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21st Annual Commercial Real Estate Institute (New York)

Speaker(s): Alexander Ferrini III, Alexandra R. Cole, Carson M. Leonard, Daniel C. Reynolds, Diana M. Brummer, Elliot L. Hurwitz, Jessica Millett, Jill Hayman, Jonathan L. Mechanic, Kelly Galligan, Kenneth McCarthy, Kevin M. Kelly, Laura Mehl Sugarman, Menachem J. Kastner, Mitchell D. Haddad, Philip E. Karmel, Ronald D. Sernau
Recorded on: Nov. 18, 2019
PLI Program #: 253272

Alex has in-depth knowledge of Construction Law which helps clients navigate complex transactional and litigation issues that arise in their construction projects.

Alex is dedicated to assisting participants in the construction process to understand and resolve the particular legal and business issues that are a part of any construction project. His practice is focused on assisting owners (from public institutions and institutional developers to private developers and individuals) in meeting and solving the challenges of construction.

Alex has wide experience in the preparation, review, analysis and negotiation of construction and design contracts. He has been the lead construction contract writer and negotiator for owners of private, corporate and institutional projects, ranging from school district facilities upgrades to new multi-use developments of up to $500M.

He also works with Olshan's litigation attorneys in construction dispute resolution and litigation, including delay, construction defect, change order and lien foreclosure claims, as well as issues regarding mistake, concealed conditions, bid challenges and design professional malpractice. He has successfully appeared in numerous trial and appellate courts.

Alex is an adjunct professor at New York Law School, teaching Construction Law in the LLM program. He has also authored numerous articles on construction and design industry topics.

Alex serves as a fellow of Construction Lawyers Society of America, an invitation-only construction lawyer honorary society with membership limited to 1,200 practicing Fellows from the United States and internationally.

Alex Cole focuses her real estate practice in the areas of real estate transactions and development, hospitality, international real estate, project finance and construction law.  She is routinely involved in large real estate acquisitions (hotel, office and retail) and represents all the various parties in the construction and development process.  Some of Alex's past projects include: Park Hyatt Australia, purchase and disposition of The Carlyle in a transaction including the sale of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts and four other hotels, Fairmont Hotel and Canadian Pacific Hotel merger, numerous buildings in Illinois Center, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, The Harold Washington Library, California Plaza in Los Angeles, McCormick Place Expansion and Hotel, Underwater World at Pier 39, Warsaw Financial Center, and the construction and renovation of numerous plants, industrial complexes, hotels, shopping centers and other commercial projects in the United States and Europe.

Carson Leonard, a partner in the Real Estate Finance & Investment Group, concentrates his practice in real estate finance and represents banks and institutional investors in the origination, servicing, sale and restructuring of all manner of commercial real estate debt. He has served as lender's lead counsel in several of the largest stand-alone real estate financings in recent years, and routinely works with clients on portfolio, syndicated and securitization transactions across all asset classes. His expertise covers mezzanine financing and other subordinate debt structures, as well as preferred equity.

Carson has been named to The Best Lawyers in America© since 2018 in the area of Real Estate Law.

Carson received his J.D. in 1992 from Columbia University, his M.B.A. in 1989 from Cornell University and his B.A. in 1985 from Duke University.

Daniel C. Reynolds is a partner based in the New York office.  Dan’s practice focuses on domestic and international real estate transactions, including the financing, acquisition, and disposition of real property.

He has represented U.S. and international clients in the negotiation of joint ventures to acquire, finance, and develop office, retail, hotel, multifamily, and mixed-use properties throughout the United States, and he regularly advises both borrowers and lenders in mortgage and mezzanine financing transactions, including securitized loans, balance sheet loans, bridge loans, and construction loans. He has also represented lenders and borrowers in the workout and enforcement of various financing structures, including mezzanine loan foreclosures.

Dan was an associate in the New York office from 2000 to 2001, rejoined the firm in 2011, and became a partner in 2017.  He is on the Board of Directors for the Friends of Governors Island and is also a member of the Urban Land Institute.  He received a J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law in 2000, his master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997, and his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993.

Diana Brummer is a partner in the firm’s Real Estate Industry group. Ms. Brummer’s experience spans the spectrum of commercial real estate transactions with a particular emphasis on complex joint ventures, senior, construction and mezzanine financings (for both lenders and borrowers), acquisitions and dispositions, loan workouts, real estate recapitalizations and development. 

