Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. – The Inside View
In the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, ALB associates can help “create miracles” in the real estate world.
“The people here are considered high-caliber and relentless characters – and I knew I needed to work with them,” declared one of our interviewees right off the bat. This description gives you a good sense of the entrepreneurial energy at ALB, a relatively young (founded in 2000) but strong player in the field, with a penchant for all things real estate and all things New York. ALB’s specialist focus was a huge draw for our interviewees: “What’s really fascinating about real estate law is that on the face of it a matter may seem like an easy contractual dispute, but when you get into it you discover that it actually touches upon so many varied areas of law.”
“We’re known for rocking the industry.”
Eponymous founder Adam Leitman Bailey is ranked highly in Chambers USA for his work in real estate litigation. He tells us of a recent case for Verizon where a building which housed the local 911 switchboard was on the verge of collapse due to third-party construction: “We came in and got an injunction to stop them from building, saved the building and got the builder to pay for everything. We were honored to be the ones that got to help. I was proud to tell my kids we helped save a building that helps to save lives in New York City.” Another recent case saw Leitman Bailey and his team spark a “new law for all developers in New York, whereby if you buy someone else’s development or multi-family building, you’re not responsible for the first developer’s defects. In New York, that rocked the industry. We’re known for making new laws and rocking the industry.”
These impactful cases and many more have earned ALB quite a reputation, with Leitman Bailey telling us that people “know to come to us to create miracles. That’s what we’re known for and we keep doing it over and over.” ALB associates therefore felt that they were able to get exposure to “experts in our field. We also become experts in different parts of the law and contemporary issues that are important for our clients.”
STRATEGY & FUTURE
The future sees Adam Leitman Bailey wanting to “reach the next level. My view is that if we keep winning these incredible cases we will.” Leitman Bailey tells us that the firm’s litigation strategies get results: “If you look over the last 22 years we’ve been around, we keep getting better cases and better clients.”
“…one type of law in one city in one state.”
Though some firms have taken their eggs out of the New York basket due to the pandemic, Leitman Bailey retorts: “They say it’s the death of New York but I believe in this city. The jobs are here, the infrastructure is here and all the big clients want the New York lawyers.” That’s good news for a firm that proudly practices “one type of law in one city in one state.”
ALB handles contentious and transactional real estate work, as well as some related banking and finance matters. Associates tend to be in either camp contentious or camp non-contentious. As the firm is smaller (just under 30 attorneys), a free-market system is in place, but matters do come directly through Leitman Bailey as well. Juniors are also “encouraged to go out and bring in our own clients, especially on residential matters or commercial matters. I can go out and earn my way – I don’t want to sit on sidelines and wait to be handed work. I enjoy networking.”
“It’s invigorating. It’s exciting to be challenged in that way.”
ALB’s thriving general contentious practice lets “each person figure out what they want to practice.” There’s the law-changing Supreme Court and appellate work, as well as construction, lease and foreclosure disputes. “The great thing about the firm is that even though I have my niche area, I might be on a landlord-tenant case, a contractual dispute between sellers and buyers, or a dispute between a housing cooperative board and unit owner – I really can do anything!” enthused one junior. This is in part due to the team being so lean – “it means we can get thrown into a case with 24 hours’ notice. It’s invigorating. It’s exciting to be challenged in that way.” Juniors here get to do a lot of legal research and draft pleadings and motions. “We take the approach of providing a superior work product,” a source clarified. “We’re combing through everything and super detail-oriented to make sure everything’s in line.” It’s not uncommon for juniors to appear in court, argue motions, second-chair hearings and make conference appearances.
The transactional side covers both residential and commercial property transactions in New York on both the buyer and seller side. Commercial and residential refinancings, as well as leasing and mortgage matters, all fall under the remit here. Clients can be individuals who range from “the high-level wealthy, but also buyers who may not have as many resources and are looking into smaller properties. For the most part, New York prices are quite high.” When representing the lender, the firm’s role is to “look at the documents, do a lot of disclosure and check that everything is compliant. We also do a lot more of the back-end stuff to get the loan approved by underwriters at the bank.” This associate was glad to report that the firm “doesn’t pigeonhole me at all. It lets me explore different types of transactions, legal matters and clients.” Interviewees told us they draft and negotiate contracts, conduct diligence, review title reports, coordinate with clients and banks and conduct the closing process.
Real estate clients: Carlyle Hotel, Fortis Property Group, Monarch Realty. Recently helped Olshan Law and Thomas Kearns in the securing of an atypical Yellowstone Injunction for a tenant facing the loss of their ground lease tenancy over an insurance dispute.
