THE FIRM Baker & McKenzie's Florida tax group benefits from the wider firm's impressive global bench, allowing it to handle complex multijurisdictional tax work for major international clients. International tax structuring, cross-border transactions and complex tax controversy remain core areas of focus for the group, which regularly counsels high net worth individuals as well as multinational US and foreign companies.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Robert Hudson maintains a premier reputation for his work in the international tax arena. He skillfully handles both inbound and outbound tax structuring and planning for notable non-US companies as well as major domestic clients. Additional expertise in complex tax controversy matters rounds out his practice.
James Barrett draws particular praise for his strength in partnership tax matters, but is also vastly experienced representing large multinational companies in offshore transactions and in structuring foreign investments. He also represents foreign clients in inbound investments in the USA.
Peers agree that Steven Hadjilogiou "is a young and fabulous tax associate" whose star will continue to rise. He counsels clients on international tax planning and general partnership taxation matters, as well as on state and local taxation.
THE FIRM This versatile team is held in high regard for the breadth and depth of its tax offering. The 31-strong team, based across five offices in the state, covers state and local taxes, M&A, partnership and real estate tax, trusts and estates, and international tax matters. The transactional team has recently assisted a couple of large real estate developers in joint ventures and other complex business transactions, while its trust and estate attorneys have handled matters involving non-US individuals and cross-border assets.
Sources say: "The people we deal with make us feel so comfortable and always take care of us. I am a big fan and would never go anywhere else."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Joel Maser has a strong reputation for transactional tax work where he regularly handles real estate joint ventures and partnership tax matters. "He is just an excellent tax attorney who is both practical and a problem solver. He is also extremely responsive," said one client. He has been particularly active of late in large and complex real estate acquisitions.
Miami-based Ozzie Schindler "is a widely respected, solid and talented guy," say sources. He counsels individuals and large corporations in every aspect of international tax planning.
Seth Entin focuses on cross-border transactions and international tax planning. Clients report: "I can call him anytime and he brings the complex tax issues to my level. International tax is his main forte but he helps me with all kinds of areas. He is also very responsive."
Steve Lapidus comes highly recommended for his expertise on employee benefits, executive compensation and estate planning. Peers describe him as a "class act with an excellent reputation."
Diana Zeydel handles estate planning matters for high net worth families and individuals. Recent work highlights have included the continued representation of the beneficiary of a substantial foreign trust and estate in an international trust dispute involving counsel in five foreign jurisdictions.
Like Zeydel, Norman Benford earns widespread praise for his sophisticated estate planning practice. Business succession, trust and estate administration and personal estate planning for high net worth individuals and families form the basis of his practice.
THE FIRM This group boasts highly skilled tax attorneys in multiple offices in the state, offering clients impressive regional coverage. The team handles tax controversy and litigation, transactional tax matters and tax planning and employee benefits work on a nationwide scale. It continues to expand its team and has in the last year added lawyers to its already strong state and local tax litigation practice. The group's diverse and impressive list of clients features names such as HSBC, eHarmony, Toyota Finance and American Eagle Outfitters.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Henry Raattama specializes in estate planning and the taxation of business entities, but is perhaps best known for his superior knowledge of tax matters concerning nonprofit organizations. Peers applaud him as "Florida's top tax-exempt organization guy."
Don Duffy has a wide domestic and international tax practice that involves counseling clients on private equity and debt financing, M&A, joint ventures and international transfer pricing. Peers are particularly impressed with his technical ability in domestic corporate tax planning. He is also skilled in tax controversy matters before the IRS.
Peers commend Russell Hale for his experience, hard work and impressive performance in deals, in particular those involving banking clients. He handles a wide range of transactional work as well as state and local tax matters on a national level.
Frank Cordero chairs the firm's federal taxation practice and draws praise for his work on behalf of private and public companies in M&A, inbound and outbound transactions and debt restructurings.
Peter Larsen is hailed by peers as a "great state tax litigator" who "really knows his stuff." He recently represented a multinational automaker in the protest and litigation of a sales and use tax assessment of a manufacturing plant in Georgia.
Richard Hurt is "very impressive and strong on employee benefits and estate planning matters," say observers. His forte lies in welfare benefit plans, profit sharing plans and employee benefit plans.
Peter Salomon has a fine reputation for his work on every aspect of executive compensation. Benefit and compensation issues raised in connection with changes in capital structure, executive employment agreements and the design and implementation of stock and incentive plans are just a few of the areas in which he excels.
