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Lillian A. Ser
At heart, Lillian is an entrepreneur, a trait she shares with many of her clients. As such, Lillian started her own practice in July 2009 and has never looked back. Lillian’s education (M.B.A. and J.D.), coupled with her business and legal experience garnered over the years, prepared her for establishing her own firm and doing what she enjoys most – being closely involved in advising her clients on all aspects of their business, corporate and real estate legal issues.
For close to 20 years, Lillian has worked with business owners, real estate investors, institutions and individuals assisting them in all aspects of legal representation including corporate and business counsel, real estate matters involving acquisition, development, construction, leasing, and land use and zoning. Lillian has become a constant business and legal advisor to her clients while functioning as their legal counsel with regard to all phases of a client’s business, from formation to real estate transactions and development. Lillian provides outside general corporate counsel services to her entrepreneur and small corporate clients that may not need or want a full-time in-house counsel.
Lillian began practicing as an attorney with two of Florida’s largest and best-known law firms-Greenberg Traurig and Shutts & Bowen. While at these two major firms, Lillian practiced as a real estate and land use attorney providing legal counsel to and obtaining local, state and federal approvals for developers and private property owners in connection with the construction and completion of large-scale real estate development projects including residential, office/commercial, mixed-use and marina developments.
In 2006, Lillian traded the large law firm environment for a more diverse and hands-on legal experience by joining Flagstone Property Group as its General Counsel. While there, Lillian directed and managed all legal matters in connection with the development of a $600 Million mixed-use commercial project including, but not limited to, corporate structuring, drafting and negotiating of corporate contracts, obtaining all required local, state and federal land use and environmental permitting for the project, including a mega-yacht marina facility; overseeing timeshare registrations, negotiating hotel management agreements; retail and restaurant leasing.
Lillian sits as a Deputy Regional President for the Hispanic National Bar Association, Member of CREW-Miami (Commercial Real Estate Women) and a member of the Coral Gables, Doral and Medley Chambers of Commerce, the Doral Business Council, and the South Florida Minority Supplier Development Council.
University of Miami, Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, 1999 University of Miami, Master of Business Administration, cum laude, 1988 University of Miami, Bachelors of Business Administration, 1983
Karen J. Lapekas
1/2013 – Present Solo-Practitioner/Tax Attorney
- Karen’s experience as a Senior Attorney with the United States Internal Revenue Service and Special Assistant United States Attorneys makes her specially-equipped to provide counsel to businesses and their owners with U.S. Tax claims and litigation. Karen regularly represents individual and entity clients before the IRS and the U.S. Tax Court
3/2012-1/2013 Special Assistant United States Attorney, Bankruptcy
- Appointed/sworn-in by U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer, Feb. 2012
- Represented the United States before the U.S. S.D. Fla. Bankruptcy Court
5/2009-1/2013 Senior Attorney, IRS Office of Chief Counsel, Miami, FL
- Represented the IRS before the United States Tax Court
- Released Tax Court opinions: Sergio Garcia v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 140 T.C. 141 (2013); Humphrey v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo 2013-198; Guy v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo 2013-103; Iovine v. Comm’r, T.C. Summ. Op. 2012-32; Hollingsworth v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo 2010-262; Sherrer v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo 2011-198; and Williams v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo 2011-227
- Provided legal advice and guidance to IRS revenue agents and revenue officers
- Co-counsel for complex tax litigation cases
- University of Florida, Levin College of Law, LLM Taxation (2009)
- Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Juris Doctor, Litigation (2008)
- Western Michigan University, B.A.: Psychology; Minor:Mathematics (2005)
Zachariah R.F. Evangelista
Zachariah R.F. Evangelista is a business, corporate attorney. He focuses his practice on providing legal guidance to innovative companies and entrepreneurs at all stages of growth. As a problem solver, Zachariah Evangelista works with his clients to help them achieve the most efficient and effective solutions to the unique issues they face in the marketplace. Zachariah regularly advises clients on corporate structuring and restructuring, purchase and sale transactions, acquisitions, raising capital, product marketing and distribution, intellectual property protection, outsourcing transactions and service agreements. Mr. Evangelista also dedicates a portion of his practice to assisting nonprofit organizations with their legal needs.
