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Top Lawyers Class of 2015

These attorneys have been featured in our publication as “Top Up & Comers” for several years. Now, they will be included in our “Top Lawyers” listing starting with our 2016 edition to be published in December. For this Midyear issue, we asked several of our graduating “Top Up and Comers” to tell us about what inspired them to be a lawyer, what interesting cases they have worked on and what they most enjoy about their practice. Here are their comments, along with a list of the new “Top Lawyers Class of 2015.” 

Corporate and Business Litigation
Pike and Lustig LLP
West Palm Beach

I can’t point to any one person or event that inspired me to become a lawyer. Rather, as long as I can remember, I have been interested in the law. Prior to law school, I was a paralegal working primarily on multi-district product liability class action lawsuits. However, that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to advocate directly for clients. I wanted to be an active participant in the courtroom and at depositions. I wanted to be a lawyer. With the support of my husband, I quit my job as a paralegal and pursued my dream of becoming a lawyer. There was no better career choice for me.

My favorite part of being a commercial litigator is the challenge of finding solutions to effectively and efficiently resolve my clients’ complex legal disputes. I also enjoy the challenge that comes with litigation in developing a case and telling my client’s story through the pleadings and discovery so that my client can ultimately prevail, either by convincing the other side to settle or convincing the judge to enter judgment in my client’s favor. Each case has its own unique issues and set of facts, so it presents a new challenge and opportunity for me to help my corporate, individual and financial institution clients.


Healthcare Litigation - Defense
Hogan Lovells US LLP

My father inspired me to become an attorney. I grew up watching him and other community leaders effectuate change and make a difference in the lives of others and I knew I wanted to be able to make a difference too. 

What I like best about my practice is working with wonderful colleagues and clients, including a variety of healthcare entities and universities. We counsel them on major matters ranging from investigations and litigation to transactions and licensure. The diversity in the work and the ability to assist them in solving complex problems keeps my practice interesting and exciting.

Civil Litigation - Defense
Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel LLP

Product Liability - Defense
Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP

Over the years, I have had the good fortune of working on interesting cases that presented complex and, at times, controversial issues. But it is the memories and experiences with my colleagues that I carry with me every day. When I started the practice of law, I only wanted to work on the “big” cases. But I have learned with time that the size of the case does not matter; what matters most is who you surround yourself with when working on that case. And in that regard, I have been very fortunate. For more than 13 years, I have had the pleasure of working with a team of professionals (lawyers, analysts, paralegals, legal assistants, and others) that I have found to be incredibly rewarding and enriching. 

My most interesting case was an international arbitration where I represented a U.S. company and its Brazilian subsidiary against the Brazilian joint venture partner. The parties disagreed as to who was responsible for payment of certain value-added taxes in Brazil. This was my first experience with international arbitrations and by the time the case was over, I was hooked. It was an incredible experience, both in terms of learning the procedures and rules of arbitration, but also in that I had the opportunity to work with a talented array of Brazilian lawyers from whom I learned a great deal. Ultimately, my work on this case was not only intellectually fulfilling, but professionally it was the beginning of an entirely new practice that I continue to enjoy today. 

Real Estate
Garofalo Law Office, P.A.
Coral Springs

Corporate and Business Litigation
Gelber Schachter & Greenberg, P.A.

The primary reason I became a lawyer is that I grew up watching my father practice law the right way. As Miami-Dade’s first assistant county attorney and later as county attorney, my dad Murray Greenberg exemplified what an attorney should be. He worked tirelessly to provide candid legal advice to his clients, regardless of political pressure or popular opinion; treated his colleagues — including opposing counsel — with the utmost respect; placed a premium of honesty and decency; and never forgot our duty to serve the public interest. Although his career has primarily been in government, his style of practicing law can and should apply in private practice as well, and I strive every day to make that happen.

What I love most about my practice is the diversity of cases I handle. With experience as a federal prosecutor and a civil litigator, I have worked hard to create a blend of criminal matters and sophisticated civil cases. I often marvel about the wide variety of matters that take up a single day, ranging from interviewing witnesses in an internal investigation to counseling a client about a plea agreement or sentencing to briefing a complex motion in federal court. I have always believed that a great lawyer can handle any sort of case, and staying flexible and diversified makes every day fun and challenging.

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death - Plaintiff
Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A.
West Palm Beach

As a plaintiff’s trial lawyer, I am often entrusted with handling the most significant event in a client’s life. In the case of a death or catastrophic injury, the event giving rise to the litigation is one of the most, if not the most, difficult times in a client’s life. Oftentimes, a client’s financial future and survival are at stake. To be entrusted with that degree of responsibility is humbling. The most rewarding aspect of my practice occurs when a successful outcome is achieved, either by settlement or verdict, and a client is able to begin trying to put his life back together with the financial resources to do so.

I am fortunate to have a fairly diverse plaintiff’s injury practice. Given the uniqueness of every case, it is hard to single out the most interesting one. However, one that stands out in my mind involved the wrongful death of a foreign national who was originally from Honduras. In addition to leaving behind a young son, the decedent also had a common law wife still living in Honduras. Although Florida no longer recognizes common law marriages, it does respect them from jurisdictions that do. As a result, litigation was brought in Honduras that successfully resulted in a postmortem judicial recognition of the clients’ common law marriage under Honduran law. The wrongful death case resolved shortly thereafter.

Intellectual Property
Malloy & Malloy, P.L.

