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Lawyer Limelight: Adam Leitman Bailey

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Adam Leitman Bailey and fellow attorneys at his namesake firm have reshaped New York real estate law. By specializing in this area of the law, Bailey has been able to focus on cases that are frequently high-profile, such as the dispute over the building of a Mosque near the former World Trade Center, and those that have a broad impact in the industry, notably his work applying Interstate Land Full Disclosure Act to New York. A consistently strategic, tenacious and passionate advocate for his clients, Bailey has positioned himself as a stalwart of New York real estate.

Lawdragon: Can you describe for our readers the work being done at the firm that bears your name?

Adam Leitman Bailey: We are a full service real estate firm built to be corporate counsel for real estate companies, condominiums, cooperatives, and lenders. Although the high profile “miracle” cases receive much of the attention, we are lauded for our litigation practice serving titles companies, lenders, and bet the company battles while at the same time, litigating real estate disputes between shareholders, companies, landlords and tenants, partners and neighbors, which is standard litigation at the firm.   

LD: Will you talk a bit about the firm’s development?

ALB: On January 3, 2020, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C became 20 years old. As the firm’s founding partner, I took what I had learned before starting my own firm and built the largest real estate firm in New York owned by one equity partner. However, the firm runs on revenue sharing so all attorneys are on profit sharing and therefore have a stake in the success of the firm. One magazine wrote an article naming the most important cases of the new millennium and Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. had worked on 8 of the 10 listed. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. has won every reputable award available to boutique law firms. Real estate is exciting and we’re constantly pushing and making new law. Our attorneys are experts on almost every aspect of real estate law.

LD: You clearly have a passion for real estate law. What are some aspects about this work that you find professionally satisfying?

ALB: Every day is exciting, especially at Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Almost every case or deal comes with tremendous odds. Whether we must strategize on how to save a company or we have been tasked with doing the due diligence on a large building to find any fraud or skeletons that the seller is hiding or does not know about to represent a lender and potential purchaser, the case is always at stake. When litigating, someone is going to win and someone is going to lose and there is no room for second place with this much money on the line. To close the odds, we have hired and groomed the best real estate attorneys in New York. Many, who have been with us many years later, were recruited while in law school and were provided in depth training while other, more senior attorneys, have been aggressively recruited by our firm. We have attorneys that are expert writers, others are litigators that are persuasive in court. All of them are the best in their fields.

LD: Out of all the work you’ve done in your career, what would you say is the most interesting matter you’ve handled?

ALB: In prevailing against the Trump family for fraud in Trump Soho, no broker in New York will ever exaggerate a building’s sale’s numbers again. By winning a title case concerning a recording statute after a seller sold the property to two sellers, New York changed its recording statute. When representing a Holocaust survivor rejected by a cooperative board, I convinced the Appellate Division to make new law giving the right to sue to an applicant and non-shareholder for the first time. The Holocaust survivor unanimously won and moved into his new home. When a mosque was trying to build near the former World Trade Center and received opposition from around the world, wearing the armor of the First Amendment, we prevailed on behalf of the Mosque and gave it the right to build what it wanted it to build without restrictions.

But none of these cases caused chaos or did so much good for buyers of real estate like my finding of the Interstate Land Full Disclosure Act and applying it, for the first time, to New York. I forced developers to give thousands of units price discounts. This measure allowed sales to occur as lenders had reduced funding during the financial crisis of 2008. The law required that all buildings, 100 units or more, deliver certain disclosures and other requirements to buyers. Only one developer had followed the law and that developer still lost at the trial court for not following another provision in the law. I had enabled buyers and sellers to renegotiate the deals that allowed them to be affordable to buyers and lenders and provided that developers still made money.

LD: Are there any trends you are seeing in your practice in terms of the types of matters keeping you busy these days?

ALB: The State government has attacked real estate in ways never before seen in New York or American history. This is causing our clients to invest in cities and States outside of New York, hurting our business. By changing the law, the government has also literally taken away a few areas in which we practice law. For purchase and sale transactions, new taxes have been imposed and the government is now threatening to try to socialize commercial real estate as well. Somehow, we are busier than ever before and we hope that this work continues. We have been defending major class action cases where multiple buildings are suing our developer clients for hundreds of millions of dollars. We have the winningest appellate practice in New York history which has taken some major victories and we have frequently been on trial on property rights cases. 

LD: Was there a course or professor in law school that influenced your decision to pursue real estate law?

ALB: I walked out of law school wanting to practice real estate law and litigate mostly because of two professors, Deborah Kenn and Travis Lewin. Syracuse University College of Law traditionally had some of the top trial teams in the nation led by Professor Lewin. Students tried out during their first year and making this All-Star team was extremely difficult and I certainly did not deserve to make the team at that time. But the competition had two components, oral and writing. I had the number 1 ranked writing brief and, I bet, less than a mediocre oral argument score, but the writing put me on the team and Professor Lewin never gave up on me. He worked me harder than the other students and I also worked myself harder than the other students. He sent me to the theater school and to the speech teacher to slow down my speech and to calm my thick, fast-talking New York City accent. He drilled me in trial practice and spent hours with me one on one. He may have been trying to motivate me after constantly having me work on the same things, but he told me that he had never seen anyone as smart on the law or as quick on their feet with accurate objections. A year ago, he forwarded an email to the entire law school faculty which the Dean forwarded to me how proud he was of my of my victories. I am never proud of anything that I accomplish, but on that day, I smiled of joy.

LD: How would you describe your style as a lawyer?

ALB: I am not sure where it came from, but I care about each client and case and matter deeply as if my own family was the one I was representing. As a result, I am fighting for each client’s matter with everything I have, uncovering every angle, and every rock, looking for the most cost effective, most efficient, and most powerful way, when needed, to blow away the other side, in victory.

LD: How do you describe or talk about your firm to potential new recruits?

ALB: Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. is not for everyone. It is for people who have an ethos or desire to be the best in their profession and work at it until they are the best. We believe that our jobs give us a fulfilling meaning in life because, as a result, we are working harder and better to help others in serious matters with serious consequences. We may win or lose, but Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. employees know that we will give a million percent and satisfaction comes from holding your head high knowing you are part of a special team like no other in law. 

LD: Are you involved in any pro bono or public interest activities?

ALB: I have served on a few boards, but nothing has given me the satisfaction of the founding of a charity called Building Foundations and Dreams almost 20 years ago. We hire paid interns to work at our law firm and many of them get full scholarships to college. We place many other young persons into our clients’ companies and provide many more underserved young people with the tools necessary to help them succeed including time with me and the Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. team, computer donations, clothes, suits, books, and whatever else is needed to help them have the necessary means to be on par with their better funded peers.