Philly Legal: These Sectors Are on the Right Side of the Law

by Yolanda Rivas

2 min read SEPTEMBER 2019 — Over the last few years, Philadelphia’s legal sector has seen a steady flow of law firms entering the market as well as local firms expanding in and outside the region. As the market gets more concentrated, many firms are betting on key growth areas to expand their practices. 

According to Invest: interviews with leading legal voices in the Philly area, health and life sciences, technology, real estate and finance are some of the sectors keeping attorneys busy. With a diverse business ecosystem in Philadelphia, firms like Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy, P.C. are experiencing high demand in commercial business, especially in the areas of banking, leasing, real estate financing and real estate development.

“We also have seen growth in our employment practices area, in part due to the #MeToo movement, which is generating many more workplace claims. Commercial litigation is also a growth area for us,” Mitchell Kaplan, managing shareholder at Zarwin Baum, told Invest:. “But we are currently seeing the most growth in our data privacy and cyber-liability department. That department gets involved in the training of businesses to prevent data leaks and breaches. We provide training, prevention and breach response,” Kaplan said. 

Similarly, St. Louis-based Armstrong Teasdale LLP is growing its intellectual property presence in Philadelphia as a result of the increasing demand in technology litigation around the country. “Intellectual property services, whether it be trademark, patents or copyrights, are required by any business. We support our clients with many trademark and retail issues. For example, in the science, healthcare and pharmaceutical fields, we do a lot of patents and protection of intellectual property. There is high demand for intellectual property services in Philly,” Armstrong Teasdale’s Eastern U.S. Partner and Leader Richard Scheff said in an interview with Invest:. 

According to an article from The Legal Intelligencer, Pennsylvania-based firms saw demand growth of 2.6 percent last year, slightly above the industry average of 2.3 percent. One of the benefits of Philadelphia’s legal sector is the presence of 20 Fortune 500 companies and over 75 Fortune 1000 companies. 

Besides technology and intellectual property services, financial institutions and real estate companies are particularly robust areas for Philadelphia’s legal sector. “Blank Rome’s Real Estate and Financial Services practices are very strong, particularly in Philadelphia. Both continue to be core areas of our law firm with a strong national presence,” Alan J. Hoffman, chairman at Blank Rome LLP, told Invest:.

Finance and technology also form part of Duane Morris LLP’s Top 5 sectors in terms of revenue and areas of focus. “About 85% of our revenue is in the following industries: financial institutions, health and life sciences, technology and telecommunications, infrastructure (including construction and energy) and finally, retail and consumer products. Those areas are our focus across the firm and in Philadelphia, which is our largest office with over 200 lawyers,” Matthew Taylor, chairman & CEO at Duane Morris LLP, told Invest: 

Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group’s Q2 2019 report projects a good year in 2019 relative to earlier post-recession years, although it will be a challenge for the industry to see a repeat of 2018’s strong performance.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy, P.C.: https://www.zarwin.com/ 

Armstrong Teasdale LLP: https://www.armstrongteasdale.com/ 

Blank Rome LLP: https://www.blankrome.com/ 

Duane Morris LLP: https://www.duanemorris.com/ 

Spotlight On: Roxana Scaffidi, CEO and Owner, Florida Accounting & Advisers

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

2 min read August 2019 — There are multiple factors that attract people to Florida, including wonderful weather, a growing economy, an ecosystem that is conducive to successful businesses and perhaps most attractive, the tax climate. After the passage of the sweeping tax reform known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the tax climate in Florida only became more attractive to both people and businesses looking to relocate. Now, almost a year and a half since the reform has been in effect, there is a greater need for proficient accountants and financial professionals to help navigate this legislation. Invest: Palm Beach spoke with Roxana Scaffidi, CEO and owner of Florida Accounting & Advisers about how the new tax code is affecting people’s lives, the key to success within the accounting and financial world, and how she created a successful business in Palm Beach County. 

How have you seen the tax reform affect people’s lifestyle? 

The new tax code has really changed people’s lives, and we are now seeing certain individuals immigrating to Florida because of the business opportunities that the state offers and its quality of life. High income tax states include New York, California and Massachusetts, and those are the people coming here. To qualify for Florida’s tax benefits you must be a legal resident here, which means six months and one day of residency. Under the new tax laws, individuals are capped at $10,000 as a deduction for their state income taxes, personal property taxes and their sales tax. In addition, if they have a large mortgage on their house, the new tax code only allows them to deduct interest up to $750,000.

 

What is the key to success in this industry? 