Commercial and Financial Litigation
Stroock & Strook & Lavan LLP

Three things that inspired me to become a lawyer are passion about the law (e.g., about working within our system of justice which happens to be the best one in the world), economic reality (i.e., the prospect of making a very good living), and historical significance (i.e., knowing that lawyers — including U.S. presidents and other world leaders as well as famous jurists, journalists, authors, etc. — have been some of the most influential people in history).

As a complex commercial litigator, I get paid to read, write, talk, argue and solve problems — all things that I love to do — in relation to interesting, and sometimes esoteric, legal issues. Additionally, my client base is diverse, and my cases and my clients are sophisticated; in fact, my clients are often lawyers themselves. Finally, every one of my cases is different, so I am never bored. 

Community Associations
Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.
West Palm Beach
Real Estate, 
Corporate and Business Litigation
Rosenberg & Pinsky
Fort Lauderdale

Real Estate - Land Use and Zoning
Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, P.L.
Coral Gables

My original plan in attending law school was to go into business management.  I was inspired to become a lawyer during my second summer of law school when I had the opportunity to work for Gilberto Pastoriza at Weiss Serota Helfman.  Serving as my mentor for many years, he taught me about the practice of law, and how to engage in it ethically and considerately.  Outside of the practice, Gil continued to share his wisdom about life and human interaction, and has been one of my closest confidantes as our relationship has matured to one of colleagues, rather than mentor-mentee.

My practice is unique in that it allows for working on a great diversity of issues in ways that shape the urban environment in a tangible way.  Whether it’s helping new businesses open, expanding the workplace of  existing businesses, facilitating responsible development of housing and employment opportunities in places where it’s needed, or assisting in the development of major facilities like arenas, convention centers, and museums, each matter brings its own objectives and challenges.  The results leave a lasting impact on neighborhoods, which increases the stakes and the importance of getting it as right as possible. 

Environmental, Real Estate - Land Use and Zoning
GrayRobinson, P.A.

I was inspired to enter the practice of law by my family and particularly my older sister Bonnie Riley, who is an attorney in Miami specializing in family law. I was inspired to practice in the areas of land use, zoning and government procurement by father, William W. Riley, Sr., the business manager of Local 349 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. My father’s longstanding commitment to responsible growth in South Florida reinforced my desire to contribute to the maturing skylines of Broward and Miami-Dade by expanding opportunities for new residential, commercial and industrial communities across South Florida. 

The opportunities to bring communities together to facilitate responsible growth within their hometown is the aspect that I enjoy most about the practice of law. It provides an opportunity to expand upon local job creation by helping create new live, work and play environments.  

One of the most interesting and rewarding representations of my career has been serving as special land use counsel to Miami Children’s Hospital (now Nicklaus Children’s Hospital). I have successfully represented the hospital on the expansion of its main campus in the Schenley Park neighborhood and the establishment of pediatric urgent care facilities in both Broward and Miami-Dade counties. These facilities provide vital healthcare services to the South Florida community while incorporating construction design elements that are sensitive to the neighborhoods that they serve.  

Product Liability - Defense
Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A.
Intellectual Property
Malloy & Malloy, P.L.
Commercial Litigation
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
Worker's Compensation
Kelley Kronenberg, P.A.
West Palm Beach

As a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, I had an opportunity to take part in a special year-long class on the law, focusing mostly on constitutionality issues. Professor Marvin Cummings was an extraordinary teacher who taught us the importance of the written law, the Constitution, and the judiciary. It was thought-provoking and a constant lesson in how to make an argument and defend it in both classroom debates and in writing. There was no textbook, but rather, we read full Supreme Court opinions and spent one to two weeks on each topic hashing out all of the issues. It instilled a love of the legal process, trained me to write a compelling legal opinion, and taught me to argue and defend both sides of any dispute. Within a week or two, my future as a lawyer was sealed. 

Though not in an area I would have expected to work, I was given an opportunity to practice workers’ compensation defense right out of law school and I have stuck with it ever since. The high volume caseload provides daily challenges, but the constant interplay of medical issues makes it consistently interesting. I have extensive client contact, both with insurance companies and the companies they insure. I am not stuck behind a desk behind piles of paper. Instead, I am running around taking depositions, interviewing witnesses, and attending mediations. Almost every claim leads to negotiations of some kind and I always have fun preparing my strategy, arguing my case, and defending my client. It’s seldom boring as no two claims are the same and inevitably I learn something new with each.

Civil Litigation
Martinez White & Viniegra
Coral Gables

My father owned his own commercial real estate agency for many years. When there was a dispute he could not resolve on his own or if he needed to protect his business, he called his lawyer. Thus, I grew up equating “attorney” with “problem solver.” I saw the lawyer as the person who was charged with fixing situations that had spun out of control or who was needed to stop someone from being wronged. Attorneys were able to serve this function because they were educated in the intricate rules that govern society and their minds were trained to advocate for their interpretation of these rules. As a kid, the career seemed like the perfect calling for me, and it remains so to this day. 

Although I will always appreciate the opportunities I have had to handle complex matters for large businesses, I will never tire of the cases where I can help a small business owner faced with litigation that threatens his or her business. The litigation process is part of my day-to-day life, but to small clients it is intimidating, expensive and confusing. I am fortunate to be the person who helps the client rest easier by making sense of the situation and giving them a resolution strategy. Recently, I received a hand-written note from a client, thanking me for not only representing her but also for giving her peace of mind because she knew her case was a priority for me. Those moments make this career even better.
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