When attorneys Ira J. Kurzban and Marvin Kurzban founded their immigration and personal injury law firm in 1977, it was under the guiding principle that they wouldn’t worry about anything except being the best in their field. Even though they started the firm the same year that a United States Supreme Court ruling opened the door for lawyers to advertise, the two brothers knew that building a strong reputation for legal excellence enhanced by word-of-mouth from satisfied clients would be all the advertising they needed. And they were right.
Fast forward 40-plus years to today’s highly successful law firm of Kurzban Kurzban Tetzeli & Pratt P.A. and the attorneys founding philosophy was a sound one. The firm has always focused on providing the best legal representation rather than emphasizing marketing or advertising to attract business. The principle was simple – provide excellent legal services and create the best reputation to ensure the firm’s success. KKTP today enjoys an outstanding national and global reputation, earning an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest award for excellence in the field, based on its successful representation of clients for over 40 years.
“People come to Kurzban, Kurzban, Tetzeli & Pratt, P.A., based on our reputation and success” says Jed Kurzban, the firm’s managing partner and president. “Our business model is not based on advertisements because our firm focuses on the legal problems of our clients, rather than the business of soliciting future clients.”
The firm’s focus is on winning clients’ cases and achieving the best results for all of them.
HIGH-ACHIEVING LEGAL TEAM
The firm’s headquarters recently relocated to a newly renovated building in Coral Gables, Florida. It also has an office in Honolulu, Hawaii. The firm’s practice areas in personal injury, immigration and nationality law, and civil litigation are nationally and internationally known. It handles cases in all U.S. immigration, personal injury, medical malpractice, products liability and commercial and business legal matters and represents clients in cases throughout the United States and the world.
Ira Kurzban, who served as President and General Counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), chairs the firm’s immigration and nationality law division. He is truly a legend in U.S. immigration law and is the author of the most respected treatise in the field: “Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook,” currently in its 16th Edition. He has successfully argued in numerous precedent federal court cases at all levels of the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court
The firm’s founding members, Ira Kurzban and brother Marvin Kurzban, who is now retired from the practice, are the sons of a Romanian immigrant who immigrated to the U.S. at the onset of World War II. Their family history of hardworking immigrants drove the founders in their own success and inspired Ira Kurzban to devote his professional life to improve the country’s immigration laws and ensure due process of law and access federal courts to prevent abuses. Today, the immigration division’s day-to-day operations and management are handled by partners John P. Pratt and Helena Tetzeli, both award-winning attorneys
Pratt is board-certified in immigration law by the Florida Bar, and specializes in all aspects of immigration and nationality law, including complex federal court immigration litigation, removal defense, and immigrant and nonimmigrant employment-based petitions. He joined the firm in 2001, and through hard work and dedication was named Partner. Pratt, who is fluent in Spanish, regularly appears in Spanish language national media, including the Telemundo network, discussing and analyzing the effects of immigration topics in China, Japan, Europe and elsewhere.
Pratt, as well as Ira Kurzban, and Tetzeli, regularly lecture in the field of immigration law both nationally and internationally, and both contribute to Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook. “Together, Ira, Helena, and John are carrying the immigration practice of the firm forward,” notes Jed Kurzban.
Tetzeli specializes in commercial/civil litigation and immigration law. In her immigration practice, she successfully represents multinational companies and individuals. Tetzeli handles an array of immigration matters, from removal to federal litigation, to every type of business visa, as well as visas for artists, athletes, and other individuals with extraordinary ability. She has received numerous awards, including being listed in “The Best Lawyers in America” for her work in the field of immigration law.
She also advises and represents companies, both start-ups and businesses whose names are well known, in a wide variety of areas including collections, labor issues, compliance, and other types of commercial and civil disputes. As a litigator, she has represented the firm’s clients in the federal courts, including the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and in the state courts of Florida, including the Florida Supreme Court. She is known as someone who gets results.
Jed Kurzban joined the firm in 1992, working with his father Marvin Kurzban in the personal injury division. Since joining the firm, he has significantly expanded the personal injury division and the medical malpractice division to include a national practice specializing in undiagnosed kidney disease. Jed Kurzban’s national reputation in these areas allowed him to try several medical malpractice cases throughout the United States and helped to expand the firm’s national presence and open the branch office in Honolulu. He is a hands-on attorney who does all case workup and trials, with the help of a professional support staff, to ensure that the firm’s personal injury and medical malpractice clients know that when they retain the firm they are “really retaining Jed Kurzban.” He handles six to eight cases at any one time so he can give each his utmost attention. Along with his litigation team, Jed Kurzban’s passion and knowledge are driven by his belief that people who are seriously injured due to another’s negligence often have nowhere to turn other than to a caring, knowledgeable, dedicated attorney who will ensure their rights and interests are protected.
“When someone was injured, my father wanted to be there to help them, to show them that life does not end and there is a way to move forward,” he says. “That is my belief too. When someone is catastrophically injured, they are often left on their own. Their bills are mounting, and their families are devastated. They can really be left destitute and there is no one to assist them except for a dedicated attorney that understands the obligation to protect and help them.”
Jed Kurzban has been recognized for his trial and advocacy work. He lectures several times a year on trial work and the law in the field of personal injury and medical malpractice. He also has worked with local counsel throughout the United States trying cases in the field of medical malpractice and taught at the University of Miami School of Law
IMPACT OF CURRENT IMMIGRATION LAWS
Assisting immigrants has become even more critical based on the current administration’s policies restricting all aspects of immigration programs, including legal family-based or employment-based immigration. The current administration’s policies leave all immigrants and the legal community, including clients and their family members, in a constant state of flux, according to Pratt.
