Most Influential Lawyers
in Equipment Finance and Leasing

Stewart Abramson
Andrew Alper

Thomas V. Askounis

Julie Babcock
Joe Bonanno, CLFP
Bill Carey
Richard Contino
James Coston, CLFP
Jonathan Fleisher
Marshall Goldberg
Kenneth Charles Greene, Esq.
Michael A. Leichtling
Malcolm C. Lindquist
Barry Marks, Esq., CLFP
David G. Mayer
Allan J. Mogol
Frank Peretore
John G. Sinodis
Ellen Michelle Stern
Mark Stout
Kevin Trabaris
Allan Umans
Mark Wada
Michael J. Witt
Irwin Wittlin

 


Stewart Abramson has been a leading lawyer in the Equipment Finance industry for more than thirty years during which time he has been General Counsel of North American Corporation/National Equipment Rental, General Counsel of Charter Financial, Inc. and Managing Counsel for Wells Fargo, leading the legal group that supports all of Wells Fargo’s equipment finance businesses. He is a past chairman of the ELFA Legal Committee, has been an active member of numerous ELFA committees for many years, is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and has written articles on industry related topics. However, beyond his expertise, industry activity and experience the key indicator of his influence is the frequency of which both lawyers and business people across the industry seek his advice on equipment financing matters. From providing advice about regulatory issues to sharing his thoughts on structuring transactions to providing market intelligence, Stewart is a frequent and influential counselor to the industry.

Andrew K. Alper is a recognized influential attorney representing equipment lessors, funding sources, and other financial institutions since 1979. He is a longtime contributor to the Legal Column for the Monitor magazine. He has been a director of Western Association of Equipment Lessors and United Association of Equipment Lessors, now the National Equipment Finance Association, as well as active with the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, including serving as instructor for its Principles of Leasing class. He has presented seminars on Equipment Leasing for the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Alper also sits on the Los Angeles County Bar Commercial Law Committee.


Thomas V. Askounis is in the news a lot handling many major leasing and finance cases. He is very active with the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors and the Service Providers Business Council. He also served on the board of Director of the now National Equipment Finance Association. He previously served as President of the Hellenic Bar Association and is currently a member of the Leasing Subcommittee of the American Bar Association. He has 40 years’ experience in many top leasing and finance cases.



Julie Babcock has been practicing law in the leasing industry since 1993. Julie joined the Key Equipment Finance law group in 2002 and is currently legal counsel for the Specialty Finance, Vendor, and Syndications groups. For a brief period, Julie left Key Equipment Finance to provide legal counsel for KeyBank’s Commercial Lending Group, supporting commercial real estate, real estate construction, commercial loan servicing, healthcare, Native American lending, asset based lending, letters of credit, SBA, multi-family, and middle market lending.

Prior to joining Key, Julie was the head of the Legal Department at Republic Financial Corporation, Assistant General Counsel at MetLife Capital Corporation, an associate with the law firm of Bogle & Gates, and an Independent Petroleum Landman. She has been a frequent speaker at the Legal Forum of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association. She received the Award for the Article Making the Greatest Contribution to the Leasing Industry for her article, “Buyer Beware: Key Issues Related to Acquisitions,” Journal of Equipment Lease Financing, Vol. 13/No. 1, Spring, 1995.

A Colorado native and avid Colorado Buffaloes fan, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree (with distinction) and her Juris Doctor degree (Order of the Coif) from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. She lives in Windsor, Colorado with her husband and three dogs.


Joe Bonanno, CLFP, he and Barry Marks should be credited with the great help they gave in the formation and beginning of the National Association of Equipment Brokers. In 1998, Barry left from alternating as the Legal Counsel for the association. Joe has not only contributed much here, but also to members and non-members with legal questions and dilemmas, and brought the progress of education, ethics, and good will, including serving on the CLFP Foundation board for many years. A major influence in the leasing industry, always available to answer questions, seemingly day and night. Extremely well respected by the leasing broker community as well as funders.


Bill Carey served as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for USXL since it was founded in March 2004, and he continued in that position at Tygris Vendor Finance, now EverBank Commercial Finance. He has over 15 years of experience in the commercial finance industry, serving in leadership positions as an attorney with CIT, Newcourt Commercial Finance and AT&T Capital and handling transactions in vendor leasing, commercial lending, fractional aircraft finance and venture leasing, as well as M&A and other corporate finance matters. For a three year period, Bill was the executive vice president and general counsel of a London based technology publisher.

