The Wolf Near Wall Street

When tensions among shared real estate owners reached their tipping point, Adam Leitman Bailey P.C. stepped in and solved a modern issue with an ancient remedy.

Mortgage documents on desk

Rebecca Blackwell

January 4, 2023 12:30 PM

New York City real estate: its reputation proceeds itself, and beyond the prices, availability and competition that surround it, there also lies a lot of red tape.

Especially contentious are shared real estate ventures and the often-combative circumstances that arise when multiple parties are involved.

In this particular case, when one property owner prepared to sell their portion of shared real estate, the other tenants put forth their best efforts to circumvent signing the seller agreement. Bribery, extortion and monetary demands from the other property owners turned a cut-and-dry sell into a dispute with an encroaching expiration date.

That’s when the seller turned to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., a powerhouse New York City law firm with a veteran real estate lawyer and area native at the helm.

Adam Leitman Bailey P.C.

For over two decades, Adam Leitman Bailey has owned and operated his Battery Park law firm bearing his name, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. In that time, he’s participated in some of New York’s most high-profile, groundbreaking real estate legal proceedings and built a law firm equipped with the most talented lawyers and professionals.

When sitting down with Bailey, he waves off discussing the accreditations and years of accomplishments—of which there are many—that follow his career. His passion for real estate and the wins he’s secured along the way guide his career and enable him to continue pursuing victory for his clients.

It was the last two years, when the world was brought to a screeching halt and the city that never sleeps was forced to lie down, that Bailey stood unwavering in his workload. The clients and cases didn’t stop just because everything else had. While everyone else was grappling with a new normal, Bailey was flipping normal on its head.

Through creativity, ingenuity and outside-of-the-box thinking, Bailey used new tactics, pushed the limits of tried-and-true lawyering and went to work for clients who entrusted him with their most important legal dealings.

After talking with him, the man who has not only a passion for real estate law but a talent that he’s cultivated and nurtured through years of practice, we thought it best to let his work speak for itself.

What’s Old is New

That phrase and the cyclical nature of the world remind us often that sometimes, the best way to solve a new problem is with an old solution.

That’s exactly what Adam Leitman Bailey did for a client in 2020. Digging deep into the archives of legal tactics from days past, Bailey was able to help a client file a 36-year-old document that was never officially recorded by the NYC Department of Finance.

The document, an easement that was entered into by four parties in 1986, was established to allow the owners to split a multi-building section of real estate in New York City into five separate legal subdivisions. The easement outlined, in part, that the property would have a passage accessible from all floors and stairwells adjoining a corridor that would lead through the yards of the property and to the rear of the buildings. The four parties agreed and signed all necessary legal documentation, with the exception of filing together with the NYC Department of Finance.

This wouldn’t become an issue until 2019, however, when one of the four original property owners entered into a Purchase and Sale of one of the five subdivided lots. The new buyer would not get approval from the lender “due to a cloudy title caused by an easement that supposedly had not been filed correctly.” Because of this, all parties postponed the closing date to give the seller time to clear up the issue.

The seller came together with the other three property owners and worked to update the easement but was met with resistance after introducing the updated easement agreement. At least one of the other owners made demands for changes to the agreement, which the seller believed to be a bribe to extort financial reimbursement, as it was known that the seller was under time constraints to complete the closing before a certain date.

It was then that the seller contacted Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Facing the unexpected difficulties in filing the amended agreement and bribery from the other owners involved, the seller needed advice and clarity.

The seller turned to the firm and Bailey himself, hoping that with the proper guidance and knowledge, they could forge a path forward.

And that’s just what they did—by going back in time.

The Firm’s First Course of Action

Initially, the solution seemed clear. The firm sought to simply file the nearly four-decade old easement in the present. Although this seemed like the straightforward resolution, time and technology soon became an obstacle.

Because the seller did not have the original signed document from 1986, only an electronic PDF of the easement, the seller’s transactional lawyer noted that the County Clerk and the New York City Automated City Register Information (ACRIS) would not accept the document. Aside from missing signatures, which were needed to accept the document according to ACRIS, the original document was also deemed necessary.

