The Firms

June 22, 2011 11:13 AM

Kasowitz Launches Corporate Real Estate Practice with Skadden Hires

Posted by Julie Triedman

Kasowitzhires Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman on Wednesday announced the arrival of two real estate partners from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. The two will launch a corporate real estate practice at the firm, which till now has been almost exclusively litigation-focused.

Wallace Schwartz (photo, left), a veteran real estate transactional lawyer who headed Skadden's global real estate practice, and real estate partner Adam Endick (photo, right) officially started at the firm Wednesday morning.

Marc Kasowitz, who cofounded the firm in 1993 and represents major real estate developers in big litigation, says the firm decided to branch out and create a new area after numerous clients asked the firm whether it could provide transactional advice. 

The firm doesn't yet have a precise target for how many lawyers will be hired in this group. "My sense is this will grow rapidly," Kasowitz says. "We fully expect to be doing large transactions. We're going to build it out."

Schwartz says the group intends to hire four or five associates in the next few weeks and "we're hoping it will be a big practice."

Schwartz and Kasowitz have been friends for 35 years since they shared a room during their summer associate jobs in 1976, notes Schwartz. Both graduated from Cornell Law School in 1977. 

The move is just the latest example of the firm's aggressive expansion over the past three years, driven in large part by several new major litigations in the financial and real estate sectors, Kasowitz notes. The firm's bankruptcy practice is also on overdrive now, and is representing Borders Group as debtor's counsel, as we noted here.

While other firms have contracted or remained flat in head count at both the partner and associate level, the New York-based firm has doubled in size, from roughly 200 attorneys in 2007 to nearly 400 today. The number of offices has expanded to six across the country, and Kasowitz says there are plans to open a seventh, IP-focused office in the next 30 days with the help of another new lateral, Douglas Lumish. (Lumish moved from Weil, Gotshal & Manges in January, as we reported.)

Schwartz, 58, has more than 30 years of experience in real estate development, acquisitions, leasing, partnerships, and joint ventures, as well as expertise in financing, real estate funds, and real estate securities offerings. His clients include some of the biggest names in commercial real estate, including Tishman Speyer Properties, Boston Properties, ING Clarion, Silverstein Properties, and Forest City Ratner.

Endick, 39, has worked with Schwartz on many deals over the past several years. He has represented some of the same clients, as well as Bank of America, N.A., in a major new lease and data center development at One Bryant Park, among other matters.

The two men will be leaving a firm with 77 lawyers in the practice group for the opportunity to build a new practice at Kasowitz. "It's a time when I'm interested in the challenge of developing my own real estate practice," Schwartz says. "It was not until recently that I felt that [a move to Kasowitz] made sense."

"We wish them all the best," Skadden said in a statement.



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