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Jay Epstien at Piper Rudnick is well- known for his leasing expertise, and counts a number of law firms and developers as clients. But he has also handled sizable land and building transactions for such high-profile clients as Target stores, Clark Construction, and First Washington Realty Inc. in Bethesda. “We’ve used him for years,” says William Wolfe, co-founder of Washington Realty, a privately held firm that owns about 100 shopping centers valued at close to $2 billion, primarily in the mid-Atlantic region. “He is as knowledgeable and practical as any real estate lawyer we have met in this city,” Wolfe says. Epstien says he typically represents First Washington in buying, financing, or selling existing shopping centers. He handles the same sort of work — land and building acquisition and financing — for Clark Enterprises, the owner of Clark Construction. For Target, Epstien has handled land acquisition for nearly all of the company’s store openings in the region from Washington to Richmond. Target interviewed several firms before hiring Epstien in 1995, and he has helped the company put together the land deals for about two dozen stores. Epstien, 51, started out as a general business practitioner at Shaw Pittman, but quickly discovered that there was very little general business. “There was virtually no industry here other than government,” Epstien says. “If you wanted to become a business lawyer 25 years ago, real estate was one of the few active transactional areas.” After 20 years at Shaw Pittman, Epstien moved seven years ago to the Washington office of Chicago’s Rudnick & Wolfe, now Piper Rudnick. In recent years, he has represented several law firms in leasing office space, including Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Holland & Knight. Epstien represented Holland & Knight in four cities — Washington, Boston, Atlanta, and San Antonio. He has represented the Kaempfer Co. in numerous leasing transactions, most recently in leasing out the Investment Building at 1501 K St., N.W., whose tenants include New York’s Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Chicago’s Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. “We use him as a pre-eminent leasing lawyer,” says Mitchell Schear, president of the Kaempfer Co. “He knows the transactions, and he’s a deal-maker. He’s done lots and lots of landlord representation for us.”

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