Constituted of a brawny network of outfits up and down the East Coast, Akerman focuses its litigation vigor within the Southeast and boasts additional offices in New York and throughout the Northeast. The firm’s team is continuously recognized for its formidable presence in jurisdictions around the country, and Akerman’s clients – numerous of which have regularly retained the firm’s trial and litigation services for over a decade – applaud en masse “the depth and breadth of their expertise,” one even noting that, “There is nothing else that they can do to improve service.” Among the most highly esteemed of Akerman’s several and diverse areas of practice are its commercial, labor & employment, and securities litigation groups.
Akerman’s Florida offices, including locations in Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, Naples, Jacksonville, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and Boca Raton, are among both its most active and revered. In Jacksonville, bankruptcy and commercial specialist Christian George, serving as office managing partner, leads the charge. Centralizing his practice around the upholding of the rights of shareholders, equity investors, corporate affiliates, and companies from local businesses to Fortune 500s,George attends to such matters as, inter alia, fraud disputes, breach of contract, tortious interference, misappropriation of trade secrets, class actions, and breach of fiduciary duty. He recently served as defense counsel to SouthState Bank (formerly known as CenterState) in a spate of discrete matters, all of which were successfully defended against, including a lender liability lawsuit which sought a seven-figure damages award. The matter, arising in connection with allegations against SouthState, which purported that the institution aided and abetted an international wire fraud and boiler room operation, was swiftly defeated by George and the Akerman team utilizing a forceful motion practice which obtained early dismissal of all claims prior to answering the operative complaint or attending any court hearings.
Among the firm’s most active partners, complex commercial and securities litigator Michael Marsh is accomplished both as litigation counselor and trial representation. One of several notable matters successfully argued by Marsh in the last year, he recently secured an appellate victory on behalf of Catalyst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in litigation against the US Food and Drug Administration, obtaining a ruling which granted protection under the Orphan Drug Act fora medication produced by Catalyst for the treatment of the rare, autoimmune condition known as Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome.
Other key partners in Akerman’s Florida offices include litigation chair Lawrence Rochefort, environment and natural resources chair Robyn Neely, founder and chair of the financial services, data, and technology practice William Heller, deputy chair of litigation Katherine Giddings, appellate practice chair Gerald Cope, and cannabis practice group chair Jonathan Robbins.
Hunton Andrews Kurth, the product of a recent merger between two prominent firms (the Southeast institution Hunton & Williams and the Texas-centric Andrews Kurth), with the combined entity bringing together each firm’s strengths in a complementary fashion and doubles down on its comprehensive coverage regionally. Clients cheer the firm’s “expertise in our area and consistent excellence in client service and communications exceeded expectations,” calling out the individual lawyers’ “thorough, responsive and concise work product,” and testifying that they are “always available”.
Hunton’s concentration of litigation talent in its Richmond office is particularly notable. Mike Shebelskie garners praise from well beyond Virginia and is noted nationally for his presence in high-stakes matters often containing an environmental element, an area in which Hunton & Williams was particularly well versed. Shebelskie has cases with Elbert Lin, another Richmond partner who has been particularly visible as of late. Lin argued for Maui County at the Supreme Court in a case exploring the parameters of the Clean Water Act, Lin triumphed in a favorable decision that was rendered in April 2020. “This is a milestone,” claims a peer. “It’s time to recognize Elbert Lin!” Another environmental litigator (and leader of the practice) based in the DC office, Deidre Duncan led a team that won a significant victory for Mosaic Fertilizer in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in a suit challenging the federal authorizations and reviews issued for Mosaic’s South Pasture Extension mine under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act (CWA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA.)The underlying suit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups, raised more than a dozen claims under NEPA, CWA and ESA. The Hunton team defeated those claims in the district court in November 2018, and the environmental groups appealed. In a comprehensive opinion, a divided panel of the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision and, in doing so, established important precedent governing the scope of NEPA reviews.
Kelly Sandill in the firm’s Houston office led an all-female firm team that scored a milestone win in a hotly contested lawsuit for the Houston Police Officers’ Union when, in May 2019 after months of litigation, a Harris County District Court Judge awarded summary judgment in the client’s favor by ruling that Proposition B, which was a City Charter Amendment passed by the voters that tied firefighter pay to police pay, was preempted by Texas state law and unconstitutional. The ruling follows a year’s worth of contentious debate surrounding Proposition B and the financial effect on the City of Houston and Houston police officers. In the Miami office, all-purpose commercial litigator Sam Danon continues to be viewed as “a force,” with one local peer elaborating, “Sam is very savvy – he’s a native Spanish speaker, which you need to be around here, but Sam is particularly good at using this to his advantage not only in litigation but for building business.”
The firm’s geographic footprint is not limited to the South. Partners in the firm’s Boston office Harry Manion and Martin Gaynor led a team that won a June 2019 jury verdict of more than $20 million against the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center over dredging related to construction of a marine terminal.