Ms. Brummer represents a wide variety of client types, including institutional investors, pension funds, private real estate funds and public and private REITs, as well as their investment advisers.  She also regularly counsels her clients on all aspects of managing distressed real estate assets.

Prior to joining Goodwin in 2018, Ms. Brummer was a partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP. She previously practiced at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, spending more than two years in their Tokyo office. Ms. Brummer lived in Japan for a total of five years and is proficient in Japanese.

Professional Activities

Ms. Brummer is a member of the Leadership Advisory Committee of the National Women’s Law Institute and is also active in pro bono matters. She is a member of CREW New York and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.


Ms. Brummer has been recognized in the Real Estate: New York category of Chambers USA and has also been nationally recommended by The Legal 500 United States

Ms. Brummer was recognized in several years of New York Real Estate Journal’s Women in Real Estate Spotlight for exceptional work in the New York City metro area. Real Estate New York Magazine named Ms. Brummer as one of its “Rising Stars” in the commercial real estate industry.


  • J.D., Cornell Law School, 1998 (magna cum laude) Order of the Coif; Articles Editor, Cornell Law Review; Kerr Prize for Academic Excellence
  • B.A., University of Illinois, 1994 (with distinction) Tyler Award for Excellence in East Asian Studies


  • Ms. Brummer is admitted to practice in New York.
  • Clerkships
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Honorable Richard J. Cardamone


Jessica Millett is Chair of Duval & Stachenfeld’s Tax Practice Group.  She has particular expertise in U.S. tax issues that arise in complex real estate transactions, notably Qualified Opportunity Fund structures and cross-border investments. She regularly advises clients on tax structuring and documentation for Qualified Opportunity Fund investments, real estate acquisitions, joint ventures, restructurings and refinancing arrangements, including inbound and outbound investments, and structures involving REITs.

Most recently, Ms. Millett has been at the forefront of structuring investments into Opportunity Zones along with the D&S real estate team.  Opportunity Zones are a game changer for the real estate industry and Ms. Millett is a leader in this space on the tax side.   To date, she has been quoted in Bloomberg, Real Estate Weekly, The Commercial Observer, and The Wall Street Journal and she has made numerous presentations to industry groups. Most recently, Ms. Millett was listed as one of the Top 25 Opportunity Zone Influencers by Opportunity Zone Magazine.

Ms. Millett ensures that tax advice is not merely an afterthought to a transaction, but instead an integral part of the deal from the very beginning. She is able to translate complex tax concepts into simple and straightforward issues, and clients appreciate that she is business savvy and understands the industry as well as the current market.

Jonathan L. Mechanic is chairman of Fried Frank’s Real Estate Department. Prior to joining Fried Frank as a partner, he was general counsel and a managing director of HRO International, a real estate development organization.

Mr. Mechanic routinely counsels developers, owners, investors, REITs, and lenders in all aspects of commercial real estate transactions. Notably, he represents JP Morgan in connection with its redevelopment of 270 Park Avenue into a new 2.5 million-square-foot headquarters building; Maefield Development in its approximately US$1.6 billion acquisition of 20 Times Square (aka 701 Seventh Avenue); and CWCapital Asset Management in its sale of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village to Blackstone Group and Ivanhoé Cambridge. He also represents landlords and tenants in commercial leasing and ground lease transactions, including his recent representations of 21st Century Fox and News Corp. on their headquarters leases at 1211 Avenue of Americas; Citigroup in its long-term lease of its global headquarters at 388-390 Greenwich Street and the exercise of its option to purchase the building; Coach in the sale-leaseback of its global headquarters at 10 Hudson Yards; Ernst & Young in its more than 600,000-square-foot lease for its new headquarters at One Manhattan West; Shiseido in its 225,000-square-foot lease at 390 Madison Avenue for its US headquarters; and JP Morgan in its 437,000-square-foot-lease at 390 Madison Avenue.

Mr. Mechanic was awarded the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award from NYU and the 2016 Chambers USA Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession Award. For a decade, Mr. Mechanic has been recognized by Chambers USA as a “Star Individual” in real estate. He is consistently included on Commercial Observer’s “Power 100” list of the most powerful people in NY real estate. Over the years, Mr. Mechanic has been honored for his numerous philanthropic activities. In 2019, Mr. Mechanic was honored at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 24th Annual Real Estate Council Benefit.

