Most Effective Lawyers 2013
Although the economy continues to improve and many South Florida law firms feel better about their business prospects, post-recession pressures remain on leaders who must deliver upside financial results year after year. Clients want fees reduced. Corporate in-house departments are demanding higher levels of accountability from outside counsel. And expense cuts remain an important order of the day.
Despite the continued pressures, there has been one constant within the South Florida bar. A vast majority of the legal community members did what they were hired to do: In both the private and public sectors, they served their clients well. As proof, the Daily Business Review is again recognizing some of the best work delivered by private and public sector lawyers from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties via Most Effective Lawyers in South Florida.
This year, the Review is recognizing more than 80 attorneys in 12 practice area categories.
They include: Appellate, Arbitration and Mediation, Bankruptcy, Business and Complex Litigation, Corporate Securities, Criminal, Distressed Real Estate, Personal Injury, Pro Bono, Product Liability, Public Interest and Real Estate.
As always, the attorneys were measured on one critical benchmark: the results for the client.
This year, there were plenty:
— The assistant public defender who went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to successfully challenge the use of a drug sniffing dog by police detectives who entered a Miami-Dade County residence without a search warrant.
— The attorneys who forced arbitration on behalf of their defense contractor client in a five-year battle against the government of Venezuela.
— The lawyers who labored long and hard to get a deal that will pay millions to creditors in the infamous Rothstein Ponzi scheme case.
A number of defense lawyers also took their places on the winning side, such as the trio that successfully led an effort to deflect litigation against corporate clients, getting a securities class action dismissed.
On the pro bono front, a legal team persuaded the state Supreme Court to allow public defenders overburdened by heavy caseloads to decline appointments in noncapital felony cases.
In the public interest sector, a child advocate successfully compelled a state agency to provide enhanced care for a young girl who had a life-threatening respiratory condition.
A large majority of these selections were brought to the DBR’s attention by lawyers, their clients and colleagues and by members of the public.
The nominees’ work was evaluated by the DBR editorial staff and based on tangible results, the degree of involvement in bringing about those result and the impact on public policy and business interests.
The editors conducted a three-month selection process that focused on not only the outcomes but the complexity of cases.
Only South Florida lawyers qualified and the results had to be achieved between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013, which was the deadline for submissions.
An initial cut was made to eliminate nominations that were incomplete, did not meet the criteria or clearly did not belong in the program.
The DBR’s research director reached out to many of the nominees for information to buttress the nominations. The editors then scored the nominees before meeting to select the semifinalists. Later, the editors met to select the finalists.
Some of the categories that proved to be the most competitive were appellate, business litigation, real estate and product liability.
DBR law reporters and several outside contributors researched and further reported on the cases handled by the finalists. In some cases, they spoke with the nominees’ adversaries and clients, and frequently consulted case files. The editors reconvened last month to review the additional findings and research by the writers, and then undertook the difficult task of choosing the Most Effective Lawyer for each of the 12 practice areas.
Most Effective Lawyer or not, all of the lawyers featured in today’s report deserve recognition for their successful and tireless efforts on behalf of their clients -- the ultimate measure for any lawyer.