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On April Fool’s Day in 1972, Lawrence Shulman hung out his shingle as a sole practitioner in Silver Spring, specializing in real estate and corporate work. He didn’t get much corporate traffic through his tiny, windowless office, but he did get tenants who needed help dealing with their landlords. Tenant work eventually led to representing the landlords who had sat on the other side of the table. “You can do all kinds of marketing, but probably the most effective thing is to do a good job,” says Shulman, who has built the largest law firm in Maryland outside of Baltimore — Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker in Rockville. “The firm has basically grown as the county has grown from a suburban bedroom community to an urban community,” says Shulman, 60. Yet even with 80 lawyers, Shulman Rogers retains a small-town feel and sponsors programs with local schools. “Many of my partners and associates came from downtown law firms because they wanted to practice where they lived and be a part of the community,” Shulman says. And though he practices outside the downtown mainstream, Shulman is a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, the prestigious, peer-selected organization of the country’s top real estate attorneys. Developers seek out Shulman precisely for his local expertise. Sandy Spring Bank in Montgomery County, one of the oldest and largest banks in Maryland, recently hired Shulman to help get zoning approval to tear down an office building on Rockville Pike and replace it with a bigger one. “It’s a potentially complicated transaction, and we needed someone who knew who to talk to in the regulatory structure of Rockville, and who also had credibility,” says Hunter Hollar, president and chief executive officer of the bank. Shulman certainly knows whom to talk to. One of the first calls that David Edgerley got when he became Montgomery County’s director of economic development in 1995 was from Shulman. “Larry is extraordinary because he has a keen interest in the community,” Edgerley says. “He also has a reputation for handling very tough, complex projects.” The toughest has been the long-running troubled saga of the Rockville Mall development, a public-private partnership involving eight acres in the heart of Rockville. Shulman has represented succeeding owners of the mall for nearly a decade, taking them through the uphill process of getting permission to demolish the original buildings and dealing with the subsequent lawsuits, rezonings and permits. He then helped raise $18 million in equal parts from Rockville, Montgomery County, and the state to pay for tearing down the mall and building new infrastructure. “This is the county seat of one of the wealthiest counties in America,” Shulman says. “The old mall was killing any chance for the city to grow and prosper in its town center. We were able to get everyone to recognize that, the public sector as well as the private.”

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