“Not only a ferocious litigator, but a very smart business lawyer as well…” – Jeff Lenobel, Former Real Estate Lawyer and President of Co-op Building, Client Testimonial
I’m Jeff Lenobel. I’ve been a real estate lawyer for 45 years, I was a partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel for almost three decades. I ran the real estate department there, we were about 450 lawyers. I was on the executive committee, the compensation committee and the operating committee for almost two decades. Just so you know how Steve and I met, Steve’s brother John and I started practicing law at my first law firm, it was John second firm on the same day in 1978. I got to know Steve, both socially and professionally in the late 1970s. And we’ve been friends and colleagues ever since. For many years, I would often get requests for referrals for matters that the firm I was at couldn’t handle for one reason or another, whether we had a conflict, whether it was the kind of matter we didn’t really do. And for the last probably 30 plus years, I have referred numerous matters to Steve, as Steve has been always my go to lawyer for someone outside my law firm. He not only a ferocious litigator, but a real smart business lawyer as well. And those two things are really very hard to find. Steve was always the guy who not only would take on the work, but would roll up his sleeves, get his hands dirty, and do it. Steve has also represented me and organizations that I have been with whenever I have needed an attorney. And as soon as I became president of my cooperative, which is a pretty large building on Third Avenue on the Upper East Side, the first thing I did was replace our existing lawyer with Steve as the lawyer for our Co Op. I knew that if I was going to be president and suffer the many complaints, comments and commentary that the shareholders had in my co op, I would need someone who would be able to protect me and represent the co op in the manner that it should be represented. And Steve immediately became our lawyer and has remained our lawyer to this day. He is a participant in all of our board meetings and reports on various issues we have, and like every building in New York, there are issues, some are business issues, some are litigation issues, and Steve has that capability to handle both the business side and the litigation side with an expertise that’s really unparalleled, and has handled various matters for the law firm in a very professional, dignified and respectful manner. Whenever unit owners start fighting with each other or start challenging the board on certain things, Steve has always calm things down. He’s really avoided issues that could have turned into something bigger and more difficult. When you’re a fierce, ferocious and aggressive litigator when you have to be, you also have to be a businessman and know how to compromise and manage clients expectations. I think that’s really important in a litigator and it’s really important in any kind of lawyer, whether it’s a transactional lawyer or litigator, make sure you manage your clients expectations. Steve has always done that. And that’s why I bring Steve to my co op board meetings because you know, the board wants answers. And sometimes the answers arent always what the board wants to hear. And it’s really important that their legal advice is truthful and honest so that they can really understand what’s going on and their expectations are managed. And Steve has done that extremely well. I don’t think I would have done that job if I couldn’t have hired Steve as my advisor. He would always be honest with me – when he doesnt agree with me he tells me, he’s usually right, I’m usually wrong. I follow His guidance without hesitation and without question. There’s no one who knows condominium and Co Op law representing coops and condominiums in this city that are like Steve – he’s just a really marvelous lawyer and a really good person and those things don’t often go together but they do with Steve. You know, he’s kind hearted, compassionate, empathetic, but skilled beyond belief in representing his clients. He is as responsive as anyone, I know that I can call Steve and if Steve’s busy, he will get back to me within minutes whether on the same side representing the same client or him representing me or him representing my co op. Whenever you need Steve, Steve’s always there. He really has a good head on his shoulders and always has, always has the right attitude. So if someone was to ask me where I would go if I needed a ferocious and fierce litigator who also had incredible good business judgment, I would have one name on my mind and that would be Steve Wagner – a great lawyer, great person, great skills, get’s his hands dirty. The guy to go to in all cases.