TOP LAWYERS: CLASS OF 2011
After being named “Top Up & Comers” for several years, the following attorneys have graduated to South Florida Legal Guide’s “Top Lawyers” list. To find out a little more about their backgrounds, we asked several members of our Class of 2011 to tell us what inspired them to become a lawyer and what they enjoy about their practice areas. We congratulate these experienced and successful lawyers!
SCOTT D. ALEXANDER
Civil Rights Litigation, Municipal
Johnson, Anselmo, Murdoch, Burke, Piper
& Hochman, P.A.
RODNEY H. BELL
Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance
Holland & Knight LLP
CARYN L. BELLUS
Appellate, Insurance Coverage
I was inspired indirectly by my paternal grandparents. After my eldest cousin announced that he was going to go to law school to become a lawyer, my grandparents were so proud of him that, at age 5, I said “me too” and never turned back. Later in life, my cousin, who practices law in Atlanta, set me up with my husband, John Elliott Leighton, who is also a South Florida Legal Guide “Top Lawyer.”
Being an appellate practitioner encompasses a wide range of procedural and substantive issues. That prevents me from ever getting bored and allows me to work with dozens of trial lawyers every day. While I have developed specialties in many areas, I enjoy expanding my expertise to new fields that others have not yet explored. One of the most satisfying aspects for me is the opportunity to play a part in shaping the law for the future.
GARY L. BROWN
Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole & Boniske, P.L.
DAVID M. BUCKNER
Grossman Roth, P.A.
Like many lawyers I know, I have a deep need to see justice done. I am certain that I inherited that from my parents. I became a lawyer because I wanted to right wrongs. When I achieve a just result for a client, all of the things about the practice of law that can be mundane or even disappointing just fade into the background. I enjoy trying cases. I love the mechanics of trial — the examination of witnesses, the well-crafted argument, and the competition among the trial lawyers. I tried my first case while still in law school, and I was hooked. Since then, I have appeared in courts across the country, and had the privilege to represent both private parties and the United States of America. In the process, I found that trial work is often the most direct way to have a positive impact on someone’s life, and sometimes — if you’re lucky — on the larger world as well.
MARTIN G. BURKETT
JEFFREY A. COHEN
Product Liability, Appeals
Carlton Fields, P.A.
ELIZABETH FERNANDEZ PINERO
Caruana & Jacobs, P.A.
Commercial Litigation, Construction Litigation
Greenspoon Marder, P.A.
ROBERT J. HAUSER
Beasley Hauser Kramer Leonard & Galardi, P.A.
West Palm Beach
JUNE GALKOSKI HOFFMAN
Fowler White Burnett P.A.
JOANNA E. IGLESIAS
Corporate, Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures
Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP
W. HAMPTON KEEN
Product Liability, Personal Injury (Plaintiff)
Clark Fountain La Vista Prather Keen & Littky-Rubin LLP
West Palm Beach
BERNARD A. LEBEDEKER
Personal Injury, Labor and Employment (Plaintiff)
Burman, Critton, Luttier & Coleman LLP
West Palm Beach
PATRICIA A. LEONARD
Complex Business and Commercial Litigation
West Palm Beach
DANIEL R. LEVINE
Employment and Labor
Shapiro, Blasi, Wasserman
& Gora, P.A.
I grew up as the youngest child of three and my mother and father were blue-collar workers. My dad was a butcher by trade and my mother always held a job to help support our family as well. So, the idea of a secondary education and beyond, and ultimately becoming a “professional,” certainly was a huge goal from a young age. Initially, I thought I would become a sports agent as that would have incorporated my other passion (baseball) into my career, but I soon became less enamored with that profession. My interest in the legal aspect of sports, however, probably pushed me toward labor and employment law initially, with its emphasis on collective bargaining and unions, as well as the negotiation of individual contracts.
What I enjoy most about my practice is the human element and the real-life stories involved in the cases I handle, as opposed to litigation involving property foreclosures and construction liens, for example. Instead, I deal with situations involving invidious racial discrimination, unwanted sexual harassment, and even non-competition/trade secret matters, which typically involve the rather interesting cottage industry of forensic computer science. In a word, the cases are “sexy.” The other thing I enjoy is the strategy of a trial. There’s nothing quite like the rush of hearing a jury verdict coming back in your favor.
RICHARD C. LORENZO
International Litigation, Arbitration
Hogan Lovells US LLP
DANIEL O. MENA
Commercial Litigation, Arbitration
Avila Rodriguez Hernandez Mena & Ferri
HELEN L. MIRANDA
Insurance Defense, Commercial Litigation
Klein Glasser, P.L.
DARIO A. PEREZ
Shutts & Bowen, LLP
I guess most attorneys would say it was the “love of the law” that inspired them to become an attorney. But for me it was a different, more common, love. I was in school on my way to getting a Ph.D. in political science to become a teacher, so I could make enough money to work short days and have lots of time off during the summers to train for and pursue my dream
of becoming a professional cyclist. Then, I fell in love with my future wife. As a potential professor with job opportunities limited in South Florida and as Cuban-Americans with lots of family in South Florida, there was no way we could leave Miami. Then, there was the dawning reality of me competing against Lance Armstrong. I believed that becoming a lawyer would provide
me with flexibility in pursuing a career in South Florida, and give me the intellectual challenges and practical business experience that I wanted. Plus, I would be in weather where I could still bicycle for enjoyment in a competitive atmosphere. Over the years, I’ve found that this decision was a perfect one for me and that this is a career that is hard to beat.
As a litigator, I enjoy being a zealous advocate on behalf of my clients. But what I most enjoy is that I have frequently become friends with many of my opposing counsel. In a profession where we often hear about unprofessional conduct, I am pleased to be associated with ethical, sophisticated practitioners who can represent their clients’ interests, yet maintain the dignity that’s necessary to achieve what’s best for those clients. Some of those clients and opposing counsel are people I ride with on the weekend and I enjoy blending business and pleasure with my avocation.
THOMAS J. REBULL
Commercial Litigation, Labor and Employment
Broad and Cassel
RICHARD A. SACHS
Berman, Kean & Riguera, PA
PETER J. SOMERA, JR.
Personal Injury (Plaintiff)
Somera & Silva, P.A.
I was inspired to become a lawyer because I wanted to be able to obtain justice for ordinary citizens. If you can imagine being in the ultimate nightmare where you could not wake up, you would understand what it is to be one of my clients. I enjoy making a difference for my clients by obtaining multimillion-dollar recoveries, and in the process making our country a safer one.
Corporate, Mergers & Acquisitions
Baker & McKenzie
PETER F. VALORI
Business Litigation, Employment
Damian & Valori LLP
I was inspired to become a lawyer by the lawyers I watched on television as a child and from the history, politics and sociology I studied in school. I loved watching the complex stories
and the related courtroom drama unfold in the episodes of “Perry Mason” (reruns as I am not that old), “Matlock,” and “LA Law.” Also, I am fascinated by law and public policy and the ways in which they relate to each other, including constitutional and immigration law, as well as how law affects people in their lives and businesses.
I most enjoy helping people. For my clients, I strive to simplify what has become an increasing complex legal world and offer realistic solutions to resolve their disputes. I also very much enjoy being able to learn new things about business and law and apply them to the challenges of my litigation practice.
Note: For full contact information, refer to our annual South Florida Legal Guide, 2010 edition, or our website, www.sflegalguide.com
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