THE FIRM An impressive year coupled with outstanding market feedback ensures this tax team's elevation in the rankings. It undertakes a substantial amount of tax litigation and voluntary disclosure work, and also counsels clients on complex M&A, international tax planning, partnerships and joint ventures.
Sources say: "The firm, based on my needs, gets me to the right person in the group - it always sends me in the right direction for specific areas of expertise. We like them very much."
KEY INDIVIDUALS David Burke is a "responsive and really smart attorney" who "provides a good balance between client service, practicality and legal skills." His practice covers tax planning and tax controversy matters at a state, federal and even international scale.
Cristin Conley Keane earns accolades for her strength in tax matters concerning nonprofit organizations. Clients enthuse: "Her expertise and knowledge are exceptional and she is always willing to share these. She goes above and beyond what most lawyers offer."
William Rohrer specializes in domestic and international tax planning and handles a substantial amount of inbound real estate transactions. Clients are quick to note that he lives up to his excellent reputation and always delivers what is requested.
THE FIRM A significant part of this Florida-based firm is dedicated to tax law and estate planning issues, and with the recent opening of a new office in Gainesville, it now offers impressive state-wide coverage. In addition to its eminent estate and succession planning practice, it offers corporate tax advice on M&A, debt restructurings, state and local tax issues and real estate transactions.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Lauren Detzel enjoys a fantastic statewide reputation for her estate planning practice. Her forte lies in planning for the succession of family or closely held businesses. Peers describe her as a "top-flight lawyer who is very helpful to clients," adding: "She is one of the top estate planners in the country."
Charles Egerton handles complex tax controversy and tax planning matters, often involving real estate industry clients. He has just completed a year as chair of the tax section of the ABA and is held in the highest regard by market sources.
Michael Minton is a "capable and smart tax attorney" who has a wealth of experience in tax matters relating to the agricultural industry. Federal income, business succession planning and estate and gift tax planning are areas of particular expertise.
Tax department chair Stephen Looney is held in high regard for his broad-based tax practice, which covers M&A, tax controversy, reorganizations and dispositions.
THE FIRM This excellent team is well equipped to handle almost every area of tax law, including state and local, tax controversy, international, M&A and estate and gift taxation. Clients are particularly quick to commend its strength in cross-border tax matters. The group is spread across five offices in the state, offering impressive regional coverage. Muvico, Hearst and Pepsi-Tropicana all feature on its impressive list of clients.
Sources say: "Super group of people - they have the resources to do pretty much anything."
KEY INDIVIDUALS William Townsend has a first-class reputation for his work on state and local tax matters. "He really knows what's going on right now and is proactive rather than reactive. He can really get you through the process as smoothly as possible as he knows people and has the relevant contacts," said a client. Electronic commerce taxation, telecommunications taxes and the taxation of IP are particular areas of expertise.
Tampa-based Mitchell Horowitz specializes in civil tax controversy, where he represents businesses and tax-exempt entities as well as individuals. Clients report: "He is one of the most qualified people in the Tampa Bay area and I would always go to him for tax controversy work. He is extremely intelligent, knowledgeable and respectful."
The experienced and reputable Rex Ware offers a wealth of knowledge in state and local tax matters. He has recently handled a number of cases before the Florida Department of Revenue and also represents clients in litigation before Florida's courts.
Drawing on more than 40 years of experience, Jack Boggs is one of the best-known and most respected tax lawyers in Florida. He focuses on estate planning and trusts administration.
THE FIRM Despite the passing of highly esteemed partner Marvin Gutter, this tax boutique maintains its strong presence and reputation in the state. The eight-strong Boca Raton-based team is particularly adept at handling international tax, estate planning, transactional matters and tax controversy.
Sources say: "This is a superb firm."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Richard Josepher is held in extremely high regard by peers, who describe him as a "quality practitioner." Partnership taxation, S Corp and 'pass-through' taxation are particular areas of expertise.
Robert Chaves comes highly recommended for his expertise in domestic and international estate planning, business transactions and general business taxation matters.
Charles Rubin is applauded as a fantastic tax attorney who is particularly adept in domestic and international estate planning, probate and asset protection issues. He is also skilled in tax matters relating to charitable and tax-exempt organizations.