The key in this industry is to be proactive rather than reactive. We observe what’s going on in the world today with the national and world economies. Everything is changing and as it changes you start to see more vacancies in areas where there used to be none. This is demonstrated with how Amazon has essentially killed a lot of the big-chain retail stores. To succeed in today’s market you need to stay on top of emerging trends and you can’t be afraid to point out these things.

 

To what do you credit the success of your business in Palm Beach County? 

When I started this company I knew that to run a successful business I needed to not only have a great product but also to always remain community-minded. As the 2018 Small Business of the Year recipients, I realized quickly that Boca Raton is very business and community-minded, so it was the perfect place to set up my business. I set out to build this business based on my values, knowing that those same values would translate to trust among our clients. In this business there is nothing more important than having your clients’ full support and trust.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://www.fl-accounting.com 

Spotlight On: Hala Sandridge, Shareholder and Tampa Co-Office Head, Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney PC

Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read August 2019 — Demand in most job sectors ebbs and flows with the economy. One sector that seemingly goes against this narrative and remains relatively consistent is the legal industry. As a new generation makes its way into the field, law offices are having to prepare for the next wave of legal professionals. Invest: Tampa Bay recently spoke with Hala Sandridge, shareholder and Tampa co-office head for Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney PC. She spoke about her firm’s approach to talent retention and attraction, the red-hot market for young legal talent and what the next year will hold for the legal sector in Tampa Bay.

How is the firm preparing for the next generation of legal professionals? 

Every company has to manage their external and internal sustainability, with a focus on the next generation of the workforce to optimize for long-term success. We at Buchanan are continuously building that next generation of attorneys who are going to continue the work of the senior leaders after they retire. We have strong succession plans in place as well as various programs that help those who are not yet at the partner level to become stronger in their practice, better at business development and immersed in the business of our clients.

 

I have noticed that many law firms do not plan for the future workforce and for the retirement of their more senior partners. It is crucial for business continuity to have attorneys trained and ready to pick up responsibilities and relationships. The next generation needs to be ready to sustain the growth that the company has accomplished and continue to take advantage of this market. When our attorneys are near retirement age, we have a conversation with them to make a plan for their retirement. We require our attorneys to take on these young people and integrate them with their clients so that the relationship continues smoothly after they have left. 

What is the state of the job market for law students nearing graduation? 

The job market for law students has seen a bit of fluctuation over the past several years and right now there are many opportunities for fresh law school graduates. Three years ago, we were not hiring too many law students shortly after graduation, but that has changed. We have hired a number of past summer associates upon their graduation and continue to seek out talented graduates. I cannot say enough great things about this next generation. They have their heads on straight, are incredibly goal-oriented and are willing to learn. 

What does the next year look like for Tampa Bay’s legal sector? 

I believe that the market is going to stay hot for the next year. However, in the event that there is an economic slowdown, many of us in the legal sector, including Buchanan will continue to do well as we thrive in a down market too. As a successful law firm we must stay nimble, so when the market changes we are prepared. For example, we have a nationally-recognized bankruptcy group whose work tends to increase during economic downturns, while other attorneys who typically perform transactional work use their market knowledge to advise on bankruptcy work. The key for any successful law firm is to diversify your staff and not have all your eggs in one basket.

 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://www.bipc.com/

Spotlight On: Drew Melville, Real Estate and Land Use Attorney, Melville Law, P.A.

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

2 min read August 2019 — South Florida’s economic boom has resulted in increased migration to the area, a rise in small businesses and most significantly, an abundance of real estate and transit development projects. While these development projects are a positive sign that the economy is thriving, they are also associated with a litany of legal paperwork, proceedings and barriers as well as the negative side effects for the environment in South Florida. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale recently spoke with Drew Melville, real estate and land use attorney for Melville Law, P.A. He spoke about some of the more negative side effects from this increased development in South Florida, how Broward County should be an example in regards to environmental sustainability and his outlook for the next year given the region’s growth.

What has been one of the most significant negative effects of increased development in South Florida? 

Our mission statement has always been about redeveloping the urban corridors and preserving rural and agricultural lands in Florida, which are dwindling. We are losing farmers, and wilderness land as well. The whole concept of putting highways in places where there is nothing but agricultural land is terrible and only caters to specific groups of large landowners. This issue is so much bigger than the interests of a couple of large, rural landowners, and I am hoping Florida moves past the never-ending sprawl development. 

How should Broward County be viewed in regards to environmental sustainability? 

The biggest challenge for South Florida is environmental sustainability. Many people from all over the world are investing in this high-growth area, and we have to hope that they are not only investing in developing here but also in the sustainability and resilience of the area. Broward is very forward thinking and environmentally conscious, and the county should be looked to as an example for some of these areas that are developing without regard to the effect they are having on the environment. 

What is your outlook for Broward County over the next year? 

