Patriotism, for many, is experienced in spurts. A moving story about a national hero, a rousing rendition of the national anthem or Old Glory waving proudly above might evoke otherwise dormant feelings. However, these sentiments of pride and gratitude for our uniquely American experience tends to lie in relative abeyance. There are of course, exceptions.
Attorney Andrew Aleman is just such an anomaly. Born of refugees, Aleman grew up in an atmosphere of constant and fervent appreciation for our country.
“My parents are Cuban exiles who were forced to leave their homes as teenagers in pursuit of liberty,” he says. “Their sacrifice inspired me to learn about the promise of the American dream that our Constitution provides and the system of laws that protect that promise.”
“My parents’ love for this country truly is the greatest influence in my life. What they accomplished, is an inspiration to my four brothers and me,” he adds. “Raised in a home with a strong emphasis on education, work, integrity and the concepts of equality and justice. Most point to Christmas as their favorite holiday, but because of what America has meant to my family, ours is the Fourth of July.”
Experience That Counts
A founding partner of Accel Legal, PA and managing attorney at St. Johns Title, LLC in North Florida, Aleman is a board certified real estate specialist with more than 20 years of varied and notable positions of influence. His experience includes directing operations for two Florida title firms and serving in an executive role and legal advisor at the University of Miami and Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 300 company recognized as the largest title insurance company in the world.
Fluent in Spanish, (another benefit of his upbringing), Aleman leverages his diverse experience to better serve commercial and individual clients within the community as familiar to him as his own kin. A North Florida native and resident, Aleman’s deep roots have spread into an ever-expanding network of friends, colleagues and clients. These strong ties offer insight into specific situations, challenges and evolving infrastructure that impacts his clients.
“After 23 years of practice, several matters stand out as career-defining,” says Aleman. “One of my earliest cases involved the establishment of safe and secure housing for battered women and children. Despite challenges, we were able to secure financing and successfully get the project in motion. More recently, I took over a nine-figure settlement that had encountered delays that threatened to kill the entire transaction. By collaborating with the various parties, we not only rescued the deal – closing it within weeks – we also saved the client tens of thousands in legal expenses and exponentially higher amounts in delay costs.”
Friendly and quietly attentive, Aleman has that intangible essence old Hollywood used to call IT. Effortlessly drawing people with his charm and impressing them with his wit and wisdom, it’s not surprising that he has an ever-growing network of friends and colleagues.
Appreciative of all relationships, Aleman notes that several have in fact been of a mentoring nature that have had a lasting effect on his career.
“I have been incredibly fortunate to have learned from many gifted lawyers along the way,” he says. “Two that stand out are Fred Franklin and Doug Booher. Doug was my managing counsel at a national title insurance company. His intellectual curiosity, understanding nature and commitment to his practice inspired me. His vast expertise in real estate law made him an ideal mentor.
“At another point,” Aleman continues, “I had the privilege of serving in a strategic and operational role at a large and prestigious Florida firm. During that time, I reported directly to Fred Franklin the firm’s managing shareholder and a legend in the legal community. I learned so much from Fred’s commonsense approach to operational management, his passion for his vocation, and his selfless stewardship of the firm’s history and reputation.
“I am so grateful to have the opportunity to encounter, become friends with and learn from these great lawyers.”
Beyond the professional advantages Aleman’s involvement elicits, there are the benefits to himself, his family and the community at large.
“I am a supporter of a growing church, and of my children’s various academic and athletic endeavors,” he says. “I am also a member of the Florida Bar real property probate and trust law section, the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce and Leadership St. Johns. As a Leadership alum (class of 2020), I support its mission by staying connected to projects and by nominating, mentoring and sponsoring members of its current and future classes.”
Community commitment is part and parcel of the altruistic ideology learned in his home. Lessons imparted not only in words, but more importantly by example.
“My parents sacrifice left an indelible impression,” says Aleman. “Armed only with the clothes on their backs, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to giving more than they received, my parents sought refuge in America. Through that commitment, they realized the promise of the American dream and raised five boys into men, imparting their values into all of us. Of all my blessings, and there are too many to count, those lessons are the greatest I have ever received.”
Fruits of Labor
Aleman’s parents sacrifices also impacted his decision to venture into a career in law.
“My father was a physician,” he shares, “the gratitude that his patients expressed for the positive affect he had on their lives inspired me.”
“The best part about a vocation in real estate law is the lasting impact of the work I accomplish for my clients,” Aleman continues. “Real estate can be the largest investment people make in their lives. Identifying legal solutions to protect that investment is a tremendous and humbling responsibility. It gives me great pride in being trusted with that responsibility.”
As with virtually everything, Aleman admits while enjoying great rewards and satisfaction from his work there are also things that make it quite challenging.
“I love the client interaction,” he says. “Protecting investments and finding unique solutions to complex problems is satisfying and rewarding.
“Conversely, the evaporating environment of civility as well as the increasing number of inexperienced attorneys, non-lawyers, and ‘one stop’ startups in the vocation can be challenging,” he adds. “Client representation is a tremendous responsibility. Clients rely on their lawyer’s advice, trusting they will be successfully guided through decisions and avoiding negative, long-lasting consequences. Sadly, there are a growing number of lawyers who seem to think that simply having a license to practice instantly imparts a special wisdom. The truth is actual wisdom is acquired through disciplined study and hard work. There is no ‘magic key’ to the kingdom. Unnecessary costs to the client and the declining reputation of lawyers are a direct consequence of inexperienced advice.”
Aleman says that he addresses these challenges by working harder, practicing with integrity and remaining faithful to fairness and civility with both peers and clients. Again, these are values imparted by his parents.
“My father was not just a doctor,” says Aleman. “He was also a specialist, a mentor and an entrepreneur. He dedicated his life to helping others. The best way to honor his legacy was to follow a similar path of acquiring specialization, building a business and helping to mentor and develop talent for future generations.”
A Bright Tomorrow
While steadfastly clinging to these family values, Aleman looks forward with a positive attitude and excitement for innovations that both inspire and complement his practice.
“As a younger lawyer, we did things the ‘old fashioned’ way,” he says with a smile. “Research was done at the courthouse and law libraries. Pouring over ‘the Stacks’ was how it was done. Information technology has changed research and client service in ways we could never have imagined, and that technology is rapidly changing. Not only is there greater access to information, but advancements are being developed in ways that have made professional representation more affordable and accessible to a larger client population. I am excited for the future of these technologies and look forward to implementing them in my practice.”
In addition to the many traits that set this attorney apart, one notable designation is being the only board certified real estate specialist with a practice headquartered in St. Johns County. Attorney at Law Magazine asked Aleman what the significance of this means to him.
“The word trust is both a verb and a noun through its various meanings in the legal lexicon,” he responds. “My highest professional goal is to establish a legacy of trust and promoting a reputation of trustworthiness from my clients and my peers through my professional commitment and subject matter expertise. Board certification is a big step in furthering that reputation and legacy. One that I intend to continue well into the future.”