Prior to becoming an attorney, Zachariah worked for the City of Miami in the Office of Cultural Arts and Entertainment where he managed contracts and procurement for the office. This experience allows Zachariah to support his clients in seeking governmental bids and contracts. Mr. Evangelista is involved in a number of community organizations and activities. He is on the Board of Directors for Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, where he serves as co-chair of the Pro Bono Committee and the Schools Committee. He is also on the advisory board of the Miami Sci-Fi Film Festival. He presents workshops and webinars for SCORE and the FIU Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center on a variety of legal topics for start-ups and small businesses. He is a pro bono lawyer for Dade Legal Aid’s Venture Law project and was selected to be a part of the inaugural Legal Aide Academy. He is also a member of the Florida Bar Business Law Section, the American Bar Association, and the Crowdfunding Professional Association.
Zachariah Evangelista received his Juris Doctor degree from the Florida International University College of Law in 2011, with honors. Mr. Evangelista has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Anthropology from Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, and obtained a Master’s in Public Administration from Florida International University. Mr. Evangelista is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida.
Florida International University College of Law, Juris Doctor, with honors, 2011
Florida International University, Master of Public Administration
Hofstra University, B.A., Anthropology
Leslie V. Marenco
Leslie Marenco focuses on advising individuals, most often entrepreneurs, with respect to estate planning matters. Her trust and estate planning practice concentrates on using innovative planning techniques to fulfill the clients’ dispositive goals and to reduce and sometimes eliminate taxes. In addition she assists clients in conveying the family owned corporations and other business interests to the next generation. She prepares Wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, and other estate planning documents for her clients, in addition to employing tax planning techniques to minimize and eliminate taxes through the use of specialized trusts, GRATs, installment notes, sales, QPRTs, charitable gifts, private foundations, family limited partnerships and limited liability companies.
Marenco is originally from Port Chester, NY but received her law degree right here in Miami, Florida where she graduated third in her class. Prior to beginning her legal career, Leslie was a Civil Engineer for a large Engineering firm in Miami for over 5 years where she was responsible for the design and production of construction documents for roadways, potable water, sanitary sewer, and drainage systems. She was also a consultant for the Florida Department of Transportation – District 6, overseeing the Local Projects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan (“Federal Stimulus Package”). Additionally, as an Engineer & Attorney registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, her practice includes a unique understanding of domestic and international valuations of intellectual property rights of patents, trademarks, and copyrights within the business succession context. Super Lawyers magazine has named her a “Rising Star” in 2015.
Florida International University, School of Law (J.D., 2009)
University of Florida, B.S. in Civil Engineering, (2004) Cum Laude
Sandra M. Upegui
Sandra M. Upegui’s experience as a litigator and as in-house counsel helps her to better serve businesses on a diverse range of commercial litigation matters relating to landlord/tenant issues, privacy and security, compliance, risk management, and business disputes. She has been instrumental in guiding clients through the leasing process and in handling and litigating landlord/tenant disputes. Prior to becoming of counsel with Ser & Associates, Ms. Upegui was an Assistant General Counsel for the University of Miami for 5 ½ years. At the University of Miami, Sandra Upegui was a key member of the privacy and security committee responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of personal information. She assisted the Business and Privacy Offices with implementing stronger contract management processes, policies and procedures to improve privacy and security of personal information. She was also invited to be a speaker at the Epic Community Connect Advisory Council (CCAC) and annual User Group Meeting on privacy issues involved with electronic medical records systems. In addition, Sandra Upegui managed various litigation matters on behalf of the University, including a class action privacy lawsuit, collection matters, contract disputes, privacy complaints, and government investigation subpoenas.
Before joining the University of Miami, Ms. Upegui was a litigation partner with Shutts & Bowen, LLP in the International Litigation Practice Group focusing her practice in various industries, including banking, real estate, insurance and healthcare. She is a member of the Florida Bar and is admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Florida State University College of Law, J.D., 1999, magna cum laude
Florida State University, B. A., 1995 in International Affairs, cum laude
James A. Peterson has more than 10 years of experience providing legal advice and representation to insurance companies and self-insured corporations throughout Florida. He has extensive experience handling insurance claims and insurance coverage issues, and is dedicated to providing the personal attention and respect that your company deserves.