“Fort Lauderdale is still growing, and there are a ton of projects in the approval process. The city is also growing while preserving its history and keeping its historic buildings intact, which is great for the community and our identity. There are also a lot of towns around Broward that have Opportunity Zones and they are trying to capitalize on them now. I’d like to see more development along the Dixie corridor in Pompano and Deerfield. It would also be great to see more food operators in areas that are considered “food deserts,” which is defined as more than a mile stretch without an option for healthy food.”

 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://www.melville.law/

Tampa Bay’s Strong Female Leaders are Changing the Area’s Future

By staff writer

April 2019

Within the Tampa Bay market lies a strong cohort of female leaders looking to enhance their community. Whether it be local government, law offices, performing arts centers, or tech-based companies, these women are taking steps to ensure Tampa Bay’s steady growth.

Take Trenam Law, for instance, which has offices in Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg and is led by managing shareholder Marie Tomassi. “We have seen some growth over the past year or so that we’re very excited about,” Tomassi said. “We acquired five lawyers and two paralegals from another firm in the area that have been a great fit for Trenam.”

As the firm continues to grow, Tomassi sees Trenam Law expanding its reach into fields that have recently fallen into higher demand — such as cybersecurity and solar energy. The firm recently bolstered its land-use practice by adding lawyers who are well-versed in representing alternative energy sources as a means to better the community.

“This group of top-notch professionals has helped us develop our solar practice, which is something that’s fairly unique,” Tomassi said. “As the Tampa-area market grows, our practice groups strengthen. Tampa has seen an increase in tech and a booming real estate market. Our technology and cybersecurity practice groups have been seeing a lot of demand because of the action in the market.”

And as Trenam Law moves into more tech-focused fields, so does the workforce in Tampa Bay.

This is quite evident in regulatory software company Global Safety Management, which is led by their founder & CEO Julia MacGreggor-Peralta who is working to ensure that as the tech space in Tampa continues to grow, so does the number of women working in it.

“More than 60 percent of our employees are women, which is unusual in our space as a regulatory software company. It’s traditionally considered a man’s business,” Julia MacGreggor-Peralta told Invest. “As female business leaders, we’re working to change this.”

The growth in tech is also being stimulated by women like Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc Collective, who felt extremely bullish in relation to the growth in Tampa. “It’s the right time to be in Tampa Bay if you want to be a part of our growth story. I believe the growth of the entrepreneurial community and increase in startup businesses will attract people that maybe weren’t previously interested in Tampa Bay or Florida that want to help grow and build something here.”

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman, who was re-elected to a third term in 2016, sees the Tampa Bay area as an up-and-coming destination for tech workers and is intent on making that goal a reality.

Here in Tampa, we’re intent on acquiring higher-wage tech jobs to keep graduates local after they move on from our colleges and universities. We want to be seen as a Charlotte, Chicago, or New York — an attractive city that young professionals want to call home.”

Murman knows that in addition to providing job opportunities, the city also needs to provide an affordable place for said very tech workers and young professionals to live, and the city is putting forth the resources to do just that.

“We just made a large investment in our general revenue budget — an extra $5.2 million for affordable housing,” Murman said. “The plan is to leverage that money with private developers to maximize our impact. Most affordable housing projects cost somewhere between $15 to $25 million, so we have to creatively figure out ways to make our dollars stretch.”

The city also benefits greatly from the economic impact of the Straz Center, one of the country’s largest performing arts centers. President & CEO Judith Lisi is keen on the center remaining a mainstay of a booming community.

“The Straz Center is the largest performing arts center south of the Kennedy Center and the largest cultural organization in Florida with $100 million annual economic impact,” she said. “We are the first performing arts conservatory attached to a major performing arts center in the country. There are a lot of other performing arts centers from around the country looking at us as a model.”

And Lisi intends to capitalize on the prime location of the Straz Center, right along the Tampa Riverwalk, as a means for attracting an even larger and diverse crowd to the center.

“We have a great opportunity in light of the transformation of the Riverwalk,” Lisi said. “Our whole masterplan for the renovation of the Straz Center is being developed to address everything that’s happening on the river.”

