Areas of Practice
  • Yale Law School, J.D., 1972
  • Cambridge University, M.A., 1971
  • Cambridge University, B.A., first class honors, 1969
  • Yale College, B.A., summa cum laude, 1967
Bar & Court Admissions
  • New York
  • US Supreme Court
  • US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

David A. Richards

Senior Counsel
1114 Avenue of the Americas
New York NY 10036
TEL: +1 212 378 7537
FAX: +1 212 506 3950

David A. Richards is senior counsel in Steptoe's New York office, where he focuses on commercial office development, shopping centers, office, retail, industrial leasing, and railroad real estate.

Mr. Richards is recognized for his work in handling some of the largest real estate transactions in New York City, and in the development, acquisition, and disposition of major commercial office buildings throughout the US.  He has represented domestic and foreign investors; developers; retail and industrial entities; national and international commercial; professional partnerships; not-for-profit cultural and religious institutions; and foreign embassies for English, Japanese, Swiss, French, German, Arab, Israeli, and Hong Kong investors. 

Mr. Richards is also a leading authority on New York City development rights transfer.  His article "Development Rights Transfer in New York City" in the Yale Law Journal in December 1972 was among the first ever to appear about the subject, and was followed by articles in the Real Estate Law Journal in 1983 and in the American Bar Association's Real Property, Probate & Trust Journal in 1986; for the Practising Law Institute program on the subject, he published the first article on standard documentation for such transactions, "Development Rights Transfer Documentation: From Proposal to Partnership."

Mr. Richards has been named to Legal Media Group’s Best of the Best as one of the top 10 real estate lawyers – as determined through peer review – in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France.  He has also been repeatedly recognized in Best Lawyers in America, New York SuperLawyers (the featured real estate attorney in 2011), and Euromoney’s Guide to the World’s Leading Real Estate Lawyers.

In addition, Mr. Richards has spoken before the International Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the American Law Institute, the Practising Law Institute, and the New York Law Journal Seminars-Press.  He co-authored The Commercial Office Lease Handbook New York Model Clauses and Commentary for the American Bar Association Press, and has authored articles in the Yale Law Journal, the Real Property, Probate & Trust Journal, Taxes International, the Real Estate Law Journal, the New York Law Journal, and the International Property Investment Journal.

Representative Matters

  • Represented Conrail and CSX Transportation in the disposition of the one and a-half mile High Line elevated rail viaduct on New York City’s west side (now a city park) to the City of New York, for a public-private project, in negotiation with the City, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Javits Center, 26 underlying property owners, the Federal Surface Transportation Board, and the New York State Department of Transportation, that took 14 years
  • Advised on national leasing, sub-leasing, and disposition and acquisition of office, warehouse, and plant facilities for printing companies Moore Wallace (R.R. Donnelley, Chicago-headquartered), Vertis, Inc. (Baltimore), and World Color (Quebec)
  • Negotiated the net lease of and option purchase agreement for the AT&T Building in Manhattan to Sony Corporation
  • Advised on the assemblage, construction and permanent financing, and leasing of mixed use office and retail developments at 461 Fifth Avenue, 780 Third Avenue, 150 East 52nd Street, and 60 East 55th Street in New York City
  • Advised on lease restructuring, environmental remediation and indemnification, and reconfiguration, for Conrail, of the Oak Island Yard and Greenville Yard rail yards in New Jersey
  • Advised on the transfer of zoning development (air) rights to Trump Tower from Tiffany’s, from the Grolier Club to 520 Park Avenue as described in the New York Times for the deal's record price, and consulted on the creation of the "air rights transfer corridor" of the High Line Special District; and effected the transfer of true air rights for the over-track development of the planned St. George shopping center on Staten Island
  • Represented New York City’s major television stations in the proposed leasing of the antenna at the new World Trade Center
  • Represented Forbes in the sale-leaseback of its Fifth Avenue headquarters to New York University


  • The Best Lawyers in America
  • Who's Who in American Law, Euromoney's Guide to the World's Leading Real Estate Lawyers
  • Who's Who of Real Estate Lawyers and Who's Who in America
  • Best of The Best 2011
  • New York Super Lawyers, 2006-2017, featured real estate lawyer in 2011

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Professional Affiliations

  • Chair, Real Property, Probate & Trust Section, American Bar Association, 1991-1992
  • Chair, Anglo-American Real Property Institute, 1993
  • Board, American College of Real Estate Lawyers, 1987-1993
  • American Bar Association
  • Association of the Bar of the City of New York