Akerman LLP > Fort Lauderdale, United States > Firm Profile

Akerman LLP
United States

M&A/corporate and commercial > M&A: middle-market (sub-$500m) Tier 1

With extensive experience on both buy and sell-side mandates, Akerman LLP handles an impressive volume of middle-market deals ranging from M&A to buyouts, spin-offs, distressed company transactions and growth equity investments. Besides acting for privately held businesses, public companies and emerging clients, the Florida-based firm is also a go-to choice for private equity firms and their portfolio companies. Jonathan Awner in Miami is nationally recognised for his track record in the automotive sector, where he represents clients on strategic M&A, private equity deals and corporate governance matters. He jointly chairs the practice with David Birke in Fort Lauderdale, who is a key contact for private equity firms. Other names to note in the Miami office include Carl Roston, who is routinely sought out by mid-market private equity clients and large privately-held companies, and Kenneth Wiggins, who is active in the industrial, IT, aerospace, and automotive retail sectors.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Awner; David Birke

Other key lawyers:

Carl Roston; Kenneth Wiggins; Paul Quinn; Martin Burkett; Santiago Assalini

Key clients

AutoNation, Inc.

The Beekman Group

HEICO Corporation

H.I.G. Capital

Trivest Partners, LP

AE Industrial Partners, LP

Ferguson Enterprises, LLC

Greenbriar Equity Group

Warren Equity Partners

Supply Chain Equity Partners

MPE (Morgenthaler Private Equity)

Branford Castle Partners

Lehman Auto World

Ondas Holdings, Inc.

Titan Home Improvement

Prime Automotive Group

MBF Healthcare Partners

Work highlights

  • Represented Trivest in multiple transactions totalling more than $100m throughout the year.
  • Acted for Ferguson Enterprises in multiple transactions totalling more than $600m.
  • Assisted The Beekman Group in multiple transactions throughout the year, including their investment in First Choice Dental.

Real estate > Land use/zoning Tier 1

The multidisciplinary land use and zoning practice at Akerman LLP features a team of experts that are well-versed in handling the full life-cycle of projects, advising a client roster consisting of real estate developers, investors, landowners and lenders on the entire suite of land use and development matters. Acquisitions, project and public finance, development incentives, land use entitlements and zoning issues are among the group’s core competencies in the space, alongside a track record for urban development and redevelopment projects throughout the country. Three partners jointly head the practice: Florida’s Eric Rapkin , Miami’s Spencer Crowley  and New York-based practitioner Joshua Rinesmith, while managing partner of the Florida office, Neisen Kasdin , is extensively experienced in civic work, alongside urban revitalization and complex, large scale multi-use developments. Chicago’s Meg George focuses her practice on real estate and municipal law matters, including acquisitions, land use and zoning, licensing, permitting and subdivision. In Florida, James McNeil is well-versed on the transactional aspects of complex real estate deals, in conjunction with due diligence and procurement of land use approvals and entitlements.  

Practice head(s):

Eric Rapkin; Spencer Crowley; Joshua Rinesmith

Other key lawyers:

Neisen Kasdin; Meg George; James McNeil; Ben Hedrick


Akerman’s real estate team are Miami’s go to when you require problems solved and transactions to be timely and smooth.

Neisen Kasdin is the guru of real estate entitlements, his connections in the community are second to none. Ben Hedrick is a wordsmith and real estate practitioner who has an unrivaled understanding of South Florida myriad of complicated codes.

Key clients

Ryan Companies

Maronda Homes

Lex 47th Property Owner

JCAL Development Group

Bally’s Corporation


ESJ Holdings

Village of Key Biscayne


Space Coast Town Centre I

Work highlights

  • Representing Walmart in the zoning and development of the Walmart Academy outside the South Side store in Chatham, Illinois.
  • Representing the Village of Key Biscayne in in connection with its beach renourishment plan in order to address the erosional shoreline, and inclusion in a federal nourishment project for Miami-Dade County.
  • Representing Bally’s Corporation, a global gaming, hospitality and entertainment company with a portfolio of casinos and resorts and online gaming businesses, in handling the acquisition of the existing industrial Tribune Publishing Center property.

