Prominent international arbitrator Burton Landy, one of the founding partners of the once well-known Miami firm Paul, Landy, Bailey & Harper, has rejoined some of his former partners as senior counsel at Harper Meyer Perez Hagen O’Connor Albert & Dribin after 20 years at Akerman.
Landy, 87, known for his distinctive handlebar moustache as well as for his distinctive career, spent the last 20 years at Akerman and will celebrate 65 years in legal practice this year. He decided to make the move to a smaller firm, he said, so as to more easily avoid client conflicts in his international arbitration work.
At Akerman, such conflicts happened frequently. “There are 650 lawyers in 21 offices and all of them have to be part of the conflict check,” Landy said.
At Harper Meyer, however, there are just 17 lawyers. Instead of dealing with a department dedicated to conflict checking, Landy joked that all he would need to do is step into the hallway and ask.
Paul, Landy, Bailey & Harper, the firm Landy co-founded in 1964, closed in 1994 during a time of industry contraction. The firm had about 40 lawyers and handled international work. “It was the best,” firm partner James Meyer said of the defunct firm. “Everybody got along. It was congenial. It was convenient. It was Burt Landy’s personality that emanated throughout that firm and created that pleasant environment.”
The idea of having Landy join Harper Meyer came about after partner George “Rocky” Harper died in February, Meyer said.
“It all came together in this light version of the law firm that we enjoyed so much at the start of my career,” Meyer said. “It made all the sense in the world. It was a way to honor Rocky, as well, because Rocky admired Burt so much.”
Meyer said Landy had been Harper’s mentor, and Harper had been his.
Landy, among the first lawyers to become involved in arbitration in Miami, serves as chairman and arbitrator in international commercial and investment arbitrations in Latin America and the Caribbean. He has served as arbitrator and as counsel in a number of international arbitration panels and tribunals concerning commercial investment disputes. Landy focuses his practice on the inbound structuring of foreign client U.S. operations and investments, and U.S. clients on their outbound worldwide investments.
Although Landy said his practice is that of an “international generalist” with a focus on international arbitration in Latin America, a job transfer suggestion gone awry during the Korean War has also made him a honorary South Korean consul general.
After graduating from the University of Miami School of Law in 1952, Landy entered the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps and was posted in San Antonio, Texas. The young lawyer was fluent in Spanish and told his officers that his Spanish skills were being wasted and they should make him an attache in Latin America. Ten days later, he got word that he would be working in South Korea instead. There, he lived in a tent and tried court marshals in a hut.
Thirty years later, Landy visited South Korea again to see how much the once war-devastated country had recovered. At the time, he was president of the World Trade Center Miami, and he worked toward improving trade between South Korea and the U.S. When South Korea’s Florida Consulate closed in 1988, he was made honorary consul general. He refers larger matters to the consulate in Georgia.