The Legal 500

Greenberg Traurig LLP

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United States

Top-tier recommendations

  • United States: Real estate and construction > Real estate


United States: Finance

Within Corporate restructuring (including bankruptcy), tier 4

Greenberg Traurig LLP has ‘some of the most talented legal professionals in the market’ and ‘understands the business needs of an organization every bit as much as it understands the legal needs’. Although the departure of group co-chair Bruce Zirinsky in 2014 to Southwinds Strategies was a significant loss for the team, it retains significant top-level strength. In New York, Nancy Mitchell is highlighted for ‘her rich experience and background, which are unparalleled in this industry’. In Miami, Mark Bloom is ‘one of the most prepared lawyers around’, and Chicago-based Keith Shapiro is noted for his ‘impeccable experience and expertise’. Considered an ‘eminent and “go-to" firm for complex and sophisticated cases’, the team has strong experience in acting for debtors, creditors, lenders and acquirers of distressed assets in bankruptcy and restructuring situations. In a recent case, Indianapolis Downs LLC and Indiana Downs Capital instructed the firm in Chapter 11 proceedings involving $600m in debt. On the contentious side, the firm is representing a group of bondholders holding a substantial amount of the bonds issued by General Motors Nova Scotia in $1.2bn litigation relating to an earlier settlement allowing General Motors Canada to avoid filing Canadian insolvency proceedings; representatives of the unsecured creditors’ committee are challenging the settlement.

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Within Structured finance, tier 4

Familiar with virtually all asset classes in the mortgage, asset-backed, municipal and structured products markets, Greenberg Traurig LLP’s structured finance and derivatives team has recently been particularly active in private deals and timeshare securitizations, auto loans and tax liens. It predominantly acts for the issuer side and has a solid track record of bringing first-time issuers onto the market. The practice straddles domestic matters as well as international and cross-border work, with a certain focus on Central and South America. With over two decades’ experience, Mark Michigan leads the practice from New York; he recently advised Marriott Vacations Worldwide on the issuance of timeshare loan-backed securities, and assisted Credomatic International Corporation with the first cross-border Central American regional future flow securitization of American Express merchant voucher receivables. Another highlight was advising Rabo AgriFinance on the securitization of agricultural loans. In Chicago, Trent Murch also handles public transactions and a high volume of work for CNH Capital. Todd Miller is based in Florida, the firm’s place of origin, and focuses on auto as well as credit card securitizations and timeshare loans amongst other matters.

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United States: Industry focus

Within Environment: litigation, tier 4

Greenberg Traurig LLP is ‘always on top of every issue’, delivering ‘high value for money’ and a ‘very responsive’ service on the environmental side. It is representing Mosaic Fertilizer in litigation filed by environmental groups including the Sierra Club and the People for Protecting Peace River, challenging a CWA permit issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers which allowed the company to extract phosphate ore from a basin property in Florida; the plaintiffs alleged that the Corps violated its duties under the CWA and other statutes when issuing the permit – after three years, the district court ruled in 2013 that the groups had not demonstrated the violation, and the permit was reinstated. The firm also continues to represent a responsible party in relation to a large sediment Superfund site in the Lower Fox River. Tampa-based David Weinstein chairs the nationwide environment and toxic tort practice, and the sizeable team also includes the ‘thorough’ and ‘accurate’ Chris Neumann in Denver; Philadelphia-based David Mandelbaum, who is a ‘great tactician’ and ‘extremely knowledgeable’; and Chicago-based Frank Citera, who is ‘disarmingly bright and insightful’.

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Within Healthcare: health insurers, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a second tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLPknows the industry, understands the business context, and provides top-notch advice in a timely fashion’. Thomas Bond, based in Austin, has been assisting the Texas Association of Health Plans representing the industry before the Texas Department of Insurance and the Texas Health & Human Services Commission, while Harold Iselin advised Amerigroup on its managed long-term care contract with a health maintenance organization (HMO). Albany-based Iselin is ‘an exceptional lawyer with both breadth and depth of knowledge, which he delivers with full understanding of the business and regulatory contexts’; and Tricia Asaro, also based in Albany, is ‘an excellent lawyer – an “A-Class” problem solver dedicated to her clients’.

