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June 24, 2018


Most Influential in Law & Banking

Florida Staff | 11/1/2004

Cesar L. Alvarez
Miami, 56, President/CEO, Greenberg Traurig
Alvarez was the first Hispanic to be named CEO of a nationally recognized law firm. Over the last seven years, Alvarez has grown the firm from 325 lawyers in eight offices to more than 1,100 lawyers in 24 offices. Alvarez is the trustee of the Florida Free Trade Area of the Americas, which has played a prominent role in trying to secure Miami as the permanent headquarters for the FTAA. Alvarez's firm also represented President Bush after the 2000 election despite Alvarez's long history of association with Democratic power brokers. "We're not a political party ... we're lawyers," Alvarez told Florida Trend in 2001.

Jim Bacchus
Washington, 55, Chairman, Global Trade Practice Group, Greenberg Traurig
Having served eight years on the appellate body of the World Trade Organization in Switzerland, with two stints as the body's chairman, Bacchus is one of the world's leading experts on international trade -- and an unapologetic trade advocate. The appellate body is the court of final appeals for international trade disputes. A former U.S. congressman elected as a Democrat from a mostly Republican central Florida district, he also served as an adviser and speechwriter for former Gov. Reubin Askew and later as Askew's special assistant when Askew was the U.S. trade representative. Bacchus, who founded Greenberg Traurig's Orlando office, authored a book, "Trade and Freedom," after his stint on the WTO and has started an international trade practice for the law firm.

Martha Walters Barnett

Tallahassee, 57, Partner, Holland & Knight
A former American Bar Association president, Barnett has been influential not only as a Florida representative in the ABA's House of Delegates, where she was chairperson, but on an international scale. Barnett was one of only two representatives from the ABA to attend the U.N.'s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. The conference, held every 10 years, tackles women's issues worldwide. Barnett helped forge business relationships with Chinese lawyers and helped influence the conference's platform on human rights as they apply to women, which will help the U.S., not just Florida, in increasing trade and business with China and other nations.

Mitchell W. Berger

Fort Lauderdale, 48, Shareholder, Berger Singerman
Berger is the insider of insiders when it comes to Democratic political matters. It helps that one of his first jobs out of law school was serving as a law clerk to Alan C. Sundberg, who was chief justice of the Supreme Court of Florida at the time. By 1991, Berger was named commissioner of the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission. By 1992, he became a member of President Bill Clinton's transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior. In 2000, he was senior adviser to the Al Gore campaign. He also helped shape some of the laws that have forced the state to restore the Everglades.

C. David Brown II

Orlando, 52, Chairman, Broad and Cassel
Brown has been friends with the Bush family since 1992, when he helped with former President George Bush's re-election campaign. In 1998, he was Jeb Bush's central Florida finance chairman during his gubernatorial campaign -- and later hosted Bush and golf pros Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara at the Isleworth Country Club near Orlando for a round of golf. In 1999, Gov. Bush appointed Brown to the Florida Transportation Commission. By the spring of 2003, Brown was meeting in private with the governor to discuss bringing more biotechnology business to the state. Via friends, Brown set up the meeting between Bush and Scripps Research Institute President Richard Lerner that led to Scripps' expansion to Palm Beach County, the largest economic development coup in state history.

Rhea Law
Tampa, 54, President/CEO, Fowler White Boggs Banker
As the first female CEO of the largest law firm in Tampa Bay, Law knows something about breaking the glass ceiling -- and the sound barrier. Law has piloted an F-16, fired a cannon and raced cars. She's shown little fear as a tax attorney as well, spending years fighting, and ultimately winning, development approval for Westchase, an upscale residential community in Tampa. She is consistently named one of the top 10 business people in Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg Times' annual Business Outlook survey. Gov. Jeb Bush appointed her to the Florida Council of 100 and to the University of South Florida's Board of Trustees. Law will play a significant role in reshaping Tampa's downtown.

Dexter Lehtinen

Miami, 58, General Counsel, Miccosukee Indian Tribe of Florida
Lehtinen -- born in Homestead in 1946 just a half-mile from Everglades National Park -- is perhaps the pivotal character in the saga of Everglades restoration. After being appointed U.S. Attorney in Miami by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, Lehtinen sued the state of Florida for not protecting the Everglades. The suit was "one of the most creative contributions in the history of modern environmental law," William H. Rodgers Jr., a University of Washington law professor, told Florida Trend last year. Eventually, Florida settled the suit. Lehtinen left the U.S. Attorney's office to become the general counsel for the Miccosukee Indian Tribe of Florida. He has filed several lawsuits on behalf of the tribe, whose lands include the Everglades.

Fred Leonhardt

Orlando, 55, Partner, GrayRobinson
Leonhardt has the ear of Gov. Jeb Bush and many of the most powerful business people in the state. He took over as volunteer chairman of the Florida Chamber after Bush appointed Toni Jennings lieutenant governor and has taken the lead in pushing the chamber's constitutional reform agenda. Smooth, diplomatic and persuasive, he helped convince the Legislature to pass the medical liability reform package last year alongside Jennings.

H. Lee Moffitt
Tampa, 62, Attorney, H. Lee Moffitt P.A.
Former chairman of the Public Service Commission and Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Moffitt won a written promise from Gov. Bob Graham for initial funding for Florida's first free-standing, state-supported cancer center during a 1980 car ride. A practicing attorney with corporate clients ranging from Time Warner to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins, he's been successful at winning a $10 million to $11 million appropriation each year for the center that bears his name.

