South Florida Legal Guide 2009 Edition
Editor's Note: In life as well as in law, quality people attract each other. Here are four married couples – all Top Attorneys or Up-and-Comers – who have learned to share the joys and challenges of the legal profession together.
Skip Pita and Shannon Del Prado
Howard "Skip" Pita and Shannon Del Prado share many things in life: a 13-year-marriage, a strong commitment to helping others, and a plaintiff's personal injury practice at Pita & Del Prado, P.A. "It's easy for us to work together, because our goals are the same, both in our practice and at home," says Del Prado.
She was working for the Department of Justice in Washington, DC and studying for her master's degree in international business, when she met Pita, who was earning a master of law degree at George Washington University. They shared an interest Latin America, and first date was to the Ballet Folklórico de México. As Pita says, "The rest is history."
Now, Pita, 42, and Del Prado, 40, have three children, Lucian, 8, Jade, 5 and Cassandra, 2. "Working together gives us balance –at home and at work." says Del Prado. "And from a woman's perspective, it's wonderful to practice with your husband. One of us is always available for our kids."
In the courtroom, Pita and Del Prado have tried a number of cases together. They share duties as lead attorney. "Every case is different – some require both our attention and others do not," says Pita, who founded the firm in 1999. Del Prado joined him within a year.
Pita notes that a successful tort lawyer must move cases forward. "When you are dealing with liability carriers, you have to make the carrier treat your case as a priority," he says. "That means pushing the case to trial and forcing the carrier to make decisions."
Outside the office, both enjoy working out at the gym and spending time with their kids. Recently, Pita and Del Prado have turned their talents to another cause to help people: "Project Peru," a volunteer effort where U.S. surgical teams provide free care to the poor in Peru. Last summer, they organized a Miami-based plastic surgery team that performed almost 50 operations in Peru.
"It was a life-transforming experience," says Pita, "and a great way to create positive relationships with the medical community, where tort lawyers are often at odds. We also believe that it is constructive way to do our part to help restore the U.S. image abroad." Del Prado agrees, "Project Peru fulfills an important medical need, and it helps us stay connected with my family in Peru." Del Prado's father is from Peru, served in the U.S, Foreign Service, and now works with his wife Sandy in managing the medical clinic served by Project Peru.
For Pita and Del Prado, it appears that working with the family is second nature. As Del Prado says, "We have complementary attitudes and good synergy. That leads to good results at home – and in the courtroom."
Norman and Jane Moscowitz
Eight years ago, Norman and Jane Moscowitz teamed up to open Moscowitz & Moscowitz, PA, their own Miami litigation firm. But their personal collaboration goes back much further, as they celebrated 39 years of marriage in August. "We're the leading edge of the baby boomers," says Norman Moscowitz. "We're both 62, but I'm two days older than Jane."
Jane Moscowitz grew up in Texas, and earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Houston, and master's degree from Rutgers University. Norman, a native New Yorker, earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Columbia College and Princeton University. The two met as summer camp counselors in the Catskills, and married soon after graduating from college. It took them several more years to decide to go to law school. They graduated from Harvard Law School together in 1977.
"We were moot court partners in our first year in law school, so we've been working together a long time," says Norman. After earning their law degrees, Jane joined the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore, while Norman worked in Washington, DC, on denaturalization and deportation cases involving Nazi war criminals.
The Moscowitzes came to Miami in 1982, working for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Florida. They also began a family and have daughters, Ariela, 24, and Anna, 18.
Jane joined Steel Hector & Davis in 1987, but after five years, realized she wasn't "cut out for life in a large firm," she says. Instead, she joined attorney Jeanne Baker in a criminal law partnership, Baker & Moscowitz. Then, when Baker joined the public defender's office, she formed her own firm, Jane W. Moscowitz, P.A.
Meanwhile, Norman spent 11 years with the U.S. Attorney's Office, and then joined Bilzin Sumberg in 1993. Six years later, he had an opportunity to represent a client in the criminal case resulting from the 1996 ValuJet crash in the Everglades. However, the firm had a conflict so he decided to leave and do the case. "Jane also had a defendant in the trial," he recalls. "After the trial, I decided to take the plunge and join her. The time was right for both of us and things have worked out very well."
Jane says she and her husband usually have their own cases and "backstop" each other. "When we do have a case together, we don't always agree about how something should be handled," she adds. "Since we're equal partners, sometimes we compromise – but at other times one defers to the other."
