Miami business advisory firm Cohen Ruiz is winding down operations after 17 years in practice, with its remaining lawyers joining the Miami office of Cleveland’s McDonald Hopkins on July 10.
Cohen Ruiz founding Partner Robert Cohen said the larger footprint and resources of McDonald Hopkins and its expertise in the areas of data privacy and cybersecurity will help the firm’s lawyers in their forensic work chasing alleged financial fraud across the country. Such work often requires relief from courts in other parts of the country, he said.
“That takes a lot of technology, and it’s helpful to have a broader footprint,” Cohen said. “Good offices, digital documents, the latest technology, the latest procedures for staff, quality control, encrypted communications with clients—all those are things over the years that have … become increasingly difficult to provide on a small platform.”
He said title insurance companies, for instance, will dispatch the firm to investigate when money is stolen from escrow accounts.
Cohen and fellow name partner Mario Ruiz will become members at McDonald Hopkins. Joelle Dvir and Regen Shanzer will join as associates. Cohen Ruiz’s lease on its current Miami office expires next month, Cohen said.
Cohen Ruiz focused on fraud investigations, real estate transactions and appellate law as well as other areas of litigation including business, banking, title insurance and construction.
A longtime client, Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, closed in 2015 and is now in bankruptcy, forcing Cohen Ruiz to downsize last year from about 10 lawyers to the four lawyers it has now.
McDonald Hopkins has 20 lawyers in Miami and West Palm Beach, with a handful of them currently in the Miami office. It also has offices in Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago; and Detroit.
Cohen said his team will expand the practice areas at McDonald’s Miami office, which is just across the street from his own firm’s office, and will be able to have a greater impact there than they might have at a larger firm. Cohen, who has been a business owner for 30 years, said McDonald’s dynamic yet conservative Midwestern approach to running the business gives him the confidence to turn over those responsibilities and free his time.
Cohen’s practice focuses on business, banking, real estate, title insurance and construction litigation. Ruiz’s practice involves real estate, title insurance, commercial and business litigation as well as appellate work and family law.
McDonald Hopkins’ Miami office founding managing partner Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez, who served as general counsel to former Gov.Jeb Bush about a decade ago, said since opening a small Miami office in 2011 the firm has expanded to half a floor at the Southeast Financial Center. Rodroguez said she is in discussions with a number of attorneys around town regarding further expansions.
Last year, the firm added two members — Rafael Perez and Richard Guerra from the former Feldman Gale office that had been taken over by Cozen O’Connor.
She said Cohen Ruiz’s title insurance and fraud expertise will expand what the firm can offer its clients in Miami and throughout the firm.
“Florida and in particular Miami is a center that seems to attract a lot of fraud and the expertise that they have is something that is very, very useful in this kind of market,” Rodriguez said.
The Miami office of McDonald Hopkins until now focused on commercial litigation, state government affairs and intellectual property, including trademark and patent prosecution and litigation. The data security element is part of the firm’s national practice.
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