Eric N. Assouline, co-founder of Assouline & Berlowe, P.A., a business litigation and transactional boutique law firm, credits his personal and professional success to hard work, a strong work ethic inspired by his parents, and good Jewish values. A first-generation American, he was raised in Queens, New York, by immigrant French Moroccan parents, with few resources. “I grew up working in my parents’ grocery store. And now I am living the American Dream,” he says.”
Started in 2003, Assouline & Berlowe’s main practice areas are patent and intellectual property law; commercial litigation and appeals; real estate; labor and employment; international law and arbitration; creditors’ rights and bankruptcy. The firm has three South Florida offices, and has served as counsel of record on many complex cases outside of Florida.
Practicing with a Passion Assouline is a litigation partner in the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale offices, and the head of the business litigation practice group. His practice focuses on complex business litigation, intellectual property and real estate litigation, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights. Assouline enjoys a complicated business litigation dispute, analyzing the risks and benefits of the strategy to employ, and then implementing the plan. He takes pride in taking a case from inception to conclusion for the client, which often includes trips into the appellate and bankruptcy courts.
As the business world continues its international expansion, Assouline & Berlowe guides its clients through their legal challenges. “I see the South Florida’s legal market evolve due to the influx of foreign investment and the lack of familiarity and frustration with the American legal system. For example, as a French speaking attorney, I have been hired by many clients from France and they are always shocked at the expense involved in litigating a case in the United States. I do my best to bridge my clients between differing legal environments,” Assouline says. With the assistance of his partner, Daniel Vielleville, who was an attorney in Venezuela before becoming an attorney in the United States, they bridge the gap with the firm’s Latin American clientele. Partner Carl Perdue plays a similar role with corporate matters from his extensive experience with complex Middle East corporate finance.
Management predicts growth in the areas of technology, real estate and intellectual property. “We’re more than just another boutique law firm. We take great pride in the high quality legal work that we do every day. I believe our extensive network of attorneys that refer their clients to our firm, including many referrals from former opposing counsel, is a testament to how we honor our craft,” Assouline says.
From Law School to Shag Carpet to a Success Assouline and Berlowe first served together as members of the University of Miami Law Review. After law school, they worked together in the Miami office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, where they trained as litigators on nationally recognized cases. While there, Assouline served as the court appointed receiver’s lead litigation attorney charged with recovery actions in a high-profile global Ponzi scheme.
When Assouline & Berlowe first opened its doors in Coral Gables, their office was sublet from Berlowe’s father. “Our first office had thick shag carpet, old fashioned wood paneling, and had not been renovated in decades. The furnishings were comprised of mismatched furniture and left over construction materials that we used to build a new countertop for the receptionist area,” Assouline says. From those humble beginnings, Assouline & Berlowe expanded with an office in Broward, and later another office in Boca Raton.
As part of its flagship intellectual property practice, the firm has three registered patent attorneys, including University of Miami classmate Loren Pearson, who is board certified by the Florida Bar in intellectual property, partner Peter Koziol, and their newest addition, Greg Popowitz. Ellen Leibovitch, who is board certified in the areas of labor and employment, heads the firm’s Boca Raton office. Recently, the firm’s commercial real estate practice expanded with the addition of partners Alan Krinzman, Michael S. Greene and David K. Blattner.
Assouline says, “Through our 12 attorneys we now have hundreds of years of collective business law experience, much of it gained in practice at large, prestigious law firms.”
Management by Cheerleading Assouline believes a big part of managing a law firm operating in a complex legal environment requires leadership that under-promises and over-delivers. He says, “I am the biggest cheerleader at the firm, trying to boost everyone up to their potential. My goal is to establish an atmosphere where everyone works as a team.”
“As the managing partner of the firm, I need to know what everyone is doing. I have an ethical obligation to protect all of the firm’s clients and to be there to pick up the pieces if anything were to happen to any particular attorney at the firm. But I do not tell attorneys how to do their job. The attorneys at my firm are exceptionally qualified and know their craft. My job is to make it as easy as possible for them to get their work done and keep the firm’s clients satisfied,” he says.
Assouline believes that his firm has the talent and experience to compete with any firm in the area of business law. Assouline says, “In particular, as it relates to regional boutique business firms, because we are smaller, we can offer more flexibility without compromising on service.” He stresses the fact that clients regularly interact with the firm’s attorneys through multioffice video conferencing. “This not only gives us what I believe is a significant competitive edge, but it helps keep clients in close contact, which is important to our client relationships.”
Sharing the American Dream by Giving Back As individual professionals and as a firm, the attorneys of Assouline & Berlowe believe in sharing the American Dream and they have backed that belief from the beginning. “We’ve long been involved in giving back to the community, in time, money and energy, to support numerous worthy causes and those who are less fortunate,” Assouline says.
Just some examples include: a mayoral debate for Miami-Dade County; a fundraising program for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; and a charity golf tournament in Boca Raton and a Walk-a- Thon in Sunrise, both in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.“In 2008, as the economy struggled, we did not feel it was appropriate to have a year-end holiday staff party. So, instead we made donations to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood and to the Miami Children’s Hospital,” Assouline says.
Assouline says, “Our community has been good to us and we feel good giving back.” Assouline currently serves on the board of directors of the B’nai Brith Justice Unit and the Jewish National Fund. He has been a guest speaker at St. Thomas University School of Law, where his wife, Iris Rogatinsky, is a law professor, he has mentored several law students seeking his advice and insight on the practice of law, and he frequently lectures on litigation and deposition skills for Pincus Professional Education. He also regularly volunteers to judge law school moot court and mock trial competitions at the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern Law School.
“I feel fortunate that I have been given this opportunity and I do my best to instill the same strong work ethic and uncompromising moral values upon my children with the help of my amazing wife.” She also worked with both him and Berlowe at Weil Gotshal.
Assouline’s rise from humble beginnings to prominence in the legal community has colored his view of the world, the community, and his firm. He and the attorneys of Assouline & Berlowe recognize their fortuity. “You will not hear me complain about my life. I find it very unbecoming to complain about trivial matters. No one is perfect and no situation is perfect forever. I like to say that I don’t look at the glass half full. I am grateful I even have a glass to drink. And as far as I am concerned, my glass always runneth over.”