US firms are prepared to show you the money

THERE is a new, and very well paid, career path opening up for junior real estate lawyers – US firms.

US firms in the City have grown to a size where it now makes it financially viable, and increasingly commercially essential, for them to have a decent real estate capability. Consequently, they are on a hiring spree, looking to pay big money for the best real estate juniors they can find.

But the problem that they are having is that any real estate lawyer worth their salt is not overly tempted by being a corporate or banking support function. It all depends on the type of real estate associates are looking to focus on.

US firms are focusing on corporate, private equity and high-end refinancing transactions, and the best firms are landing some big deals in the market.

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher is Gibson Dunn has worked on some mouth-watering deals so far this year, advising on such transactions as the 3.3bn acquisition financing of Hilton Group, the 951m sale and manageback of 46 UKbased Marriott hotels and the 276m refinancing of Westbrook Partners’ property US firm that has been doing real estate longer than most, thanks to the efforts of its dual UK and US-qualified lead partner Alan Samson.

The other great advantage of a US firm is the international opportunity that working there provides. And not just for US work – the European real estate market is booming just as much. Consider Latham & Watkins; this is another US firm that is looking to increase steadily its UK real estate capability in the coming years and already boasts an impressive German real estate practice.

Some US firms are offering 100,000 for newly qualified real estate associates – more than double what you could make at many UK firms and up to 25,000 more than other practices.

US heavyweight Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom confirmed that it is looking forreal estate lawyers. London managing partner Bruce Buck said: “We’re interested in it because we think it’s synergistic with our current finance practice, and especially with our US finance practice.

“Several clients have asked us to staff up in this area, and when clients ask you to staff up, you do it.”