There has been no shortage of articles about the dismal job market that recent law graduates are facing in South Florida. The consensus is that there are few jobs available for recent grads and that most firms are making lateral hires to avoid the time and costs associated with training new lawyers.
At Kluger Kaplan, we have taken a systematic approach to hiring which includes recruiting recent law grads. Our clients expect the very best from our firm, and we expect our associates to participate in every aspect of the litigation process. We hire first year associates so we can groom them from the outset to become high-quality trial lawyers consistent with our reputation.
Recently I found myself in multi-party mediations where parties on the other side were represented by one attorney. Problems arose when my client and I believed we settled the case only to find that the interests of the parties represented by joint counsel diverged, derailing the settlement in the process.
In this situation, an attorney can find himself or herself on one of two sides – 1) the attorney with two (or more) clients whose interests are no longer aligned, who now has a conflict issue, and 2) the attorney who thinks he or she settled the case for a client, only to find that circumstances outside the attorney’s control prevented resolution.
We have recently seen a rash of cases involving private equity firms’ or public companies’ purchases of closely held companies prior to the recession. Unfortunately, many of the acquired businesses did not survive the recession and the buyers—seeking to recoup some or all of their investment—then resorted to litigation. Many of these buyers have sued the sellers for fraud based claims. The grounds for the fraud claims vary, but generally the buyers claim the sellers failed to make proper disclosures regarding the acquired company’s financial health or related issues.
As litigators, it is our job to zealously advocate for our clients. But sometimes lawyers cross the fine line between barrister and bully. But that type of antagonistic behavior does not benefit the clients or the legal profession as a whole. I have built a successful practice based upon my relationship with other lawyers and I am proud to call many of the lawyers I work with my friends. So, it is important to me that my relationships with other lawyers remain civil, notwithstanding animosity between our clients.
Two weeks ago, my partner Alan blogged about some of the twists and turns he has seen in litigation as a result of rising property values in South Florida.
I too have seen some interesting tactics in my cases now that the properties in dispute are sky-rocketing in value.
For example, I have represented investors in real estate ventures and when the land values went south and the deals to buy the property did not close, my clients found themselves in litigation to recover their investments, which were not used to acquire the real estate as intended. Today, because the same properties are now worth significantly more money, my clients are either getting repaid or renegotiating their investment terms to be compensated for the rising real estate values. The same litigation that started during the 2009 recession is now taking an entirely different turn.
Another trend I have seen is local banks declaring non-monetary defaults for failing to provide financial statements or maintain certain debt ratios. These types of defaults used to occur all the time with banks generally looking the other way, particularly when the borrower was making timely payments on the loan. However, in the instances I have seen, banks are realizing that they have a valuable commercial asset on their hands, while simultaneously looking to upgrade their loan portfolios and minimize perceived risks. Oftentimes, borrowers feel pressure to settle with the banks and either refinance the property with another lender or pay off the loan in order to avoid foreclosure for a non-monetary default. As a result, I encourage my clients to ensure strict compliance with non-monetary loan requirements. Merely paying your monthly mortgage payments is not always enough to satisfy the banks any more and it is important to be prepared.