February 23, 2012

Goodwin Procter: Then and Now

Pioneer and Leader in the REIT Industry

Goodwin Procter has long been recognized as one of the driving forces behind the creation and development of real estate investment trusts (REITs).  As the firm celebrates its 100th anniversary, it continues a tradition of innovation in this evolving industry.

THEN: Goodwin Champions Watershed Act to Create REIT Industry

Goodwin Procter was instrumental in the creation of the REIT industry, helping craft the underlying legislation known as the Real Estate Investment Trust Act of 1960. Firm partners Allan Higgins and Charlie Post worked with the Treasury Department and lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to develop the legislation which would establish REITs and help stimulate real estate development across the country.  Higgins also played an instrumental role in crafting the tax policies around which REITs were modeled.

The REIT bill was added as an amendment to an existing piece of legislation extending the excise tax on cigars. Both the House and Senate approved the legislation and it was signed into law in September 1960.

“Within two weeks” recalled Post, he found himself “explaining the Act for more than an hour to 1,200 real estate types assembled for lunch.” The client who introduced him “hailed the Act as the most important stimulant to real estate development in the century.”

NOW: Ushering in the Modern REIT Era

In the early 1990s, Goodwin Procter helped to create the first public UPREIT structure and rendered the first UPREIT tax opinion used in a public securities offering. Goodwin was also among the first firms to widely use the DownREIT/joint venture structure to provide non-UPREITs with many of the benefits enjoyed by UPREITs – such as acquiring properties for equity and offering tax-deferral options for contributors.

In 2009, furthering its thought leadership in the industry, Goodwin established the annual invitation-only Real Estate Capital Markets Conference in New York, a “must attend” event that draws several hundred senior real estate industry leaders and decision-makers.

The Fourth Annual RECM conference was co-hosted by Goodwin and Columbia Business School in January 2012.  Keynote speaker Erskine B. Bowles, former co-chair with Alan Simpson on President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, discussed what must be done to address America’s deficit crisis.  More information about the conference is available here.

Allan Higgins and Charlie Post’s legacy as the architects of REITs led to Goodwin’s dominant position in the industry.  Continuing in this tradition, two Goodwin partners have been honored with NAREIT’s Industry Achievement Award, an accolade for industry professionals whose acumen and integrity have helped heighten awareness of REITs and publicly traded real estate.  Bill King was selected in 1994, and Gil Menna, co-chair of the firm’s Real Estate, REITs & Real Estate Capital Markets Group, was honored in 2010.