“No one is quite sure what to do and what will be the next regulatory or judicial change,” Pratt says. “More and more people are asking us what they can do. They want to know if it is safe to move their families and/or businesses to the United States. It is critical that they know that they have the support of legal experts who will safeguard their rights.”
He adds that the firm’s immigration litigation division, chaired by Ira Kurzban, has achieved numerous precedent federal court immigration cases, including pro bono cases before the U.S. Supreme Court representing people experiencing immigration problems. While Ira Kurzban is a leader at the firm in providing pro bono representation, all the attorneys believe in the importance of donating their time and professional expertise and do so regularly.
EXAMPLES OF SEMINAL CASES
The firm has litigated federal court immigration cases at all levels, including district courts, courts of appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Recently, based on the current administration’s efforts to curtail immigration, the firm is involved in impact litigation with many organizations in several federal district and circuit federal courts. For example, the firm’s dedication to helping immigrants through pro bono representation resulted in a successful lawsuit that challenged the Trump administration’s efforts to curtail the temporary protection status enjoyed by over 50,000 Haitian immigrants. On April 11, 2019, in Saget et al. v. Trump et al., the federal court granted the plaintiffs a nationwide preliminary injunction prohibiting the Department of Homeland Security from terminating protected status for Haitian nationals lawfully living in the U.S. This seminal immigration law case is just one of many in which the firm has valued people’s lives over political ideology.
Within its personal injury practice, a major case against Nissan Corporation exemplified that area of the firm’s equally powerful commitment to the welfare of its clients. In a product liability claim, the firm gained a settlement in excess of seven figures against the company on behalf of a 17-year-old dancer who lost a leg below the knee due to the negligent design and materials used in the construction of a Nissan automobile.
Another case that went to Florida’s Supreme Court highlights the success of Jed Kurzban’s kidney disease practice. The firm won a $4.1 million-dollar jury verdict against a pediatrician who had failed to diagnose and treat a young girl’s kidney failure. As a result, the 6-year-old had to undergo a kidney transplant. The firm helped transform the definition of an expert witness in the case as upheld by the Supreme Court of Florida.
The firm also excels in the area of complex civil litigation. For example, Tetzeli currently represents a U.S. company in a case she filed in U.S. District Court for her client, a Florida company owed millions of dollars, against PDVSA, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of the Venezuelan national oil company. This is one of the few cases against PDVSA, Inc. to ever have survived a motion to dismiss in federal court.
MOVING ESTABLISHED VALUES TO A NEW LOCATION
In 2019, Kurzban Kurzban Tetzeli & Pratt relocated into its newly renovated state-of-the art building the partners purchased in the Coral Gables business district. The attorneys and staff are pleased to continue employing their “clients first” philosophy in their beautifully renovated new offices, which are strategically located and outfitted for the years ahead with technologies that include electronic case filing and high-tech video conferencing. With its set-up for the digital age, the firm is enthusiastically welcoming the future of law, and the challenges for the future.
“We are embracing the digital age as we press forward into the fu- ture,” Jed Kurzban says. “We feel like our on-point mission of putting clients first can be fully realized and accomplished from this new home, as it enables us to continue to grow and effect change through the courts, lobbying, lecturing and publishing.” Jed Kurzban, in fact, has been honored for lobbying efforts on behalf of injured victims in Tallahassee and recently was honored with the Excellence in Writing Award by the Florida Bar Journal & News Editorial Board.
While the new space has not altered the firm’s people-first philosophy, it has given them a renewed sense of purpose in spreading this important message. The belief that justice for people should prevail over politics and money, is something the attorneys staunchly uphold in every case they take on and it is reflected in their work ethic.
The immigration team spends hours each week in each other’s offices discussing issues, asking questions and bouncing ideas off each other. They discuss hot topics and the latest case law in weekly meetings led by Pratt and Tetzeli. In the personal injury and commercial litigation practices, Jed Kurzban and Tetzeli are also staying on the leading edge of what is new and relevant in their areas that will help them protect clients. When many of the attorneys leave the office, they don’t clock out. Instead they go home and write articles and papers seeking to effectuate change.
“I lecture a lot and one of my messages is that trial lawyers make the change,” Jed Kurzban says. “The government is doing more and more to try and stop trial lawyers from making change. But corporate profits should never be more important than individuals. Politics and ideology are not more important than people. When someone loses the ability to live the life they chose due to someone else’s negligence, the government or their insurance should care; they don’t, but juries do. That’s why the government tries to take away the right to jury trials. We are on the front line of trying to stop this from happening.”
With a bright future ahead founded on a remarkably successful past, what is the firm’s president most proud of?
“I am most proud that we don’t need to sell ourselves,” he says. “We’ve allowed the value of our hard work to speak for itself. We have over 8,000 clients in the history of the firm that continue to generate additional work for us because of their appreciation of the firm, how hard we’ve worked and the results we’ve obtained. That is what has driven our practice to grow and move forward. A client first philosophy has been and will continue to be our cornerstone.”
As we head into 2020, based on the standards the firm has set for itself over the past four decades, there will surely be many more leading accomplishments in its future and new Coral Gables home.