Spotlight On: Alan Zuckerman, Managing Shareholder & COO, Flaster Greenberg PC

By: Max Crampton Thomas

2 min read February 2020 — Flaster Greenberg’s South Jersey attorneys are bringing in new talent to hone and increase the services they offer their mostly business and high-net-worth clientele, which include everything from M&A to succession work, while preparing to face challenges such as the impending legalization of cannabis in the state, the nationwide PFAS environmental problem and the changes to retirement planning contained in the SECURE Act,. Invest: spoke with Flaster Greenberg PC’s Managing Shareholder & COO Alan Zuckerman. 

 

What sets Flaster Greenberg apart from other law firms in the South Jersey market?

 

We are a midsized commercial law firm specializing in pretty much every practice that businesses and high-net-worth individuals, our primary clientele, would need. Most of our lawyers have come from large Philadelphia firms. We pride ourselves in doing the same type and quality of work as the larger firms, but at lower rates and more efficiently.

 

Most recently, we have done a tremendous amount of deals and merger and acquisition work. We have also had some very large bankruptcy cases. Regarding M&A, it has been all over the industry. Most of our clients have usually been closely-held businesses, even some very large ones. At some point, some of those businesses have to be passed on to the new generation, or they are sold. As a result, we have been seeing a tremendous amount of activity in the sale market, and we have been representing a lot of companies in all business sectors that are selling, in many cases to private equity firms. Private equity firms have been the most active buyers in the transactions we have been representing.

 

Is there any legislation, local or federal, that could have an impact on the way you or your clients do business?

 

There are two significant pieces of legislation, one at the national and another at the state level. There are environmental laws coming in that could mean a lot of environmental litigation. The others are, on a national level, the SECURE Act, which really impacts retirement plans, in particular, the amount and period of time in which people with 401k retirement plans will be allowed to take money out of their retirement plans and defer paying taxes. This new law substantially changes those rules and shortens the period of time for withdrawals. For many people who have done planning on their retirement plans, that is all going to have to be revamped.

 

There is also the pending legalization of cannabis in the state of New Jersey. We have some businesses gearing up for it, although there has not been a whole lot of demand just yet.

 

What are the main challenges facing firms and their clients in the South Jersey area?

 

One of the challenges is rate pressure, as our clients are cost-sensitive to legal work, as they should be, and that requires lawyers to be more efficient in their work. From a local standpoint, the opportunity we find in the South Jersey market is that office spaces are much less expensive compared to Philadelphia, which is only a few miles away. Although we have seen most of our growth over the last few years in Philadelphia and expect to see more, we made the decision last year to renew our lease here in South Jersey because the occupancy cost is less expensive.

 

One of the downsides in South Jersey we face for that decision is the lack of transportation infrastructure. We get into Philadelphia but that is about it. There is no local transportation for the most part. From a statewide perspective, taxes are very high, both income and property taxes, which make it harder for businesses to stay or relocate here.

 

What are the company’s main areas of focus for 2020?

 

Our focus is to continue to be able to be a full-service firm with very efficient and quick response to our clients. To do that, we feel that we need to continue to grow, bringing new attorneys into our firm. In addition to a six-lawyer firm we have already brought into the fold, we have expanded our footprint into the western Philadelphia suburbs with the opening of our Conshohocken, PA, office last June. Most recently, we grew our intellectual property department by welcoming an 11-member patent team headquartered in the firm’s Philadelphia office.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

 

https://www.flastergreenberg.com/

 

Spotlight On: Christopher Lam, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Spotlight On: Christopher Lam, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Charlotte’s growth continues to attract a gamut of industries and talent into the region. As a result, the legal needs of businesses are evolving along with the diversification of the local economy, expanding the opportunities for legal professionals in the Queen City. Charlotte’s cost of living and sophisticated legal services rival the likes of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings Partner Christopher Lam told Invest: Charlotte. The business diversity is driving the need for expertise in compliance and data privacy. Additionally, there is a great emphasis to provide access to justice to all residents via pro bono legal services or by committing financial resources to community agencies in the region, Lam said. 

Q: How has the legal landscape changed with so much economic growth in the region?