Both partners at Moscowitz & Moscowitz focus on criminal litigation, fraud-related civil matters and public company investigations. "I really trust Jane and value her judgment and advice," says Norman. "We consult each other all the time, much to the betterment of our clients – and the boredom of our children."
Michael T. Moore and Leslie Lott
While Michael T. Moore and Leslie Lott have different legal practices and separate firms, they share a marriage that's lasted more than 30 years. "You might say the probationary period has ended," says Moore, partner at Moore & Company, P.A. a six-attorney marine and aviation firm based in South Florida.
Being married to another attorney has its advantages, according to Lott, founding partner of Lott & Friedland, P.A., an 11-attorney firm with offices in Coral Gables and Fort Lauderdale that marked its 25th anniversary in 2008. "We have never gotten upset with each other about having to work late or taking a last-minute trip out of town," she says. "We both understand the demands of clients and the legal profession."
Moore and Lott met as undergraduates at the University of Florida and began dating in law school. After graduating in 1974, she joined the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, working in Washington, DC, while he went to work for a New York law firm. For three years, they rode the Metroliner north or south before marrying in December 1977.
Meanwhile, Moore had opened an office for his firm in Saudi Arabia and Lott joined him there after their marriage, as they worked together on foreign investment-related matters. In 1980, they started looking for a new location in the U.S. where Moore could practice maritime law, and Lott could continue working on intellectual property (IP) cases.
"Although I grew up in central Florida, I hadn't really paid much attention to Miami," says Moore. "But when we started thinking about where an IP lawyer and a maritime lawyer could do well, Miami was right at the top of our list. That was nearly 30 years ago, and we're still here."
Because of the different nature of their practices and varied client bases, Lott and Moore have kept their firms separate. But they share legal advice and refer appropriate cases to each other. "Michael is an excellent trial attorney," says Lott. "If I'm going into court, I'll ask his advice on the presentation of arguments or overall strategy."
On the personal side, Lott and Moore have raised two sons, Michael, a recent Rhodes College graduate and Emmett, a student at Rhode Island School of Design. They enjoy traveling together, going to the opera, sailing, cooking and bicycling. Moore is also a rollerblader, while Lott grows orchids and has taken up needlepoint.
Through the years, both have learned how to balance the demands of work and family. As Lott said, "We know what it's like being on call 24/7 for clients, preparing emergency filings or getting ready for trial." It's really a partnership of equals.
Daniel and Cheryl Rosenbaum
Daniel Rosenbaum was managing partner at Becker & Poliakoff's West Palm Beach office in January 2005, when Cheryl L. Potter applied for an associate's position. A native of Boca Raton, Potter had graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a science degree and worked at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami as a microbiologist. Deciding to become an attorney, she went back to school and earned her law degree from the University of Miami in 1999.
"We had a terrific interview and I knew she was a first-class professional with a great understanding of medicine and science," says Rosenbaum, who graduated from Arizona State University and The University of Tulsa College of Law prior to joining Becker & Poliakoff in 1980.
The two began working together on business and civil litigation cases, began a quiet courtship and were married on January 5, 2006. Now Dan, 54, and Cheryl, 34, have a 1-year-old daughter Diana, along with Dan's three older children, Dale, 24, Dina, 22 and Dennis, 19.
"Dan and I work together on some of our larger, federal cases," says Cheryl. "We have different styles and personalities. With my science background, I approach things logically, dig in and gather the facts. Dan is taking the data and developing the big picture for everyone in the courtroom."
Cheryl enjoys the challenges of litigation, and has been active in intellectual property cases, such as medical device patents and copyright infringement issues. "It's enjoyable having a wide diversity of cases," she says.
Dan Rosenbaum has nearly three decades' experience in trial and appellate work, with a focus on complex commercial litigation. He has successfully pursued hurricane damage claims including an $8.1 million 2007 jury verdict in a Hurricane Wilma claim against an insurer.
This summer, Dan and Cheryl Rosenbaum left their prior firm and opened a new West Palm office for one of the state's leading condominium association firms. At Katzman Garfinkel Rosenbaum, LLP, they continue to focus on commercial litigation.
Outside the office, the Rosenbaums enjoy traveling, skiing and family time. Cheryl was a swimming coach for Special Olympics before the birth of their daughter.
"Working with my wife is a pleasure," says Dan. "Not only is she a great lawyer, she understands what it's like when I leave home for the office at 6:30 and don't get home until 9 pm. We have a great professional marriage, and we're there 150 percent for each other."
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