With a strong group of female leaders within its business and arts communities and a local government investing in its community, Tampa Bay is establishing itself as the next hot spot in South Florida. Thanks to the efforts of women like Tomassi, Murman,Lisi, MacGreggor-Peralta, and Shenoy, the city is making that dream a reality.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

Marie Tomassi with Trenam Law: https://www.trenam.com/people-list/marie-tomassi/

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman: https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/government/board-of-county-commissioners/sandra-murman

Judith Lisi with Straz Center: https://www.strazcenter.org/About-The-Straz-Center/Executive-Staff

Lakshmi Shenoy with Embarc Collective: https://www.embarccollective.com/team/

Julia MacGreggor-Peralta with Global Safety Management: https://www.gsmsds.com/

A Philadelphia Stalwart

By staff writer

March 2019

Philadelphia’s legal sector has been one of its strengths for decades. Firms are expanding their Philadelphia presence or entering the market, whether through mergers, acquisitions or opening new offices. Philadelphia stalwart Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP, on the other hand, has always known the City of Brotherly Love is the place to be for law firms. Founded in 1904, Obermayer has been a part of the community longer than the cheesesteak. Just like the city itself, Obermayer is going strong and seeing a lot of growth.

“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act added a new tax provision to the Internal Revenue Code, which aims to provide big capital gains tax breaks to real estate and business investors who make investments in certain economically underdeveloped areas known as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs),” Obermayer’s managing partner, Mathieu Shapiro, told Invest: Philadelphia.  “Against this backdrop, our interdisciplinary Real Estate & Construction team has been addressing the increasing needs of real estate investors and developers seeking to take advantage of these tax breaks.”

Obermayer’s growth mirrors Philadelphia’s nicely. Real estate and construction are two booming sectors for the city that show no signs of decreasing over the next year. Philadelphia is growing as a tech hub as well, and of course with all of this innovative technology comes the challenges of privacy and security. Obermayer has that covered.

“More and more, companies are seeking to protect their proprietary information — which could mean a secret formula, client lists, or even the magic mix they use to make their pricing work,” Shapiro told Invest:. “We are increasingly guiding clients across a range of activities: maintaining confidentiality, drafting effective agreements, investigating potential misconduct, gathering evidence of misconduct and, if necessary, commencing legal action.”

Cybersecurity is also a growing area for the city and the firm. For Obermayer, the commercial litigation team is protecting corporations and helping their businesses remain competitive.

“The advent of technology and innovation in the region has ushered in an increasing level of cybersecurity issues that keep our corporate clients across the board awake at night,” Shapiro said. “As such, we help more and more clients remain competitive by helping them overcome these challenges every day.”

A “Philadelphia lawyer” is someone who knows the most detailed and minute points of law or is an exceptionally competent lawyer. With their growth and longstanding history in the city, it is clear that Obermayer is a firm of Philadelphia lawyers leading Philadelphia’s growth.

For more information about our interviewees visit: https://www.obermayer.com/

Growing dimension

How the legal industry is evolving in a dynamic, post-recession economy

Cesar Alvarez Senior Chairman – Greenberg Traurig, LLP

How has the notion of “legal expertise” evolved since the Great Recession?

The legal industry is quickly changing and the value an attorney provides is more than about knowledge of legal statutes. The focus has to be on understanding a client’s business and how to solve problems—not just legal ones. The problems a client may encounter will have many facets, and a good attorney should always seek to serve as the quarterback. You want to become the first person the client consults to strategize on finding a solution. This flexible and dynamic approach is what attorneys today need in order to be competitive.

 

Given these trends, how do you see the legal industry changing in the medium term?

Technology has been the most disruptive factor shaping the legal industry. It starts with setting the expectations that clients have of our ability to provide immediate answers and also serves as an invaluable source of information. As technology evolves, it also presents new business opportunities as our clients face concerns about cybersecurity, white collar defense and related regulatory investigations.

These new challenges are touching everyone, including government, financial institutions, retailers, internet merchants, major corporations and consumers. Looking forward, we will be deploying our efforts to engage clients in these areas, where we have tremendous expertise.

How can you utilize technology to help drive change in the legal industry?

With more than 1,950 lawyers around the world, every attorney at Greenberg Traurig has a unique knowledge base. We need to better access that knowledge base in real time to meet the demands of clients looking for instant answers to solve their problems. We can learn from the Uber model how to utilize technology to instantly match a client with the right attorneys and expertise. Exactly what that is going to look like, I don’t know yet. But we can’t simply tweak the old model. We have to adapt our linear way of thinking to create a new non-linear approach that will work well into the future.

In crafting a growth strategy for a “big law” firm like Greenberg Traurig, what must be considered?

In 2015, Greenberg Traurig saw significant expansion, adding about 150 attorneys to our rosters and boosting our international capabilities. We opened a new office in Berlin, and grew our Warsaw and Mexico City offices, along with additional and important expansion throughout our existing U.S. offices. But it’s not just about growth for growth’s sake. We only look to add lawyers if it’s strategic growth that adds additional quality expertise and resources that align with our existing platform. For instance, hiring a specialist in a niche area, like complex real estate tax law would be leveraging and allow us to more comprehensively service our clients. For a firm our size, two and two must always add up to more than four.