NEWS | The Towne Law Firm, P.C. | September 18, 2020
‘Why this real estate and startup lawyer moved from NYC to Troy’
Excerpt from: Albany Business Review, September 2020
Joshua Koss, a real estate lawyer who was based in New York City, was planning to make a real estate investment and move to Troy. When that deal fell through near the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, he wasn’t sure what to do next. But he decided he wanted to move to Troy anyway.
“If I loved all these things about the area and I wanted to invest in real estate here and live here in the first place, that’s all still true now,” Koss said.
So he moved, spent the next couple of months networking and eventually joined The Towne Law Firm, which has its main office in Colonie. The firm recently added 10 attorneys, bringing its total to 24. It also added locations in Glens Falls; Arlington, Massachusetts; and Sparta, New Jersey.
Besides continuing with real estate, Koss is focusing his efforts on startups, including tech and restaurants. The Business Review spoke with him about his first impressions of Troy and how he hopes to impact the community.
What about Troy did you like so much? The community in Troy was one of the reasons why I wanted to move here. And so I just networked like a maniac for a couple of months. There were a number of opportunities that I was considering, and I felt that being at The Towne Law Firm was the best platform through which I could add value to all the companies in Troy that I had come to know and love, whether it was the restaurants or the bars or all the tech companies.
Within a four-by-four block radius, you have the Tech Valley Center of Gravity, the Troy Innovation Garage, and then the Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence, a new $2 million incubator that’s getting put in.
And it’s the incredible business community, the great macroeconomics in terms of all the students, the recession resiliency offered by Troy and the surrounding cities’ proximity to Albany and all the state jobs.
What kind of effect do you think Covid will have on startups? I think it’s speeding up people’s existing plans or forcing people to innovate. If you’re in the middle of a crisis, you have to move forward and innovate, or you perish. I think Covid is forcing people to kind of trim the fat and their operations. I feel like it’ll probably benefit the companies that are able to differentiate themselves and sideline the companies that aren’t. It almost forces people to find the best way that they can add value to their community.
For example, the Troy Innovation Garage: I know that [its parent company is expanding], and I think that’s kind of like a model for tech-oriented startups in general. You have to be actively taking steps forward to differentiate yourself in a time of crisis.
What do you think about the role of the Troy Innovation Garage and other coworking spaces? A lot of different ideas are out there about what’s going to happen with coworking in the time of Covid. I actually think it’s a good thing for coworking. The old office model is outdated. It doesn’t really reflect the environment that a lot of people want to work in.
I think companies are going to evolve so that even at older, more traditional companies, you go into the office for a couple of days a week, and then you work from home. For me, I tend to be more productive when I’m out of my house. So even if I’m not going to be in a traditional office space, it would still be nice to have a flexible work environment that isn’t my home living environment. And I think that’s one of the many gaps that coworking can fill.
I don’t know that downstate is super well equipped to make that pivot. You have these hundred-story skyscrapers and what can you do with that but fill it with outdated office space? Whereas you have these beautiful Victorian buildings in Troy, and regardless of what their prior use was, some of them are ideally situated to be turned into flexible layout spaces.
What role do you want to play in the startup community here? I think, too often, people take a narrow view of the services a lawyer can provide. If I’m providing bread-and-butter legal services to a company that’s actively sourcing venture capital deals, and then I’m providing bread-and-butter legal services to a startup, and then that startup is looking to source investment — if I’m adding as much value to my community as I can, I connect those two people. And I don’t consider that separate and apart from practicing the law; I consider that a part of the services that I provide as a lawyer.
Interview has been edited and condensed.