Real Property Development LL.M. Student Making His Way in the Real Estate Industry

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Nicholas Bailkin

Nicholas Bailkin

Nicholas Bailkin is a joint J.D./LL.M. candidate in Miami Law’s Robert Traurig-Greenberg Traurig Real Property Development Program. Bailkin is the epitome of an accomplished student: he leads Miami Law’s Real Property Probate & Trust Law Society, he has held prestigious internships in the industry, and has earned awards in national real estate competitions.

Bailkin talked about his path to the RPD LL.M. Program and its impact on his career goals.

Tell me about yourself. Where are you from, and what led you to Miami Law?

I am from New York City. I went to undergrad at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where I majored in political science. Upon graduating, I moved back to the city and worked in real estate development for four years.

I worked on some major projects, both in New York City and in Philadelphia; the bigger one was in Philadelphia, a big, urban transformative project which touched on every issue and facet of real property development. Working on these projects made me realize I needed more specialized knowledge to progress to the level where one day I could arrange this kind of work for myself. I decided to apply to law schools. It came down to Miami and its expertise in real estate law and its J.D./LL.M. in Real Property Development.

What is your favorite course in the RPD Program?

One that I am in right now, Planning & Zoning. You go into all the different issues with the planning stages of development which is very interesting.

I also like Real Estate Project Development. It’s an interdisciplinary course with the School of Architecture. The professor assembles teams of students in different disciplines (law/architecture/business) and each team must come up with an entire ground-up development for a site, picking the best use and making sure it works financially. He also invites one major heavy-hitting player in Miami real estate to speak for the last hour of class. It is always interesting to listen to them because they are at the top level and it's great to get that interface with them.

You touched on extracurricular participation, and I know you hold a leadership role in a student organization. Can you tell me about that?

I am President of the Real Property Probate and Trust Law Society, which has been very active this year notwithstanding the pandemic. Our programming has been very varied. We invited Neisin Kasdin, managing partner of Akerman, former Miami Beach mayor, and a prominent leader in Miami’s urban revitalization, to speak about urban redevelopment, climate change and resiliency, public private partnerships, and other key issues central to real estate development. We also hosted presentations on PropTech, on Wetlands (co-hosted with the Environmental Law Society), and on Housing Discrimination.

You participated in the ABA’s Section on Real Property, Trusts & Estates’ writing competition. How was that experience?

I did this the summer before starting the RPD LL.M. Program. I wrote a paper on disparate impact and how a new CFR—a new regulation--- would affect the doctrine of disparate impact. There were two rules promulgated under the Obama administration, which Trump changed.

You see the balance between protecting people's civil liberties and the realm of real estate discrimination conflicting with the other need to develop more affordable housing. I argued that the rule under Obama had more robust protections and several of the regulations should be kept, while others could be dropped because they hindered the development of affordable housing.

I won second place.

Similarly, I know you've also participated in the ULI Hines Student Competition. Tell me about that experience.

That was another wonderful experience. I really loved it; I think that everybody who has the opportunity should try and compete in it.

[The Hines Competition offers graduate students the chance to form multidisciplinary teams to devise a development program for a site in a North American city. For this competition, 105 teams (525 students) from 61 universities in the U.S., Canada and Singapore participated in the first round.]

I really liked my team. We came up with a great proposal. The development was in Kansas City, which I knew nothing about. It was great to learn about that city because it expanded my views on it.

It was hard to do it on zoom. There is a very short window and we had different people meeting every day. We had to move the development scheme in a way that all our inputs were being represented. There had to be a division of labor: the designers, the lawyer, the MBA student, and we were not all from Miami. When you are all in a room together, it's easier to make sure that each component of our individual specialization is represented in the overall development scheme. I don't know if that came through as much as it should have because of zoom, but it was still a great experience.

How did your team place?

We got an Honorable mention. Four teams placed in the contest: a winner and three runner ups. There were nine (9) honorable mentions. Given how many teams competed, our recognition was significant.

Can you tell me about your internship experiences as an RPD student?

I did my internship at the City of Miami’s Office of the City Attorney, one of the busiest real estate “law firms” in the county. I researched and drafted legal memoranda on inverse condemnation and causality issues, developed legal arguments for challenging the validity of a tax deed sale of a historic property and attended city commission meetings and summarized discussion on relevant real estate matters. It was a very fulfilling and educational experience.

So, you've achieved a lot, thus far, but what's next? What are your long-term goals?

Well, long term, I want to work in Miami in real property development. I plan to first get a job at a law firm that's focused on real property development and get experience representing developers. I would then want to pivot to the development side to eventually build lower-density buildings and affordable housing. I think that the next frontier in Miami is making affordable housing work and there are creative ways that you can do that.

That sounds exciting. Is there anything else you will kind of want to tell prospective RPD LL.M. students?

Take advantage of all the resources and all the opportunities that are in front of you. No one is going to hand it to you, and it is a lot of work. Try and do a good job.

Read more about Miami Law’s Real Property Development LL.M. Program