A: From a legal perspective, a lot of firms from outside North Carolina decided to set up an office here, and not all of those have remained. According to American Lawyer, however, there are 59 law firms with a Charlotte office that are not headquartered here. This remains a very popular place to be for lawyers and that’s because of the way our business community has diversified.

We are known as a banking and financial services hub, and while this is still a key part of our economy, we are so much more than that, with energy, manufacturing, fintech and other sectors emerging. That diversification is good for us as lawyers too, as it better equips us to weather a potential downturn. For example, our firm has experts in multiple practice areas and industries, which allows us to serve clients with those needs and protects us against a downturn in one or two particular sectors.

Q: How have the legal needs of companies evolved as new technologies and developments emerge?

A: The core legal needs for businesses have largely remained the same – corporate, employment, litigation, real estate. But with new regulations, there is a greater need for expertise in compliance, specifically in data privacy, and particularly with new regulations such as GDPR and CCPA going into effect. That impacts almost every company. At Bradley, we have two of only a handful of lawyers in the country who are board-certified privacy lawyers, and we have an additional deep bench of lawyers who are CIPP-US certified. We have been well-positioned to help companies navigate these new regulations. 

Q: How do you think the private sector and public officials must work together to keep growth sustainable?

A: Charlotte has a proud legacy of business leadership in issues of community development and public policy. Our business leaders have long been champions of these initiatives and we certainly think we at Bradley are a part of that effort. It is important as corporate citizens that we recognize that the better we make our community as a whole, the better it is for everyone.

Q: How does the Charlotte legal market compare with other markets such as Chicago or New York?

A: Those cities are larger and more diverse and sometimes those legal markets can seem more attractive, whether it be a higher salary or more opportunities. In Charlotte, however, because of the diversity of the business community, we have sophisticated legal services here to rival the likes of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. We also have a cost of living that is more advantageous, meaning lawyers can have great opportunities with a lower cost of living. That’s the best of both worlds.

Q: What are the main challenges facing the Charlotte market today?

A: Most of the 5,500 lawyers in Mecklenburg County are not working in big firms or representing large companies. And there are thousands of residents in the broader Charlotte community who have legal needs but cannot afford legal services. As current president of the Mecklenburg County Bar, my time spent working with groups like the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has emphasized that the greatest challenge for lawyers here is our responsibility to ensure there is access to justice for all. We have a professional obligation to do so. We can do this in a couple primary ways – providing pro bono legal services ourselves or committing our financial resources to the agencies doing the heavy lifting every day. That issue is not unique to Charlotte, but as lawyers we have a particular responsibility to help ensure there is access to justice. I am very proud to say our lawyers at Bradley live into that. As but one example, we have a partnership with the Bank of America legal department through which we work with Safe Alliance to represent clients who need domestic violence protective orders. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://www.bradley.com/

South Florida CBD Industry Welcomes New Regulatory Clarity

South Florida CBD Industry Welcomes New Regulatory Clarity

By: Sara Warden

2 min read January 2020 — The value of the CBD (cannabidiol) market is expected to surpass $20 billion globally by 2024 and Florida is taking steps to ensure it is well-positioned to take advantage of the market. But opening up a new industry to commercialization comes with teething problems and Palm Beach legislators may struggle to keep up.

 

 

 “We’re witnessing CBD maturing from a cannabis sub-category into a full-blown industry of its own,” said Roy Bingham, Co-Founder and CEO of BDS Analytics in a press release. “Our growth forecast for the CBD market, across all distribution channels, predicts a compound annual growth rate of 49 percent by 2024. This is a great opportunity for all involved, but it means the road ahead will include decisions that need to be informed by the best possible data.”

After CBD edibles were legalized in Canada in October 2019, companies selling these products are struggling to keep ahead of demand. But in Florida, it is legislators who are feeling the strain of regulating this new industry. Amendment 2 legalized CBD use for medical purposes in the state and the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp-based CBD products federally. But Florida state legislation previously did not differentiate between marijuana (which contains THC) and hemp (which contains mostly CBD), meaning CBD products are simultaneously legal and illegal in Florida.

But on July 1, 2019, a new law took effect that allowed authorities to regulate CBD and hemp use. “Prior to these rules being adopted and taking effect, we didn’t have regulatory authority,” cannabis director at Florida’s Department of Agriculture Holly Bell told The News Service. “Now we do, and we have that up and going so that we can make sure consumers are protected.”