He also received two additional nominations:

"Bill Carey is the most effective leasing lawyer I have ever worked with—and I have worked with many! Bill is the perfect example of a legal business partner, akin to an HR business partner, or a Finance business partner. He provides timely, organized, and meaningful legal guidance to senior management regarding overall business matters, and to the sales teams regarding individual transactions and/or vendor program legal issues and opportunities."

"I worked with Bill for over 5 years while at *** and found him to be one of the best in the business for many reasons. In sales driven organizations, in house counsel often have to maintain a fine balance, managing risk by providing good sound legal advice while not being so conservative that they become an obstacle to the company achieving its mission. Bill always excelled at that; he understands the business. He was reasonable and creative in his approach to resolving problems, very accessible, responsive and balanced. He was always a gentleman in his dealings with customers and vendors, diplomatic and poised regardless of the situation.  In addition, Bill was a great coach to his Legal Dept. as well as to his internal “clients”, always making time for a teaching moment. Bill is well known in the industry. He has served as a past Chair of the ELFA Legal Committee and I’m certain he left his positive mark there as well."

Richard M. Contino is an internationally-recognized equipment leasing expert, with an extensive legal, business, marketing, tax, transaction structuring, financial and management background.  He is an advisor on all types of start-up and on-going equipment leasing business activities for lessors, lease lenders and syndicators, equipment vendors, lease investors and corporate lessees.  He is former General Counsel of De Lage Landen, Wayne, Pennsylvania, a subsidiary of The Rabobank Group, and the 14th largest equipment lessor in the U.S. Mr. Contino is the author of eight books on business, negotiating, and equipment leasing. He has conducted private on-site and publicly-held business success, communication, finance, and negotiation seminars throughout the United States for professional organizations (e.g., American Management Association, Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, National Seminars Group, Practicing Law Institute, and University of California Graduate School of Law) as well as corporations (e.g., AT&T, EXXON Corporation, NYNEX, and Texas Instruments Corporation). He is a retired JAG Captain, US Air Force.

 


James Coston, CLFP, active in several leasing associations, first attorney
serving as President (2004) of the United Association of Equipment Leasing, now National Equipment Finance Association. Counsel for leading financial institutions and other lenders and lessors for litigation and management of regional and national contracts and accounts. Active in major cases. Also entrepreneur and active in railroad transportation; politically active.


Jonathan Fleisher is a Toronto, Canada attorney whose practice
focuses on the commercial finance industry with a particular emphasis on innovative cross-border transactions and equipment and asset finance, where he has been recognized as a leading lawyer by the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory and Best Lawyers. He has particular expertise assisting public and private US commercial finance companies with both establishing operations in Canada and purchasing and selling finance and lease companies, providing both legal and practical business advice.  He is also a prolific writer on topics related to equipment finance and cross-border transactions. Jonathan is the legal editor for Fleet Digest magazine and has completed both the Equipment Finance and Subordinated Debt chapters for Canadian Forms & Precedents. He has also drafted specific guides for US lenders expanding operations to Canada. He is a Director of the Canadian Finance and Leasing Association, Member of the Legal Committee of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, member of the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers.


Marshall Goldberg has been an active member and leader for many years in financial institution associations, including the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association ("ELFA"), and the National Vehicle Leasing Association ("NVLA"). For ELFA, Marshall has served on the Legal Committee, the Credit and Collections Management Committee, and as a member of the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Equipment Lease Financing. He is currently the Chairman of the Professional Development, Education and Information Sub-Committee for the ELFA Legal Committee. He is responsible for developing, organizing, managing and editing the Legal Website, which includes an online compendium of legal issues pertaining to the 50 States, "What's New in the Law", and the "Catalogue of Legal Information". He developed and now chairs and monitors the Legal Listserve, an online forum for attorneys to discuss pertinent legal issues on a daily basis. He is also the sole 2009 recipient of the annual "Excellence in Leasing Award" presented on behalf of ELFA and its Legal Committee.

