Forty-Nine Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed Lawyers Earn Recognition in 2018 Best Lawyers in America
August 15, 2017
Alex Dobrev works with investors, developers and lenders on the acquisition, disposition, development and financing of multifamily, condominium and other commercial real estate projects, often involving distressed properties. He has significant experience evaluating, structuring and negotiating large-scale mixed-use development projects.
Chair of the firm's Multifamily & Condominium Group, Alex frequently handles "broken" or "fractured" condominium projects in connection with lenders, bulk investors, and receivers to evaluate and implement exit strategies, including possible unwinding of the condominium regime, while identifying and minimizing potential successor developer liabilities and related risks.
Alex also counsels clients regarding Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act (ILSA) compliance matters, including full and partial exemptions from the Act and overall offering structure.
For more than 30 years, Aaron Gorovitz's law practice has centered around large and complex commercial, residential and mixed-use real estate projects throughout Central Florida.
Aaron is often involved in site selection and due diligence, and is lead counsel in the procurement of Developments of Regional Impact (DRIs), transit-oriented development, comprehensive plan designations, zonings and other governmental approvals and entitlements. He also formulates public/private partnerships, and takes a lead role in the development, financing and leasing of projects.
Under Aaron’s leadership, the firm’s Land Use, Zoning & Environmental Group was involved in many of the most recognizable public-private partnership projects in Central Florida, including the Amway Center, the CNL Center at City Commons, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the Orlando Citrus Bowl, to name a few.
Most often, he finds himself in the role of an all-around trusted advisor to some of Central Florida’s largest developers and philanthropists. “It’s a role that I am completely comfortable with,” says Aaron. “I have always been committed to the success and development of my clients,” he continues, “putting their agendas before my own. I try to do more listening than talking, so that I know what issues and concerns keep them awake at night.” It is that allegiance to his clients that has contributed to Aaron’s numerous recognitions — and the foundation for the relationships he has developed.
“I believe that my clients’ trust extends beyond doing good work,” Aaron explains. “It is a deeper, broader trust that is based on both professional competence and personal relationships, and I am forever grateful for that trust.”
Chambers USA (2017)* reports that Aaron impresses with his handling of a broad range of transactional real estate matters. He recently advised home builder Park Square Enterprises on the $59 million acquisition, and subsequent financing, of 16 vacant sites intended for residential development.
In addition to his busy law practice, Aaron is deeply involved in his community. As the former chair of the Central Florida Partnership (CFP), he traveled to Washington D.C. with other CFP regional leaders last year to help advance Central Florida’s growing industries: hospitality, travel and tourism, research funding and entrepreneurship. As a member of CFP’s Core Strategy Group, he spent countless hours working side-by-side with community leaders to bring SunRail to Central Florida. Along with chairing the CFP’s Transportation Task Force, Aaron chaired many of the CFP’s committees addressing other key regional issues, including capital, homelessness and water, among others.
His long-time commitment to the community has also included involvement in a number of organizations, including serving on the board of directors for the Community Foundation of Central Florida, the executive committee of the Jewish National Fund and the American Diabetes Association’s Father’s Day Council.
Aaron has received numerous awards and accolades for his contributions to the community, both in business and for his charitable work. He is always raising his hand in service with quiet strength and unwavering commitment.
*We make no guarantees or promises that the reader will realize the same or similar results
Broken contracts. Bad business practices. Stolen intellectual property. Personal and business catastrophes. These are among the most common disputes that trial attorney Jim Toscano handles, representing both individuals and companies.
Jim's extensive trial experience in high profile litigation has included:
- defending an NBA team against reverse discrimination and defamation claims – a case that aired on Court TV when first tried and ultimately resulted in a defense verdict;
- representing a group of prominent former NFL players in suing a Bank for negligence in allowing accounts to be opened based on forged signatures in Federal Court in Miami that settled mid-trial; and
- successfully defending the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections in the aftermath of the controversial 2000 presidential election against claims of impropriety, a case which garnered national attention.
Jim has a significant track record as lead counsel in federal and state courts throughout Florida, including complex commercial business, real property and banking litigation, class actions, intellectual property litigation, and personal injury and wrongful death cases. Equally noteworthy is his representation of technology companies, helping them protect their intellectual property jewels—patents, trademarks and copyrights—through both preventive measures and, when necessary, litigation.
“My responsibility is to help individuals and companies solve their problems as effectively and as efficiently as possible. Sometimes the best action is to avoid court,” Jim acknowledges, “but the other side also needs to know that I am ready, willing and able to take the case to trial, if necessary, to achieve the best possible result for my client.” As a certified Circuit Court mediator, Jim has represented clients in numerous arbitrations and in hundreds of mediations.
As committed to community service as he is to his clients, Jim served an eight-year term as a member of the Board of Directors of the Second Harvest Food Bank, and has provides hundreds of hours of pro bono work, including not only legal assistance to Second Harvest, but also through serving as a Guardian Ad Litem for children in difficult family circumstances in need of legal representation. Taking on a community service leadership role at Lowndes, Jim orchestrates workplace campaigns to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, United Way, the Meredith Level Foundation/Endowment, and other community and civic organizations. In honor of Meredith, Jim and the firm do their “Level Best” to support the Orlando and Central Florida community, in part through an annual Community Service Day during which firm attorneys and employees volunteer a day of their time.
A huge sports fan, Jim has enjoyed his work with the Florida Citrus Sports Association, including serving on the Associate Board of Directors. Florida Citrus Sports is a not-for-profit membership organization that, through its College Football Bowl Games and other events, is dedicated to stimulating economic development and ultimately benefiting charities, educational institutions and the quality of life in Central Florida through its signature events.
Jim has also volunteered as a middle school basketball coach at St. James Cathedral School and as an Alumni interviewer for both Princeton and Duke.
Putting aside his well-known wit for a moment, Jim reflects on his many roles and activities. “Sometimes I am a trial lawyer; sometimes I am a negotiator. Sometimes I am a conciliatory voice of reason – other times, not so much. Regardless of my role, I am passionate about tackling my client’s – or my community’s – challenges head on, in whatever way is best for them.”