Mr. Mechanic has taught the real estate transactions course at Harvard Law School for more than ten years. He also lectures regularly for NYU Law School, REBNY and PLI, and is a co-author of The Commercial Office Lease Handbook published by the American Bar Association.

He is on the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors for REBNY and the Board of Trustees of NYU Law School. He is also Chairman of the Advisory Board of NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, a member of the Advisory Board of NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate, a member of the Industrial Advisory Board for Columbia University Center for Urban Real Estate, and a member of ACREL.

Mr. Mechanic received his JD from New York University School of Law in 1977, where he served as an editor of the Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif, and his BA, magna cum laude, from Brandeis University in 1974.

Kelly Galligan serves as Managing Director and Head of AIG's Commercial Real Estate Finance Legal Team in the U.S. AIG is one of the world’s largest institutional fixed income investors in the Commercial Real Estate Finance (CRE) space. AIG has offices in New York, London, Houston and Los Angeles, and focuses on real estate-related financing and investment transactions, including mortgage loan originations, syndications and securitizations, secondary and portfolio acquisitions of commercial mortgage loans, alternative loan structures, as well as associated loan modifications, loan servicing, workouts, foreclosures, and the management, leasing and sale of real estate. Ms. Galligan is responsible for managing the CRE legal team in the U.S. and for facilitating a multitude of transactions, regulatory compliance and overarching initiatives for CRE more broadly.

Prior to this role, Ms. Galligan was Managing Director and Deputy General Counsel at AIG Global Real Estate Investment Corp. with responsibility for oversight of the domestic and international equity real estate investment activities of AIG Global Real Estate and AIG Insurance Companies. In that role, Ms. Galligan advised on structuring and negotiation of joint ventures, financing and construction of new real estate developments, as well as needs associated with the day-to-day management of owned real estate for regulated entities.

Ms. Galligan is passionate about providing thoughtful guidance in line with business objectives and in developing diverse talent. She enjoys serving as the President of AIG's Women & Allies Employee Resource Group based in NY, which is committed to accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion.  The ERG’s theme for 2020 is Cultivating Common Ground.  

Prior to joining AIG Global Real Estate in 2007, Ms. Galligan was a Vice President for Fixed Income at Merrill Lynch, with responsibility for the oversight of legal matters concerning the origination of commercial loans. Ms. Galligan’s early legal experience included private placement and lender side real estate work at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, followed by work as an Associate in the Real Estate department of Proskauer Rose LLP in New York.

Ken McCarthy has been with Cushman & Wakefield since August 2006. As Principal Economist, he works with the Chief Economist on C&W’s U.S. economic position and presents it to the public. As the Applied Research Lead, Ken is responsible for preparing cutting edge research about the outlook for commercial real estate in the Americas.

Before becoming Principal Economist with Cushman & Wakefield, Ken served as Chief Economist of The Center for Innovative Entrepreneurship. Prior to this role he was the Chief Economist for vFinance, Inc. where he oversaw all of the company’s economic analysis and research. He’s headed the Economic Intelligence Company (EIC) that provided economic analysis and advice to Fortune 500 firms and also served as Vice President of Rinfret Associates, Inc. for 14 years.

Professional Recognition

Ken’s market information and studies have been published in several business publications and annual almanacs including: The New York Times, Crain’s New York, New York Real Estate Journal, Real Estate New York and Real Estate Weekly.

Professional Affiliations

  • Member of the Research Roundtable of the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute of Baruch College.
  • Member of the advisory panel of the New York City Office of Management and Budget.


  • Master of Arts degree from Fordham University
  • Bachelors of Arts degree in Economics from St. Anselm College in New Hampshire

Kevin M. Kelly is Senior Associate General Counsel for Simon Property Group where he is responsible for the legal aspects associated with financing activities of the Company, on both the secured and unsecured basis, corporate acquisitions, investment and joint venture relationships, along with maintenance of corporate legal entities.  Simon Property Group is a global leader in the ownership of premier shopping, dining, entertainment and mixed-use destinations and an S&P 100 company.  Prior to joining Simon, Kevin practiced law at Sidley Austin in Chicago, IL and before that, at Citigroup, Fried Frank and Sidley Austin, each in New York, NY.

