Most Highly Regarded Firms: Florida 2007 - Corporate Immigration

This chapter identifies 27 individuals from 22 firms, all of whom are well equipped to handle the legal aspects of the immigration and naturalisation of skilled workers and their dependants on behalf of large corporate entities, investors, entertainers and individual businessmen and women. While a number of Florida’s leading full-service firms perform well in our research, the majority of the lawyers are sole practitioners or work out of immigration boutiques.

Kurzban Kurzban Weinger Tetzeli PA maintains an excellent standing in the state for immigration-related advice. Ira Kurzban is the past national president and former general counsel of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and received more nominations in our research than any other lawyer. Sources noted that he “literally wrote the book on immigration law” – Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook – and he was also praised as “the dean of litigation” and a “legend in the field”. The “excellent” John Pratt also features prominently in our research and is said to be “young, and good”. Pratt boasts a broad client base and works for artists and businessmen as well as a prominent Latin American Spanish-language network. Helena Tetzeli completes the firm’s trio on the following pages and was recommended as an “excellent litigator”. With three highly-placed practitioners, it is unsurprising that the firm emerges as one of the most prominent in the state.

Tammy Fox-Isicoff of Rifkin and Fox-Isicoff is another of the area’s high flyers, second only in our findings to the aforementioned Kurzban. The firm represents clients ranging from individuals to Fortune 500 companies on all aspects of immigration and nationality law. Fox-Isicoff is evidently “well known” in the field and is a past president of the South Florida chapter of AILA. She is currently on the organisation’s national board of governors. Managing partner Larry Rifkin was also consistently recommended, sources rating him as “one of the very best”. Rifkin also plays a prominent role in AILA and has written extensively on immigration and naturalisation law. His practice encompasses numerous areas including immigrant and non-immigrant visas, labour certificates, inadmissibility, removal and naturalisation.

Miami-based Montiel Davis & Fonte PA is another highly-rated firm with more than one featured practitioner in the chapter. Magda Montiel Davis is “highly experienced”, and the number of nominations she received backs this up. The “outstanding” Kari Ann Fonte also features prominently and has a “wonderful reputation”, according to a prominent source. Immigration boutique Devore & Devore PA boasts two highly rated practitioners in the chapter, Jeffrey Devore and Scott Devore, both based at the Palm Beach office. The firm provides advice on all aspects of immigration law, including corporate, family and deportation, with Jeffrey especially rated for his business-related expertise. Scott comes recommended as “very good” with one rival noting, “I have referred matters to him and have been pleased with the results”.

When viewing our findings, one sees that the bulk of the nominated lawyers practise in Miami. While a number of these feature as part of a team, a number of individual lawyers fared particularly well in the research. One such example is the “fabulous” Michael Bander of Bander & Associates PA. His firm focuses exclusively in the field and provides advice to families, individuals, corporate entities and scholars from around the world. The firm is also a founding member of IMMLAW, a group of US immigration firms providing legal services in port cities across the country, and benefits from the extensive network that this provides. Bander emerges as one of Florida’s most nominated individuals and was variously described as “outstanding”, “exceptional” and the “éminence grise of corporate immigration law”. Michael Weiss at Weiss Alden Polo PA also enjoys a prominent position in the field and continues to boast an “excellent reputation” for immigration, naturalisation and consular law.

Fowler White Burnett PA is one of Florida’s largest full-service firms, with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach and St Petersburg, Florida. Miami-based Joel Stewart represents the firm in this chapter and comes recommended as “a real expert”. Stewart is a past president of the South Florida chapter of AILA and his knowledge of labour certifications, among other matters, was brought to our attention. Greenberg Traurig LLP is another “big firm with a very credible immigration practice”, according to one source. “Top-tier” Oscar Levin co-chairs the firm’s immigration department and sources have “heard good things about him”. David Berger at Bernstein & Berger is another of Miami’s most respected individuals and “top of the line”, according to one leading rival. Berger is said to be a “great corporate immigration lawyer” and consequently received high levels of nominations from both clients and peers. His work on behalf of individuals was also brought to our attention.