Due to the size of the firm, juniors are able to “work very closely with the senior attorneys here.” This means that “mentorship comes from them easily whenever I need advice or input.” We heard that partners are “invested in my development. They’re open and willing to teach and I feel comfortable asking questions about any issues, even if I’ve made a mistake.” The reportedly kind nature of the leadership here means “they tackle issues in a very logical and blameless way. There’s a lot of guidance and problem solving.”
“They’ve been interested in getting me published on legal issues.”
Juniors told us they “have the ability to really take the reins” on their careers. We heard of juniors having conversations with partners about the kind of work they want to do and receiving guidance on what the firm is looking for in the future: “They’ll take me under their wing and go through the process to allow me to develop the skills I need.” There’s a heavy emphasis on business development and juniors building a practice from the start of their careers. “They’ve been interested in getting me published on legal issues and have helped me to find topics and issues to write about that are topical,” a source told us.
CULTURE & PRO BONO
“Adam Leitman Bailey isn’t a place you can hide,” an interviewee emphasized. This benefits those in the early part of their careers greatly – “it means no associate is too junior. Partners ask me about my opinions on cases and really value my input.” We heard the firm is full of “humble, warm and welcoming” individuals. “They don’t look to hire entitled people who think their s**t doesn’t stink. They hire people who are looking to further their careers and are motivated to succeed.” But that doesn’t mean career growth is the only driving force at ALB: “I bill my hours, but I know I’m more than that here. We know each other well and are very connected.”
ALB’s office in The Battery is “beautiful – it’s the best office I’ve ever been in. People hang up photos and art.” Its location means that “almost all of the attorneys have offices that look upon water,” Leitman Bailey tells us. “I’m looking at the Statue of Liberty right now.” Attorneys are largely in the office for most of the week – “the expectation to be working in the office is apparent, but everyone for the most part is fine to come in. It’s better than working from my little apartment.” Office working also means that ALB has done a “a good job of navigating social issues caused by the pandemic.” Happy hours and holiday parties are back on and “Adam encourages associates to go out for lunch on the firm together.”
“Everyone here has a strong commitment to the city of New York. It’s ingrained in our culture here.”
When it comes to pro bono, “everyone here has a strong commitment to the city of New York. It’s ingrained in our culture here.” However, helping the city out has been harder over the pandemic, with interviewees telling us they’re “looking to get into pro bono work soon.” Partners were portrayed as being heavily involved in pro bono, with juniors noting that they “find it important for our community – as attorneys we have to do our part.” The firm takes on cases with vulnerable tenants and does other non-legal community engagement through its official in-house charitable organization Building Foundations, which helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds access their academic aspirations.
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: Undisclosed
- Average per US attorney: Undisclosed
DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION
“I see Adam putting an emphasis on diversity a lot. He values different cultures and perspectives on issues, and I see him trying to connect with people from different backgrounds overall,” a source summarized. In our 2021 research ALB ranked in the top percentile of participating firms for female partnership and in the top 3% for partners of color. “Sometimes it’s hard at small firms to get representation, but there’s a conscious effort here and it’s paying off,” one associate was glad to tell us.
ALB’s approach to mental health was also rated well, with juniors telling us that the firm “has always generally been supportive of attorneys’ lives outside of just their jobs. We support each other on a personal level.” However, some would like to see “a step up beyond that where we could have a formalized touch-base with a manager or partner on occasion.” Others were quick to note that “this happens informally already though – partners do ask how you’re doing.”
HOURS & COMPENSATION
Billable hours: 1,600 target
“There’s no pressure for me to hit a certain number of hours,” an associate asserted. ALB charges a flat rate to its clients, meaning that the billable hour is not a huge focus for attorneys at the firm. Having said that, attorneys can receive a third of what they bill as an unlimited revenue share. Leitman Bailey himself tells us that this means juniors can “decide to work nine to five or you can decide to make $1 million a year and bill a lot more hours.” Juniors explained that “the workload itself is very high as we’re very busy. There’s no demand to get those hours and partners aren’t pressuring me – but there is a self-inflicted pressure.”
“… incentivizes the go-getter types”
Interviewees tended to follow a “normal workday” and finished by 6pm most days. “We don’t want people burning out and we don’t want people unhappy,” Leitman Bailey tells us. Juniors highlighted that the salary system “incentivizes the go-getter types. It means you can get as much as you like. But it’s not common for people to work like crazy – people are sensible!”