Seize the Moment
Fall, the season when things speed up, is upon us. Our clients are focused on year-end deadlines and we’re focused on meeting those deadlines.
Given the pressure most of us are under to wrap things up by year’s end, I thought this would be a good time to share some of my strategies for making sure that what happens in the Black Box of the legal leasing process doesn’t hold things up.
Moments of Truth
As we make our way through the Black Box, there are pivotal points when lease negotiations can stall, fall apart or move full speed ahead, depending on how adeptly Black Box maneuvers are handled. I refer to these pivotal points as Moments of Truth and I have a variety of strategies for managing them.
Setting the Tone
The first Moment of Truth that comes up in every transaction is Setting the Tone. This happens early in the Black Box process, and, for better or worse, can color the balance of the negotiation.
If the tone set is unproductive or intransigent, the lease in the Black Box will be at risk. If that happens it’s essential that one or both attorneys (or their clients) recognize that a re-set is necessary.
Re-Set If Necessary
For example, in a recent lease transaction between a large public REIT and a national retailer, the parties exchanged lease drafts that bore little resemblance to the deal agreed to by their leasing representatives, thus setting the tone for a tedious, unproductive negotiation. Luckily the REIT recognized the need for a re-set and brought me in to do just that. I revised the tenant’s lease draft to reflect the agreed-upon deal, which enabled the negotiation to move productively toward a final lease.
In another lease negotiation that required a re-set, I represented the owner of a suburban office building where a small tenant hired a large, prestigious law firm to handle its lease negotiation. Its attorney marked up the landlord’s form lease as if the small firm was an anchor tenant negotiating its headquarters lease.
This time, I recognized that the tenant’s attorney was tone-deaf and enlisted my client, the building owner, to re-set the tone with her counterpart, the tenant’s president. After that, we were down to just a handful of issues rather than the exhaustive re-draft that had been looming.
Accelerate vs Stall
Over the coming months, I will share my strategies for handling other Moments of Truth so that negotiations accelerate rather than stall at pivotal points.