Fowler White announced earlier this month that Charles “Charlie” S. Davant, who represents vessel owners and operators, has joined its Fort Lauderdale office as a shareholder in the maritime practice group. In addition, Oscar Grisales-Racini, who concentrates on international tax planning and transfer pricing, has joined the firm’s Miami office as a shareholder in the tax, trust and estates, mergers and acquisitions and private equity/venture capital practice groups, the firm said in a Sept. 5 statement.
Grisales-Racini told Law360 on Thursday that after running a tax and immigration practice with his sister, Nera Shefer, at their boutique firm Grisales-Racini Shefer LLP, they were drawn to Fowler White for its local and global platform. Grisales-Racini, who is also licensed to practice in England, Wales, Ireland, the British Virgin Islands and Colombia, noted that his sister is currently a shareholder in the firm’s immigration group.
“I do international tax planning and have a global reach that I was able to develop for years, but I needed a larger platform,” Grisales-Racini said. “What led me to Fowler White Burnett is the type of established platform they had and the great opportunity to work alongside tax professionals Richard Razook and Howard Gordon.”
As for Davant, who was previously a partner at Sedgwick LLP, he said that when the opportunity arose to join what he believes is the top maritime firm in Florida, “it was a no-brainer for me.”
Grisales-Racini’s practice focuses in part on inbound deals, which involves helping international clients with tax planning to optimize their investments in the U.S. He also works on outbound transactions, particularly with middle market and startup companies that are looking to expand into Europe and Latin America. The third part of Grisales-Racini’s practice concentrates on transfer pricing, which involves helping clients develop pricing policies among related entities in different countries.
Davant said his focus involves any kind of “on the water” issues, such as a collision, grounding or sinking. He also works on marine insurance coverage issues that could arise between insurers and vessel owners.
Grisales-Racini said he initially worked in real estate law in Florida, but found that a lot of international clients were asking about the best way to invest. "I decided that, and learned through other colleagues, that without real, technical training in tax law, specifically international tax law, I couldn’t help clients beyond real estate,” Grisales-Racini said.
Grisales-Racini ultimately got an LL.M. in in federal taxation from Boston University School of Law and an MBA from Colorado Tech University. “What prompted this was needing to know the depth of technical issues for foreign clients investing in U.S. real estate, the tax implications of those transactions and the best way to invest,” Grisales-Racini said.
As for Davant, who grew up in Miami and was a sailing instructor in college, he said the short answer for why he got into maritime law is because he loves boats. “When I had a chance to work in a maritime boutique and started practicing this area of law — which allowed me to talk about boats rather than somebody who slipped and fell at the supermarket — I jumped at the opportunity and never looked back,” Davant said.
Grisales-Racini received his his undergraduate degree form Universidad del Norte in Colombia.
Davant received his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and his law degree from Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center.