Litigation

Real Estate, Zoning & Land Use Litigation

Maximizing the value and use of your real estate is hindered by opposition and disputes.  Further, developing or repurposing your properties can help you achieve your financial goals in today’s real estate marketplace. Creating more economically viable properties — such as turning parking lots into office towers or reinvigorating existing retail spaces — is often faced with tough opposition. Similarly, ownership battles, valuation differences, and other disputes impede the business of the real estate from being fully realized. You need a legal team that helps you use your real estate in the way you want to.

Our attorneys are well-versed in all aspects of real estate disputes. We understand complex local zoning laws and state regulations and we know how to overcome opposition and challenges to real estate projects. We know that navigating land use regulations often takes political and legal savvy, and our years of experience enable us to benchmark the likelihood of success on any given project. When disputes occur, we offer a strong track record of success. We have achieved significant victories for our clients litigating complex real estate matters, locally and nationally, in state and federal courts, for cases concerning large office towers, housing developments, and other commercial and retail properties. We have also established important precedent at the appellate levels concerning, for example, housing, development, and repurposing urban shopping malls.

Quick Facts


  • Cross-disciplinary team of litigation, real estate, and environmental attorneys
  • Extensive experience in all types of contractual relationships, including investments, joint ventures, and strategic alliances
  • Represent clients at every stage of real estate and design projects
  • Experience encompasses virtually all forms of “horizontal” and “vertical” development and investment
  • Responsible for the creation of thousands of housing units in Massachusetts
  • Team members who frequently publish and speak on national developments in land use law
  • Demonstrated success representing developers, owners, commercial landlords and tenants, state agencies, and entities such as hospitals and schools

Areas of Focus

  • Access issues
  • Affordable housing
  • Commercial landlord and tenant disputes
  • Contract disputes
  • Construction disputes
  • Eminent domain
  • Environmental litigation
  • Finance
  • Government relations
  • Land use permitting
  • Landlord-tenant disputes
  • Ownership disputes
  • Valuation of real estate
  • Zoning

Rankings & Recognitions

  • Attorneys ranked by Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers
  • Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly: “Top Ten Case of the Year” for representing state agencies in a significant Supreme Judicial Court case limiting the ability of town officials to approve permits issued by boards in their towns

Representative Experience

  • We have handled numerous matters for a real estate investment fund involving commercial real estate disputes (construction, access, lease interpretation, among others) in Chicago, Texas, Missouri, Massachusetts, Virginia, California, Maryland, and elsewhere.
  • Represented a developer and his investment group in a series of lawsuits and arbitrations resulting from disputes arising out of partnership agreements, including a $140 million mixed-use building and six other mixed-use residential and commercial facilities.
  • Represented the real estate lender in restructuring of a property and dealt with various issues, including the use and characterization of cash collateral and a hostile takeover through the plan confirmation process.
  • Negotiated the workout of a Massachusetts developer with $6 million in debt to a regional bank for a fully permitted multifamily project that was partially built.
  • Represented a national commercial real estate operator in one of the largest bankruptcy proceedings ever brought in the District of Massachusetts involving claims owed on the premier office tower in Boston — at the close of Mintz Levin’s presentation of evidence in the trial, the debtor agreed to pay $679 million to our client.
  • Assisted a national discount retail chain with Chapter 11 issues including the divestiture of surplus real estate and the assignment and assumption of real estate leases.
  • When a town shut down much of a client’s quarry, Mintz Levin not only appealed, but also sued the town for damages, for illegally doing the bidding of a town official whose home abutted the quarry. Very early in the trial, the town capitulated.
  • To construct a new headquarters office tower, our insurance company client obtained a rezoning. The owner of the remainder of the same city block challenged the rezoning, trying to force our client to buy him out or the city to allow him to build a tower as well.  As Mintz Levin has successfully defended the lawsuit, our client’s tower is being constructed.
  • Successfully represented a shopping mall owner in a lease dispute with a national retailer anchor tenant. Our client was adding another national retailer to its mall, and the existing anchor tenant sued for an injunction, claiming a contract right to veto any changes in the mall’s footprint. After we convinced a judge in the Business Litigation Session of the Superior Court to deny the injunction request, and after expedited discovery, the existing anchor tenant settled with us on very favorable terms on the eve of trial, allowing the new tenant to open its anchor store on schedule.
  • Represented a client who purchased a very expensive building lot in downtown Edgartown in a boundary dispute on Martha’s Vineyard. A subsequent survey revealed that the property line might not be where the seller said it was, and if so, the lot was too small to be buildable. We sued the developer/seller, obtained an attachment on adjoining land still owned by the seller so as to allow for a lot line adjustment, fought off an appeal of that attachment, and obtained an agreement from a neighboring condominium that the lot line was really where we had been told it was. We then mediated our monetary claims to successful settlement with the developer/seller.
  • Decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court protecting fast-track approval for affordable housing.
  • Decision by the New York Appellate Division to set aside the jury verdict against our client, a high-profile real estate developer, in a race discrimination case.

Clients We Serve

  • Developers
  • Investors / funds
  • Towns and municipalities
  • Universities and academic institutions
  • Property owners