Miami firm Stearns Weaver has made its name in corporate and securities, litigation, real estate, labor and employment and bankruptcy law and has gained recent attention for its high-profile successes in class actions. The firm’s clients include Japanese restaurant chain Benihana, NBA heavyweight team the Miami Heat, Verizon, the Ritz Carlton, Bluegreen, Johnson & Johnson and big banks Bank of America, UBS and Bank Atlantic Bancorp.
Stearns Weaver has emerged through multiple name changes and evolutions to become one of the most sought-after firms in Miami for over 30 years. With three additional offices in Florida, in Tampa, Tallahassee and Fort Lauderdale, its relatively small size of about 120 attorneys belies its influence. Stearns Weaver’s reputation has been affirmed by Chambers, which ranks itsBankruptcy/Restructuring, Banking & Finance, Corporate/M&A & Private Equity practices as leading, The National Law Journal, Best Lawyers, in which its Labor & Employment, Real Estate, General Commercial Litigation and Real Estate (Zoning & Land Use) attorneys are ranked, Benchmark Litigation, which names it a “Highly Recommended” firm and Florida Trend Magazine, which honored its attorneys as among its Florida Legal Elite. Heartening to those who would assume that all these awards would translate to a stiff, intense work environment, the firm is also acclaimed for being one of the“Best Places to Work,” according to the South Florida Business Journal.
Class Action Litigation Fighters
Stearns Weaver has been particularly active on both sides of the bench, litigating in areas of product liability, general commercial, securities, IP, antitrust, insurance, appellate, professional liability. However, the firm has drawn particular notice in class actions litigations, in no small part due to the efforts of renowned litigator, name partner of firm and chairman of the department Eugene Stearns. As plaintiff counsel in a 2011 class action suit against Exxon Mobil brought against the company by Exxon dealers, Stearns and a team of Stearns Weaver attorneys won a settlement of $500 million in damages for their clients. The settlement, which totaled $1 billion including prejudgment interest, broke the record for the largest ever awarded by a Florida jury.
Stearns Weaver made headlines again in July 2012 with its lead counsel defense of Bank Atlantic Bancorp, Inc., which resulted in a rare Eleventh Circuit reversal allowing the bank to escape the securities class action suit on appeal with a no sum settlement.
A Friend to Big Banks (and BigLaw)
Stearns Weaver has proven itself a friend to big banks in more than just times of class actions. The firm served as co-counsel defense to UBS, alongside Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, no less, against an IRS action. Compliance with the action, which aimed to reveal the names of U.S. citizens with Swiss bank accounts, would have entailed committing a crime for UBS employees in Switzerland. Through expedited discovery and multiple briefings, UBS reached a settlement with the Swiss and U.S. governments.
Stearns Weaver’s friend-in-need mentality extended to Peninsula Bank, for which the firm reversed a $14 million verdict in favor of a Ponzi scheme recipient and against the bank on appeal.
But Stearns Weaver doesn’t just fight for big banks. The firm was an Orange sponsor in the 2011 Dolphin Cycling Challenge, a fundraising effort for the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. The firm not only sponsored the challenge for the second year in a row, but also compiled a riding team made up of 26 members from its Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa offices. The team raised $38,000 in charity money and hosted a jeans day to spread awareness for the cause within the firm. The jeans day paid off, with lawyers volunteering to be a part of the Miami Dolphins, a “Special Teams” volunteer organization which assisted at the event and spread the word throughout the community.
150 West Flagler Street
Miami, FL 33130
Employer Type: Private
Managing Director: Rick Schatz
Total No. Attorneys 2014: 119
1st year: $130,000
Summer associate: $2,400/week
Miami, FL (HQ)
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Acquisitions and Dispositions
Banking and Financial Institutions
Commercial and Asset-Based Financing
Commercial Real Estate
Commercial Real Estate Lending
Corporate and Securities
Development and Building
Development and Construction
E-Commerce and Technology
E-Discovery and Information Management
Hospitality and Leisure
Labor and Employment
Mergers and Acquisitions
Municipal Law and Land Use
Office and Commercial Leasing
Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences
Restructuring and Workouts
Sports and Entertainment
Trusts and Estates