Real-Estate Law Firms Roll With the Market

J. Philip Rosen, the co-head of Weil Gotshal & Manges’ white-shoe real-estate law practice, was dropping his daughter off at Columbia University this year when he noticed a long line of cars each with an Amazon Prime decal on its side.

At the time he was trying to expand Weil Gotshal’s practice representing the warehouse owners who lease space to Internet retail giants. Eyeing the cars, he figured a little bit of information about Amazon Prime’s business would be helpful. “I went to the driver of one of the cars and said what’s going on here?” Mr. Rosen recalled.

Mr. Rosen slipped him a bit of money as an incentive. “Twenty dollars later he said ‘sure, I’ll tell you.’”

As real-estate owners adapt to new technologies, the law firms that represent them are changing to keep up with existing clients and add new ones. In Weil Gotshal’s case, the intel Mr. Rosen gleaned from the driver and from a road trip he took visiting modern warehouses along the New Jersey Turnpike helped the firm gain business.

Clients hired Weil Gotshal to represent them in four of North America’s five largest industrial real-estate transactions in the past two years. “Clients want more than just somebody who can do paperwork on transactions,” Mr. Rosen said. “You have to be able to give business advice.”

Other New York patent law firms that have dominated the city real-estate industry over the decades have figured out other ways to mine business from the new, technologically oriented players showing up on the scene. Clients of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, another firm with a large real-estate practice, include WeWork, an innovative office-space company that signs long-term leases, adds hip designs and amenities and sublets to startups and other small businesses.

New York’s law firm with the largest real-estate practice, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, is trying to leverage that strength as it tries to develop more business in the tech sector. For example, the firm has been trying to add more U.K. tech startups as clients, particularly those interested in branching out to the U.S.

“It certainly is of interest that we have a strong real-estate practice,” said Daniel Glazer, a partner in the firm’s tech practice. “We’re happy to leverage the contacts and friends that we have.”

Firms with big traditional real-estate practices have to work hard to keep up with technological changes if they don’t have large tech businesses. Startups typically prefer law firms with large Silicon Valley practices that have legal expertise in such things as raising money from venture capitalists and initial public offerings.

That’s true even for many startups trying to serve the real-estate industry, like CompStak and VTS. “You want to be connected to lawyers who are up to date on the latest things in seed funding and venture capital,” said Michael Mandel, chief executive of CompStak.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, a firm with a big presence in Silicon Valley, has about 20 clients involved in the real-estate-technology industry, including LoopNet and Opendoor. “We don’t think the fact that [law firms] have a traditional Real Estate Attorney business is a real competitive advantage,” said John Bautista, head of Orrick’s technology-companies group.

Still, lawyers at some of New York’s traditional real-estate firms are figuring out a way of muscling into the brave new world of real estate. Mr. Rosen, at Weil Gotshal, says his firm didn’t pay much attention to warehouses and other industrial real estate until the Internet-retail boom, because deals were too small. Weil Gotshal’s big deals include Prologis Inc.’s purchase this year of KTR Capital Partners for $5.9 billion. KTR was the firm’s client.

“Now the pricing has gone through the roof,” he said. “Industrial space has taken off because of ecommerce and conversions to residential.”

Just after the second big deal, Mr. Rosen said he had his “aha moment.” He drove down the New Jersey Turnpike, popping in on warehouses to see how ecommerce worked on the ground level. “It was very eye-opening,” he said. “They have robots that find the products in the aisle and bring it up front and wrap it and prepare it for distribution.”

The human beings still working at the warehouse were happy to show him around. “It didn’t even take 20 bucks,” he said. “It just took a smile and a please.”

