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Akerman Senterfitt Establishes Las Vegas Office
Akerman Broadens Western Footprint with Opening of 15th U.S. Office; Move Marks Third New Office in Past 16 Months
March 8, 2010

Akerman Senterfitt today announced the opening of its 15th U.S. office in Las Vegas, Nevada, Akerman’s third new office in the region in the past 16 months.  The office will be led by Ariel Stern, who joins Akerman's Consumer Finance Litigation practice in Las Vegas.  Mr. Stern joins Akerman from Ballard Spahr, where he was a litigation partner concentrating on defending class and individual actions involving consumers, as well as other complex cases, business litigation, administrative matters and election laws.

Akerman's Las Vegas office opening also expands the firm's Government Affairs and Policy practice with former U.S. Representative Jon C. Porter, who will direct the government affairs practice from the firm's Washington and Las Vegas offices. Jon Porter, former congressman for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, joined Akerman in 2009.

Recently, Akerman has opened offices in Denver, CO and Dallas, TX as the firm expands to meet client demand and business opportunity in the west.  The Las Vegas office, like Denver and Dallas, features the firm's highly respected Consumer Finance Litigation practice.

“Our firm has been involved in the State of Nevada for many years, assisting clients in a variety of business matters,” said Andrew Smulian, Chairman and CEO of Akerman Senterfitt. “Opening an office there will allow us to better serve our clients in this market in an expanding business environment.  In addition to financial services and in particular, consumer finance issues, Las Vegas is an important market for the hospitality and gaming industries;  and the State of Nevada is also a leader in environmental initiatives, ranging from alternative energy and water conservation, areas of deep experience at Akerman.  The Las Vegas office, as well as our existing Dallas, Denver and Los Angeles offices, will utilize our deep, firm-wide experience in these key industries and issues to best serve our clients’ interests,” he added.

Akerman is one of few U.S. firms with a national litigation practice dedicated to consumer finance litigation, defending loan originators, servicers, and investors in individual actions and class actions, and prosecuting repurchase and mortgage fraud recovery cases.  Akerman's Consumer Finance Litigation practice has grown to more than 60 lawyers and professionals, with significant expansion in 2009. 

"Las Vegas expands our platform into another challenging market for the financial services industry and strengthens our ability to serve clients in the Western United States," said William Heller, Chair of Akerman's Consumer Finance Litigation practice.  Mr. Heller added, "With Ariel on the team, we have meaningfully experienced consumer finance litigators in California, Colorado, Texas and Nevada, in addition to Florida and New York in the east.  This includes former in-house lawyers, like Charles Townsend in Dallas, Justin Balser in Denver, Donald Scotten in Los Angeles and Shari Turkish in Fort Lauderdale.  We have a very strong group." 

Akerman plays an active role in the financial services industry nationally, representing many of the nation's leading banks, mortgage lenders, mortgage servicers, private equity firms, insurance companies, securities firms and other industry participants, applying its experience across the full range of litigation, transactional, regulatory and public policy issues.  Litigation has been the focus in the west.  For example, Akerman is lead defense counsel in a case of first impression in the California Court of Appeal, Mabry v. Aurora Loan Services LLC, et al., that will decide whether California Civil Code § 2923.5 is privately-actionable and/or preempted as to federal thrifts.  The statute addresses contacting borrowers to discuss non-foreclosure options before issuing a default notice.

Akerman’s experience in Nevada includes assisting clients in the financial services, hospitality, gaming and travel industries as well as service with numerous government bodies.  Joining Jon Porter in serving these interests are Richard L. Spees (who worked for former Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt) Jane Sargent, Joseph T. Findaro, Scott Brenner and Robert M. Andersen.  Existing governmental affairs and policy clients include Nye County, Carson City, Station Casinos and the Reno-Tahoe airport.  The team has deep roots in the state.

Rick Spees has represented Nevada clients for more than 20 years and has authored a chapter in the book The Maverick Spirit: Building the New Nevada.  Robert Andersen, also a Shareholder in the Washington, D.C. office, is a former Chief Counsel of the United States Army Corps of Engineers and was a regional counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  While at the Corps, Robert worked with the State of Nevada and its counties and municipalities on flash flood prevention and water supply issues; he currently represents Nye County, Nevada.

About Akerman Senterfitt
Akerman is ranked among the top 100 law firms in the U.S. by The National Law Journal NLJ 250 (2009) in number of lawyers and is the largest firm in Florida.  With more than 500 lawyers and government affairs professionals, we serve clients from major business centers in Florida, New York, Washington, D.C., California, Virginia, Colorado, Texas, and Nevada.  More information can be found at or

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