Chambers USA Ranks Kluger Kaplan in 2018 Edition

Firm and Three Founding Members Ranked for General Commercial Litigation

USA Chambers 2018 Kluger Kaplan

We are honored that three of our Founding Members have been recognized in the 2018 edition of Chambers USA, one of the most esteemed legal publications in the world. 

Kluger Kaplan Silverman & Levine as a firm received a Band 3 ranking in the category of General Commercial Litigation. Additionally, founding members, Alan J. Kluger (Band 2), Steve I. Silverman (Band 4) and Philippe Lieberman (Band 4) were recognized for their commercial litigation work. 

The Chambers USA guide annually ranks preeminence in key practice areas, and achievements of law firms and lawyers throughout the country based on complexity of the work, firm growth and client service. 

The recognition by Chambers USA is the latest in a long list of accolades received by Kluger Kaplan. The firm in 2017 was named a Top Litigation Firm by the Daily Business Review, an ALM-affiliate and sister publication to the American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel and National Law Journal. The firm has also been named Best Law Firm by U.S. News & World Report, one of Florida Trend Magazine’s Legal Elite and one of Florida’s Top 100 law firms by Florida Super Lawyers Magazine. 

Attorney rankings by Chambers USA: 

Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)

  • Alan J. Kluger (Band 2)
  • Philippe Lieberman (Band 4)
  • Steve I. Silverman (Band 4)

For full details on our rankings in Chambers USA 2018, please visit Chambers & Partners.

 

 

Crain’s Miami: If I Knew Then with Alan Kluger

Crain's

 

 

 

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Alan J. Kluger

Background:  After building a successful 60-attorney law firm, powerhouse trial attorney Alan J. Kluger took a risk and launched Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine eight years ago with a focus on litigation. Now recognized as one of the top litigation firms in the Southeast, the Miami-based practice has nearly doubled in size and recently opened an office in Minneapolis. Kluger is known for handling an array of celebrity divorces and has successfully litigated prominent cases from Hollywood to Wall Street.

The Mistake:

I was constantly selling myself. Early on in my career, probably 30 years ago, I would go to these events or people would invite me to different business functions. I was a business litigator. I would go to these things, and all I would do is talk about myself. And I thought it was really good to tell them all about me, and I couldn’t understand why I never got traction.

I was actually at an event at a group of automobile dealers in Atlanta. I was invited to speak and I spoke about a topic of law that I knew about, and then I started talking about me. And I looked out and I was getting no traction. I saw their eyes glaze over — and it sort of hit me.

I figured out that catching rather than pitching was the key to success.

And what started to happen after that — I’d pick up clients anywhere. I will be on an airplane, at a dinner, traveling with my wife somewhere in the world, and I will have a conversation. And it will go on for 20 minutes and I will know everything about them. And they don’t know anything about me. They don’t even know what I do.

And then they’ll turn around to me and they’ll say, “What do you do?” And I’ll say, “I collect art and I travel.” “No, no — what do you do to make money?” And I say, “I’m a trial lawyer.”

And then my wife will say, because she’s a former judge, “He just took your deposition.”

People don’t want to hear about you. They want to know that you care about them.

The Lesson:

I realized that, in my business, what I do is I learn all about my witnesses. I ask them questions and I find out all about them. And I realized two things. One, people want to talk about themselves. And in my business of being a trusted advisor and doing litigation, where people’s lives and their businesses are on the line, I really can’t give them advice unless I really know them. And you can’t say to somebody, “Tell me about you.”

So I decided that I would focus the conversation. So I say, “Where are you from? Where did you grow up? Did you go to college and what did you study?” Within 25 minutes, I know everything.

Continue reading in Crain’s Miami.

Daily Business Review: South Florida Midsize Law Firms Find Room for Fee Options

Daily Business Review

 

By Catherine Wilson

The buzz about alternative fee arrangements has gotten louder in recent years, and many midsize law firms in South Florida have carved out space for something other than the straight billable hour.