Labor and employment > Immigration Tier 2

Predominantly led out of Miami, Akerman LLP provides immigration, compliance, EB-5 and consular services to companies and individuals across the Americas with a focus on the healthcare and hospitality sectors. Maria Casablanca has extensive experience in immigration and nationality law with expertise in EB-5 matters. She serves as Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Mexico City District and jointly heads the practice with Denise Gavica Perez who handles family-based immigration matters and represents clients before federal agencies including the Department of Labor and Department of State, advising entrepreneurs and high net-worth individuals regarding investment-based US immigration and manages employment-based immigration cases for non-immigrant and immigrant visas.

Practice head(s):

Maria Casablanca; Denise Gavica Perez

Key clients

Sofidel America Corp.


Baylor, Scott & White Medical Center

Bay Head Yacht Club Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represented a Bay Head Yacht Club Inc. in obtaining an O visa for a tennis coach who is renowned in Argentina.
  • Assisted AdventHealth IT with obtaining immigrant visas (green cards) by interfiling Adjustment of Status Applications for numerous Indian nationals.
  • Representing Sofidal America Corp. in filing several requests for consideration by the U.S. consulates/embassies in Italy to consider and grant national interest exceptions for the issuance of L-1A visas to several high-level executives and managers of Sofidel America.

Real estate > Construction (including construction litigation) Tier 3

Akerman LLP oversees a wide spectrum of public and private construction projects, and often represents a breadth of clients including contractors, designers, as well as insurance carriers. Jeffrey Gilmore  in Washington DC advises contractors, design professionals, and public and private owners with disputes concerning design and construction contracts. Fort Lauderdale's Stacy Bercun Bohm negotiates and structures construction contracts for the design and construction of stadiums and arenas, airport projects, and healthcare facilities. Leslie Miller Tomczak is also located in Fort Lauderdale, acting as managing partner of the office and focusing on sustainable building issues, while DC-based associate Daniel Miktus represents clients in complex private and public construction and development disputes.

Practice head(s):

Jeffrey Gilmore; Stacy Bercun Bohm

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

MSD Partners

Fort Capital Management

Faena Group

Robert Finvarb Companies

Westend Properties Limited (Gencom)

Kar Properties

Conquistador Dorado JV

Rizzani de Eccher USA Inc.

A Publicly Traded Energy Utility

MSC Cruises

Work highlights

  • Acted as primary construction counsel for MSD Partners in the renovation and improvement to the historic Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club.
  • Acted as primary construction counsel for Westend Properties Limited in the renovation and improvements to the Fairmont Southampton Hotel in Bermuda.
  • Represented Robert Finvarb Companies in matters including drafting, negotiating and oversight of construction and design professional contracts, project close out and litigation.

Tax > US taxes: contentious Tier 3

Akerman LLP represents national and multistate clients in SALT and federal tax disputes throughout the United States, with expertise across a broad range of industries, including the financial, automotive, and technology sectors. The team is also active on emerging tax issues in relation to digital marketplaces and goods. Peter Larsen, who has a background in high stakes tax disputes, and specializes in new technologies and telecoms, co-leads the group from Jacksonville, alongside former state tax auditor, David Blum, who is based in Chicago. Michael Bowen, in Jacksonville, is chair of the firm’s national SALT practice, and acts nationwide on major tax litigation cases. Other prominent names include Stefi George, who works from New York on a broad range of tax controversy and litigation matters, and Miami-based SALT controversy expert, Lorie Fale.

Practice head(s):

Peter Larsen; David C. Blum

Other key lawyers:

Michael J. Bowen; Lorie Fale; Stefi George


‘Akerman LLP is unique because they are able to offer detailed and thorough legal information on automotive leasing and bad debt refunds for automotive consumer loans. It is a specialized area and the information they provide is detailed and extremely helpful.’

‘Akerman LLP associates are very helpful and provide answers either same day or next depending on the time of request.’

‘The team has been a terrific partner for our needs. They have full-service capabilities across the firm that seamlessly are able to engage with our needs. They are incredibly attentive, quick and proactive in helping to meet our legal needs. They are especially collaborative with our in-house team, including other accountants and staff.’

Key clients

Deutsche Post DHL Group

Brookdale Senior Living

Macy’s Retail Holdings, Inc.

Ally Financial (formerly General Motors Acceptance Corporation)

Home Depot USA, Inc.

Capital One



Skechers USA, Inc.,

Element Fleet Management Corp.

