John H. Sokul is a partner with the law firm of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP and is Chair of the Firm’s Real Estate Practice Group. Mr. Sokul focuses on commercial real estate transactions, zoning and land use. He represents owners, developers, retailers and investors in the acquisition, permitting, development, financing, leasing and operations of commercial properties and shopping centers throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Mr. Sokul regularly appears before planning and zoning boards and other regulatory agencies in connection with commercial and residential real estate projects. He has handled numerous complex matters involving the intersection of real estate and municipal law, including public-private partnerships, development agreements, impact fees, tax abatements, betterment assessments and exactions. Mr. Sokul also has significant experience in negotiating and drafting purchase and sale agreements, leases, development agreements, restrictive covenants and related documents for complex commercial real estate transactions.
He is a long-term member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, where he serves on the Planning Committee for the Annual New England Idea Exchange. He is also a Member of the prestigious international Counselors of Real Estate. He earned his B.A. degree, cum laude, from the College of the Holy Cross, and his J.D. degree, with highest honors, from Duke University School of Law. Mr. Sokul is a member of the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Bar Associations.
John serves on Hinckley Allen’s Executive Committee.
John Sokul is a Partner in the Manchester, New Hampshire office of Hinckley Allen. John’s practice is focused on commercial real estate transactions, zoning, and land use. He represents owners, developers, retailers, and investors in the acquisition, permitting, development, financing, and leasing of commercial properties and shopping centers. John regularly appears before planning and zoning boards and other regulatory agencies. John has significant experience in negotiating and drafting purchase and sale agreements, leases, development agreements and related documents for complex commercial real estate transactions. John has handled hundreds of commercial real estate transactions, including some of the largest projects in the State of New Hampshire. He is a long-term member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and other real estate and industry trade groups.
As a leading real estate attorney in New Hampshire and throughout New England, John’s strength and talent is explaining complex legal concepts in clear and understandable terms to both the clients he represents and the regulatory agencies he appears before. John is always well prepared and direct, an approach that makes him convincing, credible and likeable. Whether drafting documents, or verbally presenting, John’s candid and pragmatic advice is complimented by his persistent, patient and fair style.
John’s real-life experience and natural instincts support his solid legal acumen. He knows how critical it is to understand both sides of a matter, and how to uncover true motivations, when formulating effective negotiation strategies.
John’s creativity and results-oriented nature extends beyond solving legal issues. He encourages efficiency in all matters and routinely looks for the realistic opportunities available to his clients. He prefers to stand shoulder to shoulder with his clients as they tackle legal matters together, many of whom have worked with him for almost twenty-five years. John is a fierce and effective advocate, and his success is partly attributed to the fact that he explores pricing arrangements that align his work with his client’s interests and success. John’s winning combination of practicality, insight, frankness and loyalty continually distinguish him from among his peers.
Areas Of Practice
John has a sophisticated real estate practice that spans the retail, resort, office, institutional, medical, hospitality, industrial and manufacturing industries. He focuses his work in the areas of:
- Property redevelopment and repositioning
- Land use, zoning and development
- Distressed properties
- Eminent domain
- Tax abatements
- Special projects
- Due diligence
John is particularly well known for his legal work involving shopping center law and development. The following is a brief summary of the services John offers to the firm’s clients:
Property Redevelopment And Repositioning
John works with property owners to reposition their commercial properties to respond to new market realities. He helps clients assess the realistic options available, create strategies to take advantage of the selected option, and implement plans in a practical, efficient manner. In this area, John counsels clients through many issues that may arise when redeveloping or repositioning commercial property, such as:
- reviewing and amending existing approvals and permits
- reviewing and amending existing leases
- appearing before planning boards, zoning boards, and other federal, state and local agencies.
- financing documents
- land swaps and assemblages
- negotiating with abutters, lenders, governmental officials and other stakeholders
- reviewing and amending REA’s , easement and development agreements and
- zoning and land use regulations
Land Use, Zoning And Development
John represents national, regional and local companies in real estate development projects throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts. His experience in land use matters is extensive and varied. John’s established a solid reputation as an effective advocate who works seamlessly with other project team members to ensure a well-orchestrated, thorough and professional presentation. Over the years, John has developed excellent working relationships with real estate professionals, including civil engineers, architects, wetlands scientists, traffic engineers and contractors. In this area, John counsels clients through all stages of the land use and development process, such as:
- analyzing zoning, land use and environmental ordinances and regulations
- identifying required permits and approvals
- representing clients before boards and regulatory agencies to obtain regulatory entitlements.
For more information about the firm’s land use practice please click here.
