A New Yorker through and through, Adam Leitman Bailey, 53, actually moved from Bayside, Queens, to LA, of all places, when he was five years old. A self-described “Karate Kid” situation emerged, where he was the one with the Brooklyn accent, Bailey moved back to the East Coast — New Jersey more specifically — when he was 13.
Now a resident of the Upper East Side, Bailey, a graduate of Syracuse University School of Law, says he owns the largest real estate law firm, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., that’s owned by one person. Real estate, Leitman Bailey says, is “in chaos,” so business at his firm is hopping, with cases ranging from foreclosures, lien fights, partners battling over who has the right to make decisions, landlord/tenant disputes and class actions.
Leitman Bailey in 2011 prevailed against Trump Soho on fraud claims, with would-be condominium buyers receiving 90 percent of their deposits — about $3.4 million — after having relied on deceptive sales figures. He’s also worked on landmark cases, like using a forgotten federal statute called the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, during the Great Recession, enabling Leitman Bailey to help void the contracts of sales for buildings over 100 units.
He’s also representing 980 Fifth Avenue against former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer in an unlikely adverse possession case in Manhattan.
While Leitman Bailey was much more interested in talking about his weekend role as a baseball coach for his two school-age kids, The Real Deal asked him to take us through a typical work day (if there is such a thing) in his life,
6 a.m. This is always the same. The alarm clock goes off at 6 a.m., no matter how much or how little sleep I get. I get out of bed right away because I know that the hardest part about running is putting your shoes on. So I get my shoes on and I head to Central Park for my 4 mile run.
I started the routine when I graduated from law school and I received my first job in March of 1996. I cannot wear any gadgets. I wear a Timex $40 watch. It allows me to figure out my cases, go over my problems, go over the day ahead and when you’re finished, you’re now ready for the day.
6:50 a.m. I’m not as fast as I was when I could do that run in 26 minutes. Now it’s slower. The goal is to get back at 6:50. Then I hit the shower, brush my teeth, and shave. I wear Fahrenheit and Burberry colognes, I mix them.
7:10 a.m. My kids get on the bus to go to school at 7: 30 a.m., so I try to spend at least 20 minutes with my kids before they hit that bus. Unfortunately, until Friday, on many nights I don’t see them for weeks during the night.
7:30 a.m. I wear a suit and tie every day to work. No dress downs. My entire firm does that. We were back in the office from Covid in September 2020. All my suits look alike. All my suits are either light blue or dark blue or gray or grayish-blue. So all my suits all match my white and blue shirts. It’s one less decision I have to make. Every time I wake up, once I’m putting on my suit, I don’t have to think. I have a rotation. I have 12 suits that are active. If I wear the suit that day, it goes to the back of the row, and the next suit comes up to the next one. It does change a little based on the judge I’m going in front of. … I know how they’re going to dress, so I’m going to try to match them. We just had a case in front of Judge Cohen, and he’s very corporate, so I wore a very corporate suit and a very corporate tie for that one.
8:30 a.m. There’s one of two patterns every day. Am I going to court or am I going to the office? Today is an office day. So I get a ride in and I do work on the way to the office. I answer the emergency emails the night before, I wake up with hundreds of emails every morning. I am checking the headlines of the day. I have three subscriptions. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and this other news thing that allows me to see the headlines of the newspapers. I also read The Real Deal email every morning. When I was younger I would take the subway to the office, now I realize that by having a ride to the office, I’m getting a half hour of work done, so I do that.
9 a.m. We serve breakfast in the office. It’s stocked for all the employees in the office. If I’m not going to court, I’m gonna eat it at 9 a.m. in the office. I eat the same breakfast every day. I have oatmeal, two hard boiled eggs, I do not eat the yolk, I have a cup of coffee. … I heard that it’s now healthy to eat the yolk, but I was trained that it’s fattening. … If I’m in court this all changes and I hustle to a restaurant around the corner at 8:15 that serves breakfast and get oatmeal, hard boiled eggs and coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice at a diner-type place. I love New York diners. I think it’s one of the best things ever invented. It’s the Bayside Queens in me.
10 a.m. to 1p.m. My day is covered with appointments, both with calls, right now we have 436 emails to answer. We have a 24-hour rule to answer emails. It’s extremely difficult to do that. We’re going to have calls and meetings all day. In between I’m answering calls, pitching calls, doing Zooms, doing calls, and making sure everybody is getting a return call within the 24-hour rule. That is a sacred rule.
We have to hire more attorneys because we’re overwhelmed with work. The real estate world is in chaos. If the real estate world is in chaos, people are going to litigate.
1 p.m. I understand the importance of getting outside. It’s a two-block walk to a local restaurant I like, no one is there, they treat me very well, I order the same thing every day. I order soup — tomato or butternut squash — and an egg skillet dish and avocado. I work while I’m eating. If I’m in court, I have my assistant order me Seemless and get me a Poke bowl. Lunch, because I’m working and eating, could last 20 minutes, it could last 40 minutes, I don’t really notice. I try to make it a 40 minute excursion to get a break from the chaos.
2 p.m. We schedule depositions in the afternoon. I try not to do my own depositions. So clients insist that I do them. I’m either defending or taking them till 5 p.m. If I hear a deposition is not going well, or the attorney needs help, I’ll be jumping in, too. Some of these depositions are extremely exciting. We treat depositions like it’s war. We take it very seriously.
5 p.m. You’re catching up. The next day to go over. Returning calls and email. That takes you to 8 or 9 at night because of the 24-hour rule. I am an extremely focused person. There’s at least 50 people here, I have a lot of help, but a lot of people bring in business here, but I’m bringing in the bulk. We reject at least one-third of the cases, maybe two-thirds that we take in. We don’t like unhappy clients and we can’t take in cases that are too small based on the amount of money I’m paying the attorneys here.
8 p.m. I leave the office.
9 p.m. I need an hour of relaxation when I’m not doing anything. I spend time with my wife, I watch TV or sports. I am a major Mets fan, I like the Knicks, the Giants. My son and I play fantasy football. I’m really not good at life. I eat very healthy, I order rotisserie chicken and sushi, I like ordering dishes with avocado and I love fish, chicken and sushi. I’m eating very quickly because I’m getting home so late.
11 p.m. I go to sleep. My wife is amazed that when I hit the pillow, I fall asleep instantly. My body is trained when I hit the pillow it goes to sleep. I am a phenomenal sleeper. I understand the importance of sleep. I understand it makes me a better attorney, it makes me a better person. I recognize the importance of getting seven hours of sleep a night. I’m 53 years old, over 30 years of practicing law, your body is trained to get that much sleep, you hit the pillow, 6 o’clock, you’re ready to go.