Jeffrey S. Reich
Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas LLP
Jeffrey S. Reich, a founding partner of Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas, concentrates on real estate law, with a particular specialty in cooperative and condominium law. He represents a diverse group of clients including real estate developers, lenders, investors, and cooperative and condominium boards. Reich has been practicing in these areas for over twenty years. In addition, he has been a contributor to a number of industry publications, has participated on Bar Association committees, and is a frequent lecturer on issues pertaining to cooperatives and condominiums, as well as construction issues.
How Did You Get Your Start in Real Estate Law?
My father was a real estate broker, a converter of cooperative buildings, and a “white knight” cooperative and condominium investor, so I grew up in the co-op/condo business. My earliest work experiences were as a young teenager, showing model cooperative apartments to prospective purchasers. At 18, I obtained my real estate salesperson’s license and began showing (and trying to sell) cooperative apartments in my father’s conversions in Queens and Nassau County. The real estate recession of the late 1980s redirected my plans from pursuing a career in real estate development to pursuing a law degree and ultimately becoming a real estate attorney. In 1994, I began my legal career with a small real estate firm, where I was given a great deal of responsibility and a fantastic education. In 1997 I moved over to Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman and Herz LLP from which I, along with a number of my partners, split from in May of 2015 in order to form our own firm.
Who Are Some of Your Most Notable Clients?
My first and dearest client was my father, Jules Reich, and his investment company, Somerset Financial Group, Inc. I cut my teeth representing my father with his investments in blocks of cooperative and condominium units, collateral-based lenders, and various other real estate interests. Fairly early in my career I had the great pleasure to meet and work with Tony Goldman of Goldman Properties USA, Inc. Tony was an early investor in Soho and South Beach. Tony entrusted me to represent his interests in connection with the conversion of a number of Soho condominiums as well as in connection with his efforts to create Soho-like communities in Boston and Detroit. I have also had the great pleasure to work with a number of prestigious cooperative and condominium boards, including the boards of 995 Fifth Avenue Owners Corp., The 1212 Fifth Avenue Condominium, The Charles Condominium, The 145 Hudson Street Condominium, and The Parkchester North Condominium. In addition, I worked with the Board of the Riverbay Corporation (the Board of Co-op City) in connection with the refinancing of approximately half a billion dollars of debt.
What Issues are Co-op and Condominium Boards Currently Facing?
Cooperative and condominium boards are facing an ever-increasing number of issues. Over the past few years I have spent a considerable amount of time dealing with short-term rentals (Airbnb situations), building construction issues, and concerns regarding smoking policies. In addition to the issues created by building residents (short term rentals and smoking issues) and developers (construction issues), City and State legislatures continue to pass laws, rules, and regulations that boards must address. Two recent examples are the changes to the New York State Business Corporation Law, which requires that all cooperative and condominium boards report annually to their shareholders/unit owners to report on the existence of any contracts entered with individual board members of entities in which individual board members (or their family members) may have a financial interest. A second change in the law requires that all boards (and landlords) provide written notice to residents and prospective residents regarding smoking policies in effect in their buildings. Advising my board clients on the ever-evolving state of the law and compliance with applicable laws, rules, and regulations is a crucial part of my practice.
What Are Your Secrets to Success?
When representing a client I always seek to be accurate, practical, and responsive. The goal of any attorney is to offer reasonably sound advice. However, many attorneys fail by offering legal advice that is not practical, and by not providing timely responses to client questions. Representing boards who are dealing with neighbors and who often operate on tight budgets have highlighted the overwhelming need for practical solutions. In many instances boards are better served by practical and creative solutions over the pursuit of all legal remedies in order to avoid unnecessary litigation costs and building disharmony. One such example has been the adoption of house rules curtailing the provision of all non-essential services to delinquent shareholders and unit owners in lieu of pursuing often expensive and drawn-out collections actions.
Who Are Your Biggest Inspirations?
The two biggest influences on my career to date have both been clients: my father and Tony Goldman. My father taught me that it was not always necessary to try to prove you are the smartest person in the room, and that you can achieve your greatest successes with your most difficult clients or situations. Tony taught me that there is an artistry that winds its way through the real estate business, and that the value of an honest effort is at least as important as natural talent.
Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas LLP
270 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10016