Rubenstein Law: Despite rapid growth, Local Firm Keeps Roots Firmly Planted in South Florida Community
By Betty Davis, The Gospel Truth Magazine
At some point in their lives, most people will need the services of an experienced attorney to advocate for them in a complex legal system that seems stacked against the interests of everyday people. Big corporations and wealthy individuals can leverage their size and financial strength to gain advantage; many never being held accountable for their actions that hurt people and destroy lives.
It was this dynamic that inspired a young lawyer thirty years ago to establish a firm that would allow him to fight for the rights of everyday people and make sure that responsible parties were held to account. As he took on cases of wrongful death of a family’s bread-winner, crippling injuries caused by gross negligence, life changing income loss, victims of crime on commercial premises in situations that were foreseeable—the news quickly spread by word of mouth, family after family helped and lives saved. Helping families pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives after tragedy became the foundation of a successful law practice, one focused on the individual and families. The place was Miami, Florida and the young lawyer was Robert Rubenstein.
Robert Rubenstein was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario Canada, just north of Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1971, he obtained a law degree from the University of Florida, graduating at the top of his class. In 1978, he was recruited by Miami’s pre-eminent international law firm, Greenberg Traurig—which was then a nimble 40 lawyer firm at the time, and set about legal work focused on taxation, mergers and acquisitions and representing several large corporate interests. Although the work did not provide Rubenstein with the type of self-fulfillment his father received from their hometown as a doctor who still made house-calls, it provided the much-needed window to corporate America that Rubenstein would later draw upon when advocating for his clients.
After ten years, Robert Rubenstein was ready to step out on his own to build the type of practice that both reflected Miami’s diversity and served the community he now called home. Over the years, his heart has never strayed from his mission to help heal the wounds and scars of people who came to his firm for help—not the physical wounds one would treat in a medical practice, but emotional ones caused by loss, uncertainty and tragedy. In fact, Rubenstein has staffed his firm with committed people who represent the rainbow of cultures, races, religions and ethnicities that are uniquely South Florida. His lawyers, both women and men, hail from or have lineage from such places as the Bahamas, Haiti, Cuba and all-over South America. The firm formed a charitable committee that recommends and decides on where funds and time should be spent—everyone is involved, especially family.
In 2010, Rubenstein Law attracted and landed a talented former prosecutor with Florida roots and a history of serving the African American community going back to his days as an NFL and college football player. DeWayne K. Terry, Esq. joined the firm with a background in civil, criminal and family law, and was a distinguished trial attorney who was brought on to lead the firm’s Personal Injury Protection Litigation practice.
Terry, who lettered in both football and track at Duke University, had been coached by Steve Spurrier, and had a brief career with the Dallas Cowboys, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Indianapolis Colts. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, he moved to Miami to study law at St. Thomas University, and immediately became active in youth sports, his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi (Sigma Alpha Chapter) and the Offspring Masonic Lodge #252. As a member of the Greater St. Paul AME Church in Coconut Grove, he is a longtime supporter of the Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival and he actively volunteers for several community organizations.
A sports enthusiast who also enjoys singing, Terry along with his wife, attorney Lisa-Ann Terry, and their five children – Kandis, DeWayne, Jr., Jonathan, Annalise and Julian – have made community service a family affair. He has gladly taken the lead in the firm’s efforts to continuously give back to the African American community who has so generously entrusted their personal legal affairs to the firm.
“We believe in giving back to the community, because we are a part of the community,” says Terry. Back-to-school backpack give-aways, sponsoring team uniforms for Optimist League teams, supporting the MLK Parade, providing scholarship money, are all just the tip of the iceberg of financial and volunteer support the firm has provided. It’s not just charitable work but taking the initiative to reach out to members of the community at times of crisis that has contributed to the firm’s reputation as an integral part of Miami’s community infrastructure. “We feel the same pain when our young people, especially, are taken from us prematurely,” says Rubenstein. Advocating for a fair and judicious legal system that treats all people with dignity and respect has brought the firm to crossroads with community activists, such as Tangela Sears, fighting for equal treatment and justice of all people under the law.
“We’re willing to do the work, many times on a pro-bono basis,” says Terry, “to make sure we fight for equity in the community.” This work includes registering citizens to vote and providing literature on legal issues to educate people on their rights. As a result, the firm has grown to six offices (Miami, Plantation, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville) with two additional planned in North Miami and St. Petersburg in the near future. In addition, the firm has established mobile offices in Miami Gardens, Hialeah, Overtown, Opa-Locka and Northside, and is now staffed with over 250 dedicated and talented lawyers and caring support staff that helps bring it all together.
When Miami Central High School won a National Championship, the firm quickly stepped in to provide championship rings for players. The firm has also supported the athletic programs at Miami Northwestern High and other Miami-Dade County Public Schools. When one of Miami’s hometown track stars found himself in legal jeopardy, attorney Terry was first to reach out to offer free legal advice and representation, “I didn’t want to see his life ruined and forever changed…as a former prosecutor, I could help him get back on track,” he says. It’s this type of awareness of issues affecting the community that propelled DeWayne Terry into the limelight, being named one of South Florida’s 50 Most Influential People by Legacy Magazine.
Over the past 30 years, Rubenstein Law has established itself as a legal powerhouse that talks the talk in Court on behalf of a diverse group of clients. In the neighborhoods of South Florida, however, it has shown that it can also walk the walk and has certainly proven itself to be a true community partner. With their families in tow, this firm remains committed to continuing the work that inspired its formation decades ago.