As a result, Palm Beach’s CBD industry is picking up speed. As part of the regulation, companies selling CBD products must apply for a permit that costs $650 per year. There already are a number of companies in Palm Beach County, including Curaleaf, Earth Florida, Nutrition World and Trulieve.

Zach Bader, co-founder of the USA CBD Expo held the conference in Miami Beach in May last year and told the Miami Herald that the South Florida market is brimming with potential. “There is a really high concentration of retail stores here that are either selling the product or are very interested in learning more,” he said. “We are seeing this industry start to percolate. A year ago, it wasn’t where it is today.” 

Bader applauded the efforts of state authorities to regulate the industry. “Whether you’re in the CBD industry or manufacturing Cheerios, you can’t go out there and make health claims without clinical trials. That’s a standard,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture headed by Nikki Fried is providing workshops to try to eliminate the uncertainty and harness a promising industry for the state. “Having that opportunity and allowing entrepreneurs to do what they do and start the research aspects is my vision for the state of Florida,” she said at the first workshop in Broward County.

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://bdsanalytics.com/

https://www.fdacs.gov/

https://curaleaf.com/

https://www.earthflorida.com/

https://nutritionw.com/category/cbd-oil/

https://www.trulieve.com/

https://usacbdexpo.com/

 

Spotlight On: Heath Campbell, Metrolina Regional President Charlotte, Truist

Spotlight On: Heath Campbell, Metrolina Regional President Charlotte, Truist

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — In December, the banking industry welcomed the nation’s sixth-largest commercial bank as the merger between BB&T and SunTrust was completed to create Truist Financial Corporation. The organization chose Charlotte as its headquarters to begin the new enterprise. The region’s banking legacy, strong financial service workforce and diversifying economy helped solidify Charlotte as Truist’s official headquarters. In an interview with Invest: Charlotte, Truist Metrolina Region President Heath Campbell talks about the factors that brought Truist to the region, the meshing of the BB&T and SunTrust cultures moving forward, and how Truist plans to tap into Charlotte’s financial services workforce.   

 

What factors led to the selection of Charlotte as the location for Truist’s headquarters?

 

BB&T has a great heritage in Winston-Salem in the same way that SunTrust does in Atlanta, however our leaders, in the true spirit of a merger of equals, selected a new city in which to base Truist.

 

Charlotte was a natural choice. Both BB&T and SunTrust had operations here, and it is one of the world’s top financial centers and an emerging fintech hub, with access to incubator and accelerator programs, data science and education programs. The area has the second-largest population of financial services professionals behind New York City. Charlotte also sees more than 33,000 newcomers each year, attracted by career opportunities, diverse living options and a favorable cost of living.

 

How will the cultures of BB&T and SunTrust mesh as Truist establishes itself in the market?

There are not a lot of mergers of equals because they are hard to pull off. The cultures of the organizations need to be compatible – and they were with BB&T and SunTrust. While we have different practices, we shared a very similar vision, mission and values. We took different strategic paths in how we went to market, but what we stood for was very similar. As Truist, we are doubling down on our community bank philosophy. We are building a client-centric business model. BB&T and SunTrust had complementary strengths. For instance, SunTrust built an investment banking platform that was unparalleled and BB&T had a strong legacy in community banking and insurance. We are combining those strengths to benefit the clients and communities we serve.           

  

How will Truist tap into Charlotte’s financial services workforce?

 

I’m particularly proud that when we announced this merger, we not only committed to being best in class for our clients, but recognized that our teammates are at the heart of great client experiences. Truist is a dynamic place to work, offering industry-leading benefits and opportunities for all sorts of professional positions, including insurance, investments, and core banking.

 

We’re making our mark on the industry by offering a strong benefits programs and great opportunities to build careers, a total rewards program to attract and retain the best talent: the unusual combination of offering both industry-leading 401(k) matches and a pension plan to most teammates; industry-leading time off programs to ensure maximum flexibility in planning life events; and financial wellness programs.

