Benchmark Litigation's Regional Spotlight is a quarterly feature highlighting the capabilities, bench strength, and depth of litigation capacity across several different states, maintaining somewhat of a regional stronghold. Firms chosen for this feature demonstrate a healthy composite of litigation stars across ranked across several practice areas in at least two states.
The first firm to be highlighted, Akerman LLP, has blossomed to 24 offices nationwide. Its largest footprint is in the Southeast, where the firm has 10 offices in Florida alone. Satisfied clients are numerous, with one in particular noting, “Akerman’s resources and dedication to service are second to none. And they are flexible on fee arrangements! You don’t get that very often with a firm of Akerman’s size.” The firm is also celebrated for its capabilities on the international stage, particularly in Latin America, and is distinguished by a high percentage of litigators with Spanish fluency. One client raves, “This is a firm with outstanding listening skills coupled with excellent legal skills both in and out of the courtroom on a nationwide basis. [They are] one of the finest in tactical legal strategy analysis to finalize, document, and collect on various types of legal actions,” and “this is an outstanding team of professionals who care deeply about their clients.”
Miami-based securities chair Brian Miller represented OPKO Health in the defense of six class actions that were filed in Nevada state court seeking to enjoin the $500 million merger between OPKO Health and Prolor Biotech, two publicly traded biotech companies. The shareholders alleged that the consideration being paid was unfair and that the transaction was a controlling person acquisition because three of the shareholders and directors of Prolor also were shareholders of OPKO. The firm successfully defeated the plaintiffs' motion to enjoin the shareholder vote and closing. The Nevada court found that the plaintiffs had not established a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, and therefore the business judgment rule applied to review the Prolor directors' decision to sell the company. Acting with Miller on this matter was Michael Marsh, who attracts the praise of his peers. One confers, “I view him as one of their best people. I would keep an eye on him, because I think the sky’s the limit for where he could go.” A client also attests, “As long as Michael is with Akerman, I will use that firm. I trust him to be honest with me and advocate vigorously to protect my interests.” As lead counsel, Marsh recently obtained a jury verdict in favor of a client, an individual real estate investor being sued for nearly $10 million in compensatory damages, in addition to a claim for punitive damages. The case involved a $21 million property in downtown Miami and 8 days of trial. In the Tallahassee office, Katherine “Kathi” Giddings is heralded as “an appellate superstar, who enjoys a great reputation with peers and clients alike.” In West Palm Beach, litigation head Lawrence Rochefort is championed by a client as “an excellent attorney who takes the concerns of his clients seriously and is proactive in protecting them.
In Viriginia, the firm maintains an office in Tysons Corner, a stone's throw from Washington, DC, where the firm also houses a diverse group. In the Tysons Corner office, Stephen Hurlbut serves as the managing shareholder brings more than 25 years of experience handling construction and government contract litigation with an emphasis on resolution of delay and other schedule-related claims.