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“When you hire Abe, you really do get Abe,” says one of Abraham Greenstein’s biggest clients. “Pound for pound, they are just a wonderful value,” says Michael Glosserman, managing partner of the JBG Cos., one of the biggest developers in the Washington area. Greenstein and his firm, Greenstein DeLorme & Luchs, have managed to hold together despite being an endangered species as a 25-lawyer real estate boutique. In fact, the firm is thriving thanks to the local building boom, and has added four lawyers in the last two years. “This is the best real estate market in the world right now,” says Greenstein, 57. “Many people either need or want to be in the capital, and Washington itself has had such an amazing rebirth.” Greenstein spent his first 10 years of practice working as an employee of the District government, mostly at the Department of Housing and Community Development, where he learned the nuts and bolts of housing code enforcement, condemnation law, condominium regulations, and more. “It was good exposure to the real estate community, and I felt that I was doing something socially useful,” says Greenstein, whose very first legal job after law school was with a neighborhood legal services clinic. Now, he puts those skills to use for developers, among whom he has developed a reputation for hard, efficient work. “They don’t over-lawyer things,” says Glosserman, who estimates he works with a half-dozen local firms but sends the bulk of his transactional work to Greenstein DeLorme. John Stinchfield, corporate counsel at the Donohoe Cos., has used Greenstein as his main outside counsel for development since the mid-1980s. “We try to be fair and reasonable, and I want my lawyers to reflect that and to achieve that,” says Stinchfield, whose firm is the oldest real estate company in the Washington area, with annual revenue of about $400 million. Stinchfield says that most lawyers — Greenstein being a notable exception — charge too much for routine transactional work. “This is not brain surgery,” he says. By keeping rates competitive, Greenstein says, the firm has been able to pick up new clients as the Washington market is transforming from local, family ownership to institutional and foreign ownership. “Cost is an issue,” he says. “We are efficient and we are flexible.” Greenstein points out that the firm is not saddled with an expensive associate structure, nor is it under pressure to pass clients from one department to another. “Sometimes clients use us for acquisition work and another firm for tax,” he says. Glosserman notes that Greenstein has even turned away work when he’s been too busy to handle it himself, or believes that another firm is better equipped. “You just can’t ask for more than that,” Glosserman says.

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