 

There is also a place for those interested in computer science and engineering. We are creating an Innovation and Technology Center in Charlotte that will be dedicated to the ongoing enrichment of client experiences. The Innovation and Technology Center will focus on optimizing technology to serve our clients at every interaction, whether it takes place in a branch, over the phone or through a digital channel. The Technology and Innovation Center will also focus on equipping teammates with solutions to deliver personal touch and care to clients. We see this combination of technology and personalization as vital to ensuring clients’ trust and confidence in the security, simplicity and convenience of our services.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit :https://www.truist.com/

Spotlight On: Alan Higbee, Managing Partner, Shutts & Bowen

Spotlight On: Alan Higbee, Managing Partner, Shutts & Bowen

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — Expertise on the local market is a must in the legal sector, especially within the competitive landscape of the Tampa Bay region. Understanding the nature of the business community within the region and the apparent challenges are keys to a successful practice. Shutts & Bowen law firm’s Managing Partner Alan Higbee discusses the benefits of having specialized practices in the Tampa Bay area, as well as how to deal with economic cycles and not lose talent in the process.

 

 

Why is Tampa Bay a good location for a firm such as Shutts & Bowen?

 

A full service firm like ours has experience in many areas, including some areas that are not necessarily customary for this market, such as our experience in international trade and transactions, experience with large industrial companies and experience representing large and small federal government contractors. Interestingly, the demand for these specialty practices is actually pretty high in this market. Such specialties have often been sourced from larger markets in the past. In our experience, businesses in this market are generally very happy to see that these specialty resources are available here to help and that they don’t have to look to other markets such as Washington, D.C., or New York.  For areas like federal government contractors, it makes sense to have that expertise here. I believe Florida is the third-largest market for federal contracting in the country and we are sitting outside the doors of MacDill Air Force Base, which has virtually every federal agency you can name, from all the defense agencies and divisions to the IRS. 

 

How does the firm take part in the business brought to the Tampa Bay Area by new companies and startups?

 

Startup businesses in the Tampa Bay area come in many varieties, but some of the most promising are often spinoffs: people who have had very successful careers in larger businesses and have decided to go out on their own. Many of these companies have a need for legal services in areas of high specialization, such as healthcare, technology and government contracting. We also see an awful lot of companies that are relocating some kind of division or business unit, or their entire U.S. operations, to this market and, candidly, besides being a pretty sophisticated business center, this area is also a pretty nice place to live.

 

In the market for legal services, we also see an increasing need for trusted advisers. Lots of lawyers can tell you what the law is, but very few have the industry and business experience to also tell you what you probably should do and should not do. Lawyers who have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in a particular industry or business segment and can tell clients, “we’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends,” are extremely valuable to their clients and are in greater demand than ever before. 

 

What are the top challenges for the legal profession in the area?

 

The tightness of the labor pool is difficult, there is no question about that. It is certainly a major challenge for us. The other challenge is the general expansion of the needs of the market. We are becoming more sophisticated. When I moved here in 1980, the needs of this legal community were really pretty basic. In 2019, the businesses in this market are extremely sophisticated and that means their problems and issues are also very sophisticated. I think law firms generally need to consider developing or acquiring some of the specialty areas that are not necessarily indigenous to the Tampa Bay area. Acquiring such specialists can be hard. We have to go out and convince them that they will have enough work here.

 

How would a legal firm such as Shutts & Bowen deal with a potential economic downturn?

 

Things always happen in cycles. Like any business, we have to be prepared to handle those cycles. You have to position yourself to be adaptable and flexible, to learn to change what you are doing when necessary and to be able to pick up different kinds of work in the down cycle and be able to look outside your box to keep your talent busy. The down cycles are actually the best times to hire talent, because if your platform is doing well and you are able to find talent on other platforms that are doing well personally while their current platforms are struggling, you have a unique chance to capture that talent.

 

After every down cycle there is an up cycle. If you failed to keep your talent pool, and were not able to keep the collective resources and experience that you had, you start at a huge disadvantage when the market goes back up. On the other hand, if you are able to keep your talent pool intact through a down cycle, you generally have a huge advantage when the market recovers.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://shutts.com/

 

Spotlight On: Douglas Smith, Charlotte Market Executive, First Bank

Spotlight On: Douglas Smith, Charlotte Market Executive, First Bank

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020  — After its recent acquisition of Carolina Bank, regional North Carolina financial player First Bank wants to keep its focus on the smaller side of business finance. The bank is relying on a combination of market expertise and speedy response to cater to companies with revenues up to $100 million that could fall through the cracks of larger, national institutions, First Bank Charlotte Market Executive Douglas Smith told Invest: Charlotte 

 

 

What have been the main impact from the 2017 acquisition of Carolina Bank?

