Top Commercial Real Estate Law Firms in the US

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In this article, we’re sharing the top commercial real estate law firms in the United States.

Of course, this list is just a starting point. So after that, we’ll share 8 steps to help you choose the right firm for you. This will help enormously if you need to choose a local firm.

Finally, we’ll wrap up with four essential decision considerations you don’t want to overlook.

Top Commercial Real Estate Law Firms in the US

Gibson Dunn

Consistently top-ranked, Gibson Dunn excels in large-scale, complicated transactions and offers expertise across all commercial real estate law facets.

Kirkland & Ellis

Renowned for aggressive litigation, Kirkland & Ellis also delivers sophisticated transactional and development-focused real estate counsel.

Latham & Watkins

A dominant global presence, Latham & Watkins is a top choice for businesses engaged in cross-border real estate work and those seeking international market expertise.

Greenberg Traurig

Greenberg Traurig boasts a vast real estate practice. Their strengths include hospitality real estate, REITs, and a wide array of transactional work.

DLA Piper

The international giant DLA Piper has one of the world’s largest real estate practices. They shine in complex deals, construction matters, and environmental law as it applies to real estate.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Akin Gump excels in representing REITs and real estate investment funds and broadly offers commercial real estate legal services.

Fried Frank

Fried Frank is highly regarded for its transactional prowess and is a strong choice for complex deals, financing structures, and joint ventures.

Goodwin

Known for expertise in real estate capital markets, Goodwin excels in matters of debt/equity financing, IPOs, and securities advice for real estate entities.

Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells is a global player adept at handling complex multi-jurisdictional real estate transactions and cross-border projects.

Sidley Austin

Sidley Austin maintains a powerful real estate practice with strength in M&A, private equity real estate investment, and related aspects.

What Does a Commercial Real Estate Firm Do?

A commercial real estate firm specializes in transactions and disputes related to commercial property, including buying, selling, leasing, and financing. They ensure legal compliance, protect their clients’ interests during negotiations, and handle any legal challenges that arise, from zoning issues to environmental compliance.

A commercial real estate lawyer can help you:

  • Draft lease agreements
  • Negotiate property sales
  • Handle zoning issues
  • Manage financing arrangements
  • Conduct due diligence
  • Structure REITs
  • Advise on tax implications
  • Resolve property disputes
  • Guide environmental compliance
  • Secure title insurance

Most commercial real estate lawyers work as part of a law firm, ranging from large, multi-disciplinary firms to specialized boutique firms, rather than working by themselves. This collaboration allows them to leverage a broader range of expertise and resources for complex transactions.

8 Steps to Choose the Right Commercial Real Estate Law Firm

Our list is a starting point. In reality, there are hundreds of excellent commercial real state firms. In many cases, a local law firm is ideal. They will have relationship in your community and will be familiar with local laws.

With so many options, how can you choose the right law firm? … Here are several tips to help you.

1. Brainstorm Your Specific Needs

Start by understanding and listing out your specific needs.

What is the nature of your real estate transaction? Are you setting up complex financing arrangements, forming a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), dealing with international properties, or navigating environmental law regulations?

Each of these areas requires specialized legal knowledge and practical experience in handling similar transactions.

2. Make a List of Candidates

To find a real estate law firm that aligns perfectly with your goals, thorough research is indispensable.

Here is an overview of a typical research process:

  • Start with a broad list of potential firms.
  • Consider the firm’s geographical knowledge and connections if your transaction is location-specific.
  • Narrow your choices based on their specialization, reputation, and communication style.
  • Utilize online resources, legal directories, and industry networks to gather information.
  • Interview the top candidates.

Your due diligence is what will lead you to a law firm capable of navigating your commercial real estate transaction to a successful conclusion.

3. Evaluate Each Firm’s Experience

It’s crucial to ensure a firm not only has a general background in real estate law but also specializes in the nuances of commercial transactions. Commercial deals can differ vastly from residential deals. So, inquire about the number of years they’ve practiced in the commercial sector.

Consider the complexity of your deal and ensure the firm has experience with transactions of similar size. A commercial real estate law firm should have experience navigate zoning laws, commercial lease agreements, property due diligence, and any potential litigation.

4. Review Case Studies

Law firms usually offer case studies or testimonials on their website, LinkedIn, or Google Business Profile. Still, you can request case studies or examples of similar transactions they’ve handled. Ask them about the specific needs you just listed, and any cases where they helped a client with a similar need.

An experienced attorney will be happy to share examples from their experience that closely match your situation. They may even put you in touch with a former client so you can hear the client’s experience firsthand.

