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TOP LAWYERS: CLASS OF 2012


We asked several of our graduating “Top Up and Comers,” who will be listed as “Top Lawyers” in our 2013 edition, which publishes in December of this year, to tell us about what inspired them to be a lawyer and about one of their interesting cases. Their responses are included in our listing of the “Class of 2012.”
SOUTH FLORIDA LEGAL GUIDE asked several of our highly experienced top lawyers to provide their advise to the "CLASS OF 2012" Highlighted boxes have their comments.

My advice would be to try and establish a specialty. It’s easier to advance if you can master a specific subject or a specific part of the law.”

— Aaron Podhurst - Podhurst Orsek, P.A.


 

BRETT MICHAEL AMRON
Complex Commercial Litigation,
Bankruptcy Litigation
Bast Amron LLP
Miami

JOHN R. ANDERSON
Insurance Litigation, Insurance Defense
Berk, Merchant & Sims, PLC
Coral Gables

PETER S. BAUMBERGER
Professional Liability, Commercial Litigation
Kubicki Draper
Miami

MICHAEL V.M. BAXTER
Medical Malpractice
Billing, Cochran, Lyles, Mauro
& Ramsey, P.A.
West Palm Beach

ROBBY H. BIRNBAUM
Commercial Litigation
Greenspoon Marder, P.A.
Fort Lauderdale


C. WADE BOWDEN
Commercial Litigation, Securities Litigation
Greenberg Traurig, P.A.
West Palm Beach

I had two inspirations.  The first was my father, who has been a lawyer since 1966. He always told me that with my photographic memory and my stubborn nature, I was born to do what he did. The second is my college constitutional law professor. She taught an undergraduate course that exposed me to the classic U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the Socratic method. I realized that, through the law, I could earn a living while enjoying what I did.  There is no better job.

While I have handled a great many matters for wealthy and sophisticated individuals, perhaps my most interesting case was a pro bono matter. A Peruvian man who had recently immigrated to the United States and spoke little English was wrongfully sued for a debt he did not incur. He did not understand the system or why he had been targeted. I managed to extricate him from the situation by exposing the debt as unenforceable. His gratitude was the best payment I have ever received.



One of the greatest things you can do throughout your legal career is give back to the community through pro bono service and by supporting legal aid groups. Throughout my 48-year career, I have always had a deep commitment to helping people. I’ve always believed that pro bono service is part of the oath you take as a lawyer. We attorneys must give back to the community and make a contribution for the betterment of everyone.”


— Robert Parks -  Law offices of Robert L. Parks, P.L.


APRIL L. BOYER
Employment, Commercial Litigation
K&L Gates LLP
Miami

DAVID A. BUCHSBAUM
Labor and Employment Litigation
Fisher & Phillips, LLP
Fort Lauderdale

STEPHEN F. CAIN
Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice
Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain, P.A.
Miami

JACQUELINE CALDERIN
Bankruptcy
Ehrenstein Charbonneau Calderin PL
Miami

NATALIE J. CARLOS
Business Litigation
Carlton Fields, P.A.
Miami

REBECCA C. CAVENDISH
Complex Commercial Litigation, Employment
Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A.
West Palm Beach



NATASHA CORTES
Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury (Plaintiff)
Grossman Roth, P.A.
Fort Lauderdale

My inspiration to become a lawyer came from my parents who both worked hard but were never able to attain post-graduate degrees. They both grew up in the projects in New York but were able to take advantage of government scholarship programs offered to poverty-stricken Hispanics who excelled in school to gain entry into Ivy League universities. My mom ended up working in the legal arena, but did not have the opportunity to go to law school so I knew getting my law degree was fulfilling a dream of hers. 

