Real estate law firms log in to the tech world

Market trends like e-commerce and online retail driving new appetites for space
December 07, 2015 01:45PM

New York’s biggest real estate law firms are beginning to target the technology sector, with their top legal beagles courting tech firms and catering to an industry with ever-growing clout in the city’s office market.

Weil Gotshal & Manges is among the law firms tapping into how technology is changing the way property owners do business. It represented clients in four of North America’s five largest industrial real estate transactions in the past two years – with J. Philip Rosen, co-head of the firm’s real estate law practice, wising up on warehouse owners who lease space to Internet retail giants like Amazon.

“Clients want more than just somebody who can do paperwork on transactions,” Rosen Told The Wall Street Journal. “You have to be able to give business advice.”

Other New York City real estate law firms have also figured out ways to mine business from new, tech-oriented players appearing on the scene. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s clients include WeWork, while Fried Frank has looked to add more U.K. tech startups interested in expanding stateside.

Tech startups typically prefer law firms with large Silicon Valley practices whose attorneys are experts in matters like raising venture capital and advising on initial public offerings. But that hasn’t stopped big real estate firms from muscling into the tech and e-commerce world as it’s become increasingly lucrative.

“Now the pricing has gone through the roof,” Rosen said, noting his firm didn’t pay much attention to warehouses and industrial real estate until the Internet retail boom. “Industrial space has taken off because of e-commerce and conversions to residential.” [WSJ]Rey Mashayekhi