James Walson represents title insurance companies, commercial landlords, property owners, buyers and lenders throughout Florida – in both transactional and litigation real estate matters. His passion for advocacy began at an early age through watching his father, Pete, serve as a City Commissioner in Stuart, Florida and continued through high school and college as an award-winning debater.
Today, Jamie, as he is called by clients and friends, is a real estate lawyer representing title insurance companies, commercial landlords, property owners, buyers and lenders throughout Florida – in both transactional and litigation matters. He has negotiated commercial leases, purchase and sale agreements for retail space, office buildings and medical offices.
Many clients turn to Jamie for his real property litigation experience as well. He has litigated matters involving contracts, title insurance liability, commercial landlord / tenant matters, easements, fraud, deed warranties, boundary disputes, adverse possession, lien priority and access rights. In addition, he has conducted appeals before the Second District Court of Appeal and the Fifth District Court of Appeal.
A fan of – and participant in – improvisational theater, Jamie counts on his humor in navigating difficult negotiations and litigation. He is an avid golfer, is on the board of the First Tee of Central Florida, and is a father to three boys.
A member of the firm’s tax practice, Amanda Wilson concentrates on federal tax planning and structuring. She represents clients in a wide variety of complex federal tax matters with a particular emphasis on pass-through entities such as partnerships, S corporations and real estate investment trusts.
Specifically, Amanda focuses on advising clients on the formation, operation, acquisition and restructuring of such pass-through entities. In addition, she regularly advises clients on the structuring and operation of private equity funds, real estate funds and timber funds. Amanda is the author of the Bloomberg Tax Management Portfolio 718-3rd Edition, Partnerships- Disposition of Partnership Interests or Partnership Business; Partnership Termination.
Amanda regularly works in structuring deals to benefit from tax advantaged structures, including like-kind exchanges, new market tax credits, low income housing tax credits, qualified opportunity zones, and investment tax credits available for solar and other renewable energy. Amanda also has extensive experience in corporate planning and international tax matters, as well as federal tax controversy. Her practice before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) includes providing advice on audits and appeals, drafting protests and ruling requests, and negotiating settlements.
Prior to joining the firm, Amanda worked for Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP (now Eversheds Sutherland), an Am Law 100 firm in the Atlanta office, where she was part of Sutherland’s Tax Practice Group. Amanda has also served as an adjunct professor at Emory University School of Law where she taught Partnership Taxation.
Amanda regularly contributes to the firm’s Taxing Times blog and is a regular panelist on tax webinars hosted by Strafford Publications.
Becky Wilson is chair of the firm's Land Use, Zoning and Environmental Group. She represents property owners, developers, lenders and other development participants with issues related to zoning, comprehensive plans, concurrency, administrative law, Developments of Regional Impact (DRI’s), procurement issues, due diligence and property rights.
As early as sixth grade, Becky advocated for the causes she believed in. Her concern about nuclear waste and water contamination in her hometown of Dothan, Alabama – and her thorough research – promoted her to press a state legislator with questions in the school auditorium. Having grown up in the South, Becky got in trouble for questioning authority – yet that life experience served her well.
After clerking for a federal judge in Washington, D.C., Becky landed in Orlando, quickly building a reputation at Lowndes for being thorough, outspoken, and a tireless advocate for clients. She ultimately found her niche in land use, collaborating with architects, transportation engineers and local governments to move her clients’ projects – and Central Florida – forward. Becky became one of the youngest female shareholders at the firm. Today, she is Chair of the Land Use, Zoning and Environmental Group.
Her clients include property owners, developers, lenders and other participants in the development of high-rise, hotels, planned communities, large “power-centers,” mixed-use projects, office buildings and big box commercial projects, projects within historic districts, multi-family developments, senior living, and affordable housing. Becky works closely with the local government entities to address the needs of her clients related to zoning, comprehensive plans, concurrency, administrative law, Developments of Regional Impact (DRI’s), procurement issues, due diligence, and property rights.
Undoubtedly, Becky’s diligence, activism and Southern charm were responsible in part for her appointment as chair of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of Central Florida District Council, a global multidisciplinary real estate organization with more than 40,000 members dedicated to the responsible use of land, and creating and sustaining thriving communities.
In Memoriam 1954-2018
Terry Young has tried over 50 jury trials to verdict and more than 200 non-jury trials. He has more than 30 years of experience – in local, state and Federal courts – ranging from disputes over United States presidential elections to multi-national “bet-the-company” litigation, from high profile divorces to multi-million-dollar personal injury cases, from complex contract disputes to first amendment defenses.
Whether a public persona or a private family, a major corporation or a fledgling new venture, Terry represents both plaintiffs and defendants, from counseling through trial and appeal. While Terry advocates on behalf of his clients in court, he is a firm believer in dispute resolution whenever appropriate. Most importantly, whether in arbitration, mediation, divorce, or trial, or negotiating a private settlement, he has the utmost regard for clients’ confidentiality, privacy and ultimate objectives.
Sometimes those objectives are to minimize costs – even in the case of a high-profile divorce. Terry has represented a number of public figures in family law matters.
A member of the firm’s Real Estate Group, Jim Kattelmann concentrates his practice on asset-based lending and securitization commercial leasing, hotel and resort development, land use, zoning and environmental, real estate transactions, development and finance, and timeshare services. He assists lenders in structuring, collateralizing, documenting and closing asset-based loans and pooling loans into term securitization programs.
Joe Lane is board certified in construction law by The Florida Bar, and he has practiced in the construction law field continuously since 1978.
Joe practices a wide spectrum of construction law, including preparation of,or modification of standard forms for construction documents for commercial projects, including CM, CM at risk, stipulated sum, cost-plus/GMP and subcontract documents for all types of commercial projects. He also practices in the area of construction defects, including representation of claimants and defendants in defect claims, including related property insurance claims, general liability insurance claims, and builder’s risk insurance claims. He also handles public bid and procurement protests.
