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Luxury Law Group

Andrew High

Brittani Severn of RMK Merrill Stevens o

February 2018

February 2018
Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In February we sat down with Andrew High, one of the owners of Luxury Law Group out of Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Washington D.C. and the Hamptons.

"From signing contracts, forming LLCs to own the boat and to limit liability, tax advice - It just shields a lot of potential liability."

- - That's a good point, right. We're cutting into this bit, here. I'll tell you what's refreshing about your office, street level. - Yep. - You don't have to go into a lobby, - Right. - Sign in, press an elevator to go up 50 floors. It's -- - Easy to find. - Easy to find and you're right there on the street. Your desk is right, the door that opens up. - Yeah, we have desks right, you know, right, conference room on the street level which is fun. I see a lot of activity going back and forth. - That's so different! - We tried to do a different concept, but we try to do that with the whole firm. We try to do it with our marketing, we try to do it with our branding. - It's much more -- - With the people we hire. It's just, I don't know if modern's probably not the right word but -- - No, it's not and family isn't the right. It's much more one-to-one. - [Andrew] It is. - [Lee] You walk in and you're not going through a secretary to get to a paralegal to get da-da-da-da-da. - [Andrew] I mean the whole concept of the business is personal relationships with the people. - And we are back, Between Two Yetis on Las Olas with Andrew High. How you doin', sir? - I'm good, I'm good. - Lawyer extreme, extraordinaire. - Correct, lawyer and financier, now. - Of? - Luxury Law Group and Luxury Financial Group which we're sitting right out in front of. - So, a lot of people will know who you are. I would thought your reputation proceeds you in this industry? - I've been doing it for 13 years now so, yeah, I think. - 13 years, wow. - Met most people, not all but most. - Okay. So how did you get started as a lawyer? - I always wanted to be a lawyer so it was just kind of a means to an end for me. Yeah, yeah. - Even? - From when I was about four years old, yeah. I was a strange kid. - Who wants to be a lawyer when they're a kid? - I just did. You know, I watched a lot of TV and saw lawyers on TV and thought it was cool and just did it. - Oh, okay. Well is that from like N.C.I.S. and -- - That was before that. Yeah, I used to watch a lot of Matlock on TV. - Matlock? So he's responsible for all of it? - Matlock is responsible for this. - Funny, so, wow, so you never had any aspirations to be a pop star or -- - Well, I have like a letter that I wrote to myself that a teacher sent to me when I was 12 and at that point I wanted to be either a professional basketball player or an international lawyer. So I think I came pretty close. - You came pretty close, yeah. You haven't got the height. - No, I don't have the basketball but -- - So you're originally from here? - No, Philadelphia. - Oh! - Philadelphia originally. - Oh, okay. - College in Baltimore, law school in Miami. - Oh, okay and that's how you got down to Florida. - Yep, never left. Never left. - Bloody hell and you've always been in boating or has it always been more on the luxury side? - I mean, as a lawyer I've always been in boating. - Now law, I know your company's called Luxury Law, do you ever, what's the opposite to luxury? Box standard? - Yeah, I guess so. - What kind of law is that? Is that just -- - It would be like Pro Bono work, you know? - Did you ever do that? - Indigent law. No, never done it. - I thought you were required as a lawyer, as you were trained to do... - You can, there's different avenues you can do. You can do a certain number of Pro Bono years or hours a year, you can donate money to charity or you can donate time to a charity. - Is this what, to keep your? - Just to be in good standing with the Bar. - Your credentials. Oh, okay. - It's a recommendation, it's not a requirement. - So, alright, tell me about the Bar 'cause I've seen the books. - Yeah. - Is it really that daunting? - It's a lot of books and it's pretty daunting, yeah. - How many years is it? - Well, you take three years of law school and then you take the test so, and the test is two days. There's a state portion and a federal portion. - And do you have to go back every year and get like -- - No, but every two or three years you have a certain number of credits you have to do like continuing education. So as long as you meet those, you're just on -- - That's like the architect rules. - Yeah. - You have to go back. - Different, like finance does, or insurance does the same thing. You just have to continuing education. - Good Lord. - It's not fun, it's justsomething that you do. - So, Luxury Law. You were at a previous law firm. - Yes. - Before. - Started at a law firm called Hill, Betts and Nash which is based out of New York. Old, old law firm and then bounced around a little bit and then we ended up opening up Luxury Law, Danielle and I. - In the most prestigious spot. - Yeah, we are the only retail law firm on all of Las Olas Boulevard. - Retail law firm? - Meaning retail space. - Right, okay. - There are other law firms. - Come by and buy a divorce! - So it was not easy to find or secure this space. - So as a business owner, what were your challenges? - Making money, keeping money, hiring staff, keeping staff. - So the staffing issue down here, it's the same when it comes to legal services as it is -- - Yeah, it's tough. You know, it's hard to find good help. We've got great help thankfully but every once in awhile you run into some bad actors, you know, we had to get rid of so that's just the way it goes. - Right. So now you do super yacht law? - Yes, well, yachts of all kinds. We do any size yacht that might need, the owner might need assistance. So from corporate ownership to new construction to just about anything really. We'll handle all of that. - Can you just get her to move down a bit? Can we just get you to move down a little? Oh, sorry. Sorry, we're just filming here. That's alright. We can still see? - That's perfect, yep. - Perfect, thank you. Actually, she stopped anybody else coming so that's good. Okay and we'll pick this up from there. - Yeah, so we handle every kind of boat law, from big boats to little boats and wherever people need help. - And this is what? Signing contracts? - Signing contracts, forming LLCs to own the boat to limit liability, tax advice. - Alright, so go on then. So when you buy a boat, you need to have the liability offset through a company at first. - [Andrew] It's a better idea to do it that way if you can do it so we recommend that everybody does it over a certain size and value range. Most of our clients do. - [Lee] And that makes it a bit more -- - [Andrew] It just shields a lot of, yeah, potential liability. If you think about a boat, it's like a floating house that can run into other things that knock it over or hurt people. So if you pick up your million dollar house and knock it around the street a little bit, that's what a boat is so, yeah, you wanna kind of limit the ability to let that happen. - And this has then spurred into your opening up the financial group? - And that spurred into financial group right. So for that, we, a lot of activity here on Las Olas Boulevard. Yeah, so the success of the law firm, we just capitalized into Luxury Financial. So for that company we're doing boat deals a quarter of a million dollars and up and the sky's kind of the limit on that for financing. - And that's teamed up through like a third party bank or something? - Well, so right, we're essentially mortgage bankers. So we take your business and Noel who runs the finance company has 22, 23 years banking experience and so she knows what bank will take that work. - So what's going on the third wall then? The third panel? - Well, to be decided. - There's gotta be something else. - Coming soon, I'll say. - It's gotta be insurance. - Well, it's not gonna be insurance but there could be a land aspect of what we're doing. - Oh okay. - Real property. - There was something I know from the industry but it's the relationship so once you've got a client and they trust you, they trust you to do more. - So we've spent years building up our client list and base and we've got a good group of people and between that and just business relationships, banks and insurance companies that set up Luxury Financial Group and will hopefully be pretty successful. So we like our little location here. - And you've also got one up -- - We've got one in Stuart, we've got one in Washington, D.C. and one out in the Hamptons. - What? - So that's our summer office. - So you're getting to live the life. - We do. We live the life our clients live. Go back and forth. - You have to. It's part of the -- - Well, we found they like it. They like to us to be where they are. - Wow, four offices! - Yeah. - In what, two or three years? - Yeah, this is our, now going into our fourth year of existence so I think we've just completed I think the third year of, and first year for Luxury Financial. - Well, well done. - Yeah! Not too bad. - Bloody hell, that's not, that's, I would hate to think what your rent is! - Hey, we're getting there, we're getting there. - He doesn't sign a contract unless he knows what he's signing then, right? - That's true, that's true. - So okay, so now you're, in this industry you're probably the closest to the client next to the broker. - I would think so. Yeah, we develop really close relationships with the people like friendships, long-term. - So you all know some of the dirty details that we never get to hear. - We do. Most of them. - Can you withoutgetting yourself wrapped up into a legal issue expand on any of those? - Let's see. I can tell you that I had met a client out several times over the course of several years with his wife and knew them and were friendly with them and at a separate point, a law partner of mine at the firm we used to work with introduced me to this person's wife but the wife was not, the real wife was not the same wife who I had met at all of these parties all of these years and known so it was very awkward to say, "Oh, it's nice to finally meet you." Although I had met the other Mrs. So and So at least five times over the years. - So which one was the real one? - The one I met. - The first one? - Which was a much older model than the one I had previously met. - I always find that actually it's very inconsiderate when people put you in that position. - It was very uncomfortable. - I've found that with a number of guys, when they're away, they do things and then when you meet their true spouse you're like, oh God, am I supposed to keep this secret now or am I, where am I? - It's tough. Very delicate and so it was an awkward moment. - Oh dear. So when it comes to fires on boats or things like that, the investigative process of that, how involved do you get with that? - It depends. We've been involved from the day after it happens. - You're pretty much the first phone call. - Well, the insurance company's usually the first phone call but then we get called after that especially if there's a question as to what happened. - You see soon, they'll just be able to call one number and get it all. - I don't know, I don't