September 2014

Who to Employ as your Expert: Lawyer v. Real Estate Professional

This is a serious debate among litigators. I have been in a number of court hearings and depositions where I have opposed expert witness lawyers. The lawyers who served as expert witnesses are very seasoned lawyers who made an excellent presentation with in depth understanding of the law that governs real estate.

In commercial real estate litigation, it could be helpful to hire a lawyer to serve as an expert witness rather than your firm doing the research on the cases which could reinforce the positives of the position. It would seem at first glance, that your firm’s expertise combined with a legal expert witness would provide you with great ammunition in your case. Further, it could expedite your case since your firm would be obtaining opinions on the legal perspective of the case.

The commercial real estate expert witness comes from a completely different position in a case but pays particular attention to the law that governs real estate. The practicing real estate professional has the know-how of what actually happens in the business. The discussion of custom and practice are two words that this professional lives by. Your firm should employ a professional that is still involved in the "day to day" practices of real estate transactions, management, development practices and contract negotiations.

My personal view is that I really enjoy sparring with a lawyer who is an expert witness. The lawyer can serve your firm well with the legal aspects of a case, on the other hand, the real estate professional can instruct you with what happens in the trenches every day. My personal friend, David White, is a fantastic real estate lawyer and we are working on a presentation entitled "The Tale of Two Experts". Stay tuned for this presentation at your office in the near future.

Creative Office Space in Los Angeles-What’s Going On?

The Silicon Beach creative office space supply is depleted.  As a result, the trend for this campus style work space is moving south to El Segundo. 

Developers are racing to keep up with the demand.  Owners are converting old industrial buildings to unique co-collaborating open spaces.  Tenants are signing leases before construction begins to tear down the walls and add more windows.

The problem is industrial offices lack the parking space needed to conform to city codes as creative office space.  For example an existing 10,000-square-foot industrial warehouse in El Segundo only has to have 10 parking spaces.  However, city codes require 33 parking spaces after converting it to creative office space.

An old industrial area of El Segundo located West of Sepulveda Blvd. and North of El Segundo Blvd. known as Smokey Hollow not far from the ocean is now a trendy spot for creative office space.  This secret area is unique from other beach cities, because it may have parking spaces required by city codes.

The area was an aerospace subcontractor haven during the 1950s’ to the late 1970s’.  The once obsolete, old fashioned, industrial brick buildings lining the small downtown streets are now in high demand. 

As the Managing General Partner of six of these light industrial buildings, I have seen gentrification slowly occur in this area.  Developers convert the space to creative space after the industrial tenants move out; as a result, the property value increases with the rents.

We are currently renovating a recently vacated industrial building to creative office space.  I have received two lease offers prior to construction.  We still have to approve the architect’s plans.

“Lee has a tremendous breadth of knowledge in the real estate field. He assisted me with a case which involved combing through a great deal of information, and he was very thorough in navigating his way through the sea of documents with a good understanding of the facts. He was always mindful of trying to be as efficient as possible by focusing on the most relevant information rather than delving into every single document. I would absolutely work with Lee again in the future.”  
Eugene Kim, Attorney, Gresham Savage Nolan & Tilden, PC