 

Carolina Bank was a $700-million to $750-million bank at the time of acquisition, so it was not insignificant from a balance sheet perspective. That operation has had a high impact. We had an opportunity to relocate some of our operations people from Troy, North Carolina, to Greensboro, which has had a positive economic impact there. Carolina Bank was dominant in real estate and we have been able to capitalize on its market share in Greensboro. We were also able to keep some very good bankers from the Carolina Bank team, and hired really good team members with experience in the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) business since the acquisition.

 

Which niche is First Bank trying to fill within the Charlotte market?

 

In 2017, there were five banks headquartered out of Charlotte and now there is one, Bank of America. The landscape has changed a lot. Most regional and national banks are swimming upstream from a client perspective. They are looking more for midmarket clients with half a billion dollars in revenue or higher. Our opportunity is with operating companies that have $5 million to $100 million in revenue. I think there is a void there, not just in banks but also regarding the expertise of bankers in that market. Other regional banks offer business banking or a smaller commercial focus, but I don’t think they have our background or our emphasis on commercial banking. We also have a lot of knowledge in commercial real estate and look for project opportunities ranging in size from $2 million to $25 million. 

 

As a community bank, we have the opportunity to be nimble and quick in our decision-making. We make sure that we have a credit partner in every metropolitan market and we always have a treasury management product officer in every major market, providing all the commercially-relevant pieces that you need to offer quick answers, go to market together and have quick engagement. If we get a full financial package on a prospect, we can have a term sheet in our prospect’s hands within two or three business days. We have heard stories that in the regional bank space, some banks can take four to five weeks to put a term sheet in the hands of a prospect. That speaks to a client.

 

Which financial services are most in demand by your clients?

 

Aside from commercial, the mortgage space is hot right now, given where interest rates are. For a while, we were slowing down on refinances but I think that even those people who refinanced two years ago now see that rates could have dropped to 1% or 1.5%, and they are back at play in the market. Acquisition activity is still decent, but the rates environment is definitely driving a lot of activity to the mortgage side. We have a Small Business Administration (SBA) division, which does very well for us from a fee income perspective.

 

The retail group has also done a great job. We hired a team within the last 18 months that is focused on the oversight of the retail function. Our First at Work product provides the employees of new commercial clients with benefits like free checking, free closing on loans, discounted prices and general financial wellness seminars for their employees. That has been a very meaningful deposit-gathering tool for us. 

 

What programs are you supporting at the community level to educate the public?

 

We focus on supporting anything regarding youth education. We try to help with math education, for example, and we put a great emphasis on kids in less developed suburbs of Charlotte who need financial assistance with school supplies. As kids get older, we also look for opportunities to help with financial literacy, making sure that high-school kids understand what a credit card is, what a checkbook is, and making sure to foster the right kinds of behaviors.

 

What is the near-term business outlook for the city and the bank?

 

I would like to believe that the lion’s share of the M&A activity in the community banking space is slowing down, just because there are fewer of our types of banks out there. Because there has been so much consolidation in the community banking space, the North Carolina commissioner of banking has been a little bit more generous with the issuance of charters, which offers opportunities for new capital groups to buy charters. As a result, I think we are again building up that base of true, smaller community banks that would be $100 million to $500 million in size, and the community needs that. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://localfirstbank.com/

 

Spotlight On: Douglas Smith, Charlotte Market Executive, First Bank

Local leaders optimistic amid Charlotte’s latest jobs ranking

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020   — The Queen City closed out the decade as one of the hottest markets in the nation, especially in the southeast. Millennials, Fortune 500 companies, and even a new soccer team want to be fully established in Charlotte and tap into its growth. And while the region offers a robust, tech- and financial services-savvy workforce, and is steadily diversifying its economy, a new report puts Charlotte in the middle of the pack for best cities for jobs in 2020. However, local market leaders across industries say job opportunities will remain sustainable for 2020, especially in the technology, law, and real estate sectors.

