Akerman LLP > Washington DC, United States > Firm Profile

Akerman LLP
United States

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

Established over 30 years ago, Akerman LLP’s corporate and M&A practice is principally located in Miami though is frequently active on matters of national and international significance. The workload chiefly consists of deals within the $50m-$500m range and encompasses everything from M&A, buyouts and spin-offs through to joint ventures, SPACs and distressed company transactions. Fort Lauderdale-based David Birke was appointed as co-chair of the practice in November 2021 and leads it alongside Jonathan Awner who has forged a prominent reputation for deals relating to major car dealerships. Former practice co-lead  Carl Roston remains an active member of the group, providing considerable expertise in the energy, aviation and aerospace fields. The team routinely supports clients on their affairs in throughout the Americas and the Caribbean and is bolstered by dedicated investment management, franchise and licensing and corporate finance departments. Up-and-coming partner Kenneth Wiggins is a specialist in both transactional and general corporate affairs, operating across the retail, plumbing, industrial, IT and transportation sectors.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Awner; Carl Roston

Other key lawyers:

Kenneth Wiggins; David Birke; Paul Quinn; Martin Burkett


‘This is a team with lots of great people and depth across various areas of expertise.’

‘Always responsive and reasonable in their approach to complicated matters.’

Key clients

AutoNation, Inc.

The Beekman Group

MBF Healthcare Partners

H.I.G. Capital


AE Industrial Partners, LP

Ferguson Enterprises, LLC

JM Family Enterprises, Inc.

Greenbriar Equity

Warren Equity Partners

Supply Chain Equity Partners

Resolute Forest Products Inc

Branford Castle Partners

Grant Avenue Capital

MPE Healthcare Partners

Work highlights

  • Represented long-time client Trivest in multiple transactions throughout the year.
  • Represented Ferguson Enterprises in multiple transactions throughout the year.
  • Represented The Beekman Group in multiple transactions throughout the year.

Real estate > Land use/zoning Tier 1

Akerman LLP has land use and development experts in several jurisdictions across the US that frequently counsel clients involved in some of the most complex prospective developments. The group has significant experience in urban development and redevelopment projects, including major projects in Chicago, New York, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, and Los Angeles, and attorneys’ workloads have reflected market trends in build-to-rent and cannabis industry real estate, among others. Head of the national practice group Cecelia Bonifay is based in Orlando, helping developers navigate the governmental approval process for commercial, residential, and industrial projects. Meg George is managing partner of the Chicago office and has broad real estate and municipal law experience, while Joshua Rinesmith leads the New York land use and entitlements team, focusing on real estate development, with a concentration in land use and zoning law and related transactional matters. In Miami, Neisen Kasdin  has extensive civic experience as a former mayor of Miami Beach, and Ian Bachiekov stands out among the group’s up-and-coming attorneys. James McNeil is another key name in Florida, with he and his team in Orlando praised as ‘top notch‘ and providing ‘excellent service‘.

Practice head(s):

Cecelia Bonifay

Other key lawyers:

James McNeil; Neisen Kasdin; Joshua Rinesmith; Meg George; Lisa Kolieb; Jack George; Ian Bachiekov; Kate Duncan; Nora Martins; Jaclyn Scarinci


‘James McNeil and his team are top notch and provide an excellent service.’

Key clients

Illuminarium Chicago LLC

3425 Collins LLC

ESJ Capital Partners

LINK Real Estate

Withers LLC

Lake Nona Land Company

Ryan Companies

Madison Realty Capital

Home Depot

Bajraktari Realty Management Corporation

Work highlights

  • Represented ESJ JI Leasehold, the owner and operator of the Jungle Island theme park, in a Special Area Plan (SAP) approval for the site on Watson Island in Biscayne Bay.
  • Advised a charity on seeking approvals from the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development and Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals for construction of a new headquarters in Chicago.
  • Represented a realty management corporation in securing land use approvals from the New York City Planning Commission and City Council to rezone an existing residential district to a higher density commercial district.

Labor and employment > Immigration Tier 2

Akerman LLP’s practice is predominantly led out of Miami and handles business immigration matters for large companies, particularly those in the healthcare and hospitality sectors. Practice head Maria Casablanca has extensive experience in US immigration work and is noted for EB-1 and EB-5 immigrant visas. She also has experience representing employers before ICE audits. Co-chair Denise Gavica Perez handles family-based immigration matters and represents clients before federal agencies including the Department of Labor and Department of State, counting various hospitals and healthcare institutions as key clients. On the employment side, Eric Gordon in West Palm Beach now leads the employment practice and is recommended for litigation and compliance issues. Associate Rachel Perez remains a core part of the team and advises on global transfer of employees.

Practice head(s):

Maria Casablanca; Denise Gavica Perez

Other key lawyers:


‘Excellent accessibility to our attorney. Very responsive. Goes above and beyond to help us and our clients.’

‘Our attorney really cares about the nurses that we recruit. She takes extra time to speak with them individually if necessary. She is always available when needed. We love working with Denise Gavica Perez and her team.’

Key clients

Sofidel America Corp

Work highlights

  • Represented various hospitals and healthcare entities nationwide in filling vacant medical professional positions, including transferring hundreds of registered nurses to the U.S. in an effort to help hospitals combat the spread of COVID-19.
  • Represented 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.
  • Represented a Czech national in obtaining an investor visa.