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United States: Intellectual property

Within Copyright, tier 5

Although it lost Kenneth Steinthal to King & Spalding LLP, Greenberg Traurig LLP has Ian Ballon in Los Angeles, who focuses on technology and internet-related copyright litigation and has been involved in number of notable cases. Recent highlights include acting for Demand Media to obtain favorable summary judgment against the plaintiff, which was affirmed on appeal; the case was the first major ruling based on the Second Circuit ruling in Viacom v YouTube, regarding the DMCA safe harbor for user-generated content.

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Within Trademarks: litigation, tier 5

Greenberg Traurig LLP has an extensive team handling federal and state court litigation as well as TTAB and other opposition and enforcement proceedings. Key attorneys include global IP chair Alan Sutin, who is based in New York, and in trademarks practice head Susan Heller and IP litigator Ian Ballon. It has acted for Google as defendant in a case brought by an individual claiming rights to the Android Data trademark and alleging infringement, winning for the client on summary judgment (it has since been appealed by the plaintiff). More recently, the group successfully represented the New York Jets in a trademark infringement case filed by sports marketing company Action Ink, with a summary judgment ruling that the plaintiff no longer owned the trademark to ‘Ultimate Fan’. It also acted for Hero Nutritionals in litigation regarding the Yummi Bears trademark. Other key clients include Ralph Lauren, Kellogg Company and WW Grainger.

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United States: Labor and employment

Within Employee benefits and executive compensation, tier 4

Greenberg Traurig LLP advises on the design and drafting of qualified and non-qualified retirement plans and the different types of trusts used to fund those benefits. It also advises on health and welfare plans (including life and disability coverage), cafeteria plans, equity plans, severance pay, executive employment agreements, and executive compensation. Clients include Xilinx, Ross Stores Inc and Republic Services Inc. Miami-based Steven Lapidus, ‘a great thinker in this area’, and ERISA expert Jeffrey Mamorksy in New York, co-chair the firm’s EBEC group. Richard Sirus in Chicago, Terry Moore in New York, Renée O’Rourke in Denver, and Ian Herbert in Washington DC, are also recommended. Chicago-based Leslie Klein has the ability to ‘navigate the hardest issues in the area, even the prickliest of government proceedings’.

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Within Immigration, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a second tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLP‘s ‘level of service is superior to most’ as it has a ‘team of experts that are thoroughly knowledgeable in all areas of immigration law and have extensive contacts at the DOL, USCIS and consulates that are extremely helpful when problems arise’. Additionally, it ‘provides excellent analysis to achieve strategies that meet business needs for a global company, has exceptional response times and a competitive fee structure’. The group focuses on strategic immigration planning for the international relocation of personnel both from and into the US. It represents clients before the USCIS, the DOL, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of State and is experienced in the full range of business immigration sponsorship categories, anti-discrimination rules to reduce or eliminate risk of employment litigation, employer sanction cases, and I-9 and E-Verify compliance. Of note is the firm’s EB-5 team, which collaborates closely with the firm’s corporate and securities, real estate, labor and employment, and tax practices. In McLean, Laura Reiff is recommended ‘for her expertise and knowledge of legislative and agency matters and is very involved in the proposed comprehensive immigration reform legislation’. Martha Schoonover and Pamela Mak are also highly recommended. The firm expanded its Atlanta office with the arrival of the former co-chair of Littler Mendelson, P.C.’s global mobility and immigration practice group, Ian MacDonald and his team. Oscar Levin has retired.

