The Set Up
Earlier this year, I represented a tenant negotiating a smallish lease in a suburban Birmingham building. The landlord’s brokers and I thoroughly negotiated a letter of intent which was to be the basis for the draft lease.
Less than a week after we agreed on terms, we received a draft lease from the landlord’s attorney. For those readers unfamiliar with the office leasing process, this is bordering on record-breaking speed. My client and I were thrilled as speed to occupancy was vital in this deal.
It Gets Better
Once I began reviewing the draft document, I was ecstatic – but not because it was so tenant-friendly. Rather, the lease draft was FAIR. The attorney who drafted it clearly was intent on not wasting his client’s time and money by inserting boilerplate landlord-friendly language that is sure to be negotiated out by the tenant’s attorney.
This lease contained language that was fair to both sides, protecting the drafter’s landlord client while also endeavoring to give the tenant clarity on its obligations and rights. A freaking dream.
I immediately called the landlord’s broker to ask him who the drafting attorney was. It is worth noting that this is a broker I have negotiated with and against for twenty years and my lease negotiation reputation is deservedly “intense.” I assured the broker that I wanted the name so I could hire this attorney for future legal work on behalf of my clients.
A Done Deal
The rest of the negotiation proceeded smoothly despite the fact that it was not the simplest of deals. And I am positive that when the landlord got his legal bill he was both pleasantly surprised at the size of it and thrilled with the work that had been done.
The attorney’s name is Brad Anderson and he is with Butler Snow in Birmingham. One of my client’s will be using him to draft a restaurant lease for a new development. Pay attention: we are hiring him to draft a landlord lease because despite the fact that he didn’t draft an overly landlord-favorable lease, I saw that he represented his landlord client well. And, one of my tenant clients will be using him to negotiate leases on behalf of his company going forward.
The Moral of the Story
People: Brad Anderson gets it. Clients want value. In my industry, they want deal-makers. They don’t want a lawyer who is going to throw the most biased lease out there knowing that, at worst, it jeopardizes the deal and, at best, the other side is going to spend hours reviewing and negotiating away that unnecessary bias. This may increase Brad’s billable hours but it isn’t going to increase his client satisfaction. Clearly, Brad realizes that satisfied clients are repeat clients.
Brad drafted a fair and reasonable lease. He handled the negotiations fairly and reasonably. And the result is a happy client, a landlord and tenant with a good working relationship, and new business from me and my clients. Not bad.
Be like Brad – so good legal buyers can’t ignore you.