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Reflecting on the past 15 years
As South Florida Legal Guide celebrates its 15th anniversary, we invited several Top Attorneys who have been recognized since the first issue to reflect on their practices.  We asked them about changes in their practices, the value of peer recognition and their accomplishments over the last decade. Here are their comments.
David Bercuson
David Bercuson, P.A.
In the past 15 years, the Internet has made immediate worldwide distribution and more diverse audiences a reality, but the unintended consequence has been the increased theft of music through illegal downloads, file sharing and piracy. It has impacted every aspect of entertainment law. Peer recognition is an extremely valuable tool for an attorney, especially if the recognition is derived from an unbiased and reliable source. It can be utilized by attorneys for marketing, to enhance their visibility, build trust and provide public validation of the attorney’s knowledge, experience, qualifications and ethics. My greatest professional accomplishment is the faith and confidence my clients have placed in me to provide them with the best possible legal advice and services to guide their careers in the entertainment industry.
Warren Trazenfeld
Warren R. Trazenfeld, P.A.
Fifteen years ago, I was one of the very few lawyers in Florida focusing on suing lawyers. Now the Florida Bar News is filled with lawyers who are trolling for clients that want to sue lawyers. Peer recognition has definitely helped me build my practice. I have been fortunate enough to be identified by the South Florida Legal Guide, The Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers as one of the best lawyers in the area of legal malpractice. People who contact me about legal malpractice often mention these publications as a source of information. Whenever I obtain money for a client injured by a lawyer I consider it to be an accomplishment. I am also proud of being one of the two lawyers in Florida certified in Legal Professional Liability and being the co-author of the treatise “Florida Legal Malpractice and Attorney Ethics” published by American Lawyer Media.
Paul Battista
Genovese Joblove & Battista
The biggest change in your practice in the past 15 years has been the need to recognize and adapt to the changing market conditions related to the delivery of legal services, as consumers of legal services have become much more savvy and sophisticated. Peer recognition and referrals have been the most significant aspect of my business development over the years. I have found that the most effective way to develop business is to work with other professionals on cases. I have been fortunate to be involved in many high profile and professionally rewarding cases over the years, including the representation of a large developer known as Fiddler’s Creek in Naples and the representation of Fred Goldman in litigation involving O.J. Simpson. Both cases were professionally and personally very rewarding for me.
Robert C. Josefsberg
Podhurst Orsek
Peer recognition is good for one’s practice, reputation, and ego. While the first two are desirable, the third (ego ) can be dangerous enough to impair your practice and reputation. The biggest change in my practice over the past 15 years has been far fewer trials, while my greatest accomplishments (from age 61 to 76) have been maintaining a close relationship with my family and friends, and practicing law with kind and caring people. Without these family members, friends, and colleagues, I would have been unhappy, unproductive or retired 15 years ago. 
Michael I. Goldberg
Akerman LLP
A big change is that bankruptcy is no longer stigmatized or scares financial institutions. Personally, over time I have developed a specialty in receiverships and bankruptcies involving Ponzi schemes and spend the majority of my time handling these types of cases. To me, peer recognition is equally as important as client recognition. Being appointed liquidating trustee in the Rothstein Ponzi scheme has been a major milestone in my career. In an extraordinary team effort with the other professionals involved in the $1.4 billion bankruptcy case, the nearly 400 creditors will receive 100 cents on the dollar — a remarkable outcome in a Ponzi scheme case of this size and scope. 
Andrew Needle
Needle & Ellenberg, P.A.
The single biggest change in my practice is the importance of technology. This encompasses e-filing and e-service, Internet marketing on the major search engines, and the use of email. Couple this with the ability to research virtually any issue from your desk, and you have an avalanche of information to sift through. Since most of our settlements are confidential I cannot talk about individual cases and the families who have been helped by my firm over the last 15 years. However, I would say that the cumulative number of families throughout the state that we have helped is my proudest accomplishment, especially when the legislature has done so much to limit the rights of tort victims and tilt the playing field in favor of corporate interests.
Edith G. Osman
Carlton Fields Jorden Burt
Technology has provided us tremendous capabilities for researching and working anywhere at any time. On the other hand, we must dedicate many hours daily to processing the overload of emails and texts together with clients’ newfound expectation that attorneys be available to address their needs 24/7. Peer recognition has played a crucial role in the building of my practice. Without question, the most outstanding accomplishment of my past 15 years in practice was being elected as the second female president of The Florida Bar. It was a tremendous honor and an exhilarating challenge.
Patricia Redmond
Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A.
Fifteen years ago, the focus of my practice was largely restructuring. Today, the practice of bankruptcy law involves mostly litigation. A second change is the erosion of the environment of professionalism and civility in the field of law. There are two professional accomplishments that stand out for me. First was participating on the TOUSA team in recovering a significant fraudulent transfer and paving the way for a Chapter 11 plan for the Hollywood-based homebuilder, and second was being named “Professor of the Year” at the University of Miami School of Law.
Christian D. Searcy
Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A.
In my practice, the biggest change has been the amount and extent of mass tort litigation that our firm is handling. With the advent of the Engle tobacco cases, Stryker and DePuy hip implant cases, Yaz/Yasmin and Pradaxa cases, our firm has expanded from 18 to 30 lawyers. My firm and I have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for many catastrophically injured victims who were in desperate need. Personally, I have served as president of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. And I am proud that in this high-profile, high-stakes, high-stress life of litigation, my partners and my firm have been able to work together through the years and remain the best of friends.
Hilarie Bass
Greenberg Traurig
Clients today are demanding increased value for the services provided, and we proactively propose alternative fee arrangements to provide a more efficient delivery of legal services. I am honored by the recognition that I have received over the years from my peers. My commitment to volunteer work and leadership roles in the community and the American Bar Association is a key part of my career’s success, connecting me to other key leaders. Clients typically turn to someone who they believe can solve their problems and that’s what I love most about my job. I am proud to have led the team that successfully challenged the Florida law prohibiting gay adoption, the only one of its kind in the U.S. Within days of our appellate victory, prospective adoptive parents were no longer being asked about their sexual orientation. There is no greater feeling than knowing you have changed the course of so many lives.
 Jill Nexon Berman
Rennert Vogel Mandler & Rodriguez, P.A.
The biggest change in my practice in the past 15 years is that it has become more resolution-oriented rather than actual trial work, although I still like the chance to get into court. I also believe peer recognition does help me build my practice.
Kendall Coffey
Coffey Burlington
A major change is the ever-increasing coverage of law and lawyers on the Internet as well as on television. The immediate access to information about litigants, lawyers and issues has created significant challenges with respect to protecting the integrity of jury trials. The importance of peer recognition has steadily increased. With the larger universe of lawyers, it is unrealistic to personally know all of our colleagues, and peer recognition provides an important source of information. My most intense litigation experiences in the last 15 years occurred in 2000 with the representation of Elian Gonzalez and his Miami relatives as well as the representation of Vice President Al Gore and Senator Joe Lieberman in the Florida recount litigation. Those litigation experiences were as exciting, exhausting and professionally challenging as any that could be imagined.
Jack A. Falk
Dunwody White & Landon, P.A.
Technology has made it much easier for clients to become educated about the legal process and the issues to be decided in their cases. This has facilitated more meaningful communications about substantive issues and input from clients, which is welcome. There are many components to building a successful practice and peer recognition is a very important building block. My biggest accomplishment over the past 15 years has been to get to counsel, represent, guide, advise and advocate for numerous individuals and families in South Florida after the death of a loved one as they deal with the often complicated legal maze of estate and trust disputes and matters. 
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