My most interesting case here at GR involved a young girl who was undergoing a diagnostic MRI for a head injury. She suffered a compromise of her airway that was not appreciated by the nursing or radiology staff, despite the parents being present and noting a problem. As a result, this young girl suffered a very significant permanent anoxic brain injury, which required around-the-clock care. The case settled prior to arbitration for a significant sum of money that ensured that this poor child would get the benefit of the best medical therapies and treatments available to give her the best chance at life. It also gave piece of mind to her parents, because they knew their child would be well take care of even if something happened to them. I find these types of cases bittersweet but most rewarding.


 

First and foremost, instill in your staff the absolute necessity of maintaining the confidentiality of the client’s legal affairs. Keep your client informed and return telephone calls promptly. One of the major complaints clients have about lawyers is that they failed to keep them informed of the matter. Confirm with the client and opposing counsel — promptly and in writing — your understanding of telephonic agreements so that if there is a dispute as to your recollection of the conversation, the issue can be resolved early on.  Get to know and develop a cordial and trusting relationship with the judge’s judicial assistant as well as the members of the clerk’s staff, whether you are a litigator or not. Act reliably and keep your word. Finally, learn to say no and turn down matters that have no real merit.


— James D. Camp Jr. - Camp & Camp, P.A.

DREW M. DILLWORTH
Bankruptcy, Commercial Litigation
Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff
& Sitterson, P.A.
Miami

JOSHUA W. DOBIN

Bankruptcy
Meland Russin & Budwick, P.A.
Miami

BERNARD L. EGOZI
Commercial Litigation,
Federal Civil Litigation
Egozi & Bennett, P.A.
Aventura

IRIS V. ESCARRA
Environmental, Land Use
Greenberg Traurig, P.A.
Miami

ALEX ESPENKOTTER
Trusts and Estates
Heller Waldman, P.L.
Coconut Grove

BARBARA J. FERRER
Real Estate, Banking
Broad and Cassel
Miami

JOSE M. FERRER
Litigation, ADR
Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP
Miami

SANDRA M. FERRERA
Probate, Real Estate
Meland Russin & Budwick, P.A.
Miami

MARCO FERRI
Corporate, International
Avila Rodriguez Hernandez Mena & Ferri
Coral Gables

ERIC G. GABRIELLE
Labor and Employment
Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff
& Sitterson, P.A.
Fort Lauderdale



LAURA GANOZA
Commercial Litigation, Intellectual Property
Foley & Lardner, LLP
Miami

My mother inspired me to become a lawyer. When I was little, she would tell me that my love of reading and my incessant talking would make me a great lawyer. I guess I believed her. Actually, I think my mother would have wanted to be a lawyer, if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, she came to this country as a teenager to flee communist Cuba, and was not able to pursue her studies as she had hoped. If she had been able to study law, I think she would have made a great lawyer. In homage to her, I’m inspired to be one as well. 

The most interesting case I worked on was my first patent case. From a legal perspective, it was interesting because it involved a host of issues, such as the interplay between patent rights and “shop rights,” which are an employer’s rights to inventions developed by employees while on the job.  But, the case was more interesting from a personal perspective. On the eve of our two-week jury trial, the CEO of our client sent a letter to the entire team, from the most senior partner to each legal assistant, thanking us for our hard work and dedication, regardless of the outcome. It was the first (and only) time I have ever received such a heartfelt letter of appreciation from a client, before the outcome of a case. And while the case is long over, I still keep a copy of this letter in my office.

 “To stand out from the crowd you need to distinguish yourself. One way is to create a special area of expertise that people can associate with you.  Another way is through non-work activity. I suggest getting involved in one or two professional or civic organizations that you truly enjoy, creating strong relationships with other participants and rising to leadership within the organization. It takes strong bonds for someone to remember you for referrals and casual relationships are not enough. That type of bonding takes time and commitment but will pay off in the end.


— Edith Osman - Carlton Fields, P.A.

