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November 17, 2017  

Law Firm Taps Forte to Spearhead Expansion

Law firm Sullivan & Worcester has hired veteran industry attorney Joseph Forte to lead an expansion of its real estate debt and equity practice in New York.

Forte and colleague Barbara Shachnow joined an existing four-member team yesterday, following stints as partners at Kelley Drye. Plans call for recruiting up to four more seasoned attorneys within six months or so, at the level of partner, associate or of counsel.

Forte’s team is part of Sullivan & Worcester’s 29-member real estate group, headed by partner John Steiner, who is based at the firm’s Boston headquarters. The group includes a complementary debt and equity practice with 14 members in Boston, co-chaired by partners Ashley Brooks and John Balboni.

“One of the things that attracted me to this firm is its large and successful financial-institutions practice,” as well as its strong reputation for representing REITs and private equity funds, Forte said. “This is an opportunity for me to run a group and build something again, which I also like.”

As chair of the New York practice, his mandate is to expand the firm’s representation of lenders, property owners and other clients on a wide variety of commercial real estate finance transactions.

Before they jumped to Kelley Drye in January 2016, Forte and Shachnow worked together for three years in the commercial real estate finance group of DLA Piper. Forte was a partner there, and Shachnow was of counsel.

Previously, Forte spent seven years at Alston & Bird, three years at Dechert and 18 years at Thacher Proffitt. Shachnow previously worked at Herrick Feinstein, Sidley Austin, Deutsche Bank and White & Case.

Forte is well known in commercial-mortgage circles. He has long been active in industry efforts to help shape laws and regulations on local, state and federal levels. He helped launch the CRE Finance Council in 1994, served an 18-month term as its president in 1997-1998 and continues to play a major role in the trade group.

Forte and Bill Lashbrook, a senior vice president at PNC Real Estate, currently co-chair a Basel 3 working group at the Real Estate Roundtable that has pushed for changes and clarifications to federal bank regulators’ risk-based capital requirements for construction loans that fall into “high volatility commercial real estate” (HVCRE) category. Forte is also an active member of the HVCRE task forces set up by CREFC and the Mortgage Bankers Association.