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Negotiating Commercial Leases 2014

Author(s): John B. Wood, Patrick G. Moran, Michael E. Meyer
Practice Area: Real Estate
Published: Nov 2014
PLI Item #: 50533
CHB Spine #: N623, N624

John Busey Wood is a member of the commercial real estate group at the New York City office of the law firm Akerman LLP, and advises public and private companies on real estate acquisitions, facilities management, construction and development, brokerage law, commercial leasing, commercial property management and litigation. For over 38 years Mr. Wood has represented owners in the design and negotiation of commercial leases covering in excess of 100 million square feet of retail, industrial, office and mixed use space projects.  He has assisted large volume space users in the effective management of their facilities portfolios and in reducing costs and risk. These experiences, coupled with a unique blend of professional disciplines and his design and deployment of sophisticated new-generation commercial lease forms during the late 1970’s and the 1980’s resulted in his being featured in articles on the impact of commercial leases on companies and being referred to by The Wall Street Journal and other publications as “the father of the modern killer lease.” His extensive national experience in developable land, improved property acquisitions, large scale retail and office developments, and leasing and management programs have made him an ideal corporate facilities support resource for companies.  He is a noted authority on ground leases, fair market value determination and valuation of properties as well as rental escalations, expenses, allocations, auditing and litigation/dispute resolution. Among noteworthy projects, Mr. Wood directed the legal team in a national portfolio acquisition with a value in excess of $2 billion and he participated in the development, leasing and financing of over 4 million square feet of regional shopping malls and retail centers nationwide. In 1998 he negotiated the largest ground/space lease transaction in the history of New York City, containing more than 1.6 million square feet and including “fast-track” rehabilitation, construction lending, permanent financing and options for fee acquisition. In addition, Mr. Wood has advised, directed teams and designed correlated construction contracts for “fast-track” design-build projects, conversions and renovations in New York City, exceeding 8 million square feet, with values greater than $4 billion.  Mr. Wood has also directed large-scale leasing programs for major New York City office towers and mixed use properties.  He regularly directs litigation teams in landlord-tenant disputes, construction disputes and retail lease close-outs.  His financing, auditing and computer expertise contributed to his uncovering the largest computer-leasing fraud in the United States, the O.P.M. Leasing fraud. Mr. Wood is a licensed Class “A” commercial real estate broker, a Certified Public Accountant and holds B.B.A. (Accounting and Economics), M.B.A. (Accounting and Finance) and J.D. degrees.

Mr. Wood is a member of the American Bar Association (“ABA”), (Former Vice-Chair of the Commercial Leasing Committee and former Chair of the Office Leasing Subcommittee), and Board of Legal Advisors to the Practicing Law Institute (“PLI”). He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives (NY Chapter), American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (“AICPA”), and American Association of Attorney-CPAs. Mr. Wood served, from 1982 through 1991, as a member of the Associated Builders and Owners of New York, the New York Building Congress and its Board of Legal Advisors, and the Real Estate Board of the City of New York (“REBNY”).  Mr. Wood frequently lectures on property acquisition and management, commercial leasing and construction contract techniques, transaction structuring and brokerage law at major real estate brokerage firms in New York City, REBNY, and at the New York University Graduate School and Real Estate Institute. He also lectures at PLI, where he is the New York and national Chairman of the National Commercial Leasing Seminars, and at the executive and annual meetings of the ABA and AICPA.  Mr. Wood has frequently served as a “party selected” and Federal arbitrator and with the A.A.A. in fair market rent valuation and rental/expense/adjustment disputes and audits and he is an American Arbitration Association - National Neutral - Commercial Panelist.  He has also served as Assistant Attorney General (Kansas), and as special counsel to Bronxville Board of Zoning Appeals, Planning Board and Board of Trustees and is a member of the Westchester-Putnam Boy Scouts of America Council and the National Eagle Scout Association.

Mr. Wood has presented papers on "Equity Leases" and “Work Letters” to the ABA and on “Accounting and Tax Issues for Work Letters and Allowances” to the AICPA.  His article "Trump [Tower] Tenant Finds Turnkey [Construction Agreement] Saves the Day" appeared in the Legal Times of Washington and New York, October 21, 1985. Mr. Wood co-authored, with Alan M. DiSciullo, Esq., the treatise Negotiating and Drafting Office Leases, published by Law Journal Seminars-Press (Library of Congress ISBN 1-58852-061-7, 1995-2014, supplemented 2 times per year); co-authored "Section V.A, Fire and Casualty Insurance" in the Real Estate Law and Practice Course Handbook , Published by PLI, 1994-2009; co-authored "Building Owner's Assumptions Spark Zoning War", Legal Times of New York, August/September, 1985 and co-authored "Financing Real Estate Development through Participation Leases", Real Estate Review, Volume 20, No. 4, Winter, 1991. He is the author of the book, Navigating The Dangerous Shoals of a Commercial Lease, published by New York University Graduate School, 1992-2014 and the ABA. Mr. Wood is listed in Who's Who in Real Estate, Who's Who in American Law, 2nd and 4th Editions, and Who's Who Registry of Global Business Leaders, 1993-4 Edition.  Mr. Wood is AV Preeminent® peer rated by Martindale-Hubbell and was peer-nominated and elected an American Bar Foundation Fellow.  Mr. Wood has been Senior Editor of "Real Estate Corner", a monthly article on commercial real estate for corporate professionals published by The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, Inc. and has appeared on national television speaking on current trends in national real estate.

