Tell me everything and hold back nothing. I can deal with anything as long as I know. What is fatal is being blindsided by something hidden from me by my own client. Thankfully, this rarely occurs because of the tight relationship we have with our clients.
John A. Messina, Jr.
Founding PartnerJohn A. Messina Jr. is the head of the Messina & Hankin's Temecula Valley office.
Prior to law school, Mr. Messina had extensive experience in the real estate field, both as a licensed real estate broker (which he still is) and as the head of a mortgage banking firm in the San Gabriel Valley. He received his undergraduate degree in management (with distinction) from the University of Redlands, and his J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1994 and is admitted to practice before all Courts in California.
Areas of Practice
In the Temecula Valley office, Mr. Messina represents business entities, government agencies, and individuals in civil litigation. He has dealt with matters regarding corporate and real estate finance, contracts, land use, and business torts. He also represents clients in non-litigation matters, including business organization, real estate leases, and purchase contracts. Messina & Hankin is deeply involved in the structure and placement of international investments in California. Particularly those dealing with the US Government Immigrant Investor Program.
Messina & Hankin represent a major U.S. Government approved Regional Center located in the Inland Empire, and through that Center, has extensive involvement in the development and structure of investment. This includes both immigration oriented (EB-5) and direct equity investments made by investors located in China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and other countries.
The firm is also involved in the structure and placement of international investments in California. Particularly those made as part of US Government Immigrant Investor Program.
In connection with its international investment practice, Messina & Hankin advise principals and investors regarding the placement of investment funds. They also prepare the business plan, related materials, as well as handling all legal aspects of the investment itself.
Get your paperback copy of John A. Messina Jr’s book: California Commercial Lease Option Purchase Agreements Line by Line: A Detailed Look at California Commercial Lease Option Purchase Agreements and How to Change Them to Meet Your Needs.
This book provides comprehensive instructions on drafting one of the best results-oriented real estate agreements. It puts landlord/tenant and buyer/seller together, including detailed explanations of various provisions, alternate language to use as needed, and ample appendix material.
This how-to guide provides readers with the information necessary to understand the reasons behind those seemingly harmless leases and purchase provisions; discover creative ways to structure the transaction; learn important negotiating points, and avoid future litigation.
- Thinking of Going into Business with Others: Ask the Right Questions to Avoid the Wrong Outcome - March 1, 2018, The Valley Business Journal
- Eminent Domain: What You Need to Know Before Agreeing to Anything - January 1, 2018, The Valley Business Journal
- Honor, Integrity, Respect; Endangered Values - November 1, 2017,The Valley Business Journal
What made you choose a career in law?
Before reaching the ripe old age of 25 I was tasked with resolving a complex real estate matter involving my parent’s commercial real estate. A real estate developer had purchased my folk’s commercial building as part of a 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange. In partial payment, the developer traded commercial property he owned on Melrose Avenue; he retained a master lease with an Option to Purchase. Close to the time the lease was to expire my parents discovered he had torn the face off the building and a long-term tenant leased a large percentage of the building at below-market rent because of the tenant and condition of the building was greatly below what my parents were expecting—the developer planned it this way. Initial discussions with various attorneys lead my parents to believe they had no choice but to acquiesce to the developer scheme. I initiated my own investigation and gathered evidence proving the developer had committed fraud.
Armed with this additional information, gathered after months of work, I went on the hunt for a new attorney who could right what I perceived to be a serious wrong. Working together with our attorney, we forced a settlement where the developer paid my parents what they originally expected and paid their attorney fees. It is this personal experience that leads me to believe I had found my calling as a litigation attorney specializing in the tough complex matters avoided by most legal practitioners.
In your opinion, what sets your firm apart from other firms in the area?
John C. Maxwell wrote, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” The attorneys at our firm are Leaders; we know the way from years of real-world experience and apply what we’ve learned to successfully navigate our clients through to lucrative settlements, solid business agreements, and winning litigation. As Leaders, we use our experience and acumen to lead the way, allowing our clients to take solace knowing they have hired the most knowledgeable, creative, hard-working, and caring legal professionals to handle their most pressing challenges.
What is a case you're particularly proud of?
While there are many, my favorite cases always start with a common theme, someone telling me, “you can’t do that.” In a particularly contentious eminent domain case involving the complete taking of our client’s property, I sought to introduce an economist to opine on the value of the taking. In eminent domain cases, MAI Appraisers are used to give opinions of value—there were already five being used and their opinions varied by seven figures. I decided to go out-of-the box, with the full support of our client, and brought the economist in as an expert. Days before trial, and motions in limine to exclude my expert already in hand, the governmental entity settled for an amount close to that expected at trial. Our client was very pleased with the result, the amount exceeded that approximated by other eminent domain attorneys, and pushing the envelope once again paid off.
What steps do you take to prepare for a difficult case?
We start preparing for trial the minute we take the case in the door. While most cases never go to trial, we prepare like it will and never, as a result, negotiate from a place of weakness. Because our firm’s attorneys are well-versed in our field, we consistently discuss each case from beginning to end. Our clients are not double-billed for the time we spend discussing our case with each other; our fervent desire to optimize our client’s outcome drives us to explore any vulnerabilities and strengthen our case against any attack.
How do you view your role in the attorney-client relationship?
As trusted, caring, and respected leaders. We strive every day to earn our clients’ trust. We do this by remaining knowledgeable in our field and always do what we say we are going to do. Our clients want to turn their problem over to someone who will alleviate their fears and concerns; someone who will lead them to an optimum result—our role is to lead and deliver.
What sets you apart from other attorneys? Why is this important?
My reputation is that of a bulldog, and once I sink my teeth into something I do not let go. I have an innate ability of sensing when something is missing and will press and investigate until I find the source of my uneasiness. Once I start something I take it to the end with no regrets that I could have done more.
My practical experience as a private pilot, PADI SCUBA Instructor, California Reserve Deputy Sheriff with the Rank of R, Captain, Tribal Court Judge, CA real estate broker, mortgage banker, real estate developer, licensed embalmer and funeral director, and manufacturing design engineer, sets me far apart from other attorneys. As an example, as a contract design engineer in aerospace, I excelled by taking on extremely difficult and challenging assignments and I exited the field with an Achievement Award from Northrup for my part of a small team that designed and fabricated an infra-red periscope for the U.S. Navy called NESSIE (Naval Experimental Sensor System for Infra-red Evaluation).
How does having experience benefit your clients?
My training to become a lawyer is far beyond academic. Rarely do I encounter a case or matter where I do not have some real-world hands on experience which allows me to relate to my client. I believe my practical experience in science, engineering, finance, real estate, construction, and law gives me a distinct edge on my competition.
In your opinion, what is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Without-a-doubt the immense satisfaction I receive from hearing my client say, “Job well done... Thank you.”
What advice do you most often give your clients & why?