AJK High Resolution“It’s becoming more and more of a topic, especially in big commercial cases, where it really wasn’t before,” said Miami commercial litigator Alan Kluger, co-founder of the 32-attorney Kluger Kaplan. “Clients are more receptive than they used to be.

The field of possibilities is open on the client side.

“Every single client, with the exception of maybe the Fortune 50, are potential clients to do alternative fee agreements, and the main thing they tell you is the shifting of the risk solely from the client to the client and the lawyers makes them happy,” he said.

But opinion is split on the willingness of clients to switch away from billable hours to AFAs.

Gary Rosen, managing shareholder of the 92-attorney Becker & Poliakoff, said he attends a lot of professional conferences, and “there’s been a lot of talk about AFAs in the past 10 years generally.”

“In reality, AFAs have not grown as dramatically and have not become as significant a component of the overall legal landscape as many have predicted, and the reason is it’s not that lawyers are uncomfortable with it. For the most part, it’s clients who are uncomfortable with it,” he said. “Clients have shown a reticence to move much more significantly into the AFA environment.”

Clients like the idea of predictable legal fees, and alternative arrangements are keyed more to specific clients than practice areas, said real estate litigator Ryan Gesten of the 21-attorney Shapiro, Blasi, Wasserman & Hermann in Boca Raton.

“I’ve been practicing 17 years. I’ve handled 1,000 matters on contingency,” he said. When considering a request for alternative fees, “it’s almost like we know it when we see it.”

Attorneys at South Florida midsize firms said alternative fees represent as little as 10 percent of total revenue and as high as 80 percent of cases, with litigation being a common practice area for AFAs.

The types of cases most likely to foster alternative fees at Kluger’s litigation firm are third-party and bad faith insurance claims, legal malpractice claims and breach of warranty claims.

“Those cases get resolved because it’s money. It’s just money,” he said.

Continue reading in the Daily Business Review. 

Daily Business Review: Litigator Abbey Kaplan On How Finding Common Ground Has Built His Career

Daily Business Review

By Celia Ampel

Miami attorney Abbey Kaplan believes the “Real Housewives” series is “complete lunacy” — but he’s seen plenty of episodes.

Kaplan carved out time to watch the show when his pop-culture-loving daughter was a teenager so he would have an easier time connecting with her.

Abbey Kaplan“When I used to travel, as an example, I would always buy a People magazine so that when I came back, there would be things that I’d be able to have in common with her and could talk to her about,” Kaplan said.

The business litigator’s belief in finding common ground has helped him win over juries, forge relationships with opposing counsel and grow his 30-lawyer firm, Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine.

Kaplan did not always know he would be an attorney. Like many kids, he wanted to be a professional baseball player, like his idol Mickey Mantle. But at age 13, he was hit in the face with a tennis ball and became blind in his right eye. His dreams dashed, he realized he needed to start on a path toward a different career.

He worked his way through college and law school as a women’s shoe salesman, chatting up people from all different walks of life — including his future wife, attorney Alyne Wrubel Kaplan. Those years taught him the importance of being able to connect with any type of person.

“You have the size fives and you have the size tens,” he said. “You have the women who want to spend a lot of money and the women who can’t spend a lot of money.”

It’s not always easy to meet people on their level, Kaplan said, particularly when you represent business clients who jurors might struggle to relate with. In 1991, Kaplan felt stuck as he prepared to ask for punitive damages in a trademark infringement case.

“I was really struggling with how do you reach common ground with a jury on punitive damages?” he said. “How do you explain to them what it means to punish somebody in the business sense?”

He consulted with his law partner, Alan Kluger, who suggested quoting Exodus 22:1: “If a man steals an ox … and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen.”

It worked. The jury awarded $10 million, including $4 million in punitive damages. Although the verdict was later overturned, the moment stuck with Kaplan as a lesson on how to connect with a jury.

Continue reading in the Daily Business Review