Transactional And Leasing
John has an active transactional practice with extensive experience in all types of real estate transactions including acquisitions, sales, commercial leasing and finance.
For more information about the firm’s acquisition and disposition practice click here.
John works with owners, developers and investors in real estate properties to evaluate and review distressed properties. Dramatic changes within the economy have caused remarkable problems for some and created tremendous opportunities for others. John helps clients work through the challenges and advantages of distressed properties, such as:
- foreclosures, evictions and other remedies and enforcement actions
- loan workouts and restructurings
- modifying and extending permits and approvals
- permits and approvals for projects that allow build-out over time and/or in phases
- performing due diligence associated with acquisitions of partially completed projects
- renegotiating tenant leases
- representing buyers of real estate in bankruptcy proceedings.
John represents property owners responding to threats of eminent domain. John’s experience in dealing with regulatory agencies positions him to obtain fair results for his clients. John’s practical and realistic approach often resolves these cases through a negotiated settlement, avoiding unnecessary, time consuming and costly litigation. When needed, John brings in additional resources from the firm’s extensive experience in handling eminent domain cases before appellate boards and in court.
Recent strains on municipal budgets often result in overly aggressive tax collection actions. John frequently represents property owners in achieving real estate tax reductions through negotiations with local tax assessors.
Unique situations require special talents. Businesses frequently ask for John’s involvement when confronted with uncommon or unusually complex real estate issues, which often involve governmental agencies. John is a go-to resource in these cases as his pro-active, straightforward approach typically achieves excellent results.
This work frequently involves high-level negotiations, valuation issues, document drafting and legal advocacy. Recently, John worked with property owners impacted by projects such as:
- airport expansion
- alleged wetlands and other environmental violations
- drainage matters
- enforcement actions of all types
- flood mitigation
- highway widening
- river relocation
- tax audits.
John is well recognized for his work on real estate matters involving the retail industry, particularly shopping centers. As a result of his active participation in the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), John is well versed in the issues which are important to this industry. He helps clients with not only the day-to-day business, but also in connection with more complex matters including:
- due diligence
- ground leasing
- operational issues
- retail development
- tax matters
For more information about the firm’s work in the retail industry, and examples of representative matters click here.
John represents owners, developers and operators of resort and hospitality properties. In this area, John counsels clients through both daily business activities and with important strategic decisions. Some of the areas he assists clients with include:
- acquiring properties
- drafting leases
- forming condominium associations
- negotiating construction contracts
- operational and management issues
- regulatory approvals
Click here to find more information about the firm’s hotel and hospitality practice.
- Executive Committee Member
- Chair, Real Estate Law Group
- Co-Chair, Retail Law Group
- Partner (2007-Present)
Cleveland, Waters and Bass, P.A.
Honors & Awards
- Best Lawyers in America® (2007-2019) Lawyer of the Year (2014), Recognized for Land Use and Zoning Law, Litigation - Land Use and Zoning and Real Estate Law
- Chambers USA America's Leading Lawyers for the categories of Real Estate and Real Estate: Land Use
- Martindale-Hubbell® AV Peer Review Rating, Recipient
Charitable & Civic Involvement
- Babe Ruth World Series Advisory Committee (1993)
- Bishop Brady High School Advisory Board (2011-2014)
- City of Concord Economic Development Advisory Committee (2002-2006)
- Concord, New Hampshire Citizens Zoning Advisory Committee, Member (1999-2001)
- Concord YMCA, Board of Directors (1998-2008): President, 2006 & 2007; Vice President 2005
- Concord Business Group, President (1996 - 1998); Board of Directors (1995-2005)
- Concord Area Student Leadership Program, Chairman (1995-1997)
- Government Affairs Committee (2010-Present)
- Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce Board of Direction (2010-Present); Local Government Affairs Committee, Chairperson (2014 - Present)
- ICSC, New England Idea Exchange, Planning Committee (2013); Government Relations, Chair in New Hampshire and Rhode Island (2010)
- Leadership Greater Concord: Class of 1994
- The Counselors of Real Estate, Board of Directors - Boston Chapter (2016)
- American Bar Association: Natural Resources and Environmental Law; and Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Sections
- Boston College Club
- International Council of Shopping Centers (1995-Present)
- New England Idea Exchange Planning Committee, Member
- New Hampshire Governmental Affairs Chairman (1995-1998)
- New Hampshire Bar Association: Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Sections
- New Hampshire Commercial Investment Board of REALTORS® (NH CIBOR)
- Massachusetts, 1985
- New Hampshire, 1990
- National Business Institute – Real Estate Development, A Legal Primer – Manchester, NH, June 12, 2013
August 15, 2018
Hinckley Allen is pleased to announce that Best Lawyers® has recognized 51 attorneys in the 2019 edition…
May 3, 2018
Hinckley Allen is proud to announce that the 2018 edition of Chambers USA has recognized several of the…
January 8, 2019
Tax abatement season is here, with some fast approaching filing deadlines in Connecticut, Massachusetts,
November 21, 2018
Hinckley Allen published A Practical Guide to the Qualified Opportunity Zone Program, which details a…
Served as U.S. counsel to a New England based Real Estate Investment company, Waterstone Property Group,
March 22, 2019
John H. Sokul, Jr. and Jeff Groshek join the Arnett Development Group's (ADG) and New Hampshire Commercial…
July 16, 2018
Please join us for our second annual ICSC New England Conference & Deal Making kickoff networking…
“One of John’s major strengths is his ability to create strategic teams to solve real estate valuation issues. In a significant, complex eminent domain matter, he assembled a team of appraisers, engineers, planners, and other real estate professionals whose work provided the foundation for a victory in what ultimately turned out to be the largest eminent domain award in New Hampshire’s history with the final award exceeding the original offer by over 500%. In another case, he assembled a team of professionals that, against all odds, succeeded in materially changing proposed construction and taking plans to minimize and eliminate property impacts in a way that preserved long term value for his client. John is New Hampshire’s foremost permitting attorney as it relates to property development.”
