Gary L. Birnbaum - Dickinson Wright PLLC

Gary L. Birnbaum

Listed in Best Lawyers since 1995

Gary Birnbaum has significant experience in all aspects of commercial and real estate law and litigation. He has 38 years in private practice and (simultaneously) approximately 12 years in legal and graduate education. He is a well-known lecturer on business, ADR and real estate valuation topics and has been a contributing author of the Commercial Real Estate Transactions Practice Manual, published by the State Bar of Arizona, Nichols on Transactions Practice Manual, published by Matthew Bender and Eminent Domain: 50 State Survey, published by the American Bar Association (2012). He has served as Chairman of the Law Practice Management Section of the State Bar of Arizona and is a member of the National Panel of Arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and the mediation panels of the AAA and The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE). Mr. Birnbaum is also a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Litigation Counsel of America, and the College of Law Practice Management. He served for a number of years as Associate Dean for Program Development at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University where he still teaches advanced courses on "Private Property Rights" and "The Valuation of Real Estate and Closely-Held Businesses." Mr. Birnbaum has also served as a faculty member in Arizona State University's transdiciplinary Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) program (and was a co-founder of that program) and as a member of the adjunct faculty at the James E. Rogers School of Law at the University of Arizona.

State University of New York at BinghamtonBA 1973Indiana University School of Law - BloomingtonJ.D. 1976
American College of Trial LawyersAmerican College of Trial LawyersCollege of Law Practice ManagementLitigation Counsel of AmericaAmerican Bar AssociationState Bar of ArizonaMaricopa County Bar AssociationAmerican Judicature SocietyInternational Municial Lawyers AssociationAssociation of Justice (formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association)Arizona Bar FoundationMaricopa County Bar Foundation

Client Comments

"Gary has tremendous skill and excellent judgment. He is fair with his billings. The highest compliment I can give Gary is that, as a business principal who is also primarily a practicing lawyer, I wanted Gary to represent our business."

"Gary is probably the top real estate litigator in Arizona. He is phenomenally smart, has an encyclopedic knowledge of the law, and drives great results."

"Gary is the foremost expert in the State of Arizona on Development Agreement legal issues. He is a key resource for our company in negotiating agreements with public sector entities and is a true professional."

-Garrett Newland

"Gary Birnbaum has an incredibly broad base of knowledge and experience in real estate law as well as related litigation. He is a tireless worker and perceptive resolver of complex disputes."

"Gary is the Guru of Arizona real property development law. He has an amazing ability to sit down with a group of aggressive and obnoxious developers and take control of the negotiations. Everyone listens intently when Gary speaks. He can also be very easy-going with a unique sense of humor. Gary always makes the client feel at ease and produces requested work product posthaste without any errors. His sense of humor also has a disarming affect on settlement negotiations involving property transactions. Finally, Gary is seen by many as a mentor and is an incredibly generous individual."

"Gary is an incredibly bright lawyer. Gary does a great job of understanding the client's objectives and coming up with creative ways to achieve them. We have received a higher level of service and professionalism from Gary than any other lawyer has ever provided us."

"If Mr. Birnbaum had studied voice rather than law, the world would have known four great tenors in the last 30 years. His intellect and work ethic yield enormous benefits to his clients. In the several condemnation cases that Gary defended for me, the results (one of which was eight figures) exceeded my own expectations."

-James Kaufman
Kaufman Mortgage Company

"Gary wins cases. He can organize the case to communicate. Gary can offer counsel on a wide variety of matters and is a student of the law. He is tenacious and relentless, but not pig headed. Gary will tell you when he believes you are wrong and he will encourage you when you are right. Gary is unafraid of being in a tight spot, yet he will not get in one thoughtlessly. In a fight, he is the person you want on your side."

-E.J. Joe Shoen
U-Haul International

"Gary is a staunch advocate, skillful dealmaker, persistent negotiator, and patient educator. Gary's partnership has been an essential factor in structuring and negotiating a series of public/private partnerships between our development firm and municipalities in Arizona and other Southwestern states. These partnerships have facilitated both significant public infrastructure improvements and major retail developments, which in turn have generated increased sales tax and property tax receipts while also providing employment opportunities and community amenities for the local area."

-Robert Mayhall
WDP Partners, LLC

"I first met Gary some 30 years ago when we were first-year associates just out of law school. My impressions of Gary have remained the same during our three-decade relationship. He is the most intelligent, creative, and hard working attorney that I know. Gary is very well respected by all who know him. He is very skilled at both written and oral communication and experienced at providing a variety of legal and business-related advice."

-Thomas Schoaf
City of Litchfield Park

"We feel as a community in Cave Creek that Gary Birnbaum is a friend who cares about our best interest. Time and time again when we need a creative mind to present us with resolution for an important and complex issue, Gary is always available with a complete attention and full support of a cadre of skilfull, experienced, and dedicated lawyers. We feel that Gary represents always the good and positive side of his profession."