Saleh & Associates PA is another Miami-based firm with an excellent reputation in the field. It focuses on all aspects of immigration law, acting for individuals and multinationals, as well as small and medium-sized businesses. Anis Saleh is president of the firm, “up-and-coming” and “highly respected”, according to a number of sources. Saleh is a past chair of the Florida Bar’s immigration certification committee and is also active in AILA. Cordero & Associates has its headquarters in Miami and further offices in New York and Washington, DC, its lawyers advising corporate and individual clients in the US, Latin America and Europe.

Luis Cordero previously practised at Holland & Knight LLP, setting up his own firm in 2006. He comes recommended as “outstanding” and currently serves on the board of directors of AILA’s South Florida chapter, having previously been president. Sources noted his work on behalf of professionals, investors, artists, entertainers, and entrepreneurs among others. Kuck Casablanca LLC is an immigration firm with multiple offices in Florida and Georgia. Partner Marisa Casablanca is “well respected”, according to one prominent rival, and is lauded for her representation of individual and corporate clients, as well as her strengths as a litigator. Maite Hoyos practises at her own firm and is evidently held in high regard by the immigration community. Hoyos was recommended on a number of occasions for her knowledge of O&P visas and she works extensively on behalf of entertainers in this area. Roger Bernstein at Bernstein Osberg-Braun LLC is the final lawyer from Miami to make the publication. The firm focuses exclusively on immigration law, with expertise in non-immigrant as well as immigrant visas, labour certifications, waivers, litigation, appeals, motions to reopen and consular processing. Bernstein has a great deal of experience in the field and represents clients from a wide variety of industries including health-care, aviation, fashion, sports, construction, and entertainment.
Coral Gables is the southwest of Miami and home to three of the chapter’s leading lights. Eugenio Hernandez was partner with Holland & Knight LLP before setting up his own firm in 2007. Widely acknowledged as a leader in the corporate immigration arena, he was called “excellent” and “very smart”. Enrique Gonzalez practises at the global immigration firm Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen & Loewy LLP and is widely respected in the market. His work on behalf of universities and clients in the hospitality and entertainment industries was noted and he was praised as “first-class” and “an excellent lawyer from an excellent firm”. Sources have “nothing but respect” for former US immigration judge Jeffrey Brauwerman at Brauwerman & Morgado PA. His firm focuses exclusively on this field and draws its clients from large and small corporations, individuals, joint ventures and partnerships as well as public and religious bodies. Hollywood is north of Miami and home to Mazen Sukkar of Sukkar Arevalo & Associates PA. Sukkar’s firm draws its clients from individuals, families, businesses and investors and he is said to be
“particularly good for individuals”. Representative clients include Sheikh Tarek Al-Fassi, Saudi Royal family members and Buckram Oak Farms.

There is also a strong Tampa contingent in the chapter. Fowler White Boggs Banker is one of Florida’s most recognised firms, with over 200 lawyers in eight offices throughout the state. William Flynn emerges with nothing but praise, one highly rated practitioner ranking him “top of the line”. Flynn’s work on the corporate side was noted and he has written and spoken extensively on the topic. Fernando Perez is another fêted practitioner in Tampa, practising out of his own office. One prominent source labelled Perez “The King of ‘E’s”, a reference to his skill with type-‘E’ investment visas. Ruden McClosky Smith Schuster & Russell PA is another full-service firm to feature prominently in this chapter. With over 200 lawyers in offices throughout Florida and Venezuela it has become one of the state’s leading outfits. The “excellent” Ramon Carrion focuses on business, personal and family immigration law and comes recommended by some of the practice area’s most prominent names. Timothy Spridgeon maintains a highly visible practice in nearby Clearwater, where his firm, Timothy M Spridgeon PA, focuses on investment and business visas
as well as individual and family immigration issues.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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