New York Real Estate Journal’s 2022 Ones to Watch: James Ricca, Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP

Name: James Ricca

Title: Partner

Company Name: Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP

List 2-3 real estate associations or organizations that you are currently a member of:

  • Member, Community Bankers’ Mortgage Forum (CBMF);
  • Counsel, Mortgage Bankers Association of New York (MBAofNY)
  • Member, New York State Bar Association, Real Property Law Section

What recent project, transaction or accomplishment are you most proud of?

My colleague, Lindsay Mesh Lotito, and I negotiated and closed a $40.275 million first mortgage acquisition loan, with subordinate mezzanine financing, on behalf of an institutional lender, secured by two properties in Rochester and Scottsville, N.Y.

What led you to your current profession?

After college (Kenyon College), the last thing I wanted to do was be a lawyer. I wanted to work outdoors, play guitar and be free man! But fiscal realty presented itself and I needed a job. A friend of mine at the time worked for the District executive for the Southern District of New York (Federal Court). He arranged an interview for me with the clerk of the court (who coincidentally also went to Kenyon College!). I got the lowest rung job as a filing clerk in the records room. As time went on, I started reading some of the case records that were being constantly requisitioned by attorneys and the press—Sharon vs. Time Magazine, Westmoreland vs. CBS, Jagger vs. Klein. I was fascinated and got hooked by the law. I applied to law school for the night program, to hedge my bets, and went to law school at night as I continued to work my way up in the SDNY, to courtroom deputy clerk, where I was responsible for empaneling juries and swearing in witnesses in Federal cases. I had a front row seat to some of the greatest lawyers and judges of our time, not to mention witnessing historical figures like Mick Jagger, Mike Wallace, general William Westmoreland and Ariel Sharon testify in person!

Who was/is your mentor and how did s/he influence/help you in your career?

My father. He was an attorney. He had a successful practice in Woodhaven, Queens for many years, known as Ricca & Donnelly. He was inhouse counsel to a small savings and loan bank and also had a general practice. After law school, and working as a prosecutor at the Bronx District Attorney’s office, I worked with my dad. He was a great mentor. I was always impressed by, and learned from, his breadth of knowledge, his wisdom and his people skills.

Favorite quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” “The Man in the Arena” by Theodore Roosevelt.

This Spotlight was published online on May 24, 2022, on the New York Real Estate Journal’s website.