DAVID A. GREENE
Commercial Litigation
Fox Rothschild, LLP
West Palm Beach

JASON J. GUARI
Personal Injury and Wrongful Death (Plaintiff)
Murray & Guari, P.L.
West Palm Beach

GARY J. GUZZI
Insurance, Commercial Litigation
Akerman Senterfitt
Miami

JOHN S. HAGER
Criminal, Personal Injury
Hager & Schwartz P.A.
Hollywood

WILLIAM T. HENNESSEY, III
Trust and Estate Litigation, Estate Planning
Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A.
West Palm Beach

I can say, unequivocally, that I am a lawyer today as a result of the encouragement of my mom and dad. Both always taught and inspired me to pursue excellence. My love for trusts and estates, on the other hand, stems directly from Professor David T. (“D.T.”) Smith at the University of Florida. As many Florida graduates know well, D.T. had a way of making even the most mundane subjects interesting and, more importantly, fun. Probate and trust law was no exception.  I learned to love the law in his class.  Since that time, I have dedicated my career to studying, lecturing, and practicing in the area of trusts and estates. Interestingly enough, I made the decision to focus on probate and trust litigation very early in my legal studies. I was fortunate enough to clerk with Gunster, Yoakley, my present firm, as a first-year law student. That summer, my partner, Mike Simon, was assigned as my associate advisor. I was able to tag along with Mike to a number of depositions that summer. Suffice it to say, I learned very quickly that there is never a dull moment in probate and trust ligation. Every family has a unique story. 

For the last 16 years, I have had the opportunity to help clients work through some of the toughest moments of their lives and serve as a counselor in the truest sense of the word.




PATRICIA M. HERNANDEZ

Corporate, Financial Services
Avila Rodriguez Hernandez Mena & Ferri
Coral Gables

KEVIN P. JACOBS
Commercial Litigation, Education
Herron Jacobs Ortiz, P.A.
Miami

JENNIFER A. KERR
Insurance Defense, Insurance Coverage
Campbell Law Firm PLLC
Coral Gables

JAY KIM
Business Litigation
Ward Kim Vaughan & Lerner, LLP
Fort Lauderdale

BRIAN R. KOPELOWITZ
Litigation- Real Estate
Kopelowitz Ostrow
Fort Lauderdale

HOLLY D. KRULIK
Medical Malpractice (Plaintiff)
Krupnick Campbell Malone Buser Slama Hancock Liberman & McKee, P.A.
Fort Lauderdale



SPENCER T. KUVIN
Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice
Cohen & Kuvin
Delray Beach

There are many people who have inspired me to become an advocate and counselor, but as with everyone’s life, it all starts at home. Seeing my mother work so hard, raising two boys on her own, was a strong inspiration for me in helping to fight for those in need. I was also extremely fortunate to have an amazing example of a true lawyers’ lawyer in my father. I am still awestruck at my father’s passion for justice and the law, even after more than 50 years of practice. 

When building a career in the law, it is not the million dollar verdicts you remember most. The cases you remember forever are those where you are able to affect not only your client, but society as a whole. One of the most memorable cases I had was advocating for the family of a deceased senior who was mentally challenged. He had been ignored by the system and was living in squalor in his home. Through my efforts, I was able to achieve justice for the family, and help to change the law in Florida for all at-risk seniors so that they have greater protections through state agencies.





CHAD K. LANG
Labor and Employment (Management)
Meyer Moser Lang LLP
Coral Gables

TIFFANI G. LEE
Securities Litigation, Commercial Litigation
Holland & Knight LLP
Miami



ROBERT F. LEWIS
Alcoholic Beverage
GrayRobinson, P.A.
Miami

My inspiration for becoming a lawyer relates directly to my previous career and experience in law enforcement and more specifically as a special agent with the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. During my time with the DABT, I frequently dealt with small business owners who had no legal representation and very little understanding of the complexities of Florida’s beverage law. At this time, I also knew that alcohol beverage law was a very new, and fairly under-represented, area of law that promised a well-rounded legal career involving regulatory licensing, land use, transactional and both administrative and civil litigation issues. Therefore, ultimately, I would say my inspiration for becoming a lawyer was a mix of frustration with the lack of community knowledge regarding proper compliance and interpretation of Florida’s beverage law, as well as an opportunity to expand and develop a niche area of law. Today, my group and I are progressively working to develop this unique area of law.

