Leonard A. Zax

Retired Partner

Leonard Zax retired from the partnership in June 2008 in order to become President of the Hamilton Partnership, a new non-profit organization working to revitalize the historic center of his hometown of Paterson, New Jersey. He also will become a member of the faculty of Harvard University, where he will teach a course in Historic Preservation and Urban Revitalization.

He was resident in the Washington office of Latham & Watkins, where he was head of the real estate practice. He has represented REITs, private equity funds, investment bankers, developers and non-profit corporations on real estate matters throughout the United States. He also has worked on cross-border real estate investment and development in Europe and the Middle East. Mr. Zax is a nationally recognized expert on the Constitution's Just Compensation Clause, has worked on major regulatory takings litigation and has lectured widely on condemnation for economic development. His professional accomplishments have been recognized in Who's Who in America, Euromoney Guide to the World's Leading Real Estate Lawyers and Chambers USA Guide to America's Leading Lawyers for Business.

He has worked on the largest transactions in the history of the Washington region, representing a venture of Hines and Archstone-Smith in the US$1 billion City Center redevelopment of the former DC Convention Center site, and Gaylord Entertainment Co. in the US$1 billion hotel and convention center development on the Potomac River at National Harbor. He has also represented AvalonBay Communities Inc., Camden Property Trust, the District of Columbia Government, GE, Goldrich & Kest Industries, Hyatt Corp., a real estate fund organized by Lazard, Madison Marquette, Mobil Corp., Pritzker Realty Group and Sears in real estate matters in the Washington area and elsewhere in the country.

Long active in the historic preservation movement, he has served as a Trustee of the DC Preservation League and has done pro bono work for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He served as a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Advisory Program panel assisting the Rebuild New Orleans Commission in the aftermath of Katrina.

Mr. Zax is a leader of the effort to revitalize the City of Paterson, New Jersey, beginning with the creation of a National Historical Park at the site that Alexander Hamilton selected to begin implementing his plan to secure America's economic independence and provide economic opportunities for immigrants. He represented the New Jersey Community Development Corp., on whose behalf he testified before the Congress supporting the creation of the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, which would help rejuvenate that economically depressed city and improve the quality of life for its 150,000 predominantly Latino, African American and Muslim American residents. The New York Times described one of his briefs submitted to the Secretary of the Interior as a “38-page tour de force…putting together political and industrial history, art and literature, to argue for adding Paterson's old industrial heart to the National Park System.”

Professional Activities

Mr. Zax has served as a trustee of the National Building Museum and as Chairman of the American Bar Association Committee on Housing and Urban Development Law. As a District of Columbia resident who has been very active in civic life, he served as Co-Chair of the Mayor's Downtown Housing Commission and as a member of the DC Enterprise Zones Study Commission. Mr. Zax served as Chairman of a ULI Commercial and Retail Development Council, and as a member of the Jury of the ULI Awards for Excellence, which each year selects the best real estate development projects in the world.

Publications, Education and Government Service

Mr. Zax is the author of articles on housing and economic development and historic preservation in New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Euromoney, National Law Journal, Real Estate Finance Journal, Washington Business Journal and Urban Land

A graduate of the University of Chicago, he earned degrees in City Planning and in Law from Harvard University. He later served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.


  • JD, Harvard Law School, 1975
  • MCP, Harvard University, 1975
  • AB, University of Chicago, 1971