The 5 Best Real Estate Lawyers in Los Angeles

By J. William Carpenter | January 27, 2016 — 11:00 AM EST

Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the United States and the center of one of the world’s largest urban agglomerations. Los Angeles County, which encompasses Los Angeles and several of its suburbs, is home to nearly 55,000 lawyers as of 2015, thousands of whom practice real estate law. These professionals handle all kinds of legal matters arising from ownership of real property. They handle real estate transactions, negotiate leases, litigate property disputes and consult on land use laws, among other activities real estate lawyers.

The lawyers detailed on this list rate among the city’s best options in a variety of specialty practice areas. They each bring a record of experience and performance, boasting high ratings from former clients. However, there are many other competent, high-performing real estate lawyers operating across Los Angeles. Keep in mind that this list should serve only as an initial step in your search. To identify the right lawyer to handle your specific legal issue, it is important to speak to at least several promising candidates to get a real sense of who has the right experience, expertise and character to handle your business.

David Tabibian

David Tabibian handles real estate transactions for developers, investors, high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), landlords, commercial banks and other clients with high-value projects. He oversees all aspects of real estate transactions and has drafted complex purchase and sales agreements, loan documents, commercial leases and settlement agreements. Tabibian has experience handling real estate projects of all kinds, including hotels, retail and office buildings, single-family and multifamily residential properties, industrial projects and mixed-use developments. Tabibian is a senior associate attorney in the real estate department at Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro, one of the nation’s top full-service law firms. He works at the firm’s main office in the Century City neighborhood of Los Angeles and has practiced law since 2007.

Zachary D. Schorr

Zachary D. Schorr is an experienced litigator who specializes in real estate disputes. He handles virtually all disputes arising in the residential and commercial real estate arena, including purchase and sale disputes, commercial lease disputes, easement disputes, commercial evictions, residential landlord-tenant disputes and many other types of legal issues. Shore has practiced law in Los Angeles for 13 years. The Schorr Law office is located in the Sawtelle area of the city.

Deborah R. Bronner

Deborah R. Bronner is an experienced real estate lawyer offering a range of services for distressed families struggling to keep their homes. Bronner represents parties facing eviction, litigates wrongful foreclosures and handles bankruptcies, short sales and debt settlement negotiations. Apart from her work with distressed homeowners, Bronner also provides a full range of real estate transaction services and offers commercial lease review and negotiation services. She has been practicing law in Los Angeles and Southern California for 28 years. Her office is located in the Los Angeles suburb of Culver City.

Melissa C. Marsh

Melissa C. Marsh has 19 years of experience practicing real estate and business law in Los Angeles. She handles all transactional aspects of residential and commercial property sales, negotiates and drafts commercial and residential lease agreements and construction contracts, and represents parties involved in landlord-tenant disputes. Marsh also handles condominium and homeowners association disputes and represents landowners involved in boundary-line disputes. Marsh’s law offices are located in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles.

Pankaj S. Raval

Pankaj S. Raval is a business and real estate lawyer with special expertise in landlord-tenant disputes. Raval has experience representing interests and rights on both sides of the landlord-tenant relationship. His primary focus is on mediating disputes to bring about mutually agreeable solutions while protecting the rights and interests of his clients. Raval also handles commercial lease negotiations and provides lease review services. He has practiced law in Los Angeles for five years. He started his legal career in Arizona and maintains an active license to practice in the state. Raval’s law offices are located in the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles.

commercial real estate development in Pasadena was beset by costly delays, and a major investor in the project — a prominent TV producer — was fed up, hiring a high-priced New York attorney to wrest control from the developer.

A meeting was called. Phillip R. Nicholson, one of the senior attorneys for the developer, had a simple strategy: Just listen to what the New York lawyer said. Don’t argue. When the lawyer finished with a string of harsh demands, Nicholson asked for time to think it over.

At the office later, Nicholson directed attorney Mario Camara to look up a particular section in the California penal code. He then asked Camara to draft a letter to the New York lawyer citing that section — and pointing out that extortion was illegal in California.

The threats went away, Camara said. The episode, which occurred three decades ago, was just one of many examples of how Nicholson helped his colleagues navigate the thorniest of legal thickets, he said.

Nicholson, 79, died Monday at his Pacific Palisades home after a long illness. He was a founding partner of Cox, Castle & Nicholson, a Century City-based law firm specializing in real estate.

His clients included Southern California developers Rob Maguire and the late Ray Watt. Nicholson also served on the board of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. and held board positions with both the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate and UCLA’s Center for Real Estate.

Born Dec. 17, 1935, in Ottumwa, Iowa, Nicholson grew up in the South Bay. As a 12-year-old, he suffered a partial amputation of his foot after accepting a dare to climb an oil derrick and then suffering an injury. It took hours for help to arrive, leading a local paper to tell the story with the headline, “The Bravest Little Boy in the World,” recalled Jennifer Nicholson Salke, one of his four daughters.

The injury took the steam out of a budding athletic career, but Salke said her father used the money he received in a settlement after the injury to buy a saxophone — leading to a high school dance band and a lifelong avocation.

Salke, the president of NBC Entertainment, said she learned valuable lessons from her father that have served her well in her career.

“He was always calm in the center of the storm,” she recalled. “In real estate, there are a lot of big personalities — just as there are in our business. He always maintained this calm, centered presence — and I’ve tried to do the same.”

Nicholson earned his law degree at USC and co-founded the firm that bears his name in 1968.

“He was way ahead of his time in his view of what a law firm should be,” said Camara, a partner at the firm. “At the time, the typical law firm was far too hierarchical. The bureaucracy and the pecking order got in the way of client service. He thought lawyers were far too often focused on monetary awards and not client success.”

Nicholson’s solution, Camara said, was to spread management responsibilities around and to give younger lawyers as many duties as they could handle.

The lawyer was so beloved by his colleagues, he added, that the firm’s partners gave him a prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle as a 65th birthday present. “That was something we did out of our hearts, because he did so much for us.”

Nicholson is survived by his wife of 55 years, Joan, and his sister, Lois Nicholson. In addition to Jennifer Salke, Nicholson had three other daughters: Jill Nicholson Samuel, Lauren Nicholson and Amy Nicholson Zimmerman.

Maguire, whose list of developments include the Wells Fargo Center and the Gas Co. Tower in downtown Los Angeles, said Nicholson shares some credit for today’s Los Angeles skyline.

“He was very imaginative and creative, and we were always doing unusual deals,” Maguire said. “He was much more than just a lawyer. We were doing some very big transactions, and he was a full participant.”


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