Real estate > Construction (including construction litigation) Tier 3

Akerman LLP‘s construction practice assists with a varied portfolio of public and private construction projects, recently advising on a host of public infrastructure developments, and maintaining a strong presence in energy facilities and tourist resorts. Multi-family and mixed-use real estate developments have also been a market trend that the team has followed in various areas across the US. The group is jointly led by Jeffrey Gilmore in Washington DC and Stacy Bercun Bohm in Fort Lauderdale. They are key offices for the construction practice, along with Los Angeles, where Brenda Radmacher is the main contact, her multi-faceted practice handling litigation and transactional counsel for her construction-industry clients. For construction and government contract litigation, particularly resolution of delay and other schedule-related claims, Stephen Hurlbut in Washington DC is the name to note, and alongside him, Owen Shean‘s experience includes the drafting and negotiation of construction agreements employing AIA forms, DBIA forms, and EJCDC forms. Leslie Miller Tomczak is managing partner in Fort Lauderdale and acts in a wide range of complex construction contract, project administration, lien, and construction litigation matters.

Practice head(s):

Jeffrey Gilmore; Stacy Bercun Bohm

Other key lawyers:

Leslie Miller Tomczak; Brenda Radmacher; Stephen Hurlbut; Owen Shean; Ross Heft; Daniel Miktus; John Neary

Key clients

MSC Cruises

MSD Partners

Fort Capital Management

Faena Group

Miami Design District Associates (Dacra Development)

Robert Finvarb Companies

Architect of the Capitol

Millcreek Residential Trust

Ceco Concrete Construction

HGA Architects & Engineers

Work highlights

  • Represented MSC Cruises as primary construction counsel for the design and construction of its state-of-the-art mega cruise terminal located at Port of Miami.
  • Acting for MSD Partners in the renovation and improvement to the historic Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, a multi-million expansion and renovation of the 220-room Florida resort.
  • Representing HGA Architects & Engineers in a dispute with a contractor alleging differing site conditions associated with deep foundations, related delays and other corrective work items related to a structure adjacent to the second phase of the Silver Line, which will extend Metro rail service to Dulles International Airport and into eastern Loudoun County.

Tax > US taxes: contentious Tier 3

Akerman LLP represents major players in the financial, automotive, and technology industries on SALT and federal tax disputes. The team also represents clients before the IRS regarding international tax compliance, as well as administrative appeals, trials, mediation, and appellate litigation. Based in Jacksonville, practice chair Peter Larsen specializes in high stakes tax disputes, especially regarding emerging technologies and telecoms. In Chicago, deputy chair David Blum often represents US and multinationals before the IRS and state and local tax agencies, while in Jacksonville chair of the state and local tax practice Michael Bowen is a specialist in SALT controversy and litigation. 2021 saw the practice growing with executive compensation specialist Gabriel Marinaro joining from Katten in May; in November, SALT controversy specialist Lorie Fale and international tax specialist John Buckun joined from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and accountant firm Miller, Cooper & Co, respectively. Additionally, special counsel Liz Hughes joined from Greenspoon Marder LLP in November as well.

Practice head(s):

Peter Larsen; David Blum

Other key lawyers:

Michael Bowen; Gabriel Marinaro; Lori Fale; John Buckun; Liz Hughes


‘Very knowledgeable in automotive leasing law and practice. Prompt and detailed responses to legal questions. Written such a way so non legal individuals can understand the response. Provides great assistance with audit issues. Very detailed.’

‘Peter Larson is very knowledgeable and always available.’

Key clients

Deutsche Post DHL Group

Brookdale Senior Living

Macy’s Retail Holdings, Inc.

Ally Financial (formerly General Motors Acceptance Corporation)

DriveTime Automotive Group

Capital One



Carvana LLC

Toyota Motor Corporation

Work highlights

  • Represented Global Mail, Inc, a subsidiary of Deutsche Post DHL Group, in litigation brought by the Illinois Attorney General.
  • Represented Carvana before the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration in a case relating to the impact of a motor vehicle sales tax law change on Carvana’s compliance processes.
  • Represented Hertz in multiple state and local tax audits and tax claims in its bankruptcy case.

Real estate Tier 4

Akerman LLP‘s real estate practice is recommended for urban redevelopment, financing, large land deals, distressed real estate and loan origination. Hospitality, retail and condominiums are its key areas of instruction. Eric Rapkin chairs the practice from Fort Lauderdale. New York’s Steven Polivy acts for developers, investors and Fortune 500 companies in securing crucial government incentives and tax benefits for major urban redevelopments. Richard Bezold in Miami and Orlando-based James McNeil, an expert in residential developments, are its other key senior partners.

Practice head(s):

Eric Rapkin; Steven Polivy

Other key lawyers:

Richard Bezold; James McNeil


‘Good client rapport; deep team of talented attorneys’

‘Richard Bezold has orchestrated the firms talent in the most productive and cost effective manner to produce great results.’

‘They go above and beyond. They are very thorough and available whenever needed.’

Key clients

BMO Harris Bank

U.S. Bank


3650 REIT

Bank of America

Codina Partners

TruAmerica Multifamily

Swire Properties

Lock Up Self Storage

One Real Estate Investment

Work highlights

  • Represented financiers in closing a joint $94m financing, as part of a multimillion-dollar renovation to reopen the iconic Breakers Hotel & Spa in Long Beach, California.
  • Represented a U.S Bank in connection with $300m in loan originations for their entity loan program for private bank customers.
  • Advised the project sponsor in the development of one of the largest commercial leases in Downtown Miami, spanning 10 floors and 120,000 square feet.

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.

Chairman and CEO Scott Meyers