Miami Attorney Barbara J. Riesberg decided to become a lawyer while in college. She worked at Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh processing sales and purchases of bonds and securities for well-known Pittsburgh family trusts dating back to the 19th century. She found it exciting and became fascinated by the insider trading and junk bond scandals of the 1980s. It was at that time she decided to become a lawyer because it was a way to be involved and allowed her to advise on complex business issues.
After obtaining a degree from Cornell Law School, Riesberg started her career as an assistant public defender in Miami-Dade County. She later worked for firms of varying sizes, including a firm specializing in municipal representation, a commercial litigation boutique with strong trial lawyers and a large national firm. As an assistant public defender she tried many cases and developed a comfort in the courtroom.
“At Weiss, Serota & Helfman, I learned precision, presentation and how to be a well-rounded lawyer,” she said. “At Tew Cardenas, I worked with great strategists who possessed excellent trial skills. At Shook, Hardy & Bacon, I experienced working with large teams for significant corporate clients. After practicing for RiesbergLaw for 10 years, my partners and I formed our current practice Polenberg, Cooper, Saunders, & Riesberg, PL in October 2012. I have incorporated more from my varied experiences than I ever anticipated.”
The two analogies that best describe her practice are the game of chess and puzzles. “In a game of chess, one must consider what will occur many moves ahead before taking action; to solve a puzzle one must first find the corners and the edges before searching for the other pieces and how they fit together. Legal precedent guides litigation strategy much like the picture on the box for a 5,000-piece puzzle guides the solution.”
But the best part about being an attorney is the intellectual stimulation and creativity it requires. “As a litigator, I am always learning that no two cases are ever the same,” Riesberg said. “It is rewarding to finish a piece of work and know it is based on solid research, preparation and logic. Most rewarding is obtaining a good result for a client.”
While Riesberg appreciates the rewards, she acknowledges that her practice has challenges. “I primarily litigate cases involving business, real estate and employment issues. I also counsel clients to invest in cost-saving strategies to avoid litigation. A consistent challenge is satisfying client goals as efficiently as possible. Results count and so do client budgets.”
There are also poignant moments as well. “Following an arbitration hearing in which I represented a real estate investor and developer, I received an unexpected compliment from my opposing counsel,” she recounts. “I had taken over the case following some negative rulings and was the underdog. My relationship with opposing counsel was prickly in the months preceding the hearing, and his litigation style was extremely aggressive. Not surprisingly, the arbitrator ruled in favor of his client, the owner of a large residential apartment complex. When I congratulated him, the lawyer replied that I was quite tenacious, did an excellent job and that my client should be pleased with his choice of attorneys. I was very surprised to say the least. My expectation was a response akin to ‘the best lawyer always wins’ or simply some gloating. To me, it was a sincere compliment coming from a tough advocate. My client was also pleased with the representation, even though we lost. In fact, the same client has since consulted with me on a new matter.”
As for the future, Riesberg looks forward to continuing her work with the business law section of the Florida Bar and participating in drafting legislation affecting business issues.
When she is not working, she enjoys cycling, cooking and spending time with friends and family.