Joe is a member of the ABA Section on the Construction Industry and Tort Trial and Insurance Practice. He has served as both a binding and non-binding court-appointed arbitrator in arbitrations involving complex construction claims and disputes. He has also served as a mediator in numerous mediations over the years.
Actively involved in Boy Scout adult leadership, Joe serves as the Finance Chair for the Ft. Gatlin District of the Central Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America.
Pete Lopez focuses on commercial real estate transactions, including acquisitions, dispositions, development and finance, with an emphasis on acquisition and construction financings and re-financings.
Having more than 25 years of legal experience, Pete routinely represents owners and developers of hospitality and leisure assets and senior living facilities on a nation-wide basis and in a wide range or real estate methods. Pete is detailed in his approach to his practice and is solution oriented.
An experienced commercial litigator, Tim Manor has represented clients in commercial matters ranging from simple contract disagreements to complex trade secret matters involving multiparty litigation in several venues.
Tim has handled diverse matters in several jurisdictions, bringing varied and extensive experience to a full-range of complex international, national, and local cases. In addition, Tim is the former General Counsel for CNL Financial Group, a leading private investment management firm providing global real estate and alternative investments. Since inception in 1973, CNL and/or its affiliates have formed or acquired companies with more than $25 billion in assets.
Quino Martinez concentrates his practice on commercial leasing and real estate investment, development and financing. He represents public and private real estate investors, developers, property management companies, brokerage firms and national lenders, as well as non-profits.
Being the third generation in his family to be named Joaquin, his parents distinguished him from his father and grandfather by calling him Quino (pronounced “key-no”). Having his name constantly mispronounced doesn’t bother Quino. His clients get it right, and even more significantly, they respect that he gets their business right. No trite statements here; just the facts: Quino cares deeply about his clients, their businesses and their families.
His clients include public and private real estate investors, developers, property management companies, brokerage firms, and, from time to time, non-profits. Quino has represented these entities in the acquisition, financing, development and disposition of multifamily developments, industrial properties, office buildings, shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, golf courses and other resort related developments, retirement communities and vacant land. He has also represented national lending institutions in connection with commercial loan transactions, workouts and loan restructuring.
Whether focusing on commercial leasing, real estate investment and development or financing, Quino takes “ownership” of his clients’ transactions. Described by his clients as a deal-maker, Quino and his team work hard to ensure that their deals close in a timely manner and that their clients’ objectives are met. Qualities honed by his Jesuit education – integrity, initiative in service of others, patience, persistence and excellent communication – have endeared him to clients and colleagues alike. Those same traits afforded him leadership roles with the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Georgia, the City of Orlando Board of Zoning Adjustment and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando. He also initiated a community partnership and sustained mentoring program between Lowndes and the FAMU College of Law.
Licensed to practice law in Florida, Georgia and Texas, Quino is proud to be connected to each of those states (but particularly the Lone Star State), and routinely assists clients in matters in each locale. Mostly, he is proud of his deep relationships with his clients and colleagues – who have no trouble pronouncing his name.
Destined to become a lawyer, Dan is a Central Florida native surrounded by more than a handful of lawyers among his relatives – including his dad who was the City Attorney for a number of Central Florida cities and public entities, siblings, cousins, in-laws, and even children. But first Dan wanted to explore the ski slopes of the “wild west” after attending Duke University and before returning to his southern roots to attend the University of Florida Law School. While in college, Dan worked in high-end retail and as a rodman on a survey crew. With this surveying experience behind him, Dan ultimately found his passion in real estate law.
With a focus on business trends, Dan has successfully guided some of the most recognizable Central Florida companies through multi-site, multi-jurisdictional real estate acquisitions, financings, and dispositions. He advises clients on acquisition, leasing and financing, title review and survey analysis, environmental issues and zoning, with attention to every detail of these transactions – from document preparation, review of title commitments, endorsements and coverages, surveys, and closing statements, and all the negotiating and documentation in between. Clients include owners and lenders of shopping centers, retail stores, restaurants, gasoline and convenience stores, golf courses, ski resorts, hotels, and condominium properties.
In addition, Dan has negotiated and closed hundreds of high end residential transactions on sites throughout the southeast.
As a real estate leader in the firm, Dan’s mission has included building and mentoring efficient teams committed to the clients’ business success, echoed in his commitment to his community. A resident of Winter Park for many years, Dan has served in leadership roles on many civic, church, and charitable boards. A graduate and long-time participant in the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, Dan served as its alumni association president, wrote its initial by-laws, and was a recipient of its Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Community Leader Award. His leadership role on the Winter Park Library Board is helping to bring the City’s vision of a new library and events center to life in Martin Luther King Park. Dan is also a past president of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater and has been a member of its Board for over 20 years.
Greg McNeill is a trial and sports law attorney and chairs the firm's Litigation Department.
Greg's litigation practice includes business and real estate litigation, construction litigation, commercial landlord/tenant disputes, enforcement of non-competition, confidentiality and trade secret agreements, employment law, intellectual property, church property litigation and appellate practice.
As a sports law attorney, he has represented athletes and coaches in the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, PGA Golf and other sports in team contract negotiations, endorsement contracts, name and image licensing agreements, book publishing opportunities and public appearances.
Greg is an experienced trial attorney with considerable courtroom experience in state and federal courts. He has successfully handled a wide variety of lawsuits, from defending the property of a local church from the efforts of its denomination to seize it to the aviation litigation arising from the 1999 Lear Jet crash which took the life of PGA Tour golfer Payne Stewart.
He is an equally accomplished negotiator and is just as proud to help a client reach a satisfactory settlement as he is to win a jury verdict. His philosophy is to prepare for trial but seek to settle.
Tim Miedona’s practice focuses on commercial leasing, real estate transactions, development and finance, and corporate and securities.