To some, this setback would have been a crucial misstep. To Bailey and his firm, it spurred the ingenuity and imaginative thinking that would propel them to success.

A Solution Unveiled

After more research by Bailey and the firm, they discovered two critical facts: First, the buyer’s title report did not specify that the unrecorded 1986 easement was an exception to the title insurance coverage. Second, and perhaps most vital to the case: according to New York common law, the PDF copy of the original document could, in fact, be filed and recorded as an “ancient mortgage doctrine.”

The PDF document met several sets of outlined criteria in the ancient mortgage doctrine, and using this information, Bailey and the firm were able to produce an affidavit that would be filed with the 1986 easement.

When both involved title companies still declined to file the easement with this new affidavit, attorneys and paralegals from Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. worked together to file it themselves. They were met with many anticipated questions from the County Clerk, all of which the lawyers and staff expertly answered.

Persistence, innovation and a look back in time allowed the firm and Bailey himself to ultimately have the PDF version of the 1986 easement successfully filed with the NYC Register.

The work of Adam Leitman Bailey, John Desiderio, Andrew Jorges and Sophia Bule allowed the seller to finalize the transaction by the agreed upon closing date.

Why It Matters

Real estate law is a tricky business in all corners of the country, but New York City and its property owners can often harbor their own challenges that leave many unprepared, swindled and foregone to failure. This uncertainty requires knowledge and a deep understanding, not only of the issues, but of the labyrinth it often takes to reach a resolution.

In times of tumult and uncertainty, Adam Leitman Bailey continues to show tenacity and to fight with creativity, forward thinking and a focus on solutions that matter, for clients who matter more.

Headline Image: Adobe Stock/Bronwyn Photo

Related Articles


A Street Fight in the Bronx

by Adam Leitman Bailey

Adam Leitman Bailey’s firm helped settle a Bronx brawl over land between two parties and brought victory against a long-standing powerful family in New York.

Warehouse in New York at night


Heroes Among Men: How Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Saved Lives of the Lifesaving

by Rebecca Blackwell

When a 911 Center in New York City was put in danger, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. went to work against the unlawful and hazardous actions of a developer whose construction threatened the peace and safety of all who worked for the Fortune 500 company.

Danger construction site no trespassing sign on fence


Adam Leitman Bailey Saves Upper East Cooperative From Forced NYU Combination With Neighboring University Building

by Rebecca Blackwell

When a New York resident of an iconic building was faced with a potentially devastating renovation to his beloved home, powerhouse real estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey tightened the knot on the loophole others said didn’t exist.

Large brownstone building with blue sky above in New York City


How To Run a Board Meeting

by Adam Leitman Bailey

Adam Leitman Bailey explains how using Robert's Rules of Order can assist with effective and productive board meetings in real estate matters.

Several people sitting in chairs around boardroom table


Foiled Plans: How Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Thwarted A Famous Building’s Trickery

by Rebecca Blackwell

When the Frick building, planned renovations that would threaten the welfare of nearby residents, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. jumped in to uncover the truth.

Front of the Frick Building in New York City

Client Service in Real Estate Law: Identifying Attorneys Who Truly Care

by Best Lawyers

What is client service in real estate law, and why is it important? Learn more about the value a real estate lawyer who emphasizes client service can provide.

Two unseen individuals shake hands with miniature house models in background

4 Essential Steps for Commercial Real Estate Due Diligence

by Best Lawyers

Due diligence in real estate is essential for all parties. Best Lawyers walks through the key steps of effective due diligence in commercial real estate.

Animated magnify glass in front of building and checklist

The Role of Title Insurance in Real Estate Transactions

by Best Lawyers

Title insurance can provide benefits, protection and peace of mind in a real estate transaction, which can often be complex. Best Lawyers take a closer look.

Individual signing a document with house keys in background

Leasing Commercial Real Estate

by Best Lawyers

We have compiled this “leasing commercial real estate checklist” to help guide discussions with a commercial real estate lawyer before signing a lease.

