Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. - The Inside View

A real (e)state of mind and dreams of the concrete jungle define the ambitious lawyers at this boutique, with prowess in “anything you could possibly think of in the real estate world.”

It’s a well-known fact that New York City boasts an impressive skyline, with the iconic Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and Chrysler Building dotting its streets. You could call it a real estate lawyer’s dream, especially considering the years of history mapped onto its cityscape. However, in among these landmarks and across the water from the Statue of Liberty, you’ll find One Battery Park Plaza, home to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. The building itself is a sight to see, but the firm on its 18th floor has a reputation that’s just as imposing as its home. “We’re the largest single-person-owned real estate firm in New York, and we follow our own path,” says eponymous founder Adam Leitman Bailey. “We came back from COVID in September 2020, earlier than lots of other firms. We won’t let anything get in the way of pleasing our clients and bringing them success.” The small headcount (of just over 20 lawyers!) and a single office location haven’t got in the way either, and Bailey explains how “although we’re all in the office full-time, we have a few attorneys based in different counties and they can get to the courts there.”

“It’s well known in the real estate industry, so it was on my radar long before I joined.”

You could probably say ALB’s reputation is public property at this point, and is backed up by Bailey’s own top-tier real estate litigation ranking from our colleagues at Chambers USA. Associates had also heard all the rage about ALB, and were more than happy to tell us how “it’s well known in the real estate industry, so it was on my radar long before I joined.” Another source was keen to join a firm that “packed a big punch in NYC!” However, others were drawn to “the firm culture and way attorneys here treat younger associates, interns and externs. It’s very collaborative and nothing like the horror stories I’ve heard about elsewhere.” The people who feel at home at ALB, according to Bailey, “are really smart and want to be successful, and those who do really well here are willing to work hard to become great attorneys.”

TOP READ: Becoming a real estate lawyer - the view from Adam Leitman Bailey

Strategy & Future



“I don’t have a commercial strategy – you can write that down!” Bailey quips. “We know we’re very lucky that we have to turn down at least a third of the cases coming in as we don’t have enough attorneys, but I think we’ll lose quality if we get too big.” However, Bailey tells us that the firm has expanded in the past year, taking on a greater number of younger associates: “We’ve been hiring laterals over younger students, which we’ve never done before, but that’s where there’s more talent in the market right now.” Recruitment is the first prong of ALB’s plan to be the best at what it does, and this is strengthened by the firm’s narrow focus of one type of law in one state. Fortunately, “it could not be a better time to be a real estate attorney,” according to Bailey, who explains how “real estate is in chaos. Every case is bet-the-company, and we’re so honored to have been brought in to work on and win some of the biggest cases in New York.”

The Work



Associates explained that litigation makes up most of the firm’s work, but were pleased to note that “we handle anything you could possibly think of in the real estate world.” Attorneys find work through the free-market system, though interviewees mentioned that “there are partners I work with more often than others, but I’ll sometimes take on tasks for other partners here and there.” Despite this open work assignment system, insiders were clear that “the firm is big on externs, interns and younger associates getting their feet wet.”

The real estate litigation group handles a range of general real estate matters, condo, and cooperative disputes and foreclosure title cases (to name a few), alongside a landlord-tenant group that deals with both residential and commercial matters. “We represent both landlord and tenants on those matters, though most of our work is landlord-side,” an interviewee explained. “Seeing both sides is helpful for us as growing attorneys as it makes it easier to craft arguments both in opposition and in favor of either.” Though rare, our litigator interviewees had also had the chance to work with their transactional colleagues, noting: “We collaborate every once in a while on things like closing disputes, or other questions on our cases.” Whatever the case, associates were pleased that “you don’t just focus on one specific aspect of real estate law on matters. Things come up out of nowhere which require you to use creativity to analyze and apply the law, so with every case you train your mind to think outside the box.”

“I’m in court almost every day.”