John Morgan

Orlando, 48, Founder, Morgan, Colling & Gilbert
Morgan has built one of the largest personal injury law firms in the state and has become a marketing guru for plaintiffs attorneys. He also owns a consulting business that handles marketing, ad production and media buying for lawyers, including Johnnie Cochran's firm. Morgan is one of the biggest Democratic fund-raisers in the state and was state finance chairman for President Clinton. Morgan raised a quarter-million dollars for U.S. Sen. Bob Graham's presidential bid before Graham dropped out of the race.

Hector A. "Tico" Perez

Orlando, 42, Partner, Baker & Hostetler
A Georgetown University Law School grad, Tico Perez spends his days advising corporations on mergers, acquisitions, international business laws and the like. By night, Perez spends his time making decisions for the city's utilities customers as chairman of the Orlando Utilities Commission, its art patrons as chairman of United Arts of Central Florida's marketing committee, and its students at the University of Central Florida, where he is a member of the school's foundation. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Orlando in 2004 but retains significant clout with Orlando's growing Hispanic community.

Katherine Fernandez Rundle

Miami, 54, Miami-Dade State Attorney
Rundle was schooled by one of the best in her business. As a young prosecutor in Miami-Dade County, Rundle worked for Janet Reno, who picked Rundle as her successor when she was named attorney general by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Three weeks after Rundle took the top post, violent crimes against tourists in Miami made international news, and embassies sent out advisories warning tourists about visiting Miami. Rundle put together a community task force that lobbied the governor and legislators to pass tougher laws on crime, including the so-called three strikes law. She also helped craft a bill requiring vendors at gun shows to do background checks on customers.

William R. Scherer Jr.
Fort Lauderdale, 56, Founding Partner, Conrad & Scherer
Scherer is good friends with the Bush brothers. He was appointed by Gov. Bush to the Fourth District Court of Appeal's Judicial Nominating Commission in 2001, one year after Scherer led a group of lawyers from his firm in representing President Bush during the 2000 election re-count in Florida and personally represented George Bush in the Broward County re-count. He is one of George Bush's "rangers," having raised more than $200,000 for Bush's campaign.


Adrienne Arsht

Miami, 62, Chairwoman, TotalBank
From the networking breakfasts she holds at the Ritz in Coconut Grove to sponsoring the arts and hosting Democratic fund-raisers, Arsht has extended her reach beyond small ($650 million in assets) TotalBank in Miami, an institution majority owned by her husband, Mike Feldman.

Calixto Garcia-Velez
Miami, 37, President, Citibank Florida
At 37, Garcia-Velez runs Citibank's southern U.S. operation and just finished a year's stint as chairman of the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade's economic development group. In January, he finished a two-year term chairing the Alliance for Human Services, a group drawing the master plan for human services in Miami-Dade. He says he's ready for a break from leadership but plans to remain active. "I believe very strongly in giving back to the community."

Bob Helms

Jacksonville, 57, Florida CEO, Wachovia
North Carolina native Bob Helms, who has run the Wachovia/First Union operation here since 1999, will chair the Jacksonville chamber next year and has led its Super Bowl initiatives as well as being involved in the local public broadcasting affiliate. "Bob has also shown a genuine commitment to programs designed to enhance the local diversity and inclusion climate," says chamber President Walter Lee.

Adolfo Henriques

Miami, 51, Southern Region CEO, Regions Financial Bank
When Miami plunged into financial chaos in 1997, Havana native Henriques was chosen chairman of an oversight board for its finances. Henriques nowadays chairs the Florida International University Board of Trustees and formerly chaired the Beacon Council, Miami's economic development group, and the area's visitors bureau.

George Koehn
Orlando, 61, CEO, SunTrust Florida
With the largest Florida banking operations now answering to out-of-state bosses, Florida senior executives often lack the autonomy, longevity and clout that bank chiefs enjoyed in the days of Barnett and CenTrust. Koehn (pronounced Kern) is an exception. A director of the Orlando Regional Healthcare System and the former vice chair of Enterprise Florida, Koehn has contacts in every Florida region. He says SunTrust empowers him to make decisions locally without having to run the corporate bureaucracy, pledging, for example, $150,000 for hurricane relief. "If you're sincere in your efforts, when you make a call, people will accept the call," Koehn says.

Tim Laney
Jacksonville, 44, Florida President, Bank of America
Laney has run Bank of America's Florida operation for three years. That's a long time at BofA; his three predecessors totaled only four years. The Tallahassee native and FSU grad also oversees lending and investment banking for middle market companies throughout the Southeast. In Florida, Laney co-chairs the state group that works to prevent military base closings.

Alan Levan

Fort Lauderdale, 60, Chairman/CEO, BankAtlantic Bancorp
Levan's thrift survived the S&L crisis in the early 1990s to become an institution with $4.8 billion in assets. An Ernst & Young Florida Entrepreneur of the Year, he's brought seven-day-a-week banking to Florida. He's hardly a plain vanilla banker. The thrift's holding company, BankAtlantic Bancorp, invests in tech, investment houses and real estate developers. Levan's success also has a philanthropic component; he created the BankAtlantic Foundation.

Ramiro Ortiz
Miami, 54, President/COO, BankUnited
The one-time computer operator trainee and boxing promoter in 2002 became Bank-United's president. Locally owned and the largest Florida-based bank ($8.3 billion in assets), BankUnited and Ortiz have a sway that satellites of out-of-state banks sometimes lack.

Tags: North Central

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