As co-chair of the firm’s Commercial Leasing Group, Tim routinely represents commercial landlords and tenants in the negotiation of their commercial leases and in commercial lease workouts. Illustrative client work includes:
- Representing a publicly traded multi-billion dollar national real estate investment company in connection with its commercial real estate transactions, including acquisition, development, financing, disposition and leasing of commercial properties;
- Representing an international restaurant, hospitality and retail company in connection with its acquisition, development, branding and leasing of its sites;
- Representing numerous regional real estate development companies in connection with the development and leasing of their office, medical, and retail properties; and
- Representing local businesses in connection with their corporate and real estate matters.
Tim is also active in the firm’s pro bono practice, assisting with legal representation, fundraising activities, day-to-day operations, and promotion for animal rights for A New Beginning Pet Care and Rescue Group.
An attorney with over 40 years of experience, Nick Pope’s practice includes hotel and resort development, land use, zoning and environmental, developments of regional impact, real estate transactions, developments and finance, including finance of major infrastructure projects, and negotiations of sophisticated business matters. He is the firm’s Managing Partner Emeritus.
Chambers USA (2015)* reports that Nick’s practice covers both the transactional and zoning aspects of real estate work.
*We make no guarantees or promises that the reader will realize the same or similar results
Shawn Rader focuses his practice on real estate litigation, commercial litigation, commercial leases, and senior housing, and he is a member of the firm’s practice groups that concentrate in these areas of law. Shawn has extensive experience representing a broad range of clients, including title insurance companies, property management companies, ranchers, lenders, developers and individuals. He frequently assists clients with resolving disputes regarding property boundaries, surveys, contracts, leases, plats, mortgages, and other matters involving real property.
With a portion of his practice devoted to representing title insurance companies in litigation arising from disputes related to coverage and general litigation matters, Shawn helped establish the American Bar Association Title Insurance Litigation Committee, serving as its first vice-chairman and as its second chairman. He is also a member of the Florida Land Title Association, where he is a charter member of the FTLA Claims Round Table Committee.
Both an accomplished author and speaker, Shawn has had four articles published in The Florida Bar Journal and was coauthor of the Title Insurance Law Article in the ABA Tort & Insurance Law Journal. He has served as chairman of The Florida Bar Grievance Committee for Orange County and as president of the Orange County Bar Association Legal Aid Society. He was also chairman of the City of Orlando Civil Service Board, chairman of the City of Orlando Chapter 57 Board, and vice chairman of the 2012 Orange County Charter Review Commission.
Shawn was born in Kentucky and moved to Orlando as a child. He quickly developed a lifelong devotion to the land in Florida. His passion for real estate law arises from his deep connection to the state, which is reflected in his love for Patrick Smith's book, A Land Remembered, and his collection of Florida Highwaymen paintings. Not surprisingly, his favorite Florida attraction is Gatorland in Osceola County.
Having practiced for over 40 years, Shawn brings his clients a wealth of knowledge and experience from which to draw. He has mentored attorneys both within the firm and the community. Shawn has also served as an expert witness in cases for attorneys outside the firm. He is a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, an organization of individuals appointed by the Governor of Kentucky in recognition of their accomplishments and outstanding service to the community, Commonwealth, and nation.
Co-chair of the firm’s Mergers & Acquisitions Practice Group, Jason Rimes has a broad transactional legal practice that touches on a variety of industries, including real estate, higher education, aviation, sports and healthcare. He counsels clients on mergers and acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, finance and other corporate and transactional matters. Jason represents educational institutions, sports teams, real estate developers and investors, aircraft owners and operators and other business entities, regularly assisting clients with the drafting and negotiation of organizational and venture documents and operational agreements. He has a particular expertise in the area of real estate joint ventures, working with real estate developers and investors to finance their projects.
In the community, Jason serves as Chairman of the Board of the Healthcare Center for the Homeless, an organization that provides medical, dental and mental health services to those who otherwise could not otherwise afford them. To support his work in the aviation industry, where he assists clients with buying and selling aircraft, leasing hangars and structuring ownership and use agreements, he was a founder and continues to serve on the board of the Central Florida Business Aviation Association.
A 6th generation Floridian, Jason enjoys surfing, fishing and scuba diving. He is also devoted to his family and can often be found coaching his children’s youth sports teams and passing along his love of the ocean.
John Ruffier concentrates his legal practice on commercial real estate, representing clients within Florida and across the nation. As the firm's Senior Housing Group chair, he also helps companies build their senior living portfolios from the ground up.
Whether representing companies that are developing, acquiring or selling commercial real estate, or lenders who are making or modifying commercial loans, John’s skills garnered from his championship rowing days serve him well. After all, rowing is a lot like business: both require a clear vision and goal, a well-developed plan, manageable milestones and a laser-like focus – with the flexibility to adjust when necessary.
Restaurants, big box retail stores, office buildings, golf courses, and senior living facilities are among the real estate transactions in John’s dossier, both in Florida and across the United States. Clients appreciate John’s holistic approach to deals – like in his rowing days, John ignores distractions and always keeps his focus on the goal line of getting the deal done. With senior housing, John and his team work on numerous diverse issues such as land use, licensing, financing, labor and employment management and operations, all to provide clients with advice that carefully looks at both immediate needs and the long-term prospects for potential transactions.
When he is not practicing law, John works with The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. He is the past chair of the organization’s board of directors and continues to advise its leadership now that his term has ended. John is also a past president of the Hope and Help Center of Central Florida and was awarded the Chuck Hummer II Visionary Award in recognition of his leadership in the LGBT community. Currently, John serves on the board of directors for both United Arts of Central Florida and the Central Florida Kidney Center.
Michael Ryan’s clients are optimistic visionaries who have helped to build Central Florida into the thriving community it is today.
From his representation of the Orange County Research and Development Authority which acquired, financed, developed, managed and marketed the highly successful 1,000-plus-acre Central Florida Research Park, to the University of Central Florida’s planned teaching hospital at Lake Nona and their downtown campus in Orlando Creative Village, Mike and his clients have had a hand in many of the significant projects that have shaped this Central Florida community.
With years of experience representing developers and lenders in complex real estate transactions, Mike’s problem-solving and organizational skills, his industry knowledge, and his dedication to client service have proved invaluable to his clients.