-Usama Abujbarah
Town Manager
Town of Cave Creek

"Gary Birnbaum is the best real estate/condemnation lawyer in Arizona. Gary led the way on a City of Phoenix condemnation of my property, which, at the time, paid the highest price per square foot in the history of Arizona. Gary is efficient, ethical, and his character is beyond reproach. He takes my phone calls at the office, home, and in his car. I trust and respect Gary. He is very committed to his clients. "

-Leon Woodward
U.S. Parking Systems, Inc.

"Gary has quickly become a very valuable resource to me as the General Counsel of a large real estate development company. Gary is very well respected for being extremely bright and well versed in both the law and the practice relevant to our industry. What I like most about Gary's counsel is that he often provides both a legal and a practical answer to a given issue. At times, it is his practical answer that solves the issue most efficiently."

-Bradley Wright
Vice President and General Counsel
SunCor Development

"Gary is a lawyer for all occasions. He always looks for the correct yet proper answer to a problem. What is most appreciated about Gary is his willingness to seek a solution that will save the most time and money for everyone concerned. I have found few who measure up to the standard that Gary works by in all situations. His advice is sought and respected. The balance he brings to a conversation is rare indeed. Not only do I count on Gary for legal advice and legal work, but I also count him as a friend. "

-Ron Frank
U-Haul International

"Gary has represented Westcor and WDP for as long as I care to remember. In the field of public-private partnerships related to public infrastructure, Gary is truly an icon. Due to Gary's extensive experience, depth of knowledge, and ability to communicate persuasively with all parties, it is virtually impossible for any party to take an unreasonable position when Gary is representing us, or in several situations, when Gary is representing the municipality. Gary's presence at a meeting or a negotiation immediately increases the level of reasonableness and cooperation at the entire table, which makes resolution of any contentious issue more probable."

-Jack Rasor
WDP Partners, LLC

"The corporate subsidiaries of LandAmerica have retained Gary to represent it or its insureds in a variety of complex matters involving real estate and regulatory issues. At all times, Gary has proved extremely knowledgeable, solution oriented, excellent at both verbal and written communication, and very professional. He is an asset to the legal community."

-Diane Flaaen
Arizona State Counsel
LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc.

"I have been privileged to know and work with Gary for over 15 years. In my opinion, Gary is the leading legal authority on real property valuation in Arizona and he has been an invaluable resource for our firm. He is an excellent litigator and his presence tends to discourage others from pursuing litigation when negotiation is the more appropriate course of action. He complements his legal expertise with a strong financial acumen and extreme diligence in pursuing his client's objective. Gary is a person of high integrity and a good friend."

-John Bradley
Vice President
DMB Associates, Inc

"Gary Birnbaum is one of the best lawyers I have ever worked with. He has a tremendous knowledge of the law - especially real estate and development agreements - and he is willing to share all he knows with those of us who know so much less. He is prompt in returning telephone calls and in completing projects. I have retained him on behalf of many clients and they have never been disappointed."

-Susan Goodwin
Curtis, Goodwin, Sullivan, Udall & Schwab, PLC

Office Location

1850 North Central Avenue, Suite 1400
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States

Lawyer of the Year Awards

2016 Lawyer of the Year in Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants of the Phoenix Metro Area2015 Lawyer of the Year in Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law of the Phoenix Metro Area2014 Lawyer of the Year in Arbitration of the Phoenix Metro Area2013 Lawyer of the Year in Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants of the Phoenix Metro Area2012 Lawyer of the Year in Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law of the Phoenix Metro Area2010 Lawyer of the Year in Alternative Dispute Resolution of the Phoenix Metro Area2009 Lawyer of the Year in Bet-the-Company Litigation of the Phoenix Metro Area
Gary L. Birnbaum has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2016!Gary L. Birnbaum has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2015!Gary L. Birnbaum has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2014!Gary L. Birnbaum has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2013!Gary L. Birnbaum has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2012!Gary L. Birnbaum has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2010!Gary L. Birnbaum has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2009!

Practice Areas

Appellate Practice
Bet-the-Company Litigation (Appellate, Defendants)
Commercial Litigation (Alternative Dispute Resolution, Appellate, Civil Litigation, Commercial Disputes, Complex Litigation, Eminent Domain, Real Estate)
Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law (Condemnor and Condemnee Representation, Litigation)
Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants (Appellate, Insurance, Lawyer Ethics, Mediation)
Litigation - Municipal
Litigation - Real Estate
Real Estate Law (Commercial, Condemnation, Development, Development Agreements, Eminent Domain, Escrow, Incentive Agreements, Land Use, Litigation, Real Property Law, Tax Certiorari, Title Matters)