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Within Labor and employment litigation, tier 4

Greenberg Traurig LLP is ‘an excellent firm that offers top-notch employment advice, in particular on wage and hour issues’. The firm represented Genesis Healthcare and Eldercare Resources in putative nationwide collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state-wide class actions under Pennsylvania state law that challenged the company’s use of automatic meal-break deduction; the case went to the US Supreme Court where the Third Circuit decision was reversed and the case was dismissed. Philadelphia-based James Boudreau attracts praise from a client, who opined ‘no one knows more about wage and hour collective actions; he is experienced, knowledgeable, patient, and very easy to work with’. Tampa/Orlando-based Peter Zinober is ‘a great litigator with a wealth of knowledge and experience’. New Jersey-based Kristine Feher is ‘obviously expert in her field but what distinguishes her is that she is a persuasive drafter and is also able to communicate the issues to business clients very effectively’. Laurent Badoux, who recently joined the Phoenix office from Littler Mendelson, P.C. is ‘responsive, alert, correct, careful yet aggressive’.

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Within Labor-management relations, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a third tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLP provides ‘superior representation’. Work highlights included assisting Time Inc with negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement; acting for American Medical Response (AMR) in a case before the NLRB relating to whether AMR was a healthcare institution under the NLRA; and representing Entergy Corporation in a dispute concerning a lockout of its employees. In Miami, Joseph Flemingstands out for his experience, intelligence and ability to discern the clients best interests’. New York’s Jonathan Sulds, Boston’s Terence McCourt and Atlanta’s Erik Rodriguez are also recommended.

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Within Workplace and employment counseling, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a third tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s team is ‘timely, provides precise guidance and input, and the attention to detail is outstanding’. The firm has excellent strength in depth, with ‘an associate pool stronger than some competitors’. It recently assisted TV One with an employment audit and re-wrote its employment policies and procedures. It also advised Dynis on employee disciplinary issues and terminations, workplace-violence policies, and non-competition and non-solicitation agreements. The firm has provided training services for nearly 7000 supervisors of the state of Arizona to address fundamental changes in the personnel rules surrounding employees of the government, moving from a workforce mostly covered by civil service rules, to a workforce mostly at-will. Washington DC-based Johnine Barnes has ‘a wealth of knowledge and experience in employment matters’. Both Wendy Lario and Kristine Feher in New Jersey are ‘professional, knowledgeable and provide complete legal guidance and authority on complex issues. They are also extremely communicative in changes in any law that may affect businesses.’ Philadelphia-based Kelly Dobbs Bunting is also recommended.

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United States: Litigation

Within Product liability and mass tort defense: consumer products (including tobacco), tier 4

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s nationwide product liability practice is praised for its trial expertise and has recently represented a number of impressive clients including Lorillard and Sears. Chicago-based Gretchen Miller and New Jersey-based David Sellinger recently represented Walmart in a class action filed in the Northern District of Illinois, alleging unjust enrichment on grounds that the company’s advertisements for its crib products were misleading; the firm secured a summary judgment on behalf of the client. It also continues to represent a number of homebuilders in litigation involving allegedly defective Chinese-manufactured drywall. Francis Citera and Robert Herrington co-chair the practice from Chicago and San Francisco respectively.

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Within Product liability and mass tort defense: pharmaceuticals and medical devices, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a second tier firm,

The ‘phenomenalGreenberg Traurig LLP has a ‘very strong practice’ in this space. Practice head Lori Cohen is ‘fantastic’ and ‘has achieved a number of good results’; she is acting for Medtronic in state and federal courts and has achieved several dismissals on pre-emption grounds over the last year. The firm is also representing generic drug manufacturer Sandoz in various pieces of litigation in state and federal courts; for example, in the Metoclopramide litigation it serves as national coordinating counsel as well as local counsel in certain jurisdictions including Pennsylvania and California. Clarence Davis, who is experienced in serving as first chair trial attorney, joined the firm in 2013 from Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP. Ginger Pigott, who is in the firm’s Los Angeles office, and Victoria Davis Lockard are also recommended. Attorneys are based in Atlanta unless stated.

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Within Product liability and mass tort defense: toxic tort, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a second tier firm,

David Weinstein leads the 37 fee-earner team at Greenberg Traurig LLP, praised for its ‘pragmatism’ and particular expertise in defending claims related to soil, water and air pollution. Recent mandates include advising clients in the energy sector in long-running MDL concerning MTBE groundwater contamination; Washington DC-based Brent Allen is leading advice to a refinery operator in litigation arising from the MDL. In Denver, Christopher Neumann is ‘thorough, very knowledgeable and super responsive’. A complementary asset is the firm’s environment litigation department, which expanded in 2013 with the arrival of Steven Russo in New York, Craig Richardson and John Voorhees in Denver, and Christopher Bell, who divides his time between the firm’s Houston and Washington, DC offices.

