The battle of the boroughs

A follow-up analysis of the city’s top real estate law firms — not just in Manhattan, but also in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx

Nov.November 01, 2019 12:00 PM

From left: Luise Barrack, Jonathan Mechanic, Jay Neveloff, and Robert Ivanhoe (Illustration by Hannah Drossman)

The law firm face-off continues.

On the heels of last month’s ranking and story “NYC’s barrister brain trust,” The Real Deal dove deeper into the numbers.

This month, we sized up the real estate-only firms with the highest attorney headcounts and the firms that oversaw the largest commercial sales and loan dollar volumes by borough (excluding Staten Island).

“It’s very competitive,” said Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel partner Jay Neveloff. “There are still a lot of development deals that are being structured and mapped out. You have areas of the city that are going to expand exponentially.”

Among the 20 biggest New York firms that solely focus on real estate, there were a total of 416 attorneys as of late August, according to TRD’s analysis. That’s compared to 1,523 real estate attorneys working at the top 30 New York law firms with the biggest real estate practices overall.

Rosenberg & Estis topped the list of real estate-only firms by number of attorneys with 85 — giving it a wide margin over its closest competitor, Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler, Nahins & Goidel, which has 53 attorneys. Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman and Duval & Stachenfeld were right behind at 48 and 46, respectively.

The numbers drop off heavily after that, with Desiderio, Kaufman & Metz and Goldfarb & Fleece tying at fifth place with 24 real estate attorneys each.

At the same time, Rosenberg & Estis could employ more real estate attorneys soon, as managing member Luise Barrack said the firm is looking to expand in the near future. She cited bankruptcy law as one specific area where they are looking to do more.

“It’s not necessarily a happy thing to look at, but you have to think about it,” Barrack said.

Source: TRD analysis of NYC Open Data and firms’ websites in late August. Percentages were determined by comparing firms’ NYC real estate attorney headcounts with their total NYC attorney headcounts. Attorneys had to spend at least half their time on real estate matters to qualify. Firms were provided totals for confirmation, but not all responded.


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