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Cody German – Cole, Scott & Kissane

It’s Attorney Cody German for the defense of reputation or domicile

As youthful indiscretions go, using a fake ID to enter a bar need not stain one’s reputation into adulthood. But adversaries of a certain Brazilian man were making such a mountain of a molehill, even producing a YouTube video that alleged he had done something felonious enough to land in stir.  

“If so, I would be hard-pressed to deny that even I did the same as a teenager,” quips Cody German, an affable South Florida litigator who fronted a defamation suit on behalf of the Brazilian, asking a Palm Beach County jury to award his client $1.2 million in damages and being rewarded with an even higher amount, $1.45 million, this past October.  

Cody German | Partner | Cole, Scott & Kissane

Cody German | Partner | Cole, Scott & Kissane

A very unique case, German tells Vanguard in December from the Miami offices of Cole, Scott & Kissane (CSK). People are trying to be social media journalists and viral sensations but are unaware of slander’s consequences, besmirching someone’s reputation and being held accountable. The video was posted in the Brazilian common tongue of Portuguese, and non-speaker German had to have it translated. Then there were the subpoenas he had to issue in Brazil and the rounding up of witnesses, but he says his efforts have been rewarded.  

“Now I have many Brazilians wanting to be my clients,” German says. “While researching the case, I met many of them who live in the U.S., and they, too, have cases they want me to handle.”  

If so, German can pick and choose. He’s hardly at a loss for the big-ticket commercial litigation that’s his specialty. “The Florida economy is booming, and people need good trial lawyers to help guide them. I fit the bill perfectly for those entrepreneurs,” German says. 

Condo showdowns 

While Cole, Scott & Kissane has been for years Florida’s largest civil litigation defense firm, operating out of 12 strategically positioned offices throughout the state, CSK’s reach expands beyond defense into the commercial litigation area, successfully trying firm-wide more than 350 cases to verdict since the Florida courthouses reopened for live trials.   

There’s always much pending in Florida, especially along the congested Gold Coast, where so many folks want to settle but with limited options. While German can’t get into too much detail, he’s representing some condominium owners trying to keep an international developer from buying and demolishing their building for a bigger one.  

Cody German | Partner | Cole, Scott & Kissane

While one might think that unit ownership would protect them, he explains that state law and the condo association allow the building to be sold if a buyer acquires a certain percentage of the residences. Property values and interest rates having soared since so many of those people bought their units, German says they’d be hard-pressed to remain in this part of Florida should they be forced out, and he’s committed to aiding their cause.   

Then there’s another Miami Beach condominium where German is also litigating on behalf of the association. This one is where the Showtime crime drama “Dexter” was filmed, and it, too, is being eyed for demolition and rebuilding. German, having been a fan of that show, is proud to have a part in the effort to retain this building for those who expected it would always be their primary or second home. At the very least, it’s just one of the many interesting cases on his docket.  

“I really like the disparity of the cases we handle at CSK,” German says. “On any given day, there’s a case about employment, contractual disputes, or someone’s reputation. Every day is different, every client is different, and I like the personal aspect of working with the clients and getting to know their businesses.”  

Partnership came early  

Now 41, German is soon to celebrate his 15th anniversary with Cole, Scott & Kissane, having arrived in early 2009 after graduating from Arizona State University College of Law and achieving partnership while in his mid-30s. This firm, being among Florida’s most prolific litigators in any given week, likely has multiple trials in progress, which makes it the ideal place for German, who himself successfully tried three jury cases to verdict in the last year.  

As he explains, he hadn’t been with the firm for long when he overheard other lawyers talking in the hallways about how they’d be handling litigation related to the $65 billion Ponzi scheme masterminded by Bernie Madoff, the late financier who had once chaired Nasdaq. That spun off multiple lawsuits, and German beckoned the firm’s senior lawyers to give him a role. Some of them took the young German under their wing, and he helped them confidentially settle a claim against Madoff’s accountant.  

Cody German | Partner | Cole, Scott & Kissane

“That case took years of my life, and I used the Madoff litigation to get valuable experience and win the faith of senior partners,” German says. “It was very instrumental in my career growth.”  

He’s since gone on to do much more, German being a founding partner of the firm’s commercial litigation group that’s grown from five to 45 lawyers since 2018. He’s also helping recruit young talent, emphasizing that Cole, Scott & Kissane is ideal training for trial attorneys.  

“We’ve created a big and dynamic firm with all the resources of a Goliath, yet we still operate like a boutique with a family dimension,” he says. “We are an energetic group that provides more value for less cost than our competition.” 

Rocking on  

Time was when a much younger German might have envisioned himself starring in a YouTube video rather than watching and having it translated into English. Born and raised in Milwaukee, he took to playing guitar as a 10-year-old and, as a high schooler, fronting his own band that recorded an album and opened shows throughout the Upper Midwest for a local punk-folk-rock act that made good, the Violent Femmes. One New Year’s Eve, German and his mates even played at a party in Chicago hosted by then-NBA star Dennis Rodman.  

But it still wasn’t the real rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, German recalls with a laugh. His parents—rock fans themselves—drove them from gig to gig.  

“They always allowed me to be who I wanted to be,” German says of his parents. “They never pushed me in any particular direction.”  

Cody German | Partner | Cole, Scott & Kissane

Education, however, was encouraged, with German earning an economics degree before proceeding to law school. He still plays music as a hobby, and his office wall sports adjacent to his law degree rock décor, including the enlarged framed cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” whose 1971 release preceded German’s birth by 11 years. But, as he says, classic rock knows no expiration date.  

Litigation, however, is more time-sensitive, especially the big-ticket commercial cases on German’s to-do list. He’s somewhat a rarity in his profession, German still with the firm where he began his career, but, as he says, there’s no reason to move with Cole, Scott & Kissane growing steadily, with a loyal client base, care for its employees, and the caseload being so interesting. Home life also satisfies German and his Cuban American wife, who are raising a 6-year-old daughter—everyone finds the South Florida climate and lifestyle agreeable.  

All the better, German says, if he can sustain it for clients who may have to vacate their domiciles should the developers and speculators get their way. But pressure packed as these cases might be, German says he doesn’t have to be a legal cut-throat to make his case.  

“I’m more of a relationship person,” he says. “I have good people skills and emotional intelligence, and that’s helpful when representing clients in stressful litigation.”  

 

View this feature in the Vanguard Winter II 2024 Edition here.

 

Published on: January 26, 2024

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