 

A new report by WalletHub puts Charlotte at No. 104 on its ranking of “2020’s Best Cities for Jobs.” The personal finance website compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 31 indicators of job-market strength, such as employment growth and monthly average starting salary. Scottsdale, Arizona, took the top spot, and Detroit, Michigan, came in last at No. 182. Other major North Carolina metros received mixed reviews, with Raleigh cracking the Top 50 at No. 48, and Fayetteville listed before Detroit at No. 181. Though the report listed Charlotte as middle of the pack for jobs compared to other cities, the technology, law and real estate sectors will continue to provide opportunities for the region’s workforce, local leaders say.  

 

Charlotte is quickly becoming a tech town, as evidenced by the different tech-based companies that relocated to the region in the latter half of the last decade. “In the Charlotte market, the technology talent pool is growing at a rapid pace, largely driven by companies like Red Ventures, LendingTree, and AvidXchange,” JLL Market Director Chase Monroe told Invest: Charlotte. “There has been a need for high-tech talent. Locally, there has been investment in the school system to drive technological education.” Charlotte’s banking legacy, coupled with the fintech that is coming out of the banking system, is also fueling the technology sector and driving talent to the Queen City, Monroe said. “Those factors have allowed Charlotte to be a top recruiter for multiple tech-based opportunities across industries. Recruiting and retention of talent has been a huge factor in the Charlotte Metro Area.” 

 

Similarly, the legal sector has evolved with the growth of the city and has a positive outlook heading into the new decade. “I don’t see anything but good things for the legal profession here,” Poyner Spruill Partner Tate Ogburn told Invest: Charlotte. “Charlotte has grown for the two decades that I have lived here, and I don’t see that dramatically changing.” The legal needs of companies evolve with the economic diversification and growth of the region, which creates opportunities for legal professionals, he said. “It is still a place where people want to be and there are more opportunities with new and more sophisticated companies coming in for the legal sector to continue growing. There are a lot of opportunities in terms of new clients and people, and different types of work as well,” Ogburn said. 

 

Real estate and development provide investor confidence and opportunities for the workforce as Charlotte continues to grow. “I’ve been at this for 40 years and the real estate market in Charlotte is the strongest, most robust I’ve ever seen,” Northwood CEO Ned Curran told Invest: Charlotte. He highlighted the growth of the residential, industrial and commercial sectors. “Residential leads the way. It has not slowed like in other cities. Distribution and manufacturing continue to grow, and we have a unique distribution hub of state highways and rail networks associated with the airport. The office sector has trailed a little, but in recent years it has been catching up, which is a reflection of job growth,” he said. Curran expects the growth to continue during an election year and beyond while expressing confidence in the region and its economic diversification, which will allow the region to be better prepared in the event of an economic downturn, he said. “We will continue to grow across all sectors. We continue to diversify our economy, which only gives us greater strength. When there is a downturn in the economy, not everybody suffers. Some have disadvantages, some have advantages, but we are all components of an economic system and with our great diversity, we will be able to weather it better.”

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: 

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-jobs/2173/#methodology

https://www.us.jll.com/en/locations/southeast/carolinas

https://www.poynerspruill.com/

https://www.northwoodoffice.com/

 

South Florida to Address Heavy-Hitting Priorities Ahead of Election 2020

South Florida to Address Heavy-Hitting Priorities Ahead of Election 2020

By: Sara Warden

2 min read January 2019 — With its status as one of the most important swing states in federal elections, Florida’s voting pattern generally serves as a bellweather for the overall outcome. With President Donald Trump running for re-election in November 2020, South Florida’s agenda for the year is packed with contentious issues, such as gun reform, climate change and foreign policy.

 

 On Dec. 23, an appeal was filed by the state government against several Florida cities, including Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, arguing the cities were flaunting the law by applying harsher restrictions on guns than exist on a state level. “If allowed to stand, the decision will not only invite the development of a patchwork regulatory regime in the area of firearms but also render the Legislature impotent to deter power grabs by local officials in other areas,” the brief argued. The issue of gun reform is set to remain a key issue as the 2020 election nears.

Another issue coming back to the forefront is climate change, and South Florida is disproportionately affected by rising sea levels and potable water availability. In November, Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed the state’s first chief science officer and the 2020 legislative session is expected to put more emphasis on climate issues. “State agencies are now beginning to collaborate on these important issues and gather at a leadership level to talk about resilience and how to plan for sea level rise,” Noah Valenstein, secretary of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, told the Herald Tribune.