know. Maybe. Maybe some day. - Hi, Andrew. Yeah, I've got a trifecta here. - Yeah, right? That would be, I guess that would be ideal but we do get involved. There's plenty of times where captains leave stoves on and fall asleep drunk and it becomes an insurance question as to -- - So here's one question that got posed, not question but one, something that happened on a boat -- - Yep. - Sexual advances. - You mean the case that just came out? - No, is there a case that's recent? Oh yeah that one that just got settled. - Well, there was a rape that just got awarded $70 million by a judge down here in South Florida. - Alright well not going into the justification of the payout but the circumstances of that, it's been happening on boats since day one. - It is and I mean, I know that most boats, probably the vast majority of boats don't have the right safeguards in place to prevent those things from happening and so people need to look, we've been getting phone calls, people need to look at their policies and procedures and make sure people don't get put in bad situations like where that kind of thing can happen. - But that case was where it was another crew member, right? - It was another crew member, right. - So I was speaking to a couple of people who worked for a client in a certain geographical region and they are used to owning the people that work for them. - Right, right. I think I know what you mean. - Okay and so they had, they felt it was their, their right and they found it, 'cause they have their passport and they'd have no way of getting off the boat, they felt very vulnerable in that position. So it's gonna be something that comes -- - Oh, I think it's gonna happen a lot more. I think now that, just the environment that we're in now, it's just different and people will come out. People feel empowered and I think people finally feel the right level of support that they can come out and do those things and that they're not gonna get run out of the country or the industry or -- - Yeah. - I mean, you'd hope not the country. - I was speaking to Colin Squire of Yachting Matters and he used to be a captain on a boat and he was describing this fight he had with a chef and cleavers at each other's throat. He got his jaw smashed off. He said but you know, that was back in the 70's. That was, you picked up crew off the dock and went off to sea and if they were no good, you kind of lumped, well, you couldn't throw them off - It's a weird balance, right, because the owner expects to have a certain level of privacy and a fun aspect to it but yet, on the other hand, not to say that sexual harrassment's fun in any way but meaning a relaxed atmosphere but at the same point, yachting as a whole across the board has become more professional. The brokers are more professional. Lawyers are using more deals than ever which is good for us and the crew is more professional. It's not just picking somebody up off the dock anymore. These are, there are professional crew operations that staff these boats and you expect the level of professionalism that anybody that we would hire would have. - Somebody said there's a case to be argued that we're becoming overregulated but then on the flip side, there's a case to be argued that it was time. - Right and in the whole industry, it's regulated more in Florida then it is almost anywhere else other than California so the industry's still got, as a whole, as a country, has a long way to go. - Now are you involved with the lobbying? - No, no, we don't get too involved in that. - 'Cause there was, oh, I forget, was it M.I.S.F. that were doing, building up the case for the marine industry to be actually validated as a meaningful contributor. - So Danielle was involved with that. - That's right. - She was the President of M.I.S.F. and they were heavily involved with trying to promote the marine industry and they were pretty successful with it I think. - The case most be getting larger and larger every year now. - It is and the F.Y.B.A. and now the I.Y.B.A., which is the yacht brokers association, has done a great job hiring professional lobbyists, going to Washington, and trying to make real changes. I mean they started back with the sales tax cap which is a few years ago now and then the refit tax cap and now they're pushing some changes to the Jones Act which is a federal statute but that limits yachts. So I mean the whole industry is much more professional even than when I started. There was just an article that came out yesterday about lawyers being involved in more deals than ever before. So it's good for business. - Good for you! - Time to raise our rates, right? - No! I don't know if it was you who told me this but you always wanna pay as much as you can for a lawyer as an hourly rate 'cause the lawyer that's willing to go cheap isn't worth going to. - Yeah, I mean, I think there's a middle ground there. We try not to be the most expensive but we're certainly not the cheapest but you wouldn't go with like the cheapest heart surgeon or the cheapest wealth manager if you were investing, let's say, $5 million in something. So it makes sense that you wouldn't use the cheapest lawyer. You don't a bargain basement of anything. - That's true. - Falls apart just like anything else. - Well, we're gonna come to an end now but there's gonna be a disclaimer part down here where Andrew has to sign off. - Nothing will be construed as legal advice. You can't sue me for anything. - Anything I said is pure personal, my personal opinion, not representative of the company. - I'm not even a lawyer. - Well, thank you, sir. - Appreciate it. Beautiful Las Olas Boulevard. - Yeah, I'll tell you what --

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