5. Make Sure Firms Are Transparent About Costs

A reputable firm should provide clear, upfront information about their fees and how they’re structured. You should understand the hourly rate and flat fees involved upfront. This transparency will avoid any surprises down the road and ensure you understand the services you’re receiving.

6. Prioritize Personal Communication

Many people overestimate the value of extensive industry experience, and underestimate the value of good communication. Many highly experienced attorneys will have vast experience and high fees, but may not spend adequate time communicating with you. This can be a frustrating experience for clients.

Set expectations for communication consistency and protocols from the outset.

  • How often will they update you on your case’s progress?
  • Who will be your main point of contact?
  • How quickly can you expect responses to your inquiries?

A firm that prioritizes personal attention will make you feel involved and informed at every step of the process. This builds trusts so that you can rest assured that a skilled professional is keeping a close eye on your interests.

7. Only Consider Credible Awards

Many of us instinctively get impressed with awards. Remember, PR firms sell awards and directory listings. So, it’s crucial to only consider real recognition that is respected within the legal industry.

If an award doesn’t have a rigorous selection process, it’s not worth considering.

For a quick guide, here are some of the most prestigious and reputable awards and listings in the legal field. If you see an attorney with one of these, it means the attorney really is respected by their peers.

  1. Chambers and Partners: Highly regarded globally, Chambers conducts in-depth interviews and comprehensive research to rank law firms and attorneys based on their expertise and performance in various legal fields.
  2. The Legal 500: This directory provides a detailed analysis of law firms across the world, ranking them based on practice area. It is a valuable resource for clients looking for top-tier legal services.
  3. Martindale-Hubbell: Known for its peer review ratings, Martindale-Hubbell evaluates lawyers based on their legal ability and ethical standards. A high rating in this directory is a sign of respect and integrity in the legal community.
  4. Super Lawyers: Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process, including peer nominations and evaluations combined with independent research. Being listed here is a testament to a lawyer’s high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
  5. Best Lawyers: Recognized for its peer review process, Best Lawyers lists attorneys who are voted by their peers as the best in their practice areas.
  6. American College of Trial Lawyers: Membership in this invitation-only college is considered a prestigious honor, offered only to those who have demonstrated the highest standards of trial advocacy, ethical conduct, integrity, professionalism, and collegiality.
  7. International Academy of Trial Lawyers: Membership is by invitation only and limited to 500 active trial lawyers from the United States and includes attorneys from more than 30 countries, recognizing their excellence in litigation.
  8. Avvo Ratings: Avvo offers ratings for lawyers based on public data and information submitted by the lawyers themselves. While somewhat controversial for its methodology, high ratings on Avvo can still indicate a lawyer’s positive reputation in the community.

8. Interview Your Top Candidates

Interview your top candidates to understand their approach and see if it aligns with your expectations.

Ask specific questions about:

  • their experience in handling transactions like yours
  • their approach to addressing the challenges you’ve identified
  • how they structure their fees

Pay attention to their responsiveness and their willingness to understand your goals and concerns. This process will help you gauge their expertise and see if they are a fit for your needs. It will also give you insight into their communication style and their commitment to client service.

By taking a detailed and methodical approach, you can increase your chances of selecting a law firm that will effectively help you achieve your business objectives.

Considerations in Choosing a Commercial Real Estate Law Firm

Local and Specific Needs

Start by assessing the geographical scope and specific legal requirements of your transaction. If your transaction involves local properties, consider a law firm with strong local market knowledge and connections. They will be well-versed in your local laws and regulations.

For transactions with elements of international work, look for firms with a global presence or partnerships with law firms in other countries.

Complex Financing and REIT Formation

For complex financing arrangements or REIT formations, work with a law firm that has a deep understanding of financial markets and investment vehicles, as well as the regulatory environment.

Evaluate the firm’s track record in structuring deals similar to yours and inquire about their success rates. Their ability to navigate the intricacies of financing and investment structures can significantly impact the success of your transaction.

Environmental Law Considerations

If your project has potential environmental implications, ensure that the law firm has expertise in environmental assessments, compliance with environmental regulations, and handling disputes related to environmental issues.

This expertise will minimize risks and help ensure that your project adheres to all environmental laws and standards.

Large Firms Versus Boutique Firms

Once you’ve identified your specific needs, consider whether a large firm or a boutique firm would best serve your interests.

Large firms often have extensive resources, including access to specialists in various legal areas. They might be better equipped for handling transactions with multiple legal complexities or international scope.

On the other hand, boutique firms can offer more personalized attention. They may provide more cost-effective solutions without compromising on quality. Boutique firms often specialize in particular areas of law. This makes them highly adept at handling specific types of transactions.

I'm Allison Dunn,

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