Work highlights

  • Represented Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) in a case of first impression involving a novel tax stance that the State of Illinois hoped would generate additional millions of dollars in tax revenue.
  • Represented Verizon in litigation with the Florida Department of Revenue and recently received a favorable trial court decision in the case.
  • Represented VASHI LLP before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and received a landmark favorable ruling that reversed a lower court and held that VASHI did not owe millions of dollars in taxes to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Real estate Tier 4

Acting for diverse mix of investors, developers, lenders, retailers, and corporate end users, Akerman LLP has a strong background in urban redevelopment, hospitality and retail real estate transactions, distressed real estate and commercial leasing. Fort Lauderdale based Eric Rapkin serves as chair of the department, and is assisted by Carol Faber in Miami and Richard Bezold  in West Palm Beach; Allison Nelson in Denver, and Lawrence Eiben in Chicago, who is an expert in acquisitions, sales, developments and financing of office buildings, shopping centers and mixed-use projects.    

Practice head(s):

Eric Rapkin; Lawrence Eiben; Allison Nelson

Other key lawyers:

Carol Faber; Richard Bezold


‘The Akerman team that we work with has been exceptional. They are very responsive and anticipate needs and issues before they come up. We also appreciate the depth of experience. If we need an expert, they have it and know how to quickly bring in additional team members when needed.’

‘Timing for us is frequently a key driver in success. The Akerman team is always willing to put in whatever hours are required at any time to make sure the transaction is successful. The transaction side is led by Eric Rapkin, and he and his respective team always go above and beyond to make sure we are successful.’

Key clients

Space Coast Town Centre I, LLC

U.S. Bank

Swire Properties

MSC Cruises

Dacra Design 4141, LLC

Armenian American Museum

Ponte Gadea USA, Inc.

Multifamily Real Estate Company

Work highlights

  • Represented Space Coast Town Centre I, LLC in the development of an approximately 155-acre mixed-use property located in West Melbourne, Florida.
  • Representing the Armenian American Museum in connection with the construction of a new cultural and educational center in Los Angeles.
  • Advising Ponte Gadea USA, Inc. in the approximately $500 million purchase of arental tower in the Financial District of New York City.

Akerman LLP is a top 100 US law firm recognized by Financial Times as one of the most forward thinking firms in the industry. Its more than 700 lawyers and business professionals collaborate with the world’s most successful enterprises and entrepreneurs to navigate change, seize opportunities, and overcome barriers to innovation and growth. Akerman is known for its results in middle market M&A and complex disputes, and for helping clients achieve their most important business objectives in the financial services, real estate, and other dynamic sectors across the United States and Latin America.

Types of work undertaken
Corporate, M&A, and capital markets: Advises public and private companies, including private equity funds, on M&A, capital markets transactions, financings, and other transactional matters, with a strong focus on the middle market.

Real estate: Recognized for substantial experience in complex transactions, development and construction projects, economic development incentives, environmental matters, public-private initiatives, and litigation.

Litigation: Trial lawyers in offices throughout the United States recognized for experience in civil, criminal, and general commercial litigation, appellate, and international arbitration matters.

Consumer financial services: Represents banks and non-bank consumer debt originators and servicers in the areas of litigation, compliance, regulatory enforcement, and repurchase and recovery litigation, with an emphasis on investigating and prosecuting origination fraud.

Bankruptcy and reorganization: Serves as counsel or receiver in large bankruptcy filings. Also represents financial institutions and mortgage holders in workouts, and other secured creditors in Chapter 11 reorganizations.

Intellectual property: Represents clients worldwide in all areas of intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and the internet.

Healthcare: Recognized for experience in regulatory, risk management, and corporate matters. Represents hospitals and health systems, health insurers and managed care organizations, physician practice groups, pharmacy-related organizations, and other industry stakeholders.

Labor and employment: Represents employers in every major sector with all aspects of labor relations and employment law compliance and litigation, workplace safety, immigration, and non-compete and trade secret issues.

Tax: Advises domestic and foreign corporations, individuals, and nonprofit institutions on international, federal, state, and local tax issues, including tax planning, audit defense, tax litigation, controversy, and legislation.

Government affairs and public policy: Bi-partisan team of lawyers and public policy advisers experienced in appropriations, transportation, hospitality, healthcare, education, Native American affairs, and local government matters.

International: Guides multinational corporations seeking to establish and expand their US presence, as well as US market leaders and disruptors entering new markets outside the US.

Department Name Email Telephone
Chairman and CEO Scott Meyers