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Within Securities: shareholder litigation, tier 5

Greenberg Traurig LLP has a broad practice spanning the US with ‘highly experienced’ partners such as Bradford Kaufman and Josepth Coates in West Palm Beach; William Briendel, who leads the broker-dealer practice, Karen Bitar and Robert Horowitz in New York; David Coulson in Miami; and Steven Malina in Chicago. It advises investment banks and broker-dealers on numerous FINRA arbitrations. Terry Weiss in Atlanta and George Sullivan in White Plains advised Morgan Keegan & Company on appealing against the vacating of an arbitration award. Experienced trial lawyer Pamela Smith joined the Chicago office from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

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Within Supreme Court and appellate, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a third tier firm,

The team at Greenberg Traurig LLPdoes extraordinary work. The firm’s ability to understand the issues in depth, and present them simply, clearly, and in a compelling fashion results in verdicts for the client that outweigh the costs’. The firm represented Sears, Roebuck & Company in Learmonth v Sears, Roebuck and Company before the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in which the Court affirmed the constitutionality of Mississippi’s $1m statutory cap on non-economic damages. Co-chair Elliot Scherkerhas a clear and analytic mind, and an affable personality’, and other co-chairs Mark Solomons, Israel Rubin and new arrival and former Senior Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals Carmen Beauchamp Cipatrick also have superb reputations.

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Within Trade secrets, tier 4

Kurt Kappes and Richard McCrea co-head the team at Greenberg Traurig LLP. Highlights included representing Pyro Spectaculars Inc in Pyro Spectaculars Inc, Pyro Spectaculars North Inc, and Pyro Events Inc v Steven Souza in California; the firm’s request to conduct expedited discovery was granted, and the court allowed forensic examination of all of the defendants’ and their wives’ computers. The firm is also representing Michael Holton in an action filed by his former employer and its subsidiary in an action brought to stop him from joining a competitor, following the termination of his employment with Physician Oncology Services and Vantage Oncology.

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United States: Mergers, acquisitions and buyouts

Within M&A: large deals ($1bn-5bn), Greenberg Traurig LLP is a third tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLP stands out for its work for several of the world’s leading investment banks and financial advisers in M&A transactions. Senior chairman of the global M&A group Dennis Block in New York has handled numerous M&A transactions, both hostile and friendly, on behalf of acquirors, targets, and investment banks. Miami and Tel Aviv-based Gary Epstein is the global corporate and securities chair; New York-based David Schwartzbaum, co-chair of the global M&A steering committee, acts for investment banking and financial advisory firms in M&A transactions; and Alan Annex chairs the New York corporate and securities group. Recent work for the firm includes advising Danone on an agreement to acquire an equity interest of over 90% in Happy Family, a US organic baby food company.

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United States: Real estate and construction

Within Construction, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a second tier firm,

At Greenberg Traurig LLP, more than 50 lawyers in 19 locations throughout the US make up the firm’s full-service construction practice, which handles a balanced mix of transactional, contractual and contentious matters, and can draw support from the firm’s growing environmental group. The construction litigation practice is co-chaired by Robert Epstein, who handles public contracting matters; Michael Hornreich, who concentrates on litigation; and Jeffrey Walsh, who focuses on business litigation and trials. The team also advises on design, development and construction contracts, and has particular expertise in Chinese drywall and toxic mould issues, as well as in dealing with Occupational Safety and Health Administration cases. It acts for private and public sector clients, and experienced a significant uptick in the PPP arena, where the construction group is assisted by the firm’s strong public finance practice, as well as a growth in transactional matters. The firm is also attracting more instructions from a number of national private entities involved in larger projects. In a standout matter, it represented Municipal Bond Insurance Association (MBIA) regarding the recovery of $52.8m in repair costs from the property manager of a University of Central Florida (UCFF) student housing complex, which was notable for being the second time the team had successfully compelled payment, the first time on behalf of UCFF against MBIA to fund the repair of water and termite damage to the student complex. Hornreich led on that matter. In addition, the firm is acting as lead counsel to CityCenter Land in claims in excess of $400m relating to one of the largest mixed-use developments in the US. In another highlight, Epstein is acting as lead counsel to Triple Five Group on a $2bn retail and entertainment development in the New Jersey Meadowlands.

