The FORT Podcast: Michael Fishman & Michael Baum – Co-Chairs of Global RE Practice @ Greenberg Traurig, LLP – Legal Best Practices & The Egoless Partnership

Michael Fishman & Michael Baum are Co-Chairs of Global RE Practice @ Greenberg Traurig, LLP – one of the world’s largest real estate practices. Their practice focuses on real estate, real estate finance, private equity and real estate fund formation.

Their clients include institutional investors, investment advisors, public and private real estate companies, REITs, and financial institutions. They’ve worked to form domestic and cross-border real estate funds and joint ventures and regularly represent lenders on real estate projects throughout the United States and globally. In addition, their experience with mezzanine finance, mortgage finance, lease finance, and loan defeasance transactions. They regularly advise clients with regard to the acquisition, disposition, leasing, and management of multi-family, industrial, office, retail, and hotel properties in the United States and globally.

On this episode, Chris, Michael, and Michael discuss:

– Fishman and Baum’s cross-border PE work

– The future of the law profession

– The state of the RE market

Listen on:
Apple Podcasts


(00:00:00) – Intro

(00:02:38) – The egoless partnership

(00:12:51) – The process of doing business in Mexico

(00:17:27) – What makes a great lawyer?

(00:28:17) – Is it fair that most situations could be resolved without litigation?

(00:31:46) – Making the jump to Greenberg

(00:42:08) – Cowboy ethics

(00:45:11) – What does your team look like today?

(00:50:23) – Thoughts on AI’s impact on the legal profession

(00:58:21) – Are young people wanting to be lawyers?

(01:03:42) – What are you seeing in the real estate market?

(01:20:43) – Data Centers

(01:22:09) – Is there any Federal legislation on the horizon that listeners should be aware of?

(01:26:15) – What is the biggest real estate risk people take without knowing?

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Fort podcast, guests Michael Fishman and Michael Baum share their extensive experience and insights into the real estate industry. Fishman and Baum, both accomplished lawyers, have built a reputation for their unique approach to cross-border real estate transactions, particularly in Latin America. Their partnership, described as “egoless” and highly collaborative, has been instrumental in navigating the complexities of international real estate law.

The conversation kicks off with Fishman and Baum recounting their serendipitous meeting at the law firm Mayor Brown, where Fishman was a senior associate, and Baum had just joined as a junior associate. Their complementary skills and shared vision for cross-border practice laid the foundation for a successful partnership. They highlight the importance of having a local partner when entering foreign markets, using their experiences in Mexico as a prime example. This partnership model, akin to a prenuptial agreement, ensures aligned economic interests and successful outcomes.

Fishman and Baum delve into the challenges and strategies for real estate investments in urban areas, particularly in the U.S. They discuss the declining occupancy rates in office buildings and propose converting these spaces into residential units as a solution. This adaptive reuse not only addresses urban decline but also meets the increasing demand for housing. They emphasize the necessity of a clearinghouse to facilitate such transformations, pointing out that cultural and economic factors significantly influence real estate trends.

The guests share anecdotes from their extensive work in Mexico, highlighting the importance of emotional intelligence and understanding local customs. They describe the learning curve involved in adapting U.S. institutional practices to fit local environments. Their approach involves “tropicalizing” their practice, which means tailoring their methods to suit the local market while maintaining high standards. This strategy has been crucial in building trust and successful partnerships with local entities.

Fishman and Baum discuss the macroeconomic factors impacting the real estate market, such as inflation, interest rates, and government policies. They observe a notable divergence in real estate values, with office properties experiencing a decline while sectors like student housing and self-storage continue to thrive. They stress the importance of resilience and adaptability in navigating these economic fluctuations. Their insights provide a nuanced understanding of the current real estate landscape and its future trajectory.

A significant portion of the conversation focuses on the philosophy and ethics behind their practice. Fishman and Baum advocate for integrity and long-term relationships over immediate gains. They believe in selfless teamwork and mentorship within their firm, fostering a supportive and successful environment. This approach has not only contributed to their professional success but has also built a strong, collaborative culture within their team.

Their discussion on litigation highlights their preference for resolution and negotiation over prolonged legal battles. They emphasize the emotional and financial costs of litigation and advocate for finding amicable solutions whenever possible. This pragmatic approach underscores their commitment to serving their clients’ best interests while maintaining professional integrity.

Fishman and Baum’s deep understanding of the real estate market, combined with their practical approach to law, offers valuable insights for anyone involved in or considering entering the real estate industry. This episode provides a wealth of knowledge for real estate professionals and legal practitioners alike, emphasizing the critical role of relationships and ethical practices in achieving long-term success.

The FORT is produced by Johnny Podcasts

Back to Top