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About sewellnylaw

Mr. Sewell continuously distinguishes himself as a top litigation attorney. He has twice been selected by New York Super Lawyers as a "Rising Star". Additionally, he is recognized as "Superb" and a "Top Litigation Attorney" by the lawyer-rating service Avvo. Moreover, he has been prominently featured as a preeminent legal authority on CNN. Attorney Sewell has several years of transactional experience as well as significant, state and federal litigation practice. Moreover, he is well-versed in prosecution matters before the United States Patent & Trademark Office and the United States Copyright Office. He has represented the spectrum of patent, trademark, and copyright owners, food and drug companies, business owners, non-institutional clients, and more. While at a top 100 law firm, Mr. Sewell's foci were in the areas of litigation and intellectual property. Prior to large firm practice, he honed his skills in Manhattan at a litigation boutique that specialized in intellectual property, food & drug law, and litigation. Mr. Sewell is also an alumnus of the distinguished Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He drafted motions and briefs regarding reopening criminal cases and reversing convictions using DNA evidence. Ultimately, his efforts culminated in the exoneration of one of his clients. Dayrel also completed a legal internship at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. While at Bristol-Myers, he gained patent litigation and prosecution experience through the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit litigation and training seminars, respectively. He also worked on several regulatory matters including corporate consultant agreements, conflicts of interest, clinical trials, and co-marketed pharmaceutical contracts. To continuously expand his expertise, Attorney Sewell has several years of experience providing counsel and litigation representation to real estate entities and individuals. Mr. Sewell recognizes the systemic real estate crisis and its affects on both investors and individuals, and is well-prepared to continue to assist clients with the crisis' persistent havoc that affects the millions of people involved. Prior to law school - with academic, medical background, and practicum requirements being met - Mr. Sewell received his M.P.H. from Columbia University and was a Director for medical research studies in New York City. Dayrel received his B.A. from The Johns Hopkins University, majoring in both Natural Sciences and Public Health. Mr. Sewell has also found time to do pro bono work. Of note, Dayrel is proficient in Spanish. Some examples of Attorney Sewell's work include: Litigation involving contracts, patents, real estate, securities, foreclosures, trademarks, copyrights, licenses, LLCs, and torts Negotiating/authoring business contracts and settlement agreements issuing patent and trademark opinions drafting and registering patents, trademarks, and copyrights counseling clients regarding food & drug product registration, compliance, and other regulatory matters advising startup companies and creating their business entity structure real estate transactions (i.e., conveyances, leases, title searches, deeds, assignments, recordings, etc.) Bar admissions United States Supreme Court New York District of Columbia United States Patent Bar United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit United States District Court for the Southern District of New York United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York Degrees J.D., Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law M.P.H., Columbia University B.A., The Johns Hopkins University Awards & Distinctions Two-time Super Lawyers NYC Metro Rising Star Who's Who in American Law Notes Editor, Cardozo Journal of Law & Gender Alumnus, The Innocence Project, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law NIEHS Community & Preventive Medicine Fellow, Mount Sinai School of Medicine Recipient, Phoenix Fellowship, Columbia University Alumnus, Council on Legal Education Opportunity Winner, Black Bar Association of Bronx County Writing Competition Federal Acquisition Regulations Certificate HIPAA Research Compliance Certificate Publications Dayrel S. Sewell, Amulya Appalaraju, The Duality of the U.S. Supreme Court's Janus Decision, American Bar Association, Securities Litigation, 2015 Fall Newsletter. Dayrel S. Sewell, Andrew Fine, The "Redskins" Trademark: Turn-over on Downs, IPFrontline, October 2015. Dayrel S. Sewell, Ivan Ng, Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke told they "Got To Give It Up", IPFrontline, May 2015. Dayrel S. Sewell, Ivan Ng, A ?Generic' Victory for Specific Fact-Findings, Intellectual Property Today, March 2015, at 34. Dayrel S. Sewell, Ivan Ng, A ?Generic' Victory for Specific Fact-Findings, IPFrontline, February 2015. Dayrel S. Sewell, Myriad Back in Court on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility, The Brooklyn Barrister, January/February 2015, at 9. Dayrel S. Sewell, The Ignominious Patent Troll, The Brooklyn Barrister, November 2013, at 5. Dayrel S. Sewell, The Ignominious Patent Troll, Intellectual Property Today, November 2013, at 12. Dayrel S. Sewell, Unanimous U.S. Supreme Court and Angelina Jolie: BRCA1 & BRCA2 Patentability, Intellectual Property Today, July 2013, at 24. Dayrel S. Sewell, Marc S. Ullman, The Regulation of Advertising for Dietary Supplements in the United States, KENKO SANGYO RYUTSU SHIMBUN (Health Trade Newspaper), April 8, 2007, at Issue 661. Tam T. Nguyen, Dayrel S. Sewell and Adrian S. Dobs. Oral Methyltestosterone Given to Post-menopausal Women Decreases Adipose Tissue and Increases Lean Muscle Mass with No Change in Muscle Strength. ENDO 2000 Abstracts. Category: Clinical Science: Aging. Medicine, Johns Hopkins University (2000). Speaking Engagements Dayrel S. Sewell, Brooklyn Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Speaker, Intellectual Property Fundamentals: What Every Attorney Needs to Know, May 2014. Dayrel S. Sewell, Legal Analyst (en espa?ol ), CNN "Realidades En Contexto": Nueva Jersey Agentes Inmobiliarios haber supuestamente Relaciones repetidas Dentro de una casa en venta, March 2014. Dayrel S. Sewell, Panelist, Managing Career Changes in a Changing Global Market, Union League Club, November 2013. Dayrel S. Sewell, Presenter, Professional Development, Bristol-Myers Squibb Legal Department Conference, June 2009. Other Licenses New York State Real Estate Broker New York State Notary Public Organizations Brooklyn Bar Association Vice-Chair, Intellectual Property Committee Vice-Chair, Real Property Committee New York County Lawyers' Association The Johns Hopkins University Law Affinity Committee
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