Marshall is co-author and co-editor of the “Executive Guide to Remedies,” and the “Executive Guide to Lease Documentation”. He also speaks and instructs extensively within the legal and business communities. He has given numerous educational and strategic seminars throughout the United States on subjects including Loan and Lease Enforcement, and he provides annual legal update presentations for financial association lawyers, including written summaries of current case and statutory law.


Kenneth Charles Greene, Esq., very active in the beginning years of the Western Association of Equipment Lessors (now the National Equipment Finance Association) as well as the National Association of Equipment Leasing Brokers. Well known from attending many of the early conferences of several associations. Key attorney in the early years for Leasing News: From potential lawsuits regarding Bulletin Board Complaints, lawsuits, "bully" letters, 1st amendment issues, competitive practice, Mr. Greene has protected Leasing News without a financial charge or complaint. Also one time active in attorney speaker programs as well as author of a monthly law bulletin. An active professional musician as well as service the music industry in Los Angeles today.

 


Michael A. Leichtling, well-known attorney on corporate and financial matters, including complex mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, venture capital and private financing transaction, specializing in leasing. counseling lessors, banks, funds, investors, and other funding sources. Member of several leasing associations, including serving on the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association Executive Committee, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation. Co-author with the late Jeff Wong, now retired Barry A. Dubin, as editor of the Commercial Finance Guide, now up-dated and published by Matthew Bender. Member, Board of Editors, Equipment Leasing Newsletter (Law Journal Publications). Author and Well-known speaker. Recipient of the 2007 ELFA Award for “Excellence in Leasing."

 


Malcolm C. Lindquist concentrates his practice on commercial finance, equipment leasing, mergers, acquisitions and the Uniform Commercial Code. His practice includes the documentation of complex loan transactions, lease transactions and sales of portfolios of leases and loans. Malcolm also has extensive experience representing lenders in loan enforcement actions, bankruptcy proceedings, receiverships and out of court workouts. He is a noted speaker, as well as an author, named as one of The Best Lawyers, Banking and Finance (2012-2015>  Member of several bar associations, elected Member, American Law Institute, Board of Regents (2006-2010; 2012-2016) for the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers, Former Chair, Secured Lending Subcommittee, Commercial Finance Service Committee of the American Bar Association, on the Equipment Leasing Subcommittee of UCC Committee, Executive Board (2009-Present, Association of Commercial Finance, served on the legal committee of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, as well as active in his community.

 


Barry Marks, Esq., CLFP, was the original attorney for National Association of Equipment Leasing Brokers and a very forward thinking, bright attorney and practical businessman. He helped the organization grow and recommended Joe Bonanno, CFLP, to take his position when he retired to become an ex-officio board member. Barry was winner of the Bill Granieri award for leasing education. Always available to answer leasing and finance questions at no charge and to brainstorm problems and solutions, he is a published author and co-author of books on leasing. He also produces a well-read monthly newsletter (available through www.leaselawyer.com ). He is also known for his three poetry books and many published poems and stories. Barry was named Alabama Poet of the Year in 1999 and was a runner up for the prestigious Eric Hoffer Award for books published by small presses.



David G. Mayer---Perhaps best known as the author of "Business Leasing for Dummies" (September, 2001) as well as an online newsletter "Business Leasing and Finance News" (2002-2012) which had 6,000 subscribers in 33 countries. He has written other articles, primarily on business aviation, aircraft leasing and finance, which he is known, especially involving international and cross-border transactions.  He started this specialist rising to Senior Counsel, GATX Corp, then going as corporate counsel, primarily in transportation equipment, including aircraft, vessels, truck and trailers, including project financing and operation. He is active in the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, as well as has been a contributing author to the Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation surveys. He is an Eagle Scout.


Alan J. Mogol, Attorney -Mogol, over the last 40+ years, created a large volume of the middle market lease documentation currently used by the majority of the larger bank and finance companies in the industry; including standard forms of lease documentation as well as industry standar syndication, assignment, notice of assignment, participation and motor vehicle titling trust documents. Much of what Mogol has created is considered de facto industry standard in the bank middle market space. He is a frequent lecturer and author in the equipment financing area.

