Press Release
December 10, 2012

Holland & Knight Attorneys Recognized as "Most Effective Lawyers in South Florida" for Appellate and Corporate Securities Work

MIAMI – December 10, 2012 – At the Daily Business Review's 8th annual Most Effective Lawyer awards luncheon on December 7, Holland & Knight had finalists in several categories and took home the top awards in the areas of Appellate and Corporate Securities.

The finalists and winners are composed of 70 South Florida attorneys in 13 practice areas chosen by the Review's editorial staff. Those selected scored the biggest jury verdicts and settlements, won in criminal court, or achieved significant client victories affecting public policy or business in 2012.

Most Effective Lawyer Winners

Holland & Knight partner Rodolfo Sorondo, Jr. and associate Monica Vila (along with Raoul Cantero of White & Case) were named the winners of the Appellate category. They were recognized for their work representing QBE Insurance Corporation against Boca Raton-based Chalfonte Condominium Apartment Association in the Florida Supreme Court. The case stemmed from a claim filed by the Association after Hurricane Wilma damaged the property in 2005 and had wide implications for all insurers underwriting policies in Florida.

Partners Tracy Nichols, Louise McAlpin and Stephen Warren won the top prize in the Corporate Securities category. Earlier this year, the team was successful in resolving three high-profile lawsuits involving U.S.-listed Chinese companies -- two securities class actions and a derivative action. Their clients included one of China's leading media companies, SearchMedia Holdings Limited, and the former CFO of Jiangbo Pharmaceuticals.

Most Effective Lawyer Finalists

There were a total of three nominees in the Pro Bono category this year and two of them were for Holland & Knight attorneys.  Partner Michelle Tanzer and associates Monica Vila and Eleni Kastrenakes were honored for their success in this area.

Over the past two years Ms. Tanzer has built an impressive pro bono initiative that pairs autistic and disabled students with attorney advocates who assist them with getting special education services so they can reach their full potential. The program, called "Assisting Students with Disabilities," was created through a partnership with Disabilities Rights Florida, a not-for-profit agency and now involves more than 20 Holland & Knight attorneys throughout Florida.

In March, Ms. Vila and Ms. Kastrenakes won asylum for their client "Mr. Smith" during the final stretch of a 12-year battle to receive protection in the United States from political persecution in the Bahamas. After their client was denied asylum in 2005, their efforts (and those of past H&K attorneys) were redeemed when the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility granted a new hearing due the original judge's misconduct. During the two years before Mr. Smith’s new trial, the Holland & Knight team worked hard to gather evidence and witness testimony in order to present as strong a case as possible for him and his family.

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