May 30, 2007

Venable Bolsters West Coast Real Estate Team with Addition of Samuel Spira to Los Angeles Office

5 min

In a move that adds a highly-skilled transactional attorney to its Los Angeles office and further strengthens an already robust national real estate practice, Samuel R. Spira has joined Venable LLP as a partner.

Mr. Spira began his career in real estate more than two decades ago as an analyst for the Milken Family affiliate Western Realty Investors. Soon afterwards, he earned a law degree and has since represented developers, owners, lenders and managers of real estate in transactional matters including the financing, acquisition and disposition of properties.

His work has involved structuring transactions and ownership interests, negotiating construction contracts, arranging for construction and long-term financing, and drafting licensing and leasing agreements for major residential, office, and retail projects, including a number of Southern California mixed-use projects.

Most recently, as a partner with Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP in Beverly Hills, Mr. Spira represented JSM Construction in the purchase, development, and continuing preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement in connection with the real property exchange/acquisition of a 10.5 acre US Army Reserve site in West Los Angeles. While the preliminary plans for the development of the site have not yet been made public, the initial value of the exchange (JSM Construction will be obligated to construct replacement facilities for the US Army at three new sites in exchange for the fee title to theWest LA property) is estimated at $100 million.

“Venable’s national platform and commitment to growing its already considerable real estate practice made this a very enticing opportunity for me,” said Mr. Spira. “What made my decision to join Venable all the more easy was that I am being reunited with my colleagues from the former Gorry Meyer & Rudd firm.” Gorry Meyer & Rudd L.L.P. and Whitwell Jacoby Emhoff LLP were integrated with Venable in July 2006 to form Venable’sLos Angeles office. Mr. Spira was an associate and then a partner at Gorry Meyer & Rudd from 1997 to 2005.

“Sam has a deep understanding of the intricacies of real estate transactions on the buy, sell and lender side,” said Timothy J. Gorry, partner in charge of Venable’s Los Angeles office. “His homecoming is welcome, and we look forward to further increasing our depth of West Coast real estate work.”

“My clients are involved in sophisticated transactions that can often benefit from legal counsel in more than one specialty. Being able to tap into the vast knowledge pool that Venable has created – whether it is in government affairs, taxation, land-use, corporate securities, or any number of practice areas – will provide my clients with a true, one-stop shop,” added Mr. Spira.

Experienced in structuring financings for large-scale construction projects, Mr. Spira represented a developer in connection with more than $100 million in construction and mezzanine financing for a mixed-use project in Santa Ana, CA. In another mixed-use project, he advised on a $78 million loan for construction and mezzanine financing of a 180-unit condominium project in North Hollywood, CA that also includes 14,000 square feet of retail space. On the residential side, he represented a developer of a 33-unit condo development in Pasadena, CA in connection with the borrower obtaining loan proceeds in excess of $33 million.

Mr. Spira has also been involved with business transactions for private and public companies. He has represented both sellers and acquirers of businesses including the owner of a lumber company in its sale to a public company for more than $100 million; corporate lenders and borrowers in connection with secured and unsecured credit facilities; and has represented corporate participants in joint ventures and other contractual arrangements.  In addition, Mr. Spira has represented institutional lenders, including KeyBank, N.A., in hundreds of millions of dollars in lending transactions.

A former nationally ranked tennis player, who spent a brief time on the professional tour, Mr. Spira attended the University of California at Berkeley and received his J.D. from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law.

Mr. Spira is Venable's latest addition to a roster of attorneys with prominent real estate backgrounds. In April, Ralph Miles, former special counsel to New York City Council and bond counsel to New York State Urban Development Corporation and Dormitory Authority, joined the firm’s New York City office. Last fall, the firm added Deborah Rochkind, the former Director of Real Estate for AOL, who joined the Tysons Corner office. And last December, Joseph Ryan, who directed numerous large-scale, multi-property transactions while serving as Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Marriott International, joined Venable's Washington, DC office.

Earlier this year, Venable expanded its Intellectual Property capabilities in Los Angeleswith the addition of a five-attorney team from Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstrief LLP.  Joining Venable then was JoAnna M. Esty, who recently finished a year-long stint as chair of the California State Bar IP Section Executive Committee, along with former research scientist Dr. Stefan J. Kirchanski, who both joined the firm as partners. Also added were IP Of Counsel J. Alison Grabell and associates Jenna F. Leavitt and Jennifer V. Whiting.

One of the American Lawyer’s top 100 law firms, Venable LLP has attorneys practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, governmental, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in California, Maryland, New York and Virginia.