 

 


Frank Peretore has written many articles on leasing for the news media as a recognized expert on commercial lenders and lessors, including two books, "Workouts and Enforcement for the Secured Creditor and Equipment Lessor" and "Secured Transactions for the Practitioner: How to Properly Perfect Your Personal Property Lien and Assure Priority." He is currently the Secretary of the National Equipment Finance Association, serving on the board since 2009, as well as serving on many legal committees. He was also on the Board of Directors, Eastern Association of Equipment Lessors, and served on legal committees for the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association. He brings his law experience to his writing and leasing association meetings and conferences. He is highly respected by his colleagues for his dedication to the finance and leasing industry as well as to law.

 


John G. Sinodis practice emphasizes the representation of equipment lessors and funding sources in all aspects of equipment leasing including litigation, documentation, insolvency, and transactional matters. Besides representing equipment lessors and funding sources, Mr. Sinodis represents financial institutions and asset-based lenders in the areas of commercial litigation, secured transactions, asset recovery, loan restructure and business litigation. Mr. Sinodis is an active member of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) and the National Equipment Finance Association (NEFA). Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Sinodis served as the president of General Leasing Co. and is presently a member of its board of directors. 

Ellen Michelle Stern was admitted to the Law Board May 31, 1979.  She specializes in leasing. Her email address is leaselaw@msn.com.  She has helped many independents and lessors obtain a California Finance Lender's license. A small office in her home allows her to specialize in smaller clients that large firms do not consider, making her unique in the industry. The person who nominated her was not aware of a description utilized in an article she wrote for Leasing News:

"Ellen M. Stern, Esq.
The mainstay of my client base is the leasing industry, in which I have a multitude of connections and resources. My Fixed Fee Programs provide for a single set fee for the entire pleadings process for Claim and Delivery to recover possession of the equipment, for Relief from Stay and for Non-Dischargeability Complaints in Chapter 7s, and I also offer a wonderfully successful and inexpensive collection tool for accounts that are already 60 to 120 days past due that I laughingly entitled my SLAM and has followed with me as useful, practical and very results-oriented. I have found that as long as the client knows up-front what the cost will be the client remains understanding of and satisfied with the process. I also always quote ballpark prices for everything prior to engaging in any legal tactics, so there are no surprises for the client.  My hourly rates are also highly competitive and I make many of my court appearances telephonically to reduce the cost to the client."

 

 
"Mark Stout helped me to locate, obtain and return a stolen truck to one of my lessees after the truck had been driven across the state of Texas – in just 3 days – by utilizing his expertise and relationships 6 counties away. This could have been a disaster for my lessee. I called Stout – Stout called whoever it was he called and the truck was returned. Easy – and that’s what I like."

Mr. Stout represents in excess of thirty financial institutions and leasing companies.

Within the last four years, Mr. Stout has represented commercial lenders in excess of 150 state court proceedings. Mr. Stout handles an extensive trial docket that generally entails at least three court appearances each week in various courts in Texas. In conjunction with his state court proceedings, Mr. Stout frequently utilizes sequestration/replevin proceedings to quickly recover his client’s collateral. Mr. Stout has filed approximately 200 sequestration/replevin actions in Texas. Mr. Stout represents in excess of thirty financial institutions and leasing companies. Within the last four years, Mr. Stout has represented commercial lenders in excess of 150 state court proceedings. Mr. Stout handles an extensive trial docket that generally entails at least three court appearances each week in various courts in Texas. In conjunction with his state court proceedings, Mr. Stout frequently utilizes sequestration/replevin proceedings to quickly recover his client’s collateral. Mr. Stout has filed approximately 200 sequestration/replevin actions in Texas.

 


Kevin Trabaris has extensive experience representing banks, financial companies, equipment lessors, insurers, and other funding and intermediary entities and borrowers in connection with thousands of business financing matters.  He has handled everything from small ticket transactions to billion dollar syndicated loans, real estate financing to asset-based facilities. He is an active member of the Commercial Finance Association, LinkedIn Capital Equipment Leasing Group and Equipment Leasing Professionals Group. He has an excellent reputation among his colleagues

Allan Umans is in charge of documentation and legal affairs at Pacific Rim Capital, reportedly the nation's largest independent lessor of material handling equipment. In his field, he has an excellent reputation. He previously served as General Counsel and Secretