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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Dec. 24, 2004 15 years ago

Coffee Talk (Tampa edition)

This week's items: Law firms come throughAll in the familyCritic says job picture betterSecond time is a charmBlue sky for bankersJudicial nominees

Coffee Talk (Tampa edition)

Law firms come through

Itis not just pension funds that try to make a killing in the venture capital industry. Lawyers are highly dependent on the business of funding the latest cutting-edge entrepreneurs, too.

At least thatis the impression Coffee Talk gets from thumbing through a list of sponsors for next monthis annual state VC conference in Orlando, put on by the Florida Venture Forum.

Silicon Valley Bank is shelling out for an invitation-only golf tournament near the Omni Orlando Resort at a course designed by PGA star Greg Norman. Other usual suspects such as Raymond James Financial Inc. and its VC fund, Ballast Point Ventures LP, are kicking in, too.

But there are almost as many law firms trying to make their presence known at the 14th annual conference as venture capitalists.

Among the local firms that are helping with the cost of the two-day event are Fowler White Boggs Banker PA; Carlton Fields PA; Hill, Ward & Henderson PA; and Trenam Kemker Scharf Barkin Frye OiNeill & Mullis PA.

All in the family

We donit need to ask John iJacki Rudy II who he backs in the contested race to replace him as the 13th Circuit representative to the Florida Bar Board of Governors. Thatis because his law partner, Jeffrey W. Warren of Bush Ross Gardner Warren & Rudy PA, wants to replace Rudy when his term ends next year.

Warrenis bid for a seat on the board wonit be easy, however. Akerman Senterfitt PA shareholder William Kalish also wants to replace Rudy. Kalish is a former bar governor.

The bar intends to mail ballots to eligible voters by March 1.

The winner will join 13th Circuit representatives Timon V. Sullivan of Ogden & Sullivan PA and Gwynne Young of Carlton Fields PA. Young recently won another term on the board without opposition.

Critic says job picture better

Labor economist Bruce Nissen is a little happier with state employment after reviewing the November numbers.

Nissen, research director at Florida International Universityis Center for Labor Research and Studies in Miami, often throws cold water on the claims of some politicians that the Sunshine State is a job-creation machine.

Pols and the state governmentis labor bureau, the Agency for Workforce Innovation, like to compare monthly job statistics to the same month a year earlier. Nissen, a Columbia University PhD, says itis more meaningful to look at how much the working-age population has increased and how many jobs have been created since the most recent recession.

It has been Nissenis contention for some years now that Florida employment is not nearly as robust as it was before March 2001, the start of the last recession.

In November of this year, 20,500 new jobs were added to Florida payrolls, says Nissen. Not bad, he says, though not as good as October, when payrolls expanded by 27,900 jobs.

But Nissen estimates that Florida is still 273,400 jobs shy of what the state had in 2001. That projection factors in an 8.4% increase in the working-age population of Florida since March of that year.

iState job creation is moving in the right direction,i says Nissen, ibut not fast enough to get us back to where we were in early 2001. At this rate it will be more than a year before we have jobs growing as rapidly as the working population is growing.i

Second timeis a charm

Tampa attorney Edward LaRose didnit fare well earlier this year with President Bush in a bid to replace the late Ralph Nimmons, a U.S. District judge. Instead, Bush appointed Virginia Maria Hernandez Covington, of the 2nd District Court of Appeal, to replace Nimmons.

But LaRose fared far better with the presidentis brother. Gov. Jeb Bush recently appointed LaRose to replace Covington on the 2nd DCA.

LaRose, a member of Tampais Trenam Kemker Scharf Barkin Frye OiNeill & Mullis PA, is board certified in the area of antitrust and trade regulation law by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education.

A graduate of Boston College, LaRose earned a law degree in 1980 from the Cornell University School of Law.

Blue sky for bankers

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the U.S. governmentis protector of bank savers, doesnit think itis going to need to bail out any Florida financial institutions in the near future.

The agencyis latest report on Florida banking says lending and profits are both up. For the first six months of this year, overall lending in the state was up 24%. The national rate was 11%.

Commercial real estate lending continued to be strong. The Sarasota metropolitan statistical area is fifth in the country in terms of capital exposure to commercial real estate loans, according to the FDIC. Itis one of six Florida markets in the national top 20.

Although earnings growth during the first quarter of 2004 was slow, Florida banks recovered some momentum during the summer. Net income for Florida community banks came in at a record high of $220 million during the second quarter of the year. For the same three months in 2003, net income for the community banks was $172 million.

Small-business lending is also on the upswing, the FDIC says, while commercial bankruptcies in Florida eased up.

Judicial nominees

St. Petersburg attorney John iJacki Day gets another shot at a judicial seat on the 6th Circuit. Day, who lost the general election to Cynthia Newton, is among five candidates that Gov. Jeb Bush will choose from to replace Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer. She will retire Dec. 31 because of health problems.

The 6th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission also recommended Pinellas County Judge Walt Fullerton, assistant Pinellas state attorneys Joseph Bulone and Thane Covert and trial attorney Jack Helinger, past recipient of the GCBR/St. Petersburg Bar Association Professionalism Award. The nominees were chosen from a list of 25 applicants.

Day and Helinger may have a bit of challenge, considering the governoris disdain for trial lawyers. Helinger, of St. Petersburgis Louderback & Helinger PA, practices criminal and family law; Day is a civil trial attorney.

Bush may take up to 60 days to make a choice.

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