005 90 183 28
6 Holland & Knight LLP Represented Strategic Property Partners in a $3 billion redevelopment of 53 acres in downtown Tampa, Fla. The Water Street project is funded by Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment Group and Jeffrey Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. 1968 29 266 28
7 Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP Represented The We Co. in connection with significant funding from SoftBank Group Corp., including $5 billion in new financing, the launch of a tender offer by SoftBank of up to $3 billion for existing shareholders and the acceleration of an existing commitment to fund $1.5 billion. 1948 22 65 20
8 Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP Represented The Related Cos. in its $2.2 billion purchase and leaseback of WarnerMedia’s global headquarters. Related will enter into a leaseback until 2034 for the 1.5 million-square-foot space. Also represented Related in connection with a $1.1 billion refinance of the loan on the office condo of Time Warner Center. 1890 20 128
9 Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP Counsel to Blackstone in its acquisition of a 65 percent controlling interest in Great Wolf Resorts as part of a $2.9 billion joint venture with Centerbridge Partners. 1890s 4 123 26
10 Ropes & Gray LLP Represented TPG RE Finance Trust in its $1.2 billion collateralized loan obligation issuance, the largest commercial real estate CLO issued in 2019. 1865 11 59 23
11 Jones Day Represented Henderson Park Capital Management in the formation of the $2.2 billion pan-European opportunistic and value-added real estate investment fund and in the fund’s subscription-based credit facility. 1893 43 86 24
12 Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP Represented Sand Hill Property Co. with renegotiating and restructuring eight joint ventures in Northern California. The joint ventures own an integrated hotel, retail mall and multifamily project in Cupertino and office buildings in Palo Alto, among others. 1927 15 102 20
13 Sidley Austin LLP Represented Welltower in its $1.8 billion sale of a 49-property senior housing portfolio to an affiliate of KKR. 1866 20 69 29
14 Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP Represented Service Properties Trust in its $2.4 billion acquisition of a retail portfolio from Spirit MTA REIT. The portfolio included 772 service- and necessity-based, single-tenant, triple-net leased properties. 1901 20 90 26
15 Akerman LLP Represented Peninsula Rockaway LP, an affiliate of The Arker Cos., in zoning entitlements for the $1.5 billion redevelopment of Edgemere Commons in Queens, N.Y. The project will include 2,050 affordable housing units and 11 mixed-use buildings. 1920 25 146 26
16 Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP Represented Housing Capital Co., a division of U.S. Bank, in connection with the extension of a $125 million master loan facility to a national homebuilder with communities in multiple states. 1873 31 386
17 Squire Patton Boggs Acted as counsel to EG Americas in its $2.2 billion acquisition of convenience store chain Cumberland Farms Inc., which included more than 550 owned and leased properties across 11 states. 1887 45 186
18 Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP Represented Starwood Capital Group in the $387.2 million acquisition of an affordable housing multifamily portfolio including 21 communities totaling 4,448 units. The properties are located in Florida and Texas. 1897 25 106 27
19 Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP Represented Lifepoint, the largest health-care REIT, in $3.6 billion of mortgage financing secured by 45 hospitals throughout the U.S. 1945 20 53
20 Morris, Manning & Martin LLP Served as issuer counsel for Cole Office & Industrial REIT in its public offering of common stock valued at $3.5 billion. 1976 7 55 20
21 Seyfarth Shaw LLP Represented a private investment platform focused on health-care real estate in the $786 million sale of 25 medical office buildings located throughout the U.S. 1945 16 137 27
22 Loeb & Loeb Represented a joint venture landlord in a lease to a global advertising agency for 970,000 rentable square feet through 2043 in Lower Manhattan’s Hudson Square neighborhood. The transaction is valued at approximately $1.5 billion. 1909 8 42 15
23 Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP Advised a partnership including Gerson Bakar & Associates on the $800+ million sale of Levi’s Plaza along San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront to Jamestown. The office and retail complex spans nine buildings and is home to Levi Strauss’ headquarters. 1863 30 45 24
24 Fox Rothschild LLP Represented a privately-held, fully integrated real estate firm in connection with the $178 million sale of an industrial portfolio consisting of 30 properties in New Jersey totaling 135 million square feet. 1907 27 170 26
25 McGuireWoods LLP Represented Capital City Partners in its development agreement for Navy Hill Yards, a $1.5 billion redevelopment of a 10-block area in downtown Richmond, Va., which includes plans to replace the Coliseum with a new, 17,500-seat arena. 1834 21 74 28