Laura Mehl Sugarman is a partner in Nixon Peabody’s Real Estate group and represents clients on a broad array of commercial real estate transactions. Laura represents her clients during various stages of development including acquisition, financing, leasing, cooperative and condominium conversion, and disposition.

Menachem Kastner's practice involves all aspects of real estate litigation and is particularly centered in the area of commercial and residential leasing and ownership and valuation disputes. He has litigated through all of the courts, the interpretation of escalation clauses, assignment and sublet provisions, alteration provisions, use clauses, renewal or purchase options, termination rights, buy-out disputes, and other significant lease interpretation issues.

Menachem is a frequent contributor to legal publications, specifically the New York Law Journal and New York State Bar Association Journal. Many of his articles have been cited to and relied on by the New York courts. See London Terrace Towers, Inc. v. Davis, 6 Misc. 3d 600, 790 N.Y.S. 2d 813 (Civ. Ct. N.Y. Co. 2004); 13315 Owners Corp. v. Kennedy, 4 Misc.3d 931, 782 N.Y.S. 2d 554 (Civ. Ct. N.Y. Co. 2004); Concourse Village Inc. v. Bilotti, 133 Misc. 2d 973, 509 N.Y.S. 2d 274 (Civ. Ct. Bronx Co. 1986). 

Menachem has lectured widely on real estate issues, including landlord/tenant and co-op litigation, the law of co-ops/condominiums, equitable distribution, and matrimonial tax. Most recently, Menachem lectured on "Real Estate Transactions - Spotting Litigation Issues" at the PLI Annual Real Estate Institute in 2016 and 2017.

In addition, Menachem is an official court arbitrator for the Civil Court of the City of New York, presiding over trials and inquests, issuing final non-appealable judgments, mediating the settlement of claims, and drafting and ordering stipulations of settlement.

Menachem earned his Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 1973 and his law degree, summa cum laude, from New York Law School in 1976, where he was the recipient of the Trustees' Award for Highest Scholastic Achievement. He was named a New York Super Lawyer (real estate) in 2006, 2010 and 2013-2016 by Law & Politics. He was also named one of "New York Area's Top Rated Lawyers of 2013" in Real Estate & Landlord/Tenant by Legal Leaders™. Menachem is admitted to practice in the state of New York.

Mitchell D. Haddad, a Member of the Sills Cummis & Gross Litigation Department, is Co-Chair of New York Real Estate Litigation. He focuses on complex real estate and commercial litigation, creditors’ rights, workouts and corporate litigation. He has first chaired numerous trials, argued appeals and participated in arbitrations and mediations on a wide variety of matters. He works with clients and the Firm’s Real Estate Department on transactions in order to resolve issues and disputes prior to and as a means to resolve potential litigation.

Mr. Haddad represents domestic and international companies, lenders, borrowers, real estate owners and developers, and commercial landlords and tenants. He prosecutes, defends and advises on complex commercial mortgage and UCC foreclosure actions, valuation proceedings, vendor-purchaser litigation, complex commercial landlord-tenant matters, Fair Housing Act and housing discrimination matters, not-for-profit and religious corporation transaction approval proceedings, zoning, title and land use issues, mechanic’s lien litigation, and general commercial torts, partnership, joint venture and corporate litigation and matters involving real estate entities.

Since 2012, Mr. Haddad has been selected for inclusion in New York Metro Super Lawyers®* published by Thompson Reuters under Real Estate and Business Litigation. He is also included in the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®* published by Best Lawyers and Co., LLC under Commercial Litigation. He is admitted to practice in New York and New Jersey, as well as before the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of New York, Eastern District of New York and District of New Jersey, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Philip E. Karmel is a partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP.  His litigation practice includes environmental and real estate litigation, land use matters arising under environmental review statutes and zoning laws, and the defense of toxic tort actions.  He has tried a number of cases in federal and state courts and before administrative law judges and arbitrators and has briefed or argued motions or appeals in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin.  He also counsels clients on environmental matters, including environmental impact statements, environmental permitting, environmental compliance, investigations by governmental agencies, the redevelopment of brownfield properties, environmental aspects of corporate and real estate transactions, and issues arising under the Clean Air Act and federal and state superfund and oil spill statutes.  He has served as counsel for major energy, transportation and real estate development projects.

