Best of the Beach 2019 – Professional services
Best insurance agent
Eric Read, B2 Insurance
“Cyber insurance is big now,” Eric Read of B2 Insurance & Financial Services said. Cyber insurance covers loss of income from hacking and ransomware attacks, in which a hacker locks up a company’s computers and demands a ransom to release them.
But the bulk of Read’s work, he said, remains issuing general liability insurance to his commercial clients and assisting with their claims. His clients range from restaurants and building contractors to auto fleets.
“Restaurants are a different animal. Their margins are so thin, that food spoilage from a power outage, or an assault charge resulting from a drunk customer can put a restaurant out of business,” he said.
Read advises clients not to file a claim unless the damages are two to three times their deductible, because a claim is likely to increase their subsequent insurance rates.
Read, who is married and lives in Hermosa Beach, joined B2 shortly after the company was founded by brothers Derek and Keith Brewer in 2013.
“I moved to Manhattan after graduating from Cal State University San Diego because it was the closest thing to living in Mission Beach, where people surf, play volleyball and run on the beach,” he said.
Read was in investment trading when the Brewers recruited him to join their fledgling company.
“I figured it was a good time to get out investment trading, because the stock market was responding to twitter feeds. The market would suddenly shift and you’d realize it was because of something someone tweeted,” he said.
In addition to cyber insurance, Read said he has resumed advising his commercial clients to get EPLI (Employment liability insurance).
“Following some big payouts for overtime and break-time claims in 2014, EPLI became prohibitively expensive. But rates are reasonable now,” he said.
Eric Reade-B2 Insurance & Financial Services
1426 Aviation Blvd. #201, Redondo Beach
Runner-up: Neal Bracewell – State Farm Insurance Agent
22939 Hawthorne Blvd. #312, Torrance
Criminal Defense Attorney
David Paquin carries a thick stack of business cards with him when he makes a court appearance. The second most common way for him to land a new client, Paquin said, is for someone to see him zealously defending a current client, then ask him for a card as he leaves the courtroom. He typically hands out three to five cards every time he makes a court appearance. The most common way he gets new clients, though, is through referrals. Although he has traveled as far as Bend, Ore. for cases, there is “always a South Bay connection,” to his wide-ranging criminal defense work.
Paquin has decades of experience and handles all kinds of criminal cases, including representing those facing the most daunting federal prosecutions. The key, he said, is establishing chemistry with the client right from the start.
“You’ve got to be completely comfortable with me — to understand, ‘Yeah, Dave’s got my back.’ If you don’t, that’s fine, I can give you the names of 50 different attorneys who might work for you. But you have to trust me,” Paquin said.
Developing trust and a close relationship with clients, Paquin said, helps him build the best case and avoid courtroom surprises. (“Just don’t lie to me. If something comes out of left field, that’s how we get in trouble,” he said.) It’s not always easy, given that the experience of facing criminal charges can be disorienting, especially for those who have only ever experienced the justice system through television. Paquin said that it can be easier representing people who have been through the experience before, but estimates that about 90 percent of his clients are “good people who have just done something dumb.”
Criminal law practice changes all the time, and Paquin has stayed busy with serious cases, even as one of the biggest money makers for other criminal defense attorneys has plummeted in recent years: DUI cases, which were the cornerstones of many firms, have significantly declined with the rise of ride-hailing services, he said. And in a field that often requires him to go toe-to-toe with police officers, he welcomes the rise of body cameras, which he said are as likely to save cops time and effort as they are to prevent bad behavior by law enforcement.
“I don’t know why anyone in law enforcement would complain about body cameras: it puts everyone on their best behavior,” Paquin said.
David Paquin-The Law Office David C. Paquin
1145 Artesia Blvd., Manhattan Beach
Runner-up: The Law Office of Donald R. Hammond
21515 Hawthorne Blvd., #590, Torrance
Christie Cronenweth says the key to being a good bankruptcy attorney – or any other kind of attorney – is responsiveness. “Apparently, many attorneys don’t return phone calls. That’s one of the biggest complaints to the California Bar. I try to be very responsive. They have a lot of questions, they’re scared, and I want to be there for them.” She also goes to court with clients, instead of handing them off to an appearance attorney. “I prepared their case, I know their case. I want to be there with them.” She prizes honesty and forthrightness, advising clients of other options when bankruptcy is not the best choice. She has moderated ethics panels for the Federal Bar Association, and has been published in the Federal Lawyer Magazine.