Juniors were also grateful for the level of responsibility, and were more than happy to tell us, “I’m not sequestered to specific tasks. I’m involved in all stages of litigation and have my own cases that I handle, with carte blanche to do whatever I need to do to serve the client’s best interests.” So it probably comes as no surprise that ALB’s litigators spend plenty of time in court, and can get lots of experience arguing, strategizing and working with clients. “I’m in court almost every day,” a junior explained: “I learned how to do my job very quickly because attorneys have entrusted me with so much responsibility.” Other stages of cases such as discovery, taking depositions, and drafting pleadings and motions are all standard tasks for juniors, who felt they’re “treated as equals” regardless of experience. “I have meaningful discussions with others about what works best on cases,” an interviewee gratefully highlighted. “It’s very rewarding to work with people who listen, understand and let you take control, so there are plenty of cases where we’ve gone with one of my ideas and it’s worked!”

Real estate clients: Co-op Board on the Upper East Side, US Rof, multiple NYC business owners. Represented a New York real estate developer in a $100m dispute concerning NYU’s rights to use and access a condominium on East 78th Street.

Career Development



“I know I’m going to continue to grow here, and I’ll be a warrior of an attorney because of how much partners have invested in me,” an associate said on career development at ALB. However, interviewees were also clear that ALB lawyers all have their own style, so juniors can learn “bits and pieces from different people to develop my own preferences. They don’t enforce their own styles onto attorneys, but explain things to us so we can understand what works and makes sense.” However, juniors felt that such feedback structures were typically more informal: “I would be surprised if I handed in work and didn’t hear back, whether that’s comprehensive constructive criticism or something a bit more casual.”

“If you want to become partner, the ability to bring in clients helps, but it’s mostly about dedication to your work.”

When it comes to long-term progression, sources mentioned that “if you want to become partner, the ability to bring in clients helps, but it’s mostly about dedication to your work.” Bailey echoes this sentiment, explaining how “the key is doing a great job. It’s not always winning or losing. In fact, I always say that if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough!” The formula seems to work, as interviewees highlighted long-term retention as a strength of the firm, with plenty of associates who have stayed with the firm since they were externs. According to Bailey, there is also no forced retirement age, meaning greener and more senior attorneys work together on matters. “I believe the older you are, the more wisdom you have,” he explains. “It’s amazing how all the generations work together, and it’s made us a better firm.”

Pro Bono & Culture



While legal pro bono is neither a requirement nor billable for attorneys at ALB, there are opportunities to get involved with the firm’s not-for-profit program, ‘Building Foundations and Dreams’. Bailey explains how the firm works with schools to support underprivileged students in pursuing their goals: “the focus of the charity is education, and helping kids become successful when they might not have the means to access the best schools.” The firm offers scholarship and externship positions through this program, and current associates can set up lunches with those involved to answer any questions they may have. While the more junior associates typically spend the most time with interns and externs, interviewees explained how “everyone at the firm can ask them to take on projects, such as research and drafting, and we’ll guide them as supervisors. I’ve sat down with interns to go through documents together, and it feels like I’m immediately giving back.”

“Partners who have been here for over ten years want to foster a culture where teaching younger attorneys is at the forefront.”

Sources felt that such relationships across experience levels were indicative of the firmwide “no jerk policy,” and associates were keen to explain how “partners who have been here for over ten years want to foster a culture where teaching younger attorneys is at the forefront.” For instance, one associate boasted: “I’m comfortable with the people I work with! I could pick up my phone and text a partner, ‘hi, do you know what this means?’ That’s how close we are.” Apart from a few remote attorneys, everyone is back into the office full-time – with their own individual office which has “a view of the water or at least of something interesting,” says Bailey – meaning there are plenty of opportunities to socialize day-to-day. Insiders had attended happy hours and firm parties, and one source especially appreciated the birthday celebrations: “We have a mini celebration for every birthday in the office, where everyone goes into the conference room to wish them a happy birthday and eat some cake!” Being at such a small firm, juniors felt they could “get to know colleagues as individuals” and appreciated the “entrepreneurial, friendly and helpful” personalities.

Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: 1,600 target (with revenue sharing program)

“This is a phenomenal place to work for people who are ambitious and hungry to be successful,” says Bailey, citing the revenue-sharing program which allows attorneys to “work as much or as little as they want, depending on how much money they want to make.” Essentially, your earnings are calculated on a cash collected basis in which you earn a third of what you bill, and anything exceeding your base salary becomes part of your profit sharing bonus. However, there is also a discretionary bonus based on performance and interactions at the firm. This cash collection method was valued by associates as “a strong incentive to not only bill, but to realize the profits from the work you’re billing. It’s important as an attorney to understand how the business operates, and this teaches you to not only make sure you bill enough, but to also follow up with the clients who are less enthusiastic about paying!”

