WRITTEN BY LEWIS FEIN
As residential towers and commercial buildings rise toward the heavens, as they pierce the clouds and refract the light from sheets of glass unto frozen crystals, creating a rainbow so many stories above the ground but below the stars, construction accelerates. It accelerates in cities large and small, increasing the need for real estate developers and agents – in addition to buyers and sellers – to have sound legal representation. For construction to continue apace, so the economy does not lose its pace, weneed real estate experts and lawyers to work together. Anything less than full collaboration threatens to stall growth and bring the real estate industry to a standstill.
According to Wayne R. Cohen, a professor at The George Washington University School of Law and a partner at Cohen & Cohen, P.C., lawyers are an essential part of this equation. He says:
Growth is sustainable only to the degree that there are enough lawyers to ensure developers can break ground without fear of breaking the law, because they do not have the right permits or are in violation of some zoning ordinance. As much as the law can hinder growth, or an injunction can slow or stop it, good lawyers can do their best – they can do everything in their power – to reverse that restriction.
I second Cohen’s analysis, since the real estate industry cannot operate without effective legal counsel. The same rule applies to the rights of tenants who can too easily be bulldozed (pun intended) by one side. If there is to be balance, lawyers who specialize in these matters need to come forward.
What I foresee is not so much an adversarial relationship but a copectic one: a union between lawyer and client – negotiations between lawyers on behalf of their respective clients – where resolution is fast and fair; where construction resumes quickly, quickening the overall rate of construction citywide; where reality is dynamic and the real estate industry has more than its share of dynamos.
For these things to happen, a conversation must begin and actions must follow. The arrangement must be right, so lawyers can do justice and real estate developers can pursue legal means for a just outcome. In turn, a national conversation can ensue for the good of the public and the advancement of those goods that benefit the republic – things like the construction or repair of parks and playgrounds, the renovation of libraries and museums, the expansion of roads and highways, and the availability of affordable housing.
If the currency of the legal profession is language, if lawyers pride themselves on the precision of the words they use, much like architects and engineers must be precise in their calculations, they have a duty – we all have a responsibility – to have a dialogue about how lawyers can aid the real estate industry and assist the economy.
The jobs that result from that discussion are one of several rewards for us to enjoy.
I welcome this chance to talk, so we can succeed greatly and grow mightily.