Glen Waldman and Dan Heller ()
The name partners of the Miami law firm Heller Waldman have gone their separate ways, establishing two distinct firms focused on different practice areas.
Glen Waldman, a litigator, has established Waldman Barnett with Eleanor Barnett, who was previously a partner at Heller Waldman and focuses her practice on complex commercial and business litigation, trust and probate litigation, and employment litigation. The firm, which opened last week, focuses primarily on litigation. It has hired four lawyers who previously worked for Heller Waldman, and it has taken on a new associate. Waldman Barnett continues to operate out of the Heller Waldman office space in Coconut Grove, where that firm was established in 2009.
Dan Heller, meanwhile, has formed the firm Heller Espenkotter with Alex Espenkotter, who was also previously a partner at Heller Waldman. Their firm focuses on wealth management and estate planning, and will remain in the office that Heller, Espenkotter and another partner—Robert Beraha—opened last summer for Heller Waldman in Coral Gables to be closer to clients. Espenkotter said the new firm handles a wide range of trust and estate clients, ranging from the taxable estates of doctors and lawyers to the first-generation wealth of 15-to-20 billionaire entrepreneurs.
Previously, Waldman, Heller, Barnett and Beraha worked together at Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod. They left there to start Heller Waldman in 2009. Espenkotter, also a former Bilzin alum, joined the team later.
The partners started discussing a split at the end of last year and decided March was the right time because that’s when various contracts, such as one for insurance, were up for renewal, according to Waldman.
Heller Espenkotter incorporated at the end of January; Waldman Barnett incorporated at the beginning of March.
Former litigation partners Jason Gordon, Jeffrey Lam and associate Michael Azre will remain in Coconut Grove with Waldman Barnett, as will Michael Sayre, who has been promoted to partner. Waldman Barnett’s new hire, Benjamin Lee Keime, previously worked for Cole, Scott & Kissane as an associate. He will start at Waldman Barnett on April 3.
Waldman, 55, said he sees the firm’s split and the lifting up of a younger name partner as part of succession planning for himself and Heller, although neither is planning to retire anytime soon.
“In order to perpetuate your firm and keep it going, it’s important that you infuse it with younger talent,” Waldman said, adding that he has and Barnett have worked together for 12 years. “If you don’t give people opportunities to move up, then people leave. … We’re taking care of those who have made us what we are.”
Barnett, who is in her early 40s, is now lead on some of the firm’s major matters, Waldman said.
Espenkotter, 46, said he sees his new role as a promotion—not part of a long-term exit strategy for Heller, who is 61. But he said having his name on the firm will help him bring in new work.