The ILS at the 2019 Florida Bar Annual Convention

Please join The Florida Bar International Law Section at the 69th Florida Bar Annual Convention, which will be held at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, 501 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton, FL 33432 from June 26-29, 2019. To RSVP to the ILS events, click HERE. Following is a complete schedule of the International Law Section program:

For The Florida Bar Annual Convention Page on The Florida Bar website, Click HERE.
Please do not forget to download the 2019 Annual Florida Convention Mobile App. It is available for Apple and Android mobile devices and tablets and will allow users to get an up-to-date schedule, create their own schedule, get important notices and hotel maps, see and post to the Activity Feed/Social Wall, use the hashtag #MyFloridaBar, and much more.

ILS Executive Council Meeting on June 28, 2019

During The Florida Bar Annual Convention, the Florida Bar International Law Section will hold its Executive Council Meeting on Friday June 28, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. The Meeting will take place in the Grand Ballroom I of the Boca Raton Resort & Club, 501 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton, FL 33432. Immediately thereafter, the International Law Section will host its Luncheon.

Great Success for the 2019 Conference on International Law in Panama

On May 31, the Florida Bar International Law Section held its 2019 Conference on International Law at Morgan & Morgan in Panama City, Republic of Panama.
The Conference kicked-off with a welcome dinner on May 30, 2019, and continued on May 31, 2019 featuring panels on Comparative Tax Law, Comparative Maritime Law, Comparative Litigation and Arbitration, and Comparative Corporate Law. The ILS thanks all attendees and looks forward to the next edition.
ILS Chair Carlos F. Osorio and Treasurer James M. Meyer

International Law Section – Call for Committee Members

The International Law Section Foreign Legal Consultants Committee and Legislative Committee calls for all Members to join its ranks for the 2019-2020 bar year. Join Today! 
For additional information, please email the ILS Chair-Elect Clarissa Rodriguez,, or ILS Secretary Robert Becerra,

International Law Section – Call for Member News

The Executive Board of the International Law Section calls for all Members to share news about their professional achievements, endeavors, and successes to be published in the Gazette and on the International Law Section website.
To share your professional achievements with the ILS Network, please submit all relevant information to Davide Macelloni, Editor of the ILS Gazette.

Join the International Law Section

If you are reading the Gazette, chances are that you are a practitioner or a student with an interest in International Law, one of the most wide-ranging, exciting and challenging legal specialties. Everyone in our field knows how crucial it is to stay on top of diverse and evolving national legal regimes, and at the same time, the difficulty of keeping meticulously up-to-date on developments around the world.
The International Law Section (ILS) of The Florida Bar is here to help you, the practitioner, navigate both the everyday and big-picture challenges of our field. Our Section is your forum to share knowledge and best practices, and to meet and mingle with peers in professional collaborations that can only enhance your grasp of the specialty and your standing among clients and peers.
Let ILS membership assist you in developing a thriving international practice through peer network development that includes important shared learnings and reciprocal referrals of clients and casework.
If your practice transcends borders, join us in making this the authoritative, go-to forum for Florida and the gateway to the region for anyone practicing International Law. Our Section is open to lawyers from other states and countries, full-time faculty at U.S. law schools, and full-time U.S. law students, all of whom may participate as associate members. For more information regarding membership with the ILS, click HERE.

Available CLEs

During the Spring, the Florida Bar International Law Section proudly offered CLE webinars on a wide variety of topics, including H-1B Processing, Key Changes in EU General Data Protection Regulations, and FIFA Transfer Rules and the Court of Arbitration for Sports. All past programs have a link to register for on demand and downloadable podcasts for the next 18 months.