Webster A. Collins, Executive Vice President/Partner, CBRE – New England
“I have worked closely with John on a variety of matters. He is always well-versed in the subject matter and thorough, yet he is able to apply common sense in his work. John has consistently provided us with excellent legal service at a price that makes sense in the context of the project, thereby delivering tremendous value. I would strongly recommend John to anyone seeking to have a quality working relationship with outside counsel.”
Raymond M. Murphy, Managing Director and General Counsel
Eastern Real Estate LLC
“John worked with me on Home Depot’s new store development projects. I value his clear understanding of the NH regulatory landscape and his ability to craft practical common sense solutions to even the most complex issues in a cost effective manner. He was a true asset to our HD development team.”
Cynthia Warren, General Counsel
Pyramid Hotel Group
“John Sokul is the first attorney I call upon when I need real estate representation. Twenty years ago I had a complicated problem that he was able to solve quickly. Since that time, he has always been available with practical solutions that I can understand.”
Scott Walker, Owner
“John represented the Chamber of Commerce in a particularly complex real estate transaction. Having someone of his caliber looking out for the best interests of the Chamber gave us the confidence to take a big step forward. John’s attention to detail, combined with his ability to see the big picture put us in a real win-win situation.”
Timothy G. Sink, President
Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce
“John is a “traditional” lawyer, someone who takes a personal interest and steadfast loyalty to attain the best results for his client. His good judgment generates confidence and his experience speaks for itself. He is a great resource!”
Alfred Tauber, Founder
Avaloch Farm Music Institute
“Clients and team members absolutely love John. Why? – because he brings to the table very strong legal talents, couples them with a fresh, personable but direct approach, and presents himself extremely well in public. Clients take comfort knowing that John can efficiently manage complexities along the way. Clients can trust John knowing that their project goals will be optimized. I always enjoy working with John, as we both share the same ideals.”
Karl Dubay, President and Owner
The Dubay Group
“John is a highly skilled attorney, and I had the pleasure of working with him on a difficult land use matter in Massachusetts. John has excellent people skills and I would highly recommend him.”
Al Maiorino, President
Public Strategy Group, Inc.
“John secured all of the required project entitlements for a new large (250,000 sf) shopping center including site plan, wetlands and zoning approvals. He was the point person who coordinated with all of the design and engineering professionals. His work product and response time were excellent. His presentations to the various boards and city council were clear and concise. John thoroughly understands the “nuts and bolts” of complex real estate development. I consider John the quarterback of our development team and I recommend him without hesitation or qualification.”
Kevin M. Dowd, Esq., General Counsel and Senior Vice President
Developers Realty, Inc.
“Transaction, zoning and land use specialist, John Sokul of Hinckley Allen is a “smart efficient, and practical lawyer who knows what it takes to get a deal done.” He recently advised McDonald’s on a complex transaction relating to the development of a large, multi-tenant shopping center.”
Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, The 2012 Client’s Guide
“John Sokul of Hinckley Allen in [Manchester] handles commercial real estate transactions, zoning and land use. He represents owners, developers, retailers and investors, and moves up the table following ringing endorsements from clients: “He is extraordinarily good – what jumps out immediately is his ability to communicate with a coherent and logical argument.”
Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, The 2011 Client’s Guide