In many respects, the Year 2012 was a year of Recovery and Redemption.

The Troubles, as some legal market observers have called it, eased a bit as law firms recalibrated business plans, signed up laterals with strong books of business and in some cases, took the merger route and got married. Some veteran lawyers, meanwhile, abandoned the perceived security of Big Law and started their own new firms from scratch.

Despite all of the changes — there has been one constant with the South Florida bar. A vast majority of our legal community did what they were hired to do: In both the private and public sectors, they served their clients well.

To prove it, the Daily Business Review is again recognizing some of the best work delivered by private and public sector lawyers from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties through its eighth Most Effective Lawyers in South Florida.

This year, in its eighth annual special report, the Review is recognizing more than 70 attorneys in 13 categories.

They include: Appellate, Arbitration, Bankruptcy, Business Litigation, Class Action, Corporate Securities, Criminal Justice, Intellectual Property, Personal Injury, Pro Bono, Product Liability, Public Interest and Real Estate.

As always, the attorneys were measured on one critical benchmark: the results for the client.

This year, there were plenty.

Among them:

– For the long-suffering investors who were pushed off their own fiscal cliff by the Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, litigators obtained stunning verdicts and settlements to place clients on the road to more than just a modest recovery.

– For a woman who ended up with deformed hands as a result of mistreatment by a doctor, one litigator turned to arbitration – at her client’s insistence – to win a multimillion dollar award.

– For a foreign insurance company that needed appellate help to beat back a multimillion dollar federal court verdict, a former Supreme Court justice teamed with two law firm colleagues to get the result overturned.

– For homeowners who saw a mortgage origination fraud lead to one of the biggest bank failures in U.S. history, an area lawyer and his team helped creditors recover millions lost through fraudulent or preference conveyances.

– For other homeowners whose houses were fouled by toxic Chinese drywall, class action lawyers reached an agreement for a payout of between $600 million and $1 billion.

Throughout the pages of today’s special pullout section, readers will learn the details about these and other cases that impacted both the public and private sectors.

Holding to custom, the Review’s selections began with the assistance of bar members, their non-lawyer colleagues and the clients who believed their lawyers deserved recognition for what was achieved.

The nominees’ work was evaluated by the Review editorial staff and based on both tangible results and an outcome’s impact on public policy and/or business interests.

Review editors conducted a three-month selection process that focused on not only the outcomes but the complexity of cases.

Only South Florida-based lawyers qualified for the program. The results had to be achieved between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012.

An initial cut was made to eliminate nominations that were incomplete, did not meet the criteria or clearly did not belong in the program.

The DBR’s research director reached out to many of the nominees for information to buttress the nominations.

The editors then scored the nominees before meeting to select the semifinalists.
Some of the categories that proved to be the most competitive were appellate, business litigation, criminal justice, real estate and public interest.

The DBR’s staff reporters and several outside contributors researched and further reported on the cases handled by the finalists. In some cases, they talked to the adversaries of those who were nominated.

The editors reconvened in November to review the findings and research by the staff writers and contributors.

Finally, in each category, the editors undertook the difficult task of selecting one case that featured attorneys who should be recognized as a Most Effective Lawyer.

While today’s section identifies leaders in each category, the editors sought to be sensitive to the teamwork that went into each result. Thus, readers will see the names of many who were in the supporting cast.