The Story of Law Firm Lanigan and Lanigan
Winter Park, Florida, attorney Eric Lanigan handles bankruptcy, securities fraud and shares the story of how the law firm grows. Lanigan and Lanigan, P.L., grew into the agency that it is today because Eric has practiced Florida law since 1976. In 1979 he went out on his own to practice law.
Part 1: Eric Lanigan’s Background
In Part 1 of this 3-part series, Eric Lanigan shared that he practiced several areas of law, focusing on aggressive litigation. There were many times that challenges in interpreting and applying the law became opportunities to work through complex legal issues.
By opening a law firm on his own, Eric was able to forge into practice areas that most appealed to him. He first practiced personal injury, then went into bankruptcy law. This is where the series continues as bankruptcy law becomes a major practice area.
Bankruptcy Law Becomes a Major Practice Area
For example bankruptcy is one of those areas. For many years I had a client who would refer me bankruptcy cases because they had a business where they did counseling for people in financial straits. And every month there’d be a certain number, three, four, five, maybe six, who their only way out would be to file bankruptcy.
And so we would do anywhere from two to five or six bankruptcies a month and that went on for years. And then, 2007 came and I started to notice that two or three or four bankruptcies a month, became two or three or four bankruptcies a week. And by the beginning of 2008 it was two or three new bankruptcies a day.
So it’s one of those things that it just explodes in front of you not because you necessarily just planned it that way, but you just happened to be I guess you could say in the right place at the right time, at least from a lawyer’s perspective. And that’s happened in other areas of the law as well.
Securities Litigation Becomes a Key Practice Area
I’ve done a tremendous amount of securities litigation representing people who have suffered investment losses. And that was somewhat of a unique way that I got involved in that. In that I was about 34, 35 at the time and had really gotten somewhat burned out in law. And I suddenly woke up one day and decided that I was going to get involved in financial planning and working with securities, insurance things like that and deal with what I thought was a simpler part of people’s lives.
I became securities licensed. I worked very hard in that field and what happened after about four or five years in that arena is because of my legal background and I would meet people and they would tell me about these just terrible things that had gone on and the money they had lost in investments.
Investment Fraud Losses Become Class Action Lawsuit
And I would help people deal with how to go about trying to recover those investments. And I remember very distinctly I had two men come to me who sold securities and they had been very actively involved in selling this one investment. And they had sold it to their parents, their friends and it turned out to be pretty much a scam. And they wanted me to represent literally their parents to try to get a recovery.
And I told them that I really couldn’t do it because of the economics of it it just wasn’t there because those individuals had not lost that much money. And the cost of having to recover it, it wouldn’t make any sense.
And these two individuals said what if we got you 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 people who had the same investment. Would it be worth it? And I thought about it for a moment and I said, well yes, I guess it would be.
Securities & Investment Losses Law
And literally within two weeks they had referred in what amounted to 125 people everywhere from Key West to Honolulu who had invested in this investment vehicle all wanted to hire me to recover the money. And I remember going back home to my wife Jane and saying to her, “well, I’m back into the law.”
Because suddenly I had 125 of these securities cases and it took over my life. And that was probably nineteen, early nineties? And since then I suddenly found myself back in the full-time practice of law and have enjoyed it immensely since then.
So in a way, getting out of the law, taking a breather from the practice of law for four or five years, gave me a fresh perspective on it and it also without my really intending it to be this way, I developed an education in a very specialized area that was securities fraud.
Bankruptcy Explodes in Florida in 2010
And I’ve always enjoyed that and up until the bankruptcy explosion that type of litigation, as well as real estate-oriented litigation, problems with the homes, termites, sink holes, you name it. I’ve always done that type of litigation.
That was the predominant area of my practice until that whole bankruptcy thing really exploded in 2007, 2008 and that has, I think for the benefit of our economy, that has slowed down to a great deal. The Florida real estate market hasn’t recovered quite to where it was before 2007 but it is certainly much closer to that. Since then I’ve been refocusing on a lot of the practice areas that I worked before.