1. With her background in condominium and homeowner association law, Zuberer is focused on what looks to be a new era of building safety law and insurance regulations in Florida. That stems from both Hurricane Ian’s impact on the insurance industry and Senate Bill 4D.
Following the 2021 collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside that killed 98 people, state lawmakers wrote and passed Senate Bill 4D to address building safety. It was signed into law in May, prohibiting associations from waiving or reducing reserve funds, which are designed for future major repairs and replacements of the building structure.
The result of the law, says, Zuberer, named president of the Sarasota-based law firm in January 2022 is now condominium and residential associations may be setting aside reserves for components of structures they hadn’t before.
“The most common questions that I’m getting right now from condominium associations is ‘how are we going to reserve for components of buildings?’ and ‘how are we going to get insurance?” she says, the latter in response to insurance industry price increases. “Two-thirds of the questions that I’m getting on a daily basis are in one of those two categories.”
2. A big challenge for Zuberer in her role overseeing one of the largest law firms in the Sarasota-Bradenton market is finding employees.
“Like most businesses,” she says, “there is still a huge void for finding staff. I think it’s much better than it was. But it still seems that we’re having difficult times filling positions.”
The difficulty lies in finding the right workforce.
“You want the right person,” she says. “You’re paying quite a bit more than you used to five years ago.”
One of the obstacles to finding good talent, she says, is the pandemic, when people got accustomed to working remotely. “They have a larger opportunity base for job security because (they’re) able to live here and work somewhere else,” she says. “We’re still competing with companies in much larger areas.”
Icard Merrill is actively seeking to fill six to 10 positions, with a focus on finding paralegals and seasoned attorneys with 10 to 15 years of industry experience. Zuberer also hinted at a possibility of real estate growth as well, a planned expansion derailed by Hurricane Ian.
But the firm is taking the potential economic slowdown and rising interest rates into consideration as well. Even though Zuberer isn’t seeing local impacts, she’s been seeing it happen on a national scale.
“We would be remiss,” she says, “if we didn’t constantly evaluate our expenses and income in case there’s a rainy day.”
3. One word top of mind for the firm in 2023 is evolution.
The generational firm will be 70 years old in 2023, going from second generation to the third. Zuberer is expecting some retirements.
“That's leaving quite a bit of work to be picked up by others,” she says, noting it’s a big culture change. “We’re working very aggressively to take this opportunity to evaluate the way we’ve been doing things for 70 years.”
The idea is to evolve into a law firm that supports today’s families and individuals, with employees prioritizing work-life balance.