ABOUT US

Michael Zapin has been practicing law since 1992. The Law Offices of Michael E. Zapin was established in 1997, originally in New York, and expanding offices to South Florida in 2006.

Michael is admitted to practice before the State and Federal Courts of New York and Florida, as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.

Michael is a seasoned professional, with vast experience beyond bankruptcy. Michael has handled divorce and other family matters, estate matters, diversified business and consumer litigation matters, collections, commercial and residential real estate transactions and limited immigration matters.

Many times bankruptcy by necessity draws on familiarity in these other areas of law, since issues and obligations tend to be entwined with one another.

Personal

you can take the boy out of Brooklyn… “

You know the rest.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I grew up in Canarsie. My parents must have just thrown a dart. There wasn’t much going on there in the early ’60s. But by the mid-’70s, I was a kid coming into my own, and I felt like the neighborhood was sprouting right along with me. Mostly a mix of secular Jews and Italian Catholics.

I had a lot of passion for music and still do. I performed it, listened to it and wrote it. You’d be surprised at all the interesting parallels there are between music and the law. There’s a certain “ebb and flow” to both.

Almost all of it (the good stuff) was within walking distance. There’s a reason diehard New Yorkers will look to pick a fight with you if you say anything bad about their pizza or bagels.

Here’s a hint for any of you transplanted Floridians like me: it ain’t a real bagel store if your bagel is coming to you toasted by default (i.e., without you requesting it to be toasted). It’s the dirty little secret of Einstein Bagels and of course Dunkin Donuts. “Toasting” makes all bagels -both good and bad – taste almost identical. Sadly, there is no such thing as a Florida bagel. Call those things something else. When you really want a genuine bagel or some serious pizza, you go to Brooklyn or Staten Island (which is basically Brooklyn).

I gave up my lower Manhattan law office at 305 Broadway, shortly after September 11, 2001. I was there when it all came down, but luckily not in the immediate zone of death or disability. I was a few blocks south, near the ferry terminal. I went home on the Staten Island Ferry, covered in powdery-gray ash. Two large plumes of smoke billowing up from where the Towers stood only an hour or so earlier. Among other things that ended on that day, so did my ten years of working in Manhattan. It was enough. Instead, I opened a law office in the heart of Heartland Village, Staten Island, five minutes from my home, and often rode my bicycle to work.

Creature of habit that I was (and still am), I could have lived out my days in Heartland Village, in the semi-detached home conjoined with that of my neighbors, Dave and Anna. However, my wife (at the time) craved the greener pastures, warmer weather and unusually sunny skies of South Florida. Now? I’m a crusty, cantankerous white-haired lawyer, unwilling to bend. But back then? I aimed to please. We sold the house, packed up the kids and moved to Boca Raton, where I’m told most suburbanites go, to ultimately divorce. That certainly would have been a valuable piece of information to have had, back then.

My law office in Florida opened around the end of 2006, roughly, the time when the real estate market was just beginning to sink before the big crash in 2008. I was a consumer bankruptcy practitioner and was convinced that nearly 1/2 of the entire population that had anything to do with real estate (real estate agents, real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, investors, developers, even real estate lawyers), came to me for at least a consultation, if not for an actual “fresh start” through bankruptcy. Most of my fellow bankruptcy practitioners were experiencing the same kind of boom. “You must be busy,” folks would snidely opine. Yes, we were.

They say “Florida is the only state of the union where you need to go North to get to the South,” and I believe it’s true. I don’t think I’ve met too many native Floridians. I sure have met a lot of New Yorkers.

I’ve planted seeds here in Florida. Raised three kids for the second half of their tender years (tweens/teens). I’ve helped a lot of good people in the twenty-something years that I’ve been practicing law, but as cliche as it sounds, it’s the kids that will be my legacy. The kids and maybe a few other things that are still in development.

I’m finally at that age when I can start to say “I’ve lived a life.” There are lots of reasons why you would want a lawyer that has done just that. “Hindsight is 20-20” but you don’t get the benefit of hindsight until you’ve done some forward-moving and some forward-thinking.

I handle lots of different cases. I tend to gravitate towards the areas of consumer bankruptcy, civil (commercial) litigation and real estate. But I’ve also handled family law cases, personal injury claims, civil rights cases, and landlord-tenant law.

Some have spoken critically of me for not having done a better job of “following the money” in terms of the cases I choose. I’m a better lawyer than businessman. Perhaps that’s why I have a small law firm. The upside for you is that the service I provide is highly personalized. It’s mostly if not entirely me, but for one or two able-bodied assistants that pitch in.

I’m interested mostly in interesting cases and in helping people. The “helping” is part of the legacy. A wise person once said, “if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” I won’t take on a case if I don’t have the experience to handle it. I might co-counsel it with another lawyer or refer you to more capable hands, if they aren’t mine. That’s the part of being a “better lawyer than businessman” I was talking about.

Be sure to ask me about some of my most interesting cases. Who knows?

Maybe yours will be one of them.



Disclaimer: The Law Offices of Michael E. Zapin is a debt relief agency and we help our clients file for bankruptcy relief.