From Our Members

USCIS Holds Stakeholders’ Meeting at the Miami Field Office

By Patricia Castillo Flanagan*
On May 16, 2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) held a stakeholders meeting at the Miami Field Office. In attendance and in representation of USCIS Miami and Caribeean District were the Miami District Director, Linda Swacina; the Kendall Field Office Director, Kristian Parker; the Miami Field Office Director, Yeseira Diaz;  the Hialeah Field Office Director, Enid Stulz; the Oakland Park Field Office Director, Emigdio Martinez; Senior Adjudications Officer, Bruce Marmar; Community Relations Officers, Berta Cassidi and Roketa Mansfield. Michael Biggs (“Biggs”), who is one of the officers in charge of the implementation of the Information Services Modernization Program (hereinafter “Infomode”) was also in attendance via teleconference.  In attendance and in representation of the stakeholders were: members of American Immigration Lawyers Association South Florida (“AILA South Florida”), a representative for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”), Amanda St. Jean, representatives of multiple community and non-profit legal services organizations, and Patricia Castillo Flanagan representing the Florida Bar.
During the meetings, USCIS discussed 28 questions that had been previously submitted by the stakeholders, and provided the attendees with responses to each question in writing. For a list of the responses, please click here.
During the stakeholders meetings questions 1-13 were discussed in further detail by Biggs. The rest of the questions were discussed by the Field Director officers and by District Director Swacina. Biggs explained the new Infomode system, which USCIS Miami began implementing in March. The system requires that USCIS customers schedule infopass appointments via the USCIS Contact Center 1-800 number and replaces the previous system, which allowed customers to make appointments using USCIS’ website. Although appointment were not always immediately available, the process of making an appointment used to take a few minutes. More importantly, before Infomode, a customer with an emergency could just walk in to a USCIS Field Office with evidence of the emergency and obtain an advance parole document or an I-551 stamp.  Most people who had evidence of their emergency would be granted the service requested from USCIS within a matter of hours.
The new Infomode system – far from being more efficient than the old system – leaves a lot to be desired. Since the inception of the new Infomode in South Florida, members of the Florida Bar have complained of mainly four problems: 1) the long waiting time to reach a first tier customer service representative; 2) the even longer waiting time to actually speak with a USCIS officer (second tier representative); 3) how burdensome the system is for people who are in dire need of an I-551 stamps or advance parole; and 4) how it is almost impossible to obtain an appointment to fee in motions.  Unfortunately, Castillo Flanagan has to report that Biggs and the rest of the USCIS representatives expressed no concern with the way Infomode is working. Biggs repeatedly stated that the waiting time is only 20-30 minutes and suggested that if anybody had waited any longer, it is because that person called in a particular busy day at a particular busy time. Such approach highlights a clear disconnect between the way USCIS is trying to portray the effectiveness of  the Infomode system and the reality.
Castillo Flanagan told Biggs that the system was inefficient, particularly in addressing the needs of lawful permanent residents who might need an emergency appointment to obtain an I-551 stamp. For example, before the new system, if a lawful permanent resident learned that her son or daughter was dying in another country, that mother could go to a local office , which were normally open for emergency infopass appointments until about 3:30 in the afternoon and would have have obtained a I-551 on the same date. Conversely, with the new system, that same mother would have to spend about 2-3 hours on hold just to be able to speak to a representative. By then, the possibility to obtain a same day infopass appointment would be very slim, meaning that the mother would have to wait at least 24 more hours to obtain an infopass.
Biggs suggested that the changes were needed to create a consistent system throughout the nation. Castillo Flanagan response by claiming that USCIS cannot expect to create a consistent system for emergency as emergencies come in all kinds of shapes and at odd hours, and the number of USCIS customers needing services could vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another.

It is almost ironic that the word “Modernization” has been added to the new name for the infopass system. Clients went from being able to schedule an infopass appointment from the convenience of their cell phone at odd hours of the night or during the weekend, to having to call USCIS during restricted hours and wait for hundreds of minutes just to be able to speak to someone about possibly obtaining an appointment. Castillo Flanagan sincerely wishes that as these lines are published, the Infomode system is working more efficiently, but she unfortunately doubts that will be the case as the officers who direct and monitor the system are in either complete denial or just do not care about USCIS’ customers’ needs anymore.

*Patricia Castillo Flanagan is a Senior Associate at Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, P.A., where she practices in the areas of business and family-based immigration. She represents clients before USCIS with regard to non-immigrant visa applications, immigrant worker petitions,family based immigrant visa petitions and applications for naturalization.

John Doe Summons on Law Firm Upheld

By Geoffrey M. Wayne*
The Attorney Client Privilege recently went toe-to-toe with an IRS John Doe Summons in a Texas Federal District Court, and the John Doe Summons prevailed. Taylor Lohmeyer Law Firm PLLC v. United States (Civil Action No. SA-18-CV-1161-XR).
The Taylor Lohmeyer firm (“TL”) was a Dallas, Texas firm engaged in tax planning, including income and estate tax planning utilizing foreign trusts. TL advised a hedge fund manager (“Taxpayer”) in connection with reducing income tax on certain fees he was to receive from offshore sources. While TL would later defend their advice – which included the creation of a foreign grantor trust in the Isle of Man – upon auditing Taxpayer, the IRS assessed, and Taxpayer paid, a civil fraud penalty in connection with the income he failed to report after implementing that advice. The advice was not sound, to say the least. Sometime after beginning the audit of Taxpayer, the IRS came to believe that TL had implemented similar abusive tax planning for other clients. The IRS did not know the identity of those clients and, so, issued a John Doe Summons for the names, information, and documentation of clients from 1995 to 2017 for whom TL had “acquired or formed any foreign entity, opened or maintained any foreign financial account, or assisted in the conduct of any foreign financial transaction”.
A John Doe Summons is authorized under IRC § 7609(f) and does not list the taxpayer’s name since it is unknown. Because of the attenuated nature of the John Doe Summons, it must be approved by a Federal District Court in an ex parte hearing. IRC § 7609(f) imposes additional requirements designed to prevent a “fishing expedition.” Service of the Summons was followed by a Motion to Quash, Memoranda in Support, Responses to Memoranda in Support, and several hearings. The Motion to Quash was based on a number of arguments which the Court ultimately rejected. The Court noted that once it orders service of the Summons, the IRS’ burden is quite limited whereas the taxpayer’s burden is heavy. Apart from arguments based on case law – including United States v. Powell, 379 U.S. 48 (1964), which imposes a good faith requirement and reiterates the statutory requirements – TL raised the defense of attorney client privilege.
This is where this case is instructive and worrisome.
The Court recognized that the privilege is a defense to enforcement of a summons. The Court also recognized that the privilege could be a defense to the disclosure of even a client’s name when disclosure of the client’s name would disclose the essence of a confidential communication. However, the Court noted that “the party seeking to assert the privilege must allege its applicability with specificity as to each document.” The Government argued that TL had to produce a privilege log with specific objections to the Summons. TL argued that there were 32,000 documents responsive to the Summons, and attempted to avoid the filing of a privilege log by filing a Memorandum detailing “the types of legal services the firm provides, the types of structures employed by the firm’s clients, and the nature of the firm’s relationships with its clients.” The Court ruled that TL did “not meet its burden to rebut a Powell showing, in large part because [TL] makes a blanket assertion and does not produce a privilege log or similar device.” The Court further ruled that the Memorandum “provides only generalities that do not show the IRS already knows so much that disclosure of client identities falls in the narrow exception to the general rule that identities are not privileged”.
The instructive part of this case is that even when dealing with a summons on a law firm, a privilege log, and the specificity of information included within, is required to assert the privilege. However, this is also the worrisome part of the case. Which small to medium size firm is prepared to devote the resources necessary to assert the privilege if the IRS serves a summons related to clients over the last 23 years? While the privilege is the client’s to assert and, presumably, the clients would bear the cost of such a gargantuan effort, it would undoubtedly be tremendously disruptive.
*Geoffrey M. Wayne is the founder of Geoffrey M. Wayne, P.A., a boutique law firm located in Coral Gables focusing on individual and corporate issues related to international taxatio