Christie Cronenweth Law Office
25202 Crenshaw Blvd. #207, Torrance
Runner-up: The Law Office of Dennis McGoldrick
21250 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 700, Torrance
Brandon Chabner takes pride in bucking the stereotype of the cold-hearted lawyer, and instead emphasizes knowledge of the law, understanding of the practicalities of business and an appreciation for the clients’ needs. He considers himself fortunate to work with the smart, industrious people who are making things happen in the business world. Much of his work is designed to take place outside the courtroom, to prevent lawsuits so his clients will never face them in the first place. Chabner serves as outside general counsel to companies, handling transactional work and contracts, and maintains a consumer protection practice focused on debt resolution.
The Law Office of Brandon S. Chabner, Esq
222 N. Sepulveda Blvd., #200, El Segundo
Runner-up: Baker, Burton & Lundy Law Offices
515 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach
Estate Planning, Trust Attorney
This is the first year that Trust Attorney is a category in our Best Of The Beach survey, and our readers responded by honoring Mark E. Swatik. Mark is an attorney and Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate law under the California State Bar, Board of Legal Specialization, and partner with the law firm Burkley Brandlin Swatik & Keesey LLP, where they specialize in estate planning, living trusts, and probate, as well as trust administration, trust and will litigation, conservatorships, guardianships, special needs planning, elder law, business succession planning, business law and litigation, and real estate law. Mark has an MBA, with an emphasis in Finance, and is a retired police sergeant. Mark is also a licensed Real Estate Broker.
Mark Swatik-Brandlin Swatilk & Keesey LLP
21515 Hawthorne Blvd. #820, Torrance
Runner-up: Carico Macdonald Kil & Benz
841 Apollo St., #450, El Segundo
Real Estate/Property Law
Baker, Burton & Lundy
The full-service law firm is known for representing Fortune 500 companies in the South Bay as well as residents before city planning commissions, mediating neighborhood disputes, and providing pro bono services to nonprofits. BB&L boasts a high-powered litigation department as well as estate and probate services, and has won millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for local residents as well as billions for Californians. Longtime Hermosa Beach accountant Gary Wayland says, “I am not sure there is a better commercial real estate lawyer than (partner) Kent Burton.” In true Hermosa fashion, the firm maintains its offices not in Century City but on Pier Avenue, where a lifeguard-tower building design greets the clients.
Baker, Burton & Lundy Law Offices
515 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach
Runner-up: Jeffrey Lewis Attorney At Law
609 Deep Valley Dr., Suite 200, Rolling Hills Estates
Personal Injury Law
For Bill Strickland, AVP pro turned personal injury lawyer, success begins with a personal touch. “I take a lot of pride in getting to know my clients and understand what they’re going through. The personal relationship I form with them gives me the ability to convey the true depth and extent of their injury.” Then his knowledge of local laws and ordinances helps him prepare his best case, whether it’s a roadway accident, slip-and-fall or an animal attack. He tries to resolve each case with a settlement, but is prepared to go to trial, as in the recent case of a Manhattan Beach woman awarded a $477,000 judgment by a jury after she fell and dislocated her elbow inside a South Bay gym. “I’m giving voice to the individual who is injured, and helping him get fair compensation, instead of getting pushed around by big insurance companies with limited resources.”
Bill Strickland-Strickland Law Firm
111 N. Sepulveda Blvd. #250, Manhattan Beach
Runner-up: Law Office of Michael Updike
1219 Morningside Dr., Manhattan Beach
Lovette T. Mioni
Certified family law specialist Lovette T. Mioni takes pride in her efforts to educate her clients, to “make them aware of their unique facts and circumstances, and their best-case and worst-case scenarios, so they can make the best decisions for them, rather than letting the court make it for them, or just going along with the other side.” She is named a Southern California Rising Star by the Super Lawyers rating service, an honor held by fewer than 3 percent of attorneys in the region. She also is among the Top 100 Up-and-Coming Lawyers in Southern California, and the Top 50 Up-and-Coming Women Attorneys in Southern California. Her settlement-minded practice aims to avoid the financial and emotional drain of a trial.
Lovette Mioni-Mioni Family Law, APC-Lovette T. Mioni
1815 Via El Prado Suite 203, Redondo Beach
(424) 259-1770 mionifamilylaw.com
Runner-up: Law Offices of William P. Glavin
841 Apollo St., Suite 450, El Segundo
(310) 882-0000 glavinlaw.com
Chase, Hermosa Beach
Without question Chase Bank’s downtown Hermosa Beach branch, on the ground floor of the old Bijou movie theater, is the coolest bank building in the area. But it takes more than looking cool to be the Beach Cities’ favorite bank. At their on-site ATMs, for example, you can withdraw cash in unusual dominations, such $1, $5 and $100. Wealth management professionals are here to help customers who need advice on investment strategies. Mortgage bankers assist in the home buying process. And business bankers are here to help local small business owners.
1223 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach
(310) 372-7480 chase.com
Runner-up: Wells Fargo Bank
For Locations visit wellsfargo.co,
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