THE FIRM Holland & Knight's impressive tax team handles a substantial amount of cross-border and international tax work, including restructurings and foreign investments into the USA. Estate planning, employee benefits, state and local, and domestic transactions are also areas of strength. It remains a force to be reckoned with despite recent departures and the sad passing of estate planning partner Milford Hatcher.
Sources say: "They are strong and have a lot of talent across the board."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Peers agree that James Ervin's "years in practice and reputation as an advocate means he definitely belongs" in the top tier for state and local tax work. Audits, rulemaking and litigation are particular areas of expertise, and he recently advised a non-US client on state tax issues relating to a corporate restructure and the expansion of its US-based activities, a matter involving multiple jurisdictions.
Tampa-based Bernard Barton is perhaps best known for his strength in state and local taxation, but he also offers counsel on a range of federal tax matters. He recently successfully represented a taxpayer in a complex state tax matter before the Florida Department of Revenue. "He is the best in the world," enthused one client.
Private wealth service group chair Edward Koren is praised as an "excellent and impressive trusts and estates attorney." His forte lies in wealth planning and protection for multigenerational business owners and entrepreneurs. He is also well placed to handle transfer tax controversies before the IRS.
Another strong estate planner is Christopher Boyett, who focuses on estate and trust administration, succession and tax planning for family businesses, and estate planning strategy for high net worth individuals.
Employee benefits specialist Robert Friedman is particularly noted for his ERISA expertise. He recently advised a client on ERISA issues and the litigation risks arising from the elimination of the client's retiree health programs. His clients include government, private and nonprofit employees.
William Sherman specializes in international tax matters and is applauded by clients as one of the most knowledgeable attorneys in the market when it comes to foreign taxation. He recently handled the domestication of a foreign company engaged in US government contracting work, assisting with structuring its transition to domestic ownership.
Kevin Packman continues to draw praise as a wonderful young lawyer who has a promising future ahead of him. Creditor protection planning, estate planning and tax controversy are his primary areas of expertise. He was recently involved in a complex international estate matter involving assets based in multiple foreign jurisdictions.
Drawing on more than 40 years' experience in the field, Andrew Weinstein is held in extremely high regard for his sophisticated tax controversy practice. He also counsels high net worth individuals on various tax planning matters in the USA and abroad.
THE FIRM This compact yet nimble group continues to impress market sources with its state, federal and international tax work. Clients note in particular its exceptional strength in estate planning matters, but it is also adept at handling the tax aspects of M&A, joint ventures and real estate development. Expertise in tax controversy rounds out the practice. The team recently advised Mexico-based Grupo Tampico on tax structuring matters related to its $790 million sale to Coca-Cola FEMSA.
Sources say: "You feel totally safe when you have them on your side."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Ed Sawyer focuses on tax matters related to restructurings, cross-border M&A, real estate development and financings. "He has a great personality and work ethic and is smart as a devil. He is my absolute favorite in all of Florida," enthuses one source. He chairs the Florida practice and was recently involved in the tax structuring matter for Grupo Tampico.
Michael Kavoukjian chairs the firm's global private clients practice and is hailed as an exceptional estate planning attorney. Clients report: "His style is direct, friendly and thorough. He is knowledgeable and smart and plans well for our future. He also really invests in building the relationship."
THE FIRM A busy and successful year has required this solid Tampa-based team to grow, and it now houses nine dedicated tax attorneys. It offers expertise on corporate and transactional tax planning, estate and gift tax planning and on employee benefits. The team is also subspecialized in aviation taxes.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Leslie Barnett has a strong statewide reputation for his estate and business succession planning practice on behalf of closely held business owners, high net worth individuals and corporate executives. Expertise in state and local taxes, M&A and real estate transactions fills out his practice.
Estate planning expert Peter Kirkwood has in the last year handled a number of transactions involving investment funds. He is also highly skilled in issues facing charitable and tax-exempt organizations.
THE FIRM This high-caliber tax and wealth preservation team counsels both US and international businesses and individuals on matters ranging from complex transactions, to income tax planning, to estate and business succession planning. The team recently advised Prolexic Technologies on the tax implications of a $13.9 million growth financing led by Kennet Partners.
Sources say: "The individuals I deal with are very responsive and accessible even when on vacation or after normal hours."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Richard Goldstein enjoys an excellent reputation for his work on wealth preservation planning and on tax planning and structuring matters involved in transactions. One impressed source enthuses: "I consider Richard to be the most effective and valuable tax attorney I have ever worked with. He always knows or finds the right answer, regardless of the complexity of the issue, and has first-rate business judgment."