He has published many articles and several book chapters on environmental law, environmental litigation and toxic torts.  Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Karmel clerked for the Hon. Edward R. Becker, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and thereafter served for five years as a Trial Attorney in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., where he received the Department’s Special Achievement Award for sustained superior performance of duty.  He received his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review, and holds an M.Phil. in Economics from the University of Cambridge and a B.A. with Honors in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

He is listed in BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA; CHAMBERS USA; and SUPER LAWYERS.  In 2005, he received the Scale of Justice Award from MFY Legal Services, Inc. for pro bono work. 

Ron Sernau is part of New York’s real estate industry inner circle and has more than 30 years of experience in real estate law. His clients, some of which have relied on his advice for decades, routinely involve him in their strategic decision making. Ron offers clients the insight he has gained by representing opposing interests in similar transactions. He has advised landlords and tenants, lenders and borrowers, purchasers and sellers, equity investors and developers, managers and owners, and brokers and principals.

Ron represents prominent New York City real estate developers in their investments in, and development of, premier properties. Various businesses, from large publicly traded companies to boutique investment firms, engage him to address their real estate concerns. He also provides general legal advice to luxury retailers, with a focus on real estate issues.

At Proskauer, Ron serves as the co-head of the Real Estate Department and co-chair of the Private Equity Real Estate practice. Ron is also part of the Firm’s cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional Coronavirus Response Team helping to shape the guidance and next steps for clients impacted by the pandemic.

An avid speaker on real estate topics, Ron has appeared before groups sponsored by the Association of the Bar of The City of New York, the New York Hospitality Council, Inc., the New York State Bar Association, the Georgetown Commercial Leasing Institute, CB Richard Ellis, Inc., the Association of Attorneys and Executives in Corporate Real Estate, Practising Law Institute, The Real Estate Board of New York, Inc. and the American College of Real Estate Lawyers.

For the majority of her career, Ms. Hayman was a Managing Director in the Legal and Compliance Division of Morgan Stanley, heading a 12-person global real estate team.  In this capacity, she was responsible for all legal matters relating to the firm’s real estate portfolio, including acquisitions and sales, leasing, design and construction, property management matters, and real estate matters related to mergers and acquisitions. During her tenure at Morgan Stanley, Ms. Hayman represented the firm in the development and leasing of large HQ premises and data centers in the United States, Hungary, Japan, Hong Kong, London and Glasgow. Following her tenure at Morgan Stanley, Ms. Hayman was special counsel at Hunton, Andrews Kurth and Fried Frank, where she represented corporate clients on both sides of leasing transactions and not for profit clients on the acquisition of leasehold condominium units.

Ms. Hayman was awarded the 2015 Chambers Women in Law Outstanding Achievement Award (In-House).  Ms. Hayman is also an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School where she teaches a course on Real Estate Drafting. 

Bar Admissions/Licensed Jurisdictions

New York

Elliot L. Hurwitz is Chief Commercial Counsel for Chicago Title Insurance Company, New York, NY, where he has primary responsibility for complex commercial transactions in New York City, including structuring, underwriting and coordination. Prior to joining Chicago Title, Mr. Hurwitz was a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, New York, NY. Mr. Hurwitz has had extensive experience in all aspects of commercial real estate, with a particular emphasis on mortgage loan originations, portfolio acquisitions, debt restructurings, sale-leasebacks, lease-backed financings, loan syndications and securitizations. Mr. Hurwitz is a frequent lecturer and author on real estate-related matters, including “Real Estate for the Corporate Counsellor”, published in the fourth edition of The Corporate Counsellor’s Desk Book (Prentice Hall Law & Business 1992). Contributor to the New York Law Journal, Commercial Leasing Law & Strategy, Shopping Center Legal Update and the Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. Chairman of PLI’s annual 2-day seminar for real estate attorneys, titled “The Commercial Real Estate Institute”. Mr. Hurwitz is a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. Member of the New York State Bar Association, Association of the Bar of the City of New York and Title Insurance Rate Service Association (TIRSA) – Law and Forms Committee. Mr. Hurwitz may be contacted at 212-880-1205 or