But by far, one of the most headline-grabbing issues leading up to the election will be President Trump’s flagstone immigration campaign. According to the most recent census data, about 23% of the population of Palm Beach County identify as Hispanic or Latino, and the same is true for around 19% of the Fort Lauderdale population. The Democrats chose to host their first presidential debate in Miami, a city where more than 70% of the population is Hispanic, partly because of the immigration platform.

“Latinos are still seen as a monolith,” says Liz Alarcon, a Venezuelan-American Democratic activist and author of Caracas Chronicles, told TIME magazine. “Politicians as a whole still don’t get it, and that’s a problem.”

U.S. Latin America policy is expected to play a major role in the South Florida 2020 electoral result, and Trump has been largely praised by the Latin American community for his tough stance toward Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. “Florida elections always come down to margins,” Frank Mora, a professor of politics at Florida International University, told the New Yorker. “Foreign policy is intensely local in South Florida.” Because of the high concentration of Latinos in South Florida, foreign policy related to Latin America hits close to home.

It could also help decide who wins Florida in 2020.

 

To learn more, visit:

https://www.flgov.com/

https://www.caracaschronicles.com/author/lizrebeccaalarcon/

https://pir.fiu.edu/people/faculty-1/faculty/frank-mora/

https://floridadep.gov/sec

 

Spotlight On: Johanna W. Clark, Co-Managing Shareholder, Orlando Office, Carlton Fields

Spotlight On: Johanna W. Clark, Co-Managing Shareholder, Orlando Office, Carlton Fields

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read December 2019 — Orlando, known for its thriving tourism industry, is growing quickly and diversifying its economy to attract new companies to the region. Sectors like construction and technology are seeing healthy growth and with that comes the need for a knowledgeable legal team. In an interview with Invest: Orlando, Carlton Fields Orlando office co-managing shareholder Johanna Clark talks about the impact the growing economy has had on the firm’s legal practices, efforts to help the business community in the region, and outlooks for the legal sector heading into the new year. 

 

What are the benefits of being located in the Orlando market?

The Orlando market is unique as it is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Orange County leaders project growth of over 1,000 new residents per week. Business is also booming. Carlton Fields’ Orlando office is centrally located in the heart of the Business District. We are in the SunTrust Center and our new office offers a more modern and efficient workspace to better serve our clients in this growing region.

 

From what types of industries are you getting the most demand?

 

Technology is a growing sector of Orlando’s economy and our attorneys are handling a lot of tech-related client needs. The gaming company Electronic Arts recently announced plans to move its headquarters from Maitland to downtown Orlando’s Creative Village. On top of that, with universities like Full Sail and the University of Central Florida in the area, there is an influx of great gaming-related talent coming to Orlando. To meet client needs, we have a team of attorneys who specialize in electronic gaming. Our attorneys help our tech-based clients with cybersecurity, as well as licensing, labor and employment, mergers, or any type of technology issue. They help companies and tech-based entrepreneurs navigate this developing aspect of the law. The same is true with the growing construction industry in the region. The influx of new businesses is impacting our practice areas. 

 

What are some of your focus areas in the Orlando market?

Our main goal is to attract, train and retain attorneys. We have a culture that seeks to develop young lawyers into exceptional professionals. As Orlando continues to grow and its economy continues to diversify, we are keeping an eye on the incoming businesses. Many new companies are arriving and we want to know how we can best serve their needs. We also provide free business and legal resources online for entrepreneurs and startups where they can get information to develop their companies through LaunchToThrive.com. That is how we can gauge the changing business climate in the region. As lawyers, our priority is to offer our services to help companies thrive in the Orlando area and beyond.

 

What is your outlook for the region’s legal sector and economy?

 

The forecast for Central Florida is superb. New businesses and high-paying jobs are coming to the region. Our local leaders are doing a great job attracting companies to the area. Orlando is a great place to live and work. From a business perspective, the outlook for 2020 is exceptional. From a legal perspective, it will also continue to be a booming area. Companies need help and deals need to be done, and lawyers help make that happen. With so much development and construction, there will be a demand for representation in litigation matters as well.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Carlton Fields: https://www.carltonfields.com/