The more entrepreneurial approach to compensation means that attorneys can have more control and flexibility over their work-life balance. Day to day, this meant that some interviewees aimed for eight billable hours per day, while others liked to keep to a 9 to 6 average workday. However, this wasn’t the case for all, and one interviewee shared how “I wake up early to come to work just because I like the work I do. I wake up and go to sleep thinking about how to solve client issues!” So, while monitoring your own schedule and workload is a key part of the job, juniors felt that “if I’m ever struggling or find myself underwater, I don’t feel uncomfortable asking a partner for help. The support here is great.” ALB has long since offered manicures and massages for its employees for when the going does get tough and it’s time to de-stress, and this recently started back up for the first time since the pandemic.

“Things feel possible here.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion



“We’re still committed to not hiring from Ivy League schools, even now we’re hiring younger attorneys and not just externs,” says Bailey, whose recruitment strategy focuses around “hiring people who are hungry for success rather than pushing a specific diversity quota.” So, while there’s no formal diversity track at the firm, associates felt “a strong spread of different genders, religions and ethnicities.” Sources were especially reassured by the representation of women at the firm, noting how “there are women in high positions who’ve been here for 20 years. That’s not always common.” Another interviewee praised the general attitude towards diversity, noting how “the firm is doing a good job in terms of making everyone here feel comfortable. Things feel possible here.”

Get Hired



Visit the firm's career page here.

Contact Maria Ibanez at mibanez@alblawfirm.com for more information.

Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.

1 Battery Park Plaza, 18th Floor,
New York,
NY 10004
Website www.alblawfirm.com

Main areas of work
• Real Estate

Firm profile



By uniting many of the best real estate attorneys of its generation, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. has become one of New York’s most prominent real estate law firms. The firm excels by solely practicing real estate law and only taking on projects and cases where it is among the best in the field. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. has achieved groundbreaking results in the courtroom, in the boardroom, at the closing table, in the lobbies of legislative bodies, and in every other venue where talented legal advocacy is key to its clients’ interests. Some select litigation victories can be found here: https://www.alblawfirm.com/about-us/monumental-victories/ 

Famous for:
Winning landmark real estate cases; Winning certain cases by making new law using creative lawyering combined with special expertise in real estate law; Building the best real estate law firm since the start of the millennium. 

Recruitment
Recruitment outside OCIs:
Although most of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s attorneys are homegrown, we are always looking for the most talented real estate attorneys and litigators to continue to climb to the top of the mountain.

Summer associate profile:
We choose the most talented applicants. When interviewing candidates for these positions, we look to see whether they have the potential to be future lawyers at our firm. Once we hire someone, the training, mentoring, and teaching never stops. We strive for greatness in everything we do and expect our summer associates to do the same. We encourage you to express your opinions and share your ideas to improve our work.

Summer program components:
Our summer associates become lawyers-in-training and are part of the legal team and learn on the case or deal. Being assigned to active cases and made part of the team has given them the ability to produce amazing results. Only the very best law school students will make it at Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. as we are considered among the best, if not the best, real estate law firm in New York City. Because Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. practices only one type of law, all our associates rapidly become experts. We have exciting cases that require hard work and sweat, as well as the smartest, most aggressive, passionate, loyal, and committed students who are ready to change the world one real estate case at a time. Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. has some of the most challenging and high-profile cases in the nation where staff expertise really does make a difference for the client, the community and, sometimes, the nation.

Summer associates will participate in a wide range of tasks that may include conducting case investigation, legal research, and discovery; meeting with clients and experts; and preparing memoranda, briefs, and other legal documents for administrative, judicial and transactional proceedings.  

Social media:
Firm website:
https://www.alblawfirm.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/adam-leitman-bailey-p.c./
Twitter: @ALB_pc
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AdamLeitmanBaileyPC 
Instagram: @alb_pc / @adamleitmanbaileyesq 
Charity Website: https://www.buildingfoundationsanddreams.com

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023

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