Mike had not always planned for a career as a real estate lawyer. In college, he studied mathematics and enjoyed subjects such as linear algebra, differential equations and complex analysis. He also had a passion for government studies. With summer jobs at a landscaping firm while in college and a full-time job managing an apartment building while in law school, it was only natural that his academic and work experiences would lead Mike toward a real estate practice.
Throughout the many Florida real estate booms…and busts…Mike’s background as a problem solver has been particularly helpful in his representation of developers, investors and lenders in complex real estate development and finance transactions – both public and private.
Earning a reputation for keeping a deal moving through to completion, regardless of the economic climate, Mike’s skills naturally led to representation of lenders and investors in acquiring and disposing of distressed assets during economic downturns. His experience was particularly helpful in analyzing and resolving title problems, confirming land use entitlements, understanding community development district assessments, and recapturing control of homeowner/property owner/condominium associations.
“My success is tied directly to helping my clients succeed,” Mike asserts.
Mike is equally committed to the Central Florida community through his involvement in many civic and charitable organizations. He helped the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida to structure a unique arrangement with the Orange County Public School System: a new Boys and Girls Club is located at the OCPS Academic Center For Excellence in the downtown Orlando Parramore neighborhood. He has served as Chair of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, and as Board Chair of the American Red Cross of Central Florida.
When he is not spending family time in Winter Park with his wife, Theresa, their daughter and granddaughter, Mike can be found on the golf course, or working with Theresa on the landscaping in their yard. He and Theresa also spend time at their home in Ireland where they are very much in touch with their Irish roots.
Norma Stanley is a shareholder, is board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates by The Florida Bar and holds a Master of Laws in Taxation. She advises clients on estate planning, federal tax, probate, trust administration, guardianships and elder law.
With more than 25 years of legal experience in wealth transfer, business succession, sophisticated tax, trust and estate planning, estate and trust administration and family office creation, Norma represents a myriad of clients, including high net worth individuals and their families, beneficiaries of trusts and estates, trustees and small business owners.
In addition to providing estate planning, including complex estate planning for high net worth individuals, planning for moderately wealthy individuals, and basic planning for modest, non-taxable estates, Norma also provides estate planning services such as estate, gift and generation skipping transfer tax planning, including family office planning, irrevocable trust planning, grantor retained annuity trusts planning, sales to defective grantor trust planning, qualified personal residence trust planning and charitable planning, including charitable trusts and private foundations, family limited partnerships, business succession planning and asset protection planning.
Norma offers probate and estate administration services which include formal administration and summary (small estate) administration and the preparation and filing of federal estate tax returns (Form 706). Trust administration services include wealth transfer management, trust modifications and providing advice to trustees and other fiduciaries as well as representation of trust beneficiaries.
Additional related services include federal estate and gift tax audit representation and preparation and filing of applications for recognition of exemption related to private foundations (Form 1023).
Bill Dymond is the CEO and President of Lowndes. A leader in his field, Bill advises clients on all types of real estate and business matters, including significant work in the hotel/resort/leisure industry.
Bill is a member of the firm’s Hospitality & Leisure Group, which has handled more than $25 billion in transactions throughout the United States – including Central Florida – and Canada. He currently serves as general counsel to Visit Orlando, the areas convention and visitor’s bureau.
Bill is equally passionate about counseling clients in the sport/entertainment arena. As the lead negotiator, his successes in securing multi-year television agreements with ABC and ESPN for the Citrus Bowl, Camping World Bowl, and team selection agreements with the Big 10, SEC, ACC, Big East and Big 12 conferences, were big wins for Central Florida in a very competitive sports marketplace. Bill has long been a strong advocate and played a key role in the renovation and related funding of Camping World Stadium.
As past chair of Florida Citrus Sports, Bill was instrumental in getting the Orlando venue’s plan complete. He has also worked tirelessly alongside other community leaders as a Founding Board Member of LIFT Orlando to further its mission to break the cycle of poverty through holistic neighborhood revitalization in the shadow of Camping World Stadium.
At the state level, Bill currently serves as a member of the Florida Council of 100 and he has served as a Board Member for Enterprise Florida and Space Florida, serving at the pleasure of the Governor as Chair of Space Florida’s Board of Directors for six years. Under Bill’s leadership Space Florida, the state’s aerospace and spaceport development authority, has partnered with NASA to operate Kennedy Space Center and has expanded our state’s ability to dominate the growing commercial space market while creating jobs in this unique sector.
As the renewable energy industry continues to grow in Florida, Bill also brings to this emerging sector his extensive background advising companies on new revenue opportunities as well as real estate and business matters. Additionally, his numerous leadership roles at the local and state level have helped him develop a broad network of relationships throughout Florida that brings added value to his clients in their pursuits.
With years of experience in real estate transactions, including acquisitions, dispositions, development and finance; commercial leasing; and construction law, Rich Fildes advises both public and private companies on a broad spectrum of matters in the hospitality, real estate, sports and entertainment industries.
Rich represents owners, developers, lenders, investors, and operators in hotel and resort acquisitions, sales, financings, management, operations and development, franchising and licensing. As co-chair of the firm’s Hospitality & Leisure Group, he and his team have handled more than $25 billion in client transactions involving hotels, resorts, golf and country clubs, theme parks and water parks, family entertainment centers, ski resorts and marinas throughout the U.S. and Canada.
In addition, Rich has represented the developers and operators of sports venues as well as past and current professional athletes in various business capacities.
Chambers USA (2017)* reports that Rich is recognized for his excellence in real estate acquisitions, dispositions, development and finance, most notably with respect to the hotel, sports and entertainment sectors. He is co-chair of the firm’s hospitality and leisure group.
*We make no guarantees or promises that the reader will realize the same or similar results
Randi Fitzgerald focuses her practice on land use, zoning, environmental matters and real estate development, including comprehensive planning, Developments of Regional Impact (DRI’s), DRI rescission, annexation, concurrency, vested rights and property rights issues.
Randi has served as lead counsel for more than 35 DRI’s and has represented both property owners and local governments. She represents clients in all phases of development for commercial, residential and mixed-use projects, including site selection, due diligence, and procurement of land use approvals and entitlements.
Randi’s depth of experience crosses multiple jurisdictions throughout Central Florida. She has worked with clients to establish, develop and manage large scale mixed-use developments in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Brevard and Lake Counties. She has often served in a strategic management role with consultant teams on large and complex projects, and has negotiated development agreements, road network agreements, development orders, utility agreements, school capacity enhancement agreements and mitigation agreements.
In addition, Randi is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Court and Appellate Mediator, concentrating in intergovernmental disputes and private and public disputes affecting real property. She also serves as a Special Magistrate in cases brought under §70.51 F.S., the Florida Land Use and Environmental Dispute Resolution Act.
Chambers USA (2019)* reports that Randi enjoys a strong market reputation with market sources, who describe her as “highly regarded.” She draws on a wide range of experience in the planning and approval of projects, with strength in handling mixed-use developments.
*We make no guarantees or promises that the reader will realize the same or similar results
Eddie Francis is a member of the firm’s Real Estate Group, focusing on real estate transactions, development and finance, land use and zoning, commercial leasing and representing clients before local government.
Eddie has extensive experience representing developers in all aspects – acquisition, due diligence, entitlements and zoning approvals, master planning and development and finance – of office, retail, residential, hotel, senior living, and mixed-use projects. He also represents clients in the area of and multi-state/portfolio real estate transactions.
Julie Frey is a shareholder and chair of the Private Wealth Services group. She is board certified by The Florida Bar. Her principal areas of practice are estate planning, probate, trust administration, guardianship, elder law and federal tax.
Julie counsels a broad range of clients, including high net worth clients with needs for sophisticated estate planning techniques, physicians and others who have specific needs with respect to asset protection, couples who are in second marriages, domestic partners, “sandwich generation” individuals who have planning concerns for their parents, their children and themselves, and individuals with a net worth that may not be subject to estate tax but who have planning needs and concerns for children, special needs trusts and other important issues.
Julie works with individuals and families to plan family wealth transfers consistent with the family’s goals and with federal estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax planning. Techniques include wills, trusts, family limited partnerships, limited liability companies, grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), sales to intentionally defective trusts, charitable trusts, charitable foundations, marital deduction planning and generation-skipping transfer tax planning.
Since the nature of the estate and gift transfer tax system encourages gifts, Julie prepares a variety of irrevocable trusts that can serve as vehicles for making lifetime gifts to family members, thereby reducing the effective rate of transfer tax. Julie prepares federal estate and gift tax returns. She represents trustees and personal representatives in their administration of trusts and estates. At other times, she assists beneficiaries with the enforcement of their rights in an estate and/or trust.
Julie also represents parties with respect to trust construction matters and will contests with the firm’s litigation group.
A LEED-certified attorney, Michael Gibbons represents owners, developers, contractors, design professionals and subcontractors asserting a variety of construction claims (and defenses to such claims), including actions for breach of contract, delay, latent defects, water intrusion and mold, differing site conditions, extra work, indemnity and warranty.
Michael also counsels clients on issues related to construction claims of lien and surety bond claims and regularly represents clients in litigation and arbitration over construction claims of lien and payment and performance bond claims.
Formerly an Assistant State Attorney, Michael tried over 65 cases through verdict ranging from battery and DUI to Armed Robbery and Felony Murder. He has tried a variety of civil cases as well, and has substantial experience litigating ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) cases in Federal Court under Title III of the ADA where accessibility to public accommodations is at issue.
In addition to litigating design and construction related claims, Michael often represents owners, developers, design professionals, general contractors, and sub-contractors in the preparation and negotiation of design and construction contracts. His experience litigating construction claims helps Michael identify problematic and unfavorable contract language. Conversely, his experience drafting and negotiating complex construction contracts makes Michael a more informed and knowledgeable litigator when a client needs a forceful advocate on a construction contract issue. A reasonable and clearly expressed allocation of commercial risks, rights and liabilities is essential to a good design or construction contract and critical for reducing the risk of later claims.
Accredited by the Green Building Certification Institute as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Associate, Michael is a frequent speaker and author on the subject of managing risks in sustainable design and construction contracts. He has significant experience drafting and negotiating design and construction contracts incorporating sustainability principles including LEED standards.
Jon Gibbs is the co-chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Services Group and represents clients in a broad spectrum of intellectual property matters, including intellectual property protection, licensing, litigation, auditing and due diligence.
Jon counsels clients on brand management strategies, selection and clearance of trademarks and service marks, policing and enforcement issues and securing rights in proprietary discoveries and works through patent, copyright and trade secret protection.
He conducts due diligence investigations in connection with intellectual property transactions, negotiates and drafts intellectual property transfer and license agreements, and documents co-existence agreements.
Jon has litigated and defended matters involving claims of trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition, trade dress infringement, false advertising, copyright infringement, cybersquatting, patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation. He has handled numerous matters before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in addition to litigating domain name disputes under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP).
He is also a general aviation pilot and a United States Coast Guard licensed Captain.
Jim Heekin focuses on healthcare, corporate and securities, and mergers and acquisitions.
Jim represents business clients, including hospitals, physicians, physician groups and providers of ancillary medical services and insurers. In addition, he regularly represents clients in aviation law matters, including aircraft purchases and sales, as well as financing and leases.
With over 28 years of legal experience, Jim Hoctor has extensive experience with the formation and reorganization of businesses, as well as with helping clients purchase and sell businesses.
Jim also has significant experience with a wide range of federal income tax issues relating to the formation, capitalization, restructuring and sale of business entities. He has experience in representing startup and early-stage companies both with respect to their capital raising efforts and legal issues relating to their operations. He has also represented investors in startup and early-stage companies.
Jim represents and has represented companies in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, distributing, hospitality, senior living, real estate, home-building, contracting and professional services. Jim also has significant experience with helping clients structure, negotiate and document joint ventures for real estate investment and development as well as for operating businesses.
“It’s a phase.”
That was Jason’s dad’s response when Jason told his dad he was going to law school – a predictable reaction, since Jason’s undergraduate degree was in Animal Science (pre-veterinary medicine). Even more startling to his dad: Jason had already studied for and taken the entrance exam, applied to law schools, and secured acceptance and student loans before ever telling his dad about his plan. More than 20 years later, his dad has long-since come around to the idea that he was meant to do this.
Jason believes there are two types of litigators—problem creators and problem solvers—and Jason is a problem solver. For his clients, that means looking for ways to achieve their goals in the most efficient, cost-effective way. Recognizing that there is a bit of an inherent tension in being a litigator, as often, the better you are at your job, the better you are at taking work off your own plate, Jason often jokes with his clients that “While I am all about the ‘Jason Johnson Full-Employment Program,’ it may not be in your best interests to implement that program, and it is your interests that must control.” It is the creativity required to be a problem solver that is one of the reasons he most enjoys litigation. Opponents who mistake his professionalism and reasonableness for weakness, though, do so at their peril, as being a problem solver and a zealous advocate are not mutually exclusive traits.
Jason is Board Certified in Business Bankruptcy by the American Board of Certification. He is a commercial litigator and the senior member of the firm’s Bankruptcy & Restructuring and Creditors' Rights practices. Jason represents commercial lending institutions, REITs, hedge funds, equity groups, financial services corporations, equipment lessors, commercial landlords, real estate developers, asset purchasers, and other secured and unsecured creditors in federal and state court matters throughout the State of Florida. His extensive experience in all aspects of bankruptcy, commercial foreclosure and workout proceedings have ranged to cases involving client assets exceeding $50-billion-dollars and claims exceeding $1-billion-dollars.
Jason also handles “white collar” criminal matters which, not surprisingly, sometimes flow from creditors’ rights cases. Additionally, Jason is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Mediator, acting as a trusted and effective mediator to help warring parties resolve their complex commercial litigation and complex bankruptcy litigation matters.
With deep roots in Florida, Jason has developed longstanding relationships in Central Florida’s business and political circles. He began his law career as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Arthur B. Briskman of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. A former President and current Board member of the Central Florida Bankruptcy Law Association, Jason is a longstanding leader in the Central Florida bankruptcy bar.
When not practicing law, Jason enjoys road cycling, Gator athletics, drinking fine bourbon, and spending time with his wife and daughter. Though he grew up surfing the warm waters off the Florida coast, he is more likely to be found on any present-day vacation sliding down the snow-covered Alps than at the beach. He is happy to discuss your legal issues, his shift from vet school to the law, or about some of his more “interesting” Animal Science experiences—just don’t ask about the latter over dinner.
Recognized by Florida Trend magazine as a “Must-Know Contact” and one of Florida’s 500 Most Influential Business Leaders, Hal Kantor has long been a leader in the firm’s Land Use, Zoning & Environmental and Real Estate Groups.
For more than 50 years, he has been advising local, national and international clients in the areas of land use approvals, development issues and all the many facets that entails, as well as real estate transactions and finance.
Often the “attorney of last resort” in difficult and complex cases, many clients turn to Hal for his creative expertise, particularly when all else has failed. Working in combination with professional consultants and the firm’s land use litigation attorneys, he has built a well-known reputation for maneuvering even the most challenging real estate and land use issues to a successful conclusion.
Hal devotes much of his personal time to arts and cultural organizations, having served as chairman of the board for WMFE/90.7 Public Broadcasting, the Orlando Museum of Art, and United Arts. He has also served on the Orange County Arts and Cultural Affairs Advisory Board, as well as many civic boards for various local governments. He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Jewish National Fund’s Tree of Life Award, among others.
"Hal Kantor has a longstanding reputation in the Florida market. He draws on his vast experience to counsel clients on land use, zoning and environmental matters. 'Hal Kantor is THE zoning and land use lawyer in Orlando.'" - Chambers USA 2022*
*We make no guarantees or promises that the reader will realize the same or similar results
With more than 30 years of experience in real estate law, including over 20 years as a Board-certified expert in the field, Gary Kaleita has acquired the ability to navigate the complexities of sophisticated real estate deals with relative ease.
Gary has a wide variety of experience in real estate development, finance and transactions, condominiums, property owners’ associations, commercial leasing, commercial lending, and title insurance.
Gary enjoys a reputation for anticipating and avoiding problems, rather than merely reacting to them. He has years of experience handling purchases, sales and financings of commercial and residential projects, including office, industrial, retail, multi-family, single-family, condominium, resort, hotel and golf course properties. Gary has prepared and negotiated contracts for sale and purchase, performed due diligence investigations, and handled all aspects of closings, including issuance of title insurance and legal opinions. He has also performed tax free exchanges (both forward and reverse) under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, and has handled closings for housing revenue bond financing transactions with the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and various local housing finance authorities.
In the area of real estate development, Gary has assisted developers in obtaining land use approvals, plat approvals and permits for various developments from a number of jurisdictions in Central Florida, including planned developments (PD’s) and Developments of Regional Impact (DRI’s). He has drafted and negotiated complex land use documents, including development agreements, cost-sharing agreements, declarations of covenants, conditions, restrictions and easements. He also has experience in mall and shopping center developments, including outparcels, and has assisted developers with the selection, formation and operation of business entities, including commercial and residential property owners associations. He has extensive experience with the formation and operation of both commercial and residential condominiums as well.
In addition, Gary has established somewhat of a boutique practice by acting as local counsel to help out-of-state lenders, investors and law firms navigate the complexities of Florida real estate law. He is frequently engaged by large national and international law firms needing assistance on a variety of issues for their clients doing business in Florida. Gary regularly provides advice on Florida law and custom pertaining to purchase and sale contracts as well as loan documents, addresses local due diligence issues, answers questions involving titles, surveys and title insurance, and provides Florida legal opinions.
Not just another real estate lawyer, before pursuing his career in law Gary served as a U.S. Naval officer on active duty for 4 years in the Mediterranean Sea, first with a patrol gunboat squadron in Italy and then at a communications station in Greece. During this period he traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. He believes his military experience is the source of the practical approach he has developed to problem solving.
Gary also took the initiative, after a homeowner in his own neighborhood was mauled by a Florida black bear in 2013, of researching what his homeowners’ association could do to limit the likelihood of future attacks. In the process, he became an expert in the subject of “bear-wise” communities and drafted a policy that his own homeowners’ association adopted, thereby becoming the first residential community to be officially recognized as bear-wise by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). He has since written and spoken extensively on this subject, serves on the FWC’s Central Bear Management Unit Stakeholder Group, and has become a resource for FWC to educate other communities on the importance of bear-wise practices in areas of Florida containing black bear habitat.
Gary focuses on finding pragmatic solutions to complex problems, recognizing that clients want sensible and realistic advice in a timely manner so they can go about their business.
Chambers USA (2015)* reports that Gary has substantial experience acting as lender’s counsel and is acclaimed by market sources as an “extremely responsive, very practical and reasonable” practitioner.
*We make no guarantees or promises that the reader will realize the same or similar results
Bill Beckett is a shareholder concentrating on Developments of Regional Impact, land use and zoning, as well as real estate transactions, development and finance.
He has represented numerous developers of large residential, commercial and mixed-use projects throughout Central Florida in complex matters involving land use entitlements, due diligence, utilities, governmental approvals, impact fees, financing, private land use covenants and restrictions, development and construction, and sales and leasing.
In addition, Bill served as vice chairman of the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority. He has often assisted clients with transportation issues, particularly with public and private partnerships involving infrastructure improvements.
Jackie Bozzuto has extensive experience mapping out strategies for real estate development and finance for the hospitality industry and beyond. She has also assisted clients with acquiring portfolios out of bankruptcy estates, as well as multi-site and multi-state purchases and sales.
Goal-oriented, organized, gifted relationship-builder and connector of people. These skills, along with decades of experience in the restaurant industry, have earned Jackie the reputation of “trusted advisor” to clients.
Born and raised around her family’s commercial real estate, investment and management business in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and later in south Florida, Jackie was exposed early on to running businesses smoothly. Her family operated restaurants for a number of years as well, and she transferred her love of all things culinary to advising clients on the operational side of the business. She helps clients, both locally and nationally, streamline their processes, develop acquisition programs and expand their portfolios.
Jackie’s experience mapping out strategies for real estate development and finance, including commercial leasing, extends beyond the hospitality industry. She has also represented clients acquiring hundred-million-dollar portfolios out of bankruptcy estates, as well as other multi-site and multi-state purchases and sales. In addition, she assists foreign entities and individuals with setting up optimal tax structures for ownership of residential and commercial property in the U.S.
Clients appreciate Jackie’s attention to detail, respect for their budgets, and commitment to getting the job done. They are also amazed by her ability to bring people together who will benefit from networking with each other. She is well connected in the Central Florida community, currently serving on the Governmental Affairs Committee of CFHLA (Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association). A frequent speaker at high-profile hospitality industry events, she is the immediate past president of CREW-Orlando (Commercial Real Estate Women) and serves on numerous other boards and committees as well.
Beyond her service to clients and community, Jackie enjoys cooking, traveling, and race car driving.
Jackie has worked with many repeat clients, including:
Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Fleming’s Prime Steak House & Wine Bar
Jeremiah’s Italian Ice
Dale Burket’s diverse real estate practice encompasses real estate transactions, development and finance, commercial leasing, solar and other renewable energy and environmental law.
Board Certified in Real Estate Law by The Florida Bar since 1992, Dale brings more than 40 years of legal experience and a particular expertise in managing large, multi-site, multi-state real estate acquisitions, sales and sale-leaseback projects. Currently he devotes a substantial portion of his practice to complex projects involving the management of real estate, tax, environmental and land use issues.
Dale has represented real estate investment trusts (REITs) in connection with mergers, securitizations, purchase of income-producing properties, and sales of properties by taxable REIT subsidiaries. He also co-chairs the firm’s Renewable Energy Group and has advised owners, lessees and developers regarding utility-scale solar farms.
Over his career, Dale has negotiated and closed several thousand sale-leaseback transactions for restaurant REITS and partnerships, including portfolio acquisitions and sales with many of the top 100 national restaurant chains, as well as 1031 tax-deferred exchanges of restaurants in sales to private investors. He also has extensive experience representing business clients in the negotiation and closing of complex senior debt facility financings and large real estate transactions, and he is particularly adept at the project management requirements of such transactions.
With an emphasis on client service, Dale has played a leading role in the firm’s expanded commitment to partnering with clients on alternative and special fee arrangements that share risk and promote efficiency and collaboration. He has also been a long-time advocate for incorporating “green” and sustainable initiatives into his clients’ projects, to both preserve the environment and to curb costs. He has written about sustainability issues in the commercial context, including “green” commercial leases, existing building retrofits, renewable energy sources, water conservation and Central Florida’s growing public transportation infrastructure.
A lifelong musician, Dale’s love for music combined with his college training as a music teacher have led to more than 15 years of volunteer involvement with the Florida Young Artists Orchestra (now a part of Central Florida Community Arts), serving as both a board member and three-term president. He also serves as a board member of the Winter Park Chamber Music Academy and is a Conductor for the Maitland Symphony Orchestra, a unique Central Florida community orchestra.
As chair of the firm’s Distressed Real Estate Solutions Group, Casey Cavanaugh represents commercial lenders in real estate and finance, asset based, construction, development, syndicated and many other types of loan transactions.
In addition to his work with commercial lenders, Casey also focuses a substantial portion of his legal practice on representing buyers, sellers, developers, and landlords of all types of real estate. He has represented all sizes of institutional lenders in commercial loan transactions ranging in amounts from $1.0 million to over $100 million and involving anything from very large multi-use condominium projects to small business loans.