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.