Unseen figure with pen points to apartment building model


Residential Real Estate Slowdown Expected To Continue in 2023

by Mick Harris

Rising housing costs and mortgage rates were becoming the norm in 2022. Experts anticipate that 2023 may show much of the same.

Apartment buildings with yellow haze


What is The Grieving Families Act (2022)?

by Michael L. Taub

Best Lawyers honoree Michael Taub explains The Grieving Families Act and what it means for wrongful death and malpractice cases in New York.

Image of grieving person on blue background


Results That Make a Difference

by John Fields

Thomas Moore and Judith Livingston continue to secure some of the largest verdicts in New York state for their injured clients.

Male and female lawyer in blue suits

East Side Story

by Adam Leitman Bailey

The made-for-Hollywood tale of a 16-year legal tussle to help a dedicated band of Manhattan “homesteaders” take ownership of the buildings they had moved into and begun to rehab.

Rosario Dawson's Family Fight for NY Building

House Trap

by Heidi E. Storz

Special districts are often being used as profit centers that leave residents to foot the bill. These homeowners deserve protection from unscrupulous developers who attempt to fleece them and avoid accountability.

Special Districts Changing Property Ownership


Raising the Bar

by John Fields

New York City-based powerhouse Block O’Toole & Murphy continues to set new benchmarks for personal injury cases, with the firm achieving landmark victories.

Five lawyers sit and stand posing for a photo


A Winning Approach

by John Fields

Recognized New York-based lawyer and trial legend Benedict Morelli, with his firm sharing the keys to their courtroom success, has developed a winning approach.

Three lawyers wearing suits pose for a picture

Trending Articles

The 2024 Best Lawyers in Spain™

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is honored to announce the 16th edition of The Best Lawyers in Spain™ and the third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Spain™ for 2024.

Tall buildings and rushing traffic against clouds and sun in sky

Best Lawyers Expands Chilean 2024 Awards

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is pleased to announce the 14th edition of The Best Lawyers in Chile™ and the inaugural edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Chile™, honoring the top lawyers and firms conferred on by their Chilean peers.

Landscape of city in Chile

The Best Lawyers in Spain™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

Announcing Spain's recognized lawyers for 2023.

Flag of Spain

Announcing The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ 2024

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce the landmark 15th edition of The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ for 2024, including the exclusive "Law Firm of the Year" awards.

Sky view of South Africa town and waterways

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees

by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

The Best Lawyers in Portugal™ 2024

by Best Lawyers

The 2024 awards for Portugal include the 14th edition of The Best Lawyers in Portugal™ and 2nd edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Portugal™.

City and beach with green water and blue sky

The Best Lawyers in Peru™ 2024

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce the landmark 10th edition of The Best Lawyers in Peru, the prestigious award recognizing the country's lop legal talent.

Landscape of Peru city with cliffside and ocean

The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers proudly announces lawyers recognized in South Africa for 2023.

South African flag

The Best Lawyers in Chile™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms in Chile.

White star in blue box beside white box with red box on bottom

The Best Lawyers in Colombia™ 2024

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is honored to announce the 14th edition of The Best Lawyers in Colombia™ for 2024, which honors Colombia's most esteemed lawyers and law firms.

Cityscape of Colombia with blue cloudy sky above

Announcing the 2024 Best Lawyers in Puerto Rico™

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is proud to announce the 11th edition of The Best Lawyers in Puerto Rico™, honoring the top lawyers and firms across the country for 2024.

View of Puerto Rico city from the ocean

The 2023 Best Lawyers in Portugal™

by Best Lawyers

Announcing the elite group of lawyers recognized in Portugal for 2023.

Green and red Portuguese flag

Unwrapping Shrinkflation

by Justin Smulison

Through the lens of the United States, we take a closer look at the global implication of companies downsizing products while maintaining and often raising prices.

Chocolate bar being unwrapped from foil

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023

by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue

by Best Lawyers

The 2021 Global Issue features top legal talent from the most recent editions of Best Lawyers and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch worldwide.

2021 Best Lawyers: The Global Issue

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees

by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots