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12 Lowndes Attorneys Named to Orlando Family Magazine’s “Awesome Attorneys 2021”

February 11, 2021

ORLANDO, FL – Lowndes is pleased to announce that 12 of the firm's attorneys have been named to the Orlando Family Magazine’s “Awesome Attorneys 2021” list. The annual list of the leading lawyers in Greater Orlando is selected based on nominations from industry peers and magazine readers.

Commercial and Civil Litigation 

Ronald D. Edwards

Shawn Rader

James S. Toscano

James E. Walson

Computer Law

Drew Sorrell

Construction Law 

Michael Gibbons

Environmental Law  

Jonathan Huels

Intellectual Property Law  

Jon Gibbs

Labor & Employment Law  

Rachel Gebaide

Real Estate Tax Appeals Law

Brendan Lynch

Tax Law

Matt O’Kane

Amanda Wilson


View the full list


Ronald

Ronny Edwards focuses his practice on complex business, banking, contract, and real property litigation. With an education that combines both accounting and law, he brings a valuable perspective to matters that require an understanding of financial statements, such as business transactions gone wrong, national and state banking matters, shareholder/partner disputes, fraudulent transfer claims and complex damages analyses. Ronny understands that legal problems are first and foremost business problems and counsels clients from both a business and legal perspective before, during and after litigation. In those situations where a business solution is not achievable, Ronny’s extensive courtroom experience allows him to aggressively and effectively represent his clients’ interests. 

In his practice, Ronny regularly represents national and state banks, developers, commercial landlords, business owners, franchisors and franchisees in a variety of litigation matters. He also has significant experience litigating dealer supply agreements and handling other issues in the fuel and convenience store industry, and with domesticating out-of-state and out-of-country judgments in the State of Florida. Other clients include professional athletes and professional sports organizations.  

Ronny is an accomplished litigator who handles a broad variety of high-stakes cases at the trial and appellate levels throughout the State of Florida.  He has served as lead trial counsel on bench trials, jury trials and arbitrations, and as lead appellate counsel in a number of appeals.  

When he is not in the office, Ronny enjoys spending time with his wife and three children and squeezing in a game of golf. 

Shawn

Shawn Rader focuses his practice on real estate litigation, commercial litigation, commercial leases and senior housing, and is a member of the firm’s practice groups that deal with these topics.


A frequent author and speaker, Shawn is a charter member of the American Bar Association Title Insurance Litigation Committee, serving as its first Vice-chairman in 1993, and as its second Chairman the following year. He is a member of the Florida Land Title Association, where he is a charter member of the Title Claims Roundtable.

He has had four articles published in the Florida Bar Journal, and was the co-author of the Title Insurance Law Article in the ABA Tort & Insurance Law Journal, Vol 31, No. 2 (Winter 1996).  Shawn served as Chairman of the Florida Bar Grievance Committee for Orange County and also served as President of the Orange County Bar Association Legal Aid Society.  He was Chairman of the City of Orlando Civil Service Board, served as Chairman of the City of Orlando Chapter 57 Board, and Vice Chairman of the 2012 Orange County Charter Review Commission.  Shawn is also a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.


James

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

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.

Drew

Drew Sorrell is a seasoned business lawyer with particular expertise in technology, cybersecurity and privacy issues. With an MBA in marketing and finance, he approaches clients’ legal issues with both a practical business bent and a self-described geeky love of technology.

Drew enjoys working with CLO’s, CIO’s, CTO’s and technology owners at businesses of all sizes in every phase of their legal needs. He assists them on the front end, drafting and negotiating software licenses, Internet service provider agreements, data privacy/breach policies and procedures, and employment/services agreements as well as the indemnity and insurance coverage related to those agreements. He advises clients on the GDPR and state-specific regulations, penetration testing and security audits. He also has years of experience handling matters when things go wrong, including data breaches, privacy issues and other technology or software problems.

A founding member of the Sedona Conference Group 11 (Privacy/Data Security), Drew is frequently asked to speak and write on legal and ethical issues arising from technology, including unfair and deceptive trade practices, data breach, privacy, data governance, and technology contract drafting. He is chair of the firm’s multi-disciplinary Data Governance Group as well as the past chair of the Orange County Bar Association’s Intellectual Property, Business Law and Technology Committees.

Outside the technology arena, Drew has substantial expertise in both contracts and commercial litigation. In addition, he has experience assisting clients with government contracting. Drew began his legal career as a judicial clerk to Senior United States District Judge John H. Moore II, in Jacksonville, Florida, and then practiced with an AmLaw top 10 firm in Manhattan. After a stint as an assistant county attorney responsible for day-to-day legal advice and litigating civil issues for the county, Drew returned to Lowndes. Drew is admitted to practice in Florida, New York and the District of Columbia.

Born in Florida, Drew roots for his adopted football team—the FSU Seminoles (because neither Rollins nor George Washington has a football team). He is a proud father of two sons who play basketball and soccer, make great grades and generally keep him on his toes.

Michael

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.

Jonathan

Jonathan Huels has a broad background in environmental law, land use and zoning. He works with local governments and other federal and state regulatory authorities to address the needs of his clients related to environmental permitting and compliance, brownfields, petroleum and hazardous waste assessment and remediation, zoning, comprehensive plans, concurrency, Developments of Regional Impact (DRI's), golf course and other types of property redevelopment, due diligence, and property rights. 

A member and past chairman of the City of Orlando's Municipal Planning Board, Jonathan is also a past member and chairman of the Orange County Environmental Protection Commission. In addition, Jonathan previously served on the Executive Council of the Environmental and Land Use Section of The Florida Bar from 2014-2020. He is an active member of the Coastal Conservation Association.

Huels holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in environmental science from the University of Florida and the University of Idaho. He received his law degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Prior to attending law school, Jonathan worked as a research scientist with the South Florida Water Management District.

Jon

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.

Rachel

Rachel D. Gebaide is a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and chair of the Labor and Employment Law Group. She is an experienced employment litigator and adviser, counseling companies in the management of their human resources issues.


Rachel regularly represents employers in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies in defending against claims involving allegations of employment discrimination and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), and other employment laws. She also defends discrimination claims arising under the Fair Housing Act.  

In addition to her litigation practice, Rachel drafts and reviews employee handbooks, employment agreements, non-competition agreements, separation agreements, and other personnel documents. She regularly advises clients regarding workplace issues and compliance with the FMLA, FLSA, WARN Act, the Affordable Care Act, and other employment laws. Rachel also has extensive experience in conducting independent investigations. 

A frequent speaker, Rachel often writes articles on developing issues in labor and employment law for client-focused publications, legal industry news outlets, and the firm’s employment law blog

Rachel is a member of the Labor and Employment Law Sections of the American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association. She is also a member of the Orange County Bar Association, having served as Chair of the Labor and Employment Law Committee. Rachel is active in the Litigation and Employment Law Group of Meritas, a global alliance of independent law firms. 

She also serves as Executive Vice President of Congregation Ohev Shalom and Vice President, Legal of TOP Jewish Foundation. 

S. Brendan

A Virginia native originally with aspirations to become a journalist, Brendan Lynch fell in love with Florida and has made it his home since 2005. He represents both commercial and residential property land owners, as well as tenant business owners, in issues of property tax valuation and eminent domain/condemnation.


Brendan assists property owners throughout Florida with their property tax appeals, including assessment reviews, direct negotiations with county property appraisers, appeals to the Value Adjustment Board, and trial and appellate court proceedings. His clients include apartment projects, big box stores, condominiums, commercial strip centers, hotels, residences, student housing, vacant land, and other retail buildings.

With broad experience handling many different types of exemption applications, Brendan often assists clients from the application stage through challenges, to denial of any exemption, through trial and appellate court proceedings. These exemption applications include agricultural, conservation easements, healthcare, homestead, military housing, non-profit, religious, and senior living.

Typically, the eminent domain cases involve a governmental entity (Florida Department of Transportation, county, city, expressway authority, or other state agency) or private utility with condemnation powers seeking to take land from the property owners. Interestingly, Brendan has also represented condemning authorities on special projects – bringing a perspective from both sides of the table.

Brendan’s love for his adopted hometown of Orlando is reflected in his commitment to the community and its cultural diversity. A long-time advocate for the arts and current Chair of the United Arts of Central Florida’s Board of Directors, Brendan recently helped steer the largest Collaborative Campaign in the organization’s history (over $3M). He has also served in leadership roles for the Adult Literacy League, the Orange County Teen Court, and the Heart of Florida United Way.

ICONIC CASES

  • Achieved property tax assessment reduction for internationally-known hotel from $421 million to $259 million, resulting in millions of dollars of savings.
  • Represented a national building contractor in its application for military housing exemptions, resulting in a change in Florida law and a savings of $17 million dollars for the client.

RECENT NEWS & INSIGHTS

Matthew

Matt O’Kane has a broad background in federal tax, Florida state tax, estate planning and U.S. taxation of foreign investors. He counsels clients on a broad range of federal tax issues and business planning issues from entity selection and formation to dissolutions.


Matt advises clients on Florida state tax issues and represents clients in controversies involving the Florida Department of Revenue. He has lectured on Florida sales tax, documentary stamp tax and intangible tax.

He regularly counsels clients on a broad range of wealth transfer issues including estates, gift and generation skipping transfer tax planning, irrevocable trust planning, charitable planning, and family limited partnerships. He also advises nonresident clients with regard to their U.S. investments.

Amanda

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.

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