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At the apex of Washington’s real estate bar is David Osnos, who has been practicing law at Arent Fox for nearly half a century. Osnos, 71, is accorded near-reverential status by his legal colleagues, and by his clients, for combining strong real estate skills with shrewd business acumen to become one of the most trusted advisers in Washington. “He is the best of the best of the best,” says longtime client Abe Pollin, majority owner of the Washington Wizards basketball team. “He has been my attorney, my right hand, my left hand, and my friend and confidant for 40 years.” Actually, their relationship goes back even further — to the late 1950s, when the Pollin family sought tax advice from Al Arent at Arent Fox. “Al Arent asked if he could bring in a new associate, and we said OK,” recalls Pollin. “By the time that meeting was over, David Osnos was my attorney.” Today, Osnos serves as general counsel for the Washington Sports & Entertainment Limited Partnership, which owns the Wizards, the Washington Mystics, the MCI Center, and the local Ticketmaster franchise. He and his partner, Richard Brand, did all of the legal work for Pollin on the MCI Center, from obtaining a ground lease from the District to construction, financing, and sorting through a “bewildering array” of local and federal issues. Osnos started at Arent Fox in 1956 as a tax lawyer, but quickly got involved in transactional work. “Tax analysis is crucial to a real estate transaction,” Osnos says. “I like to consider myself as a kind of utility infielder,” he says, noting that he knows enough about federal tax, sports law, and estate planning to help clients in those areas. “The thing that’s been fun for me is that I didn’t just get put into one pigeonhole. I wasn’t just a real estate lawyer, but also a tax lawyer, a sports lawyer, and a securities lawyer,” he says. “I think people like to go over this with one person.” Other major clients include Clark Enterprises Inc., owner of Clark Construction, which Osnos has been representing since 1968, when he hired Clark as general contractor for the Motion Picture Association’s building at 16th and I streets, N.W. After the deal was done, Osnos got a call from Jim Clark. “He said, �You seem to know a fair amount of construction law. Would you like to represent us?’ ” Osnos recalls. Lawrence Nussdorf, president of Clark Enterprises, says that what Clark told his colleagues after negotiating the Motion Picture deal was, “We have to have him.” Nussdorf says that Osnos “instinctively” sees a problem from all sides — business, legal, and interpersonal. “That’s what makes him so special,” says Nussdorf. “He is a problem-solver of the highest order.” “Quite frankly,” adds Nussdorf, “we’ve had him represent both sides in a transaction. I could give you details, but I won’t.”

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