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Within Land use/zoning, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a second tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s 41-lawyer practice spans 12 offices nationwide and demonstrates a particularly strong presence in Florida. The firm recently advised I-75/Palm River Road LLC on its Bass Pro Shops – Estuary Project in Hillsborough County, Florida, including the creation, negotiation and execution of the project plan. Other work saw a team led by Debbie Orshefsky in Fort Lauderdale and Jay Segal in New York advise On Top of the World Communities on all aspects of the development of its 1.3m-acre project. The client roster also includes All Aboard Florida and Portman-CMC.

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Within Real estate, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a first tier firm,

With ‘a vast footprint for real estate matters’, Greenberg Traurig LLP’s 200-lawyer practice spans 29 offices across the US, with particular strength in New York, Chicago and Miami. The team has a ‘particular flair for real estate work’ and its ability to provide ‘consistent, in-depth and focused advice’ on ‘high-profile and complex deals’. It is led by the ‘excellent’ New York-based Robert Ivanhoe and the ‘knowledgeableCorey Light, based in Chicago. Light led advice to a consortium of investors led by Cerberus Capital Management, together with Kimco Realty Corporation, Schottenstein Stores Corporation, Lubert-Adler Partners and Klaff Realty, regarding the $3.3bn acquisition of five supermarket chains from Supervalu. Ivanhoe led a team advising Chetrit Group on the $1.1bn purchase of the Sony building at 550 Madison Avenue, and steered a 30-strong team advising RFR Realty LLC and New York Observer publisher and real estate entrepreneur, Jared Kushner on the joint venture, acquisition and financing of a $375m portfolio from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Meanwhile, the ‘extremely responsiveStephen Rabinowitz led work on behalf of Brooklyn Bowl, negotiating joint ventures regarding its expansion into Las Vegas and London. London and Miami-based Matthew Gorson led a number of transactions on behalf of Swire Properties regarding the Brickell City Center project. Rebecca Burnham, based in Phoenix, is leading work for RP HFL, a Sunbelt Holdings joint venture, and Ryan Companies US Inc regarding the sale of a key parcel of land and negotiations relating to the Marina Heights office and retail project.

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United States: Tax

Within International tax, tier 4

The ‘excellentGreenberg Traurig LLP has offices in the US and Europe, which work cohesively to provide clients with comprehensive international tax advice. New York-based Mary Voce chairs the international tax practice, and other key figures include Seth Entin in Miami, who concentrates on federal income tax with an emphasis on international matters, and the ‘very knowledgeable’ Kenneth Zuckerbrot in New York, who is ‘extremely client oriented’. Work highlights included advising several leading Israeli hedge funds in connection with their FATCA compliance. The team is also advising a leading Brazilian bank on cross-border transactions with affiliates around the world. Ozzie Schindler in Miami and Robert Simon in Washington DC are also recommended.

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Within Tax controversy, tier 5

Greenberg Traurig LLP has a ‘very effective’ and ‘efficient’ tax practice, with a ‘responsive’ and ‘highly professional’ team covering the spectrum of SALT and federal tax matters. Recent work includes representing a client in the US Tax Court in proceedings relating to the issue of capital gains versus guaranteed payments. The ‘very knowledgeableBarbara Kaplan, in New York, has an excellent reputation and is particularly noted for her work on voluntary disclosure matters. Also recommended are Scott Fink, who specializes in civil and criminal federal tax controversies and litigation; and San Francisco-based G Michelle Ferreira, a former tax litigator for the IRS who acts for clients in disputes with the IRS and state and local tax agencies such as the California Franchise Tax Board.

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United States

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