Annette C Escobar, partner at ACE Law, focuses on international and domestic commercial litigation, cross-border insolvency, fraud and asset recovery, and appellate practice. She has extensive experience of representing multinational companies in business disputes arising from countries throughout the world, at all levels of the US court system. She has been recognised as a leader in various international fields of practice by WWL, WWL Thought Leaders, South Florida Legal Guide: Top Lawyers and Latinvex’s list of Latin America’s top 100 female lawyers.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST INTERESTING ABOUT WORKING IN ASSET RECOVERY?
By its nature, asset recovery, in today’s global economy, involves the need and ability to work with multi-jurisdictional teams in many cases. Working with, overseeing, and coordinating cross-border use and implementation of the various asset recovery tools available and effective in recovering funds due to victims is fascinating, challenging and self-actualising when successful.
YOUR WORK IS VERY INTERNATIONAL IN NATURE – WHAT SKILLS ARE NEEDED IN ORDER TO WORK EFFECTIVELY WITH COLLEAGUES ACROSS THE GLOBE?
Among other things, an open mind to different cultures and legal systems, and the ability to formulate strategies so as to use the various tools available in a coordinated manner, and as efficiently as possible. Proficiency in being able to work with counsel from various jurisdictions is necessary.
FRAUDSTERS ARE CONSTANTLY COMING UP WITH NEW AND MORE COMPLICATED WAYS OF STEALING ASSETS. HOW DO YOU TRY TO STAY AHEAD OF THESE DEVELOPMENTS?
Investigative services, including social media, is key to staying on top of what the fraudsters are doing, and on top of legal developments and the news. Having access to a multi-jurisdictional team that can move against assets expeditiously, as soon as information is learned, is key.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SET UP YOUR OWN FIRM?
I was with Astigarraga Davis, Mullins & Grossman from 2000. The firm split up in 2017, with slightly less than half the firm creating the Miami office of Reed Smith and the rest of us moving to Sequor Law. In 2018, I realised that I wanted to practise more in the fields I had worked in before, including international litigation and appellate practice, as well as those that I was working on at Sequor Law. That said, I continue to work closely with Sequor Law on various cases.
WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN PRIORITIES FOR THE FIRM’S DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
My main priorities are to increase the client base; to extend the firm’s practice areas in the fields I have identified; and to grow the firm. My first priority is to increase the kind of work I wanted to do more of when I left Sequor Law. My next step is to obtain an office outside my home.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN FIRM?
Dedicate time to developing a budget, and a plan of action as to administrative and other matters, prior to starting your own firm; and inform yourself as to all the issues you will face. Having worked at a firm my entire legal career until this year, I was surprised by the amount of time that firm management and issues other than the practice of law involved.
LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE CASE YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF?
When I started at Astigarraga Davis as a law clerk, a pending case that I worked on from the beginning was an inter-family dispute that continues to this day, involving cases pending all over the world. It is a fraud-based matter in which cases were litigated and resolved globally, and some continue.
Equally important, I have been working on the Stanford International Bank liquidation following Robert Allen Stanford’s Ponzi Scheme, the second largest in history. That case involved proceedings in Antigua and Barbuda, the US, Canada, England, Switzerland, Colombia and other jurisdictions. Proceedings in many of those jurisdictions continue to this day.
YOU HAVE ENJOYED A DISTINGUISHED CAREER SO FAR. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE THAT YOU HAVE NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED?
In the immediate future, developing my profile in organisations such as WWL, GRR and INSOL. I am now on various committees in some of those organisations, as a partner at ACE Law, that had not been offered to me before.
In a more distant future, becoming a federal bankruptcy or district judge would appear to be a wonderful opportunity.