I was born on May 30, 1957 in Havana, Cuba, the second son of a lawyer and a school teacher. I had not yet turned two years old when Fidel Castro overthrew the then pro-U.S. government and shortly thereafter declared himself a “Marxist-Leninist” intent on converting Cuba into a communist ally of the USSR. These events led my father and mother to leave Cuba. My mother, brother and I traveled to Spain while my father explored the United States and ultimately selected the New York City area to settle. We rendezvoused with him in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1961.
We lived in Hoboken for six months before settling in the town of West New York, New Jersey, a densely populated square-mile town perched on the Palisades on the banks of the Hudson River overlooking the Manhattan skyline. My parents worked in Manhattan and my brother and I attended a local Catholic elementary school.
After graduating from the local public high school, I attended William Patterson College in Wayne, New Jersey for a year before transferring to the University of Vermont in Burlington. I met my future wife, Lee O’Donnell, just before my senior year and graduated in 1980 with a B.A. in History.
After college graduation, I worked in New York City as a paralegal, first as a temp at Simpson Bartlett & Thatcher, and then for most of a year at Fried, Frank, Shriver. The next year, I attended Suffolk University Law School where I was a member of the Law Review and graduated cum laude in 1984.
I spent the summer between my second and third years of law school at Shutts & Bowen in Miami, Florida. I accepted a permanent associate’s position at the end of my summer associate term at that firm and spent my first two years of practice there. Working as a paralegal and summer associate in litigation taught me to appreciate real estate, which is why I essentially have always practiced in that area.
By 1986, I had moved to Paul, Landy, Beiley & Harper, also of Miami, where I became partner in 1991. When the firm dissolved in 1994, I joined Steel Hector & Davis in Miami, also as partner.
In 1995, Lee and I moved to Weston, Florida. The following year, while I was still at Steel, two fellow real estate partners, Robert Adams and Michael Gallinar, joined me to form Adams, Gallinar & Iglesias (now Adams Gallinar), a Miami transactional boutique law firm with about 20 employees.
By 2005, the 40-mile commute from Weston to Miami grew too burdensome, so I joined Akerman Senterfitt’s Fort Lauderdale office. I had practiced for 22 years within a four-block radius of downtown Miami, so that move was significant, but I was pleased to see that my entire practice followed me to this new location.
Akerman was on an aggressive growth pattern when I heard from Mike Yashko in 2008 about R&A’s decision to recruit lawyers to establish a Fort Lauderdale office. I was drawn to the firm by its commitment to Florida and its objective of creating a wholesome environment where skilled professionals can practice their craft at the highest levels. So I moved four floors down on Las Olas Boulevard to continue my real estate practice in Roetzel’s fastest growing location!
My wife Lee, who is a native of Boston, and I were married in 1989 in Rhode Island where her parents then lived. We have two daughters, Julia, a 19-year-old sophomore at Boston University studying film and television production, and Shanna, a 14-year-old freshman at Cypress Bay High School. Although I have not been back to Cuba, I have taken my family to my other ancestral home, which is Spain. We have also traveled together to London, Paris and Italy, and we’re looking forward to visiting Ireland next, to discover part of Lee’s heritage.