As we head into the dog days of summer, the importance of keeping everyone’s foot on the gas pedal during commercial lease negotiations is magnified, given the tempting distractions of summer. Adhering to this ‘urgency mandate’ is one of our key Black Box strategies for getting retail, office and industrial leases over the finish line.
Following up on our April Back to Black blog post, this month we take a deeper dive into the underpinnings of the legal process of commercial leasing for the landlords, tenants, brokers and lenders whose real estate fortunes are tied to its success.
Precision vs Urgency
Our focus today is on the precision vs urgency axis: the conflict between the need to get everything right and the reality that time kills deals. To effectively traverse this axis, the starting point for me with every new client is to earn the right to move fast. By demonstrating command over the details and nuances of the transaction at hand in a way that transcends that particular transaction, I make sure that my client gains a strong level of comfort that they made the right choice of attorneys.
Simultaneously I find out where my client’s focal point is on the urgency/precision continuum generally and specifically for the lease we are working on.
Some of my clients read every word of every document they sign and for them, precision down to crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” is crucial. I have other clients who take more of a big picture approach. In fact one said to me: “We’re not interested in crossing the ten “t’s” in every sentence, eight out of ten will do. We’re much more interested in getting the deal DONE.”
“But of course,” he added, “We need to protect ourselves and make sure the document accurately reflects the deal.”
As this client articulated, no matter where a client stands on the precision vs urgency axis, every client needs to know they have an acceptable amount of precision insurance. And no lawyer worth their salt would ever finalize a document they knew to be sloppy, wrong or ambiguous.
During lease negotiations, I actively manage two aspects of the precision goal. The first is expressing each concept in the lease with clarity so someone else can understand it, both today and ten years from now. The second is coherence: making sure all the provisions work together. For example, if the landlord’s work can’t be performed until the tenant’s plans are complete, other provisions of the lease that need to come together to trigger the all-important obligation to commence rent payments have to be coordinated accordingly.
Respecting the Urgency Mandate
At a certain point in every transaction, urgency trumps precision. Managing this tension with the endgame in sight is one way we make sure the process doesn't jeopardize the outcome. And that’s part of our strategy for creating value as we toil away in the black box.