My most interesting recent case involved a national effort with an alcohol beverage manufacturer with respect to proper licensing in all U.S. jurisdictions and a variety of complex transactional mergers, acquisitions and even litigation issues. Our group was presented with a variety of legal issues, including regulatory licensing issues, local land use and permitting approval issues, drafting complicated transactional agreements and contracts as well as civil litigation in the United States and abroad. The matter commenced several years ago with civil litigation progressing simultaneously in the United States, specifically Florida, Scotland and the United Kingdom. This aspect of the representation alone presented unique legal challenges and an exciting opportunity.


H. EUGENE LINDSEY, III
International Arbitration
Katz Barron Squitero Faust
Miami

MATTHEW H. MANDEL
Governmental Litigation,
Commercial Litigation
Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole
& Boniske, P.L.
Fort Lauderdale

CARLOS A. MAS
Corporate, Securities
Carlton Fields, P.A.
Miami

JANINE K. MCGUIRE
General Liability, Medical Malpractice
Conrad & Scherer
Fort Lauderdale

DANIEL A. MILLER
Bankruptcy, Commercial Litigation
Broad and Cassel
West Palm Beach

MATTHEW W. MILLER
Corporate and Securities
Greenberg Traurig, P.A.
Fort Lauderdale



GRACE M. MORA
Labor and Employment
Hunton & Williams LLP
Miami

As long as I can remember, I have always had an interest in law and at a tender age I decided to become a lawyer.  But it was my parents who provided the inspiration for me.  And they did this by setting the example in their own professions and lives. From a very young age, my parents taught me to work hard, think critically, and be the very best I could be, no matter what I did. I have carried these values throughout my education and career and I am here because of their unswerving support.
 
As a labor and employment attorney, my first inclination is to say ALL the cases I work on are interesting. They are varied and complex, and no two cases are ever alike. What I find particularly challenging are discrimination and harassment cases because they contain unique fact patterns and are emotionally charged. One of the most interesting cases I recently worked on involved claims brought by a male employee against his former employer, an airline carrier in Puerto Rico for disability discrimination, sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, wrongful discharge and a variety of state law claims. It was highly contested and tense. After extensive discovery, which included approximately 12 depositions, the production of thousands of documents and the subpoenaing and review of medical records from more than 25 medical providers, we filed for summary judgment on behalf of the airline carrier on all claims raised by the employee.  On the eve of the trial, the court granted our summary judgment motion as to all claims. It was a great victory for our firm and the client


ANTONIO MORIN

Litigation
Akerman Senterfitt
Miami

ANDREW M. MOSS
Personal Injury/Medical Malpractice (Plaintiff), Insurance Bad Faith
Kutner, Rubinoff & Moss, P.A.
Miami

ELLEN NOVOSELETSKY
Commercial Litigation, Insurance Defense
Shutts & Bowen LLP
Miami

BENJAMIN E. OLIVE
Commercial Litigation
Olive & Associates, P.A.
Fort Lauderdale

JODI C. PAGE
Personal Injury/Wrongful Death
The Killino Firm PC
Boca Raton

FABIAN A. PAL
Corporate, International
Fowler White Burnett P.A.
Miami

STEVEN M. PARRISH
Labor and Employment
Steven M. Parrish, P.A.
West Palm Beach

RICHARD ANTONIO PEREZ
Corporate, Government
Holland & Knight LLP
Miami

CHRISTIAN A. PETERSEN
Bankruptcy
Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A.
Fort Lauderdale



PABLO S. QUESADA
Corporate, Securities
Sanchez-Medina, Gonzalez, Quesada, Lage, Crespo, Gomez & Machado LLP
Coral Gables

I can’t point to a particular person or occurrence that led me to the practice of law.  I simply knew from an early age that I wanted to be a lawyer — and not the stereotypical trial lawyer, but a corporate lawyer. Early in my career, however, I was fortunate to be mentored by some of the best corporate lawyers in Florida, taking from each what I considered was his or her unique talent and I was then able to build on those experiences.  