26 Husch Blackwell LLP Served as lead outside counsel to the City of Kansas City, Mo., to advise on all phases of the $1.5 billion public-private partnership project to revamp Kansas City International Airport into a single terminal. 1916 19 90
27 Allen Matkins Represented the seller of 54 industrial properties acquired by Colony Capital for $1.2 billion, one of the country’s largest real estate mergers and acquisitions in 2019. The portfolio spans 11.9 million square feet across the U.S. 1977 5 124 25
28 Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP Advised Square Mile Capital and USAA Real Estate in connection with their joint venture with an affiliate of Hackman Capital Partners to acquire CBS Television City from CBS Broadcasting Inc. for $750 million and secure $400 million in acquisition financing from Deutsche Bank. 1849 10 18 14
29 Ballard Spahr LLP Represented Southern Land Co. in its development of a mixed-use high-rise project on a 1-acre site on Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square. 1885 15 114 25
30 Kramer Levin Represented VICI Properties in its $1 billion acquisition of land and real estate assets of the Greektown Casino-Hotel in Detroit for approximately $700 million from JACK Entertainment. Penn National Gaming Inc. acquired the property’s operating assets for $300 million. 1968 3 51 30
31 Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP Represented Dranoff Properties in securing construction financing for Arthaus, a 47-story residential condominium tower to be built at Broad and Spruce streets in Philadelphia. 1975 5 30 27
32 Haynes and Boone LLP 1970 17 59 26
33 Duane Morris LLP Represented an affiliate of Deerfield Management Company, L.P. in securing $540 million of acquisition financing for an office building at 345 Park Ave. S. in New York, and for the redevelopment of the property. 1904 29 45 33
34 Pryor Cashman Represented Balfour Senior Living in connection with the $300 million sale of a six-community portfolio to a newly created partnership between Balfour Senior Living and Welltower. 1963 3 29 29
35 Norton Rose Fulbright Represented a real estate development and investment company on acquisition and construction financing for its approximately $500 million, 630,000-square-foot multi-phase, five-building life sciences campus in San Diego. Included $145.3 million for the first phase. 1794 55 27 23
35 Lowndes Assisted CNL Healthcare Properties in the $1.3 billion sale of 55 Class A medical office buildings, comprising approximately 3.3 million square feet and located in 16 states, to Welltower. 1969 3 39 31
37 Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas LLP Completed a mezzanine loan on behalf of its institutional lender client for $196 million for a parcel located in New York City. 2015 1 28 20
38 Wilson Cribbs + Goren Assisted a real estate investor with the acquisition of a luxury multifamily project for more than $139 million. 1985 1 20 24
39 Locke Lord LLP Represented a REIT in the sale of 1735 Market Street, a 54-story, 1.3 million-square-foot office building in Philadelphia, to a joint partnership for a gross sale price of $451.6 million. 1887 21 71 31
40 Kane Russell Coleman Logan PC Represented Home Depot in more than 3 million square feet of large-facility logistics transactions, including rail- and flatbed-served facilities, aggregating more than $500 million in value. 1992 2 12 25

To be included in upcoming surveys, email Jeff Hamann at [email protected].

Legal Counsel’s New Landscape

By Madeline Winship, Senior Research Analyst, Yardi Matrix

Closing transactions and operating a multifamily real estate company amid a global pandemic bring complex legal challenges that require experienced real estate attorneys. The firms on our Leading Real Estate Law Firms list have been bombarded with questions regarding lease agreements, financings, operational liabilities and a myriad of other fraught matters.

The number of dedicated commercial real estate attorneys continues to grow year-over-year, with the headcounts of our top firms growing by 6 percent between 2018 and 2019. Our top 40 firms have an average of 40 dedicated real estate attorneys and have been in operation for an average of nearly a century.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP jumped to our top spot in this year’s Leading Real Estate Law Firms from third place in 2019. That trajectory was driven by a 12 percent increase in dedicated real estate attorneys and the firm’s involvement in several major transactions. Kirkland & Ellis represented GLP in the $18.7 billion disposition of its U.S. logistics business to Blackstone—potentially the largest-ever private real estate transaction globally.

Each of our top 10 firms was involved in notable transactions throughout the past year: All participated in at least one deal valued at more than $1 billion.

Methodology

The CPEMHN 2020 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.

Read the October 2020 issue of MHN.

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