Samuel Ullman "is really well thought of" throughout the Florida market and continues to counsel clients on tax matters related to business transactions, bankruptcies and tax-exempt organizations. He is also well placed to represent clients in tax controversy matters in state and federal courts and before the IRS.
THE FIRM This eight-strong tax boutique offers the gamut of services, including tax controversy, asset protection, partnership and corporate taxation and transactional tax planning. Recent highlights include a number of transactional estate planning matters as well as business transactions involving foreign jurisdictions.
Sources say: "They are very high-caliber and high-quality."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Esteemed practitioner Richard Comiter has a broad-based practice covering tax planning for complex business transactions, federal income and estate tax planning, succession and wealth preservation planning and asset protection.
THE FIRM Clients offer enthusiastic feedback on the high-quality client service provided by the Gunster team. Its wide offering includes international, corporate and partnership taxation as well as tax controversy and trust and estate planning. Sources are particularly quick to commend its expertise in ERISA matters. Major clients include DR Beachfront Real Estate, TAIB Bank and EarthMark Mitigation Services.
Sources say: "We hold them in the highest regard and always enjoy working with them."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Employee benefits specialist James Davis draws praise as "a great partner who is responsive, smart and completely approachable." He handles all aspects of employee benefits, regularly representing tax-exempt organizations. He chairs the firm's tax practice and is applauded by clients as a brilliant communicator and peacemaker.
Alan Lederman is widely respected by peers in the marketplace and held as a leading light when it comes to international and federal tax matters. His innovative articles in tax law are published and read throughout the country.
Clients applaud Martin Press as a go-to lawyer for tricky cases: "Whatever the problem - he will find the solution." An expert on tax controversy, he also handles matters related to the Voluntary Disclosure Program. "In the difficult field of tax compliance, he is one of the leaders," said a client. "He comes up with practical solutions while being very well versed in the law."
Clients are also full of praise for Elaine Bucher, who recently joined the firm from Proskauer Rose LLP. She is described as "exceptionally bright, patient and a very good listener," while her forte lies in the representation of high net worth individuals in pre-divorce estate planning matters.
THE FIRM This Tampa-based team enters the rankings following high-caliber client commentary on its broad-based tax practice. In addition to its widely recognized strength in employee benefits and trust and estate planning matters, the 13-strong group also offers tax planning and advice in connection with M&A, joint ventures, partnerships, spinoffs and real estate transactions.
Sources say: "The quality of their work is uniformly excellent. I recommend them all the time."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice co-head Alton Ward earns accolades for his exceptional strength in employee benefit matters. He regularly counsels clients on 401(k) plans, profit sharing plans, retirement plans and ESOPs. One impressed client reports: "He is timely, accurate, trustworthy and very well respected throughout Tampa and beyond. He is also extremely responsive and I can call him any time, day or night. I hope he never retires!"
Trusts and estates expert Brian Sparks is applauded as "a key person within the firm." He regularly represents wealthy individuals, professionals, business executives and closely held businesses. Peers note: "He is a fine lawyer who provides great client care and an excellent work product."
THE FIRM With a niche focus on state and local taxation, this three-partner firm is recognized as a formidable and high-quality player in the Florida market. It handles tax controversy as well as income, property and transactional taxes, serving clients in a range of industries including healthcare, telecommunications and energy.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Robert Goldman "knows more about Florida's arcane communications services tax statute than anyone else and is a fine advocate for his clients," say sources. He handles a wide range of state and local tax issues and has been particularly active of late in tax controversy work.
Mark Holcomb "is a go-to guy for state and local tax work," say peers, who also applaud his keen eye for detail. He recently represented online travel agent Expedia in disputes relating to local hotel bed taxes.
THE FIRM This tax boutique is praise by peers for its strength in international tax work, particularly involving inbound investment by foreign businesses. In the domestic tax space it handles estate and gift tax planning, tax controversy matters before the IRS and tax issues relating to tax-exempt and charitable organizations.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Rosenberg enjoys an excellent statewide reputation for his work on international taxation, where he primarily counsels foreign clients on inbound investments and immigration into the USA. He also handles estate planning matters for very high net worth individuals.
Dennis Ginsburg "is fantastic and is really making his mark in the international tax space," say sources. Wealth preservation, international transactional work and estate planning matters form the core of his practice.
