Partners Vivian de las Cuevas-Diaz and Barbara Ferrer and three other Broad and Cassel attorneys have jumped to Holland & Knight’s real estate practice group.
Anna Marie Hernandez and Isabel Diaz join Holland & Knight as senior counsel. Rebecca Mendez joins the firm as an associate.
“I’ve never done anything alone. When I came to Broad and Cassel I brought my associate and paralegal. As we grow the practice and continue to build, this move was imperative and the right move for everybody,” said de las Cuevas-Diaz, president of the Cuban American Bar Association. “We service clients on a team dynamic. We work together.”
The team has “created a very sophisticated and successful real estate practice and we are extremely pleased to have them join our firm,” said John Halula, Holland & Knight’s Miami real estate practice group leader. “Additionally, each has an impressive background of leadership and community involvement that fits perfectly with the culture of Holland & Knight.”
De las Cuevas-Diaz decided to move to Holland after four years of talking with the firm and seeing the focus of her practice shift from a local focus to a more national practice.
“I service my clients not only in Florida but in other states, and Holland has offices in others states, and I can serve my clients better knowing I can call a partner in Los Angeles,” de las Cuevas-Diaz said. “Holland also presented an opportunity with their international platform, what I believe to be the future of the transactional world.”
She focuses on banking and institutional lending and government relations. Her list of prominent clients includes Doral developer Sergio Pino, who hired her during the construction boom for the purchase of properties and developments. She represents financial institutions in loan modifications, note sales and property sales as well as litigation throughout Florida.
Ferrer, who was of counsel with Broad and Cassel, is a financing, banking, commercial and construction real estate lending attorney. She also handles public-private financing.
She has represented national and local entities in various deals. She represented Total Bank in the structuring and closing of a construction loan for the expansion and renovation of the Flagler Dog Track/Magic City Casino. Ferrer also represented SunTrust in the closing of a $78 million construction loan for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Miami Beach, an intricate deal that exposed some troubles with maintenance of the 1953 facade, and a $55 million loan to the Ritz-Carlton Club in Jupiter, Fla. Ferrer also has represented BankUnited.
Holland offers an opportunity to enhance and develop a clientele in the international market, Ferrer said.
“We definitely want to have a Latin American platform,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of capital coming into the U.S. and Florida, and we feel Holland is a better platform.”
Ferrer joined de las Cuevas-Diaz 2 1/2 years ago from Akerman Senterfitt to build the banking and real estate practice at Broad and Cassel. With her latest move, Ferrer expects to develop a stronger land use practice that will help her enhance the public-private financing arena.
She is a past board member of the Builders Association of South Florida and Commercial Real Estate Women-Miami.
Hernandez, Cuban American Bar Association treasurer, was a member of Broad and Cassel’s commercial litigation, real estate litigation, international law and bankruptcy and creditors rights practice groups for a year. She has worked on prosecuting and defending clients in claims of defects, delay and statutory liens.
Diaz represents commercial landlords in the structuring and negotiating of complex office or anchor tenant retail leases. She also has represented banks on new branch leases throughout South Florida. She focuses her practice on workouts and restructuring of commercial real estate loans and the disposition of REO assets.
Mendez has represented several institutional lenders on the origination, modification and securitization of commercial real estate loans secured by shopping centers, office, hotel and mixed-use buildings nationally.
“We had synergy in our practices, and that’s why I joined Broad and Cassel,” Ferrer said. “Vivian and I have a very good partnership, and we pretty much make joint decisions. This is something that we gave a lot of thought to, and there was a lot of contemplation, and it was a joint decision.”
As Cuban American Bar Association president, de las Cuevas-Diaz wrote a letter to retailer Urban Outfitters protesting its sale of clothing and a poster that included an image of communist icon Che Guevara, who fought with Fidel Castro in the Cuban revolution and became his minister of industry.
In her letter, she urged the clothing company to issue a public apology for encouraging online buyers to “Let out a rebel yell — without saying a word.”
She also opposed sponsorship of a Miami Marlins lawyer appreciation night after team manager Ozzie Guillen made pro-Castro remarks.