Powerhouse law firms merge to claim city’s largest resi practice

Romer Debbas combined with Katz & Matz

Bruce Katz, Michael Romer, Steven Matz, and Pierre Debbas (Romer Debbas, Katz & Matz)
Bruce Katz, Michael Romer, Steven Matz, and Pierre Debbas (Romer Debbas, Katz & Matz)

Two of New York’s largest real estate law firms are combining to create a practice they’re billing as the largest residential legal shop in the city.

Romer Debbas and Katz & Matz, two firms that closed nearly 2,000 residential sales between them in 2021, have inked a deal to form what will be the city’s largest residential legal practice, the firms told The Real Deal.

“This is really a strength in numbers scenario,” said Romer Debbas co-founder Michael Romer. “It will create the largest residential real estate practice in the city, if not the country.”

Combined, the two firms have 36 attorneys and handle the legal work on sales throughout the region, ranging from modest apartments in the outer boroughs to multi-million dollar townhouses.

Katz & Matz, which has 13 attorneys and specializes on residential sales, is the second-largest law firm by volume of residential deals. The firm handled more than $670 million worth of buy-side transactions from August 2020 through last summer, according to The Real Deal’s most recent law firm ranking.

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Romer Debbas, the larger firm with 23 attorneys and a full-service real estate practice, ranked 12th with more than $341 million worth of deals. When combined, the two companies would rank as the most active residential practice.

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Leaders at the two firms began merger talks back in February. Romer and co-founder Pierre Debbas said they had been patiently searching for the past year or two for an opportunity to merge with another firm when a mutual acquaintance tipped them off that Katz & Matz co-founders Bruce Katz and Steven Matz were also in the market to combine with another firm.

The two sides spent recent months hammering out the details of the new practice, which will operate under the Romer Debbas name. Katz & Matz attorneys will be moving into the Romer Debbas offices on Madison Avenue, where the company is taking more space to accommodate the growth.

Steven Matz said part of the appeal of the merger was the opportunity to branch out into other practice areas like trusts and estates and landlord/tenant work.

“We were chugging along and doing well,” he explained. “This will really enable us to continue and excel.”