THE FIRM Trust and estate planning is an indisputable strong point for this eight-partner group. It counsels professionals, business owners, charitable organizations and high net worth individuals and families on matters including asset protection and business succession planning. Major clients include JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and the Estate of Keith Haring.
Sources say: "They are extremely helpful, personable and professional across the board, and treat all clients with dignity and respect."
KEY INDIVIDUALS David Pratt represents high net worth individuals in the most complicated estate planning matters. "He has been more understanding, helpful, professional and knowledgeable than any client would ever hope for," enthuses one client.
Albert Gortz offers a wealth of experience in the administration of complicated trusts and estates. Clients applaud him as a "solid lawyer with good, practical judgment."
of Fox Rothschild LLP "is one of the top national experts on Subchapter S corporations,"
say sources. In addition to his noted strength on corporate and partnership taxation, his practice includes international taxation, tax controversy and estate planning.
of Ausley & McMullen, PA draws praise as a "great guy with a wealth of experience"
in transactional tax and estate planning matters. He is also highly experienced in Florida state taxation.
of Johnson Pope Bokor Ruppel & Burns, LLP is "impressive and clearly has a very strong reputation,"
say sources. He handles tax planning for a range of business transactions and has been increasingly involved of late in complex estate planning matters.
of McDermott Will & Emery LLP "has a great personality, is very technically sound and is also very personable and professional in his approach."
His forte lies in representing energy companies, and he recently advised Exelon on the tax aspects of its acquisition of Deere & Company's wind portfolio.
Highly regarded practitioner Michael Kosnitzky
of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP represents both domestic and international clients in relation to the tax aspects of M&A, joint ventures, equity and debt financing and business combinations. He practices out of Miami and New York City.
of DLA Piper LLP (US) is an international tax specialist who regularly provides counsel in relation to the US activities of foreign banks, tax treaty planning, US investment structures and cross-border tax issues. He recently advised a large company on its expansion into India to construct and maintain cell phone towers, a deal worth $800 million.
St. Petersburg-based Joel Bronstein
of Bronstein, Carlson, Gleim & Smith, PA comes highly recommended for his broad-based tax practice, which includes estate planning, asset protection and a range of federal income tax matters related to corporate transactions.
, also a sole practitioner, is described by peers as a "bright and capable attorney."
He is vastly experienced in all aspects of tax controversy.
Employee benefits specialist Steven Barber
of Shutts & Bowen LLP is admired by peers for his expertise on ERISA transactional and compliance matters. He is particularly adept at handling matters involving healthcare industry clients.
Clients praise Sharon Quinn Dixon
of Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A. for her "friendly and professional approach,"
and for her dedication to understanding clients' business needs. She handles a range of employee benefits matters, including COBRA issues, executive compensation, ERISA compliance and litigation. She is also "well versed in the medico-legal issues of employee benefits."
of Trenam Kemker, Attorneys is held in very high regard by peers, who describe her as a "bright and vastly experienced attorney."
Her employee benefits expertise covers areas including COBRA and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance, pension and profit sharing plans, health benefit plans and 401(k) plans.
of GrayRobinson, PA is recognized throughout the marketplace for his expertise on compensation plans, ERISA and ESOPs.
of Tescher & Spallina PA comes highly recommended for his sophisticated trust and estate practice. He regularly counsels businesses and very high net worth families and individuals.
of Nelson & Nelson PA enjoys a fantastic reputation for asset protection and estate planning. Impressed clients report: "He is fabulous, responsive, respectful and totally honorable. He gets ten out of ten."
Peers report that Bruce Stone
of Goldman Felcoski & Stone PA is "one of the top estate planning lawyers around."
He focuses on complex estate planning disputes and problem situations, where he counsels both US nationals and foreign clients.
Sarasota-based Richard Gans
of Fergeson, Skipper, Shaw, Keyser, Baron & Tirabassi, PA is admired by peers for his estate and trust planning practice. He also handles wills and probate administration and tax work involving charitable organizations.
recently left Adams and Reese to set up his own firm, Law Offices of Barry F. Spivey. He is described as a "very well-rounded lawyer"
who is particularly strong when it comes to contested estate planning matters.
of Hopping Green & Sams, PA is applauded by peers as a "matriarch of Florida state and local taxation."
She is described as a great problem solver and is noted for her particular strength in state tax litigation.
Sole practitioner Jonathan Warner
is an impressive lawyer in the international tax and estate planning arena.