He regularly represents many of this country’s leading financial institutions, accounting firms and law firms in connection with major lease transactions throughout the United States.  Representative of the major leases he has done for tenants recently include Mercedes-Benz (1,000,000 sq.ft. in Long Beach), Sempra (300,000 sq.ft.  in San Diego), Farmers Insurance Exchange (400,000 sq.ft. in Woodland Hills), AECOM (91,414 sq.ft.), PIMCO (400,000 sq.ft.), Bank of America (200,000 sq.ft.), City National Bank (330,000 sq.ft.), The Capital Group (300,000 sq.ft.), TCW (200,000 sq.ft.), Broadcom (700,000 sq.ft.), The Gas Company (350,000 sq.ft.), and Rand in Santa Monica.

Mike is considered one of the country’s leading authorities on renewal rights, the establishment of fair market rental rates pursuant to arbitrations, the assignment and subleasing provision, and the inter-relationships between the tenant improvement agreement and the rent commencement date. He served for ten years as a member of the board of directors and executive committee of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) in Los Angeles.  He has served as judge pro tem in the Los Angeles Municipal Courts and presently serves as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. He developed the definition of fair market rental rate which, in one form or another, is used in numerous major lease transactions, and has been intimately involved in many arbitrations/mediations involving fair market rental rates—the most recent, involving Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman & Goodman, Screen Actors Guild, Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman, Nestle, Saban Entertainment and Sony with major landlords including Jerry Snyder, Douglas Emmett, Equity Office, Heitman and Transpacific.

In a vote by his peers, which was published by Los Angeles magazine, he was ranked in the Top 100 of all the Super Lawyers in Southern California for the past five years. In 2011, Mike was named Real Estate Lawyer of the Year by the Los Angeles County Bar Association.  Mike has been named CoreNet Global’s Real Estate Professional of the Year; the Los Angeles Business Journal named him one of the 25 Most Powerful Attorneys in Los Angeles; he was named one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in California by the Los Angeles Daily Journal and the San Francisco Daily   Journal.

The respected English publication Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business ranks him in California’s top tier for real estate law, saying that he is “far and away the giant of the leasing field,” a “great talent,” and a “commanding name as a leasing expert,” “a tremendously skilled lawyer” and “the best leasing lawyer in town.” Chambers also notes that clients say he “basically invented the commercial tenant practice.” In 2012, Chambers added that he is “an outstanding real estate attorney and perhaps one of the strongest experts around in leasing transactions. He has been integral to a number of the state’s largest recent deals.

He was named among the 500 Leading Lawyers in the United States by Lawdragon for five years. He has been listed in Woodward White for Best of the Best for over 20 years and in 2014 was named Los Angeles Real Estate Lawyer of the year by Woodward White.  Mike is the Chairman of DLA Piper’s Los Angeles offices.

Mike has been honored by the Weingart Center Association at “Striking Out Homelessness and Poverty,” a benefit event at Dodger Stadium, for his extensive efforts to help victims of poverty return to work. Proceeds from the event went to the Weingart Center in downtown Los Angeles to contribute to its work delivering high-quality human services and providing leadership and innovative solutions to break the cycle of homelessness and end poverty. He is on the board of directors of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Sheriff’s Youth Foundation, Los Angeles Police Foundation, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, and LA Sports & Entertainment Commission.

The Real Estate Southern California magazine published “The Laws of Baseball,” an article focusing on Mike’s lifelong love of baseball and his service on the board of directors of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

Mike has lectured to numerous city organizations, including real estate brokers, landlords and developer groups, interior design groups and real estate appraisers. He also has presented various seminars to BOMA, PLI, CLE, CEB, American Arbitration Association, Los Angeles County Bar Association, State Bar of California and the American Bar Association. He is a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers.



  • California


  • J.D., The University of Chicago
  • B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • American Bar Association
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • University of Chicago Law School Alumni Association of Southern California, President (1980 – 1982)
  • Board of Trustees, Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • Board of Directors, Los Angeles County Bar Foundation Board of Directors, New Otani America Corporation
  • Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Los Angeles Building Owners and Managers Association
  • American College of Real Estate Lawyers
  • Arbitrator, American Arbitration Association
  • American College of Real Estate Lawyers

Civic and Charitable:

  • Board of Directors, Jackie Robinson Foundation
  • Board of Directors, Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission
  • Board of Directors, Los Angeles Police Foundation
  • Board of Directors, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Youth Foundation
  • Board of Directors, Boy Scouts of America, Greater Los Angeles
  • Board of Directors, United Way (1992 – 1995)
  • Board of Directors, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities


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