Member News

Andrew J. Markus Appointed Republic of Bulgaria’s Honorary Consul for Florida

The Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria has appointed Carlton Fields Shareholder Andrew J. Markus as the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Bulgaria. His consular jurisdiction is the state of Florida, with the seat of the Consulate in Miami.

In his role as the Honorary Consul, Markus will promote trade and academic, cultural, business and professional exchange and arrange for official visits to Florida and from Florida to the Republic of Bulgaria. Markus will also coordinate with the Bulgarian community of Florida.

To read Carlton Fields’ press-release, click here.
Peter Quinter Presents at the DR Logistics Mission, the International Trade Commissioners Association, and Atlanta International Forwarders and Brokers Association
On June 3, 2019 Peter Quinter, Chair of GrayRobinson’s U.S. Customs and International Trade Practice, presented at the DR Logistics Mission hosted by the Florida Foreign Trade Association at Port Everglades. Quinter’s presentation provided an overview of the interaction between four key participants in facilitating trade – government, seaports and airports, logistics companies and customers.
On June 6, 2019 Peter Quinter presented for the International Trade Commissioners Association (“InTrade”) on U.S. Customs Regulations. Quinter’s presentation, which took place at the Canadian Trade offices in Miami, focused on a variety of topics, including customs valuation, Free Trade Agreement import requirements by Customs and Border Protection, country of origin marking requirements, tariff classifications, and U.S. President Trump’s updated tariffs under Section 232 and Section 301. Quinter also touched on NAFTA and the proposed U.S. – Mexico – Canada Free Trade Agreement and the new OFAC requirements regarding trade and travel to Cuba.
On June 11, 2019 Peter Quinter, joined by Officer Amy Moore of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, presented a panel on broker compliance audits and voluntary self-disclosures to the Atlanta International Forwarders and Brokers Association (“AIFBA”).

For additional information on GrayRobinson customs and international trade practice, please visit

Upcoming Events

Please join the University of Miami School of Law for its Program on Managing Compliance Across Borders, presented in collaboration with the University of St. Gallen Executive School of Management, Technology and Law. The three-day program will be held at the Donna E. Shalala Student Center, 1330 Miller Drive, Miami, FL 33146, and is an intensive and interactive executive-level program aimed at compliance, risk an audit management counsel and executives from firms and corporations, whether they work in companies, regulatory authorities, or professional firms. Many ILS members, including Richard Montes De Oca, Managing Partner of MDO Partners, Peter A. Quinter, Chair of the Custom and International Trade Practice at GrayRobinson, Rafael R. Ribeiro, Partner at Hogan Lovells LLP, and Marcia Narine Weldon, Professor of Law at the University of Miami Law School, will be among the esteemed guests, panelists, and moderators. For the program schedule and a full list of speakers, click here. To RSVP, click here.
September 3-7, 2019
The 57th International Young Lawyers’ Congress of the Association Internationale des Jeunes Avocats – International Association of Young Lawyers will take place in Rome, Italy. The event will be an opportunity to network and learn with a focus on “Sustainability and the Law. Planet. People. Future.” For more information or to register, please refer to the event’s website.
September 22-27, 2019
The International Bar Association invites all members to attend its 2019 annual conference, which will be held in Seoul, South Korea, a thriving metropolis that mixes the traditional with the modern – from skyscrapers, high-tech subways, K-pop culture and K-beauty to Buddhist temples, palaces and street markets and a history going back 5,000 years. For more information or to register, please refer to the event’s website.

Winter 2019 ILQ

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