Photo by J. Albert Diaz
Photo by J. Albert Diaz
The story contained misstatements, some of which were corrected from its original version, about the size of its work force, the number of years the firm represented Citco Group Ltd. and the expiration date of the firms lease at One Biscayne Tower. According to an email from partner Lewis Brown, the firm employed 47 people and represented Citco for 10 years. The firms lease expires April 30. In addition, Brown said his colleagues paid their own expenses for a trip to Paris, site of his recent birthday celebration. As reported in the article, the firms relationship with Citco ended by mutual agreement. The Review regrets the errors.
Miami law firm Brown and Heller has suddenly shut down after losing its only client, a defendant in a class action lawsuit tied to Bernard Madoff's monumental investment fraud.
After 38 years in operation, the law firm informed its 47 employees last week that it would be closing, and Monday was their last day. The lease on two floors at the One Biscayne Tower building, the firm's home since 1975, expires April 30.
Employees will receive no COBRA health insurance but will receive three weeks of severance pay, firm co-founder Lewis Brown said.
"I was the primary if not sole shareholder," Brown said. "We're in a phase-down. We had formal meetings with everyone on Monday. Everyone has been very understanding. We are making sure we ensure all our ethical obligations are met."
The firm let staffers keep their computers but not the lawyers. Firm management sent an email Wednesday that was obtained by the Daily Business Review stating paychecks would not be issued Thursday until "the office supplies that have been taken have been returned."
Brown called it a "silly misunderstanding" and everyone would be paid. Employees are not receiving COBRA because the firm is closing, and there is no one to administer it, he said.
Attorneys and staffers are looking for jobs, and many have enlisted headhunters, according to sources.
Brown and Heller, formerly Gilbride Brown and Heller, specialized in complex commercial litigation. The firm became Brown and Heller after Gilbride departed.
About three years ago, the firm was hired as Miami counsel for Citco Group Ltd., an offshore company that administered the Fairfield Greenwich and Fairfield Century funds being sued by victims of the investment Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Madoff.
The suit, Anwar v. Fairfield Greenwich, was certified as a class action lawsuit last month by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in the Southern District of New York.
After snagging the lucrative client, Brown and Heller staffed up, hiring numerous lawyers and paralegals.