Mark F. Raymond didn’t set out to be a litigator.
Yet he has won cases and either won or saved millions of dollars for clients ranging from a New York nun to corporate giants like Carnival Cruise Line and Belgium-based accounting And advisory giant BDO International.
As a University of Miami law student, Raymond was pursuing a path to become a trusts, estates and taxation lawyer with plans to to join the family business.
“But I got the litigation bug,” he said.
It was an elective class with soon-to-be-famous Miami attorney Roy Black that prompted Raymond to switch course. Black went on to represent celebrity clients in high-profile cases, including Justin Bieber after a Miami Beach arrest, the rape acquittal of William Kennedy Smith and the dismissal of doctor-shopping charges against Rush Limbaugh.
Raymond worked on a mock trial as part of the class and in the scenario represented a client who to Raymond definitely appeared guilty of a heinous crime. His classmates were on the jury.
“I do remember going, ‘Wow, how am I going to convince (the jury) what appeared to me was a guilty party wasn’t guilty?’ ” Raymond asked.
The trial, albeit a mock one, was a change for Raymond after the work he had done in his father’s law firm.
“ I had been exposed to tax law pretty much my whole life, having worked in my father’s law firm first in the copy room and then doing filing and other things in my teen years,” Raymond recalled. “I hadn’t had any experience in the courtroom, and we had to prepare oral arguments, and we had to persuade our classmates who sat as jurors, and I found it very intellectually challenging and engaging to have to convince others of your position, even if you might not have believed it at the time.”
Raymond’s career path was sealed. He is now the Miami managing partner of Broad and Cassel, specializing in complex commercial litigation.
He has netted notable victories for his clients.
In 2007, he successfully defended BDO International in an accounting malpractice lawsuit, saving it from a potential $521 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge John Schlesinger struck a $351 million punitive damages award, and a jury decided BDO International wasn’t liable for $170 million in compensatory damages.
His first trial was in 1986 when he obtained a $71 million jury verdict for the receiver for ESM Government Securities Inc., a collapsed Fort Lauderdale-based government securities dealer, in a case against an accounting firm.
Raymond took on more than 25 percent of the witnesses and, while questioning one of the main witnesses, he posed a question he had not planned to ask.
“But something told me he was finally going to admit that he had made a mistake,” Raymond said. And he asked.
“I said to him, ‘Sitting here today, having reviewed all the evidence, would you admit you made a mistake? And he said, ‘Yes.’ ” Raymond said, clarifying the mistake had to do with improperly accounting for a transaction.
It hasn’t been all corporate clients either. Raymond has represented individuals including victims of fraud.
“ I enjoyed representing people who had been defrauded and helping them recover oftentimes their life savings where they had been cheated out of, frankly, out of their retirement,” he said. “I got a good deal of pleasure to be able to recover money for them that they had viewed as gone forever.”
One of his clients was a Catholic school principal in Brooklyn who settled with the New York City transportation department after being hit by a public bus. The nun trusted the money with a broker to use the proceeds for school supplies, Raymond said. But the broker invested in highly speculative, high-commission trades and lost about 80 percent of her money.
“I was able to recover all of her money,” Raymond said, adding she would sometimes call him after the case. ”Typically, it would be when she would withdraw a nice sum out of her account to buy some supplies or do something special for the kids at school, and she would think of me. … It was always very gratifying because here she was helping others and by my helping her she was able to continue to help others.”
His strategy as a litigator also has evolved. He used to pushed for trials, thinking settlements were a sign of weakness.
“I would work my cases up and just pound, pound, pound and would never raise the prospect of settlement,” Raymond said. But his thinking has evolved.
“It’s in your client’s best interest to settle. They are not in the business of litigating. Rarely does a client want to engage in litigation except when they don’t have a choice,” Raymond said.
And after more than 30 years of lawyering, Raymond has some advice for young attorneys. Find a mentor.
“We have a … fine legal community down here with a lot of goodhearted people who would be more than willing to spend time providing young lawyers with thoughts, guidance and mentorship.”
Mark F. Raymond
Born: Detroit, 1958
Children: Brenton and Kolb
Education: University of Miami, J.D., 1983; Babson College, B.S.B.A., 1980
Experience: Broad and Cassel, 2005-present; Tew Cardenas, 1991-2005; Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Underberg, Manley, Myerson & Casey, 1983-1989