James has provided a wide variety of legal services, including claim management and apportionment services, insurance coverage opinion letters, declaratory judgments, subrogation claims, and liability and damages litigation.
James has experience representing clients in foreclosure matters. He has handled foreclosure lawsuits in all stages of litigation, up to and including trial. He is experienced in the procedures and evidence needed to foreclose on a property, as well as defenses that can arise during this process.
James has experience representing clients in landlord/tenant actions, on both sides of the dispute. He is well-versed in handling claims both prior to litigation, and once litigation has commenced. He understands that often, the best avenue for his clients is often resolution of the matter outside of the courtroom.
Bachelor of Science – Business Administration – University of Nebraska – Lincoln, May 2000
Juris Doctor – University of Miami School of Law, December 2002
Nicole handles all areas of immigration law including visas both family and business based, residencies, citizenship, asylums, and detention and deportation hearings. Nicole also specializes in all areas of criminal defense work by representing those individuals who have been arrested and charged with a crime. In some cases, Nicole has been able to assist her clients when arrested to not have any charges filed.
Nicole’s legal career began as a prosecutor in the Broward County State Attorney’s Office where she prosecuted misdemeanors, felonies, and capital crimes for seven years. She litigated for the State of Florida on a daily basis and tried over 50 jury trials as first chair. She also handled cases from inception to its conclusion by conducting depositions, discovery, interviewing victims as well as dealing with the media in high profile cases.
Nicole then moved into private practice to broaden her expertise. She specialized in Foreclosure Law and defended the rights of financial institutions in the courtroom and handled over 70 non-jury trials.
During this time Nicole took on several immigration cases as pro bono. While doing this pro bono work Nicole and found her passion. She wanted to practice immigration law on a full-time basis.
Through the experience that Nicole has gained while working at the Broward State Attorney’s Office and several independent law firms have given her a wealth of experience while instilling strong values for practicing law.
Stetson University College of Law, Juris Doctor, 2005
University of South Florida, Bachelors of Arts and Science, 2002
Jesika Diaz Munar
Jesika represents a diverse set of clients in commercial and real estate transactions, ranging from sophisticated investors to first-time home buyers. She regularly drafts and negotiates contracts, oversees the due diligence process, drafts and negotiates financing and serves as closing and title agent for real estate transactions, including the issuance of title insurance policies underwritten by Old Republic National Title Insurance Company, one of the largest title insurance groups in the United States. Jesika also represents commercial tenants and landlords in connection with the drafting and negotiation of commercial leases.
As a former in-house counsel of a subsidiary of a large Spanish infrastructure company, she is aware of the internal intricacies affecting business owners (both small and large), particularly, the careful crafting of corporate structures for business ventures. In this respect, she counsels clients on several aspects of business transactions, including the purchase and sale of business assets‚ corporate stock‚ partnership interests, as well as the review and drafting of various general business agreements, such as vendor agreements, service agreements and confidentiality agreements. She helps guide both new and seasoned entrepreneurs and investors looking for seamless solutions in maneuvering the many aspects of setting up new ventures from scratch or acquiring existing businesses. Her local knowledge and legal know-how is key to providing practical and sound counsel on the nuances of doing business in Florida.
Prior to joining Ser & Associates as of counsel, Jesika practiced at a boutique firm, specializing in real estate and business law. As previously mentioned, she has also worked as in-house counsel to one of the largest infrastructure firms in the world, where she worked on several national and international public-private partnership (P3) transactions in the United States and Canada. Throughout college and law school, she worked full-time as a title agent and paralegal.
Jesika is fluent in Spanish and is admitted to practice law in the state of Florida. She a member of Young Lawyers Division, Business Law and RPPTL Sections of the Florida Bar, the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association (GALLA), the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), and is a Honey Shine, Inc., Program Supporter.