As a corporate lawyer, you become quite involved in your clients’ businesses, and to excel, you must become part of the team providing leadership and direction. The most rewarding experiences have been those where I have been engaged immediately before a company’s rapid expansion or in a turnaround scenario and then see the fruits of my labor and know I played a key role in the foundation and growth of a successful business. There is a special bond that forms with the members of the management team that extends beyond the typical legal engagement, when you are able to actively participate in the business’s development.



MARLENE QUINTANA
Labor and Employment
GrayRobinson, P.A.
Miami

ALINA ALONSO RODRIGUEZ
Appellate
Carlton Fields, P.A.
Miami

WILLIAM V. ROPPOLO, JR.
Litigation
Baker & McKenzie LLP
Miami



STEPHEN F. ROSENTHAL
Appellate, Personal Injury (Plaintiff)
Podhurst Orseck, P.A.
Miami

Looking back at the law school application essays I wrote in 1991, I am reminded that a college seminar on “International Law” turned me toward law school. My term paper analyzed the legitimacy of U.S. claims to extraterritorial jurisdiction over recently captured Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. It was my first exposure to wrestling with tough questions of law, and I found the thought process fascinating. More than 20 years later, I still have that enthusiasm for the law.

In 2004, I had the good fortune of being asked to serve as lead counsel for the Kerry Presidential Campaign in a case in Tallahassee challenging a minor political party’s nomination of Ralph Nader to appear on the Florida ballot as its candidate for President. Tensions were high with the memories of the 2000 election still fresh, and the case sped at a frenzied pace, going from the filing of the complaint, to a trial in Tallahassee, to arguments in the Florida Supreme Court, all within 17 days! It was an unforgettable and exhilarating experience.





JAMES D. SALLAH
Securities Litigation, Arbitration
Sallah & Cox, LLC
Boca Raton

LYLE E. SHAPIRO
Business Litigation
Richman Greer, P.A.
Miami

MICHAEL A. SILVA
Estate Planning and Administration, Tax
DLA Piper LLP (US)
Miami

HEATHER K. STOESSEL
Healthcare, Transactional and Regulatory
Zumpano, Patricios & Winker, P.A.
Coral Gables

Prior to becoming an attorney, I was a registered nurse (RN) practicing in a local pediatric emergency department. On several occasions, by virtue of my position, I became involved with dependency issues. The dependency process sparked my interest in the legal field. In that position, I also obtained a heightened awareness of the relationship between managed care organizations and health care providers, and the impact the relationship has on the health care providers’ ability to provide effective and efficient care to the patients.

The most interesting cases I have worked on have involved uncovering different strategies utilized by various managed care organizations to underpay managed care providers for health care services rendered to members of those managed care organizations.








ROBERT C.L. VAUGHAN
Litigation, Appellate
Ward Kim Vaughan & Lerner, LLP
Fort Lauderdale

TODD L. WALLEN
Product Liability, Commercial Litigation
Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
Miami

GREGORY C. WARD
Commercial Litigation, Insurance Litigation
Ward Kim Vaughan & Lerner, LLP
Fort Lauderdale

GARTH THOMAS YEARICK

Commercial Litigation, Product Liability
Carlton Fields, P.A.
West Palm Beach

SCOTT W. ZAPPOLO
Civil, Commercial Litigation
Watterson & Zappolo, P.A.
Palm Beach Gardens


Note: For full contact information, refer to our annual South Florida Legal Guide, 2011 edition, or our website, www.sflegalguide.com

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