"A terrific negotiator, extremely smart and always well prepared, and carries decades of experience."
Chambers USA


Keith Willner is senior counsel in the Real Estate practice. He regularly counsels major REITS, institutional developers, banks, private equity and opportunity funds, insurance companies, pension funds and pension fund advisors, asset managers and other capital providers in connection with the acquisition, venturing, financing, leasing and disposition of real estate. His transactions often focus on complex structuring issues, and tax, ERISA, bankruptcy and corporate considerations, involving foreign and domestic investors.

Keith served from 2015-2021 on Mayer Brown’s Partnership Board, and before that served as a Firmwide Practice Leader of the firm’s global real estate practice. In addition, Keith is a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. He is also listed in Tier 1 of Chambers USA (“DC: Real Estate”) as a leading real estate lawyer and has been listed every year since its first publication in 2002 Chambers USA states that he is a “terrific negotiator, extremely smart and always well prepared, and carries decades of experience. He is a go-to lawyer for the thorniest questions." Chambers USA has also observed that Keith has ”great negotiating skills and always sees the business aspect of the deal.” Clients have noted in Chambers USA that “he is able to express complex legal concepts simply and clearly, and is also very practical” and is “great at sizing up a situation and reading the other side, and helping us to understand what is important and what is not.” 

He is also listed in Legal 500 USA as a leading real estate lawyer and described as a “fantastic lawyer” who “brings motivation and technical capabilities to the table.” Keith is listed in the Best Lawyers in America in Real Estate Law, as well as numerous Who’s Who publications, including International Who’s Who of Real Estate Lawyers, Who’s Who Legal: USA— Real Estate, Marquis Who’s Who and Cambridge Who’s Who.

Keith joined Mayer Brown as a partner in 1996. Prior to that, he was a partner at a large, international firm and practiced with major firms in Washington and San Francisco.

Keith has written articles that have appeared in numerous publications, including Mortgage and Real Estate Executives Report, CREI Interactive, The Corridor Real Estate Journal, and Real Estate Rescues. 

Spoken Languages

  • English


  • Representation of institutions in acquisition, directly and through tax-advantaged contributions, of properties across the country, and in acquisition, disposition, venturing and financing of nationwide portfolios.
  • Represent major opportunity funds, pension funds and institutional advisors in development of national programmatic ventures with local development and operating partners for various real estate product types.
  • Transactions across the country and internationally for hotel ownership clients, including acquisition, disposition, ventures and financing, as well as management agreements and other operating agreements.
  • Landlord and tenant representation in company headquarters leases, including the (then) largest lease in Virginia history.  Also, representation of telecommunications providers in their national lease portfolios, and representation of institutional landlords in their DC-area leasing.
  • Represent senior housing developers in development and acquisition ventures, and in acquisition, financing and licensing of assisted living facilities across the United States.
  • Represent institutional lenders in several billion dollars of mortgage financing of all product types, including assisting insurance company in developing program for and closing first construction loans under new national construction financing program.  Also, regularly counsel institutional developer clients as borrowers under mortgage financing, mezzanine debt, preferred equity and credit lines.
  • Establishment of joint investment and ownership vehicles involving foreign and domestic investors to purchase, develop and operate real estate projects. Representation often includes structuring and negotiation of LLC’s, partnerships, UPREITS, downREITS and other investment vehicles.


University of Virginia, BA, magna cum laude
Phi Beta Kappa

University of Virginia School of Law, JD


  • District of Columbia


  • Advisory Committee, National Multi Housing Council, 1997 to date
  • Advisory Committee, National Real Estate Investor, 2001 to date
  • District of Columbia Bar Association, Real Estate, Housing and Land Use Section Steering Committee (1997-2000), Section Financial Officer (1998-2000); Chairman, Real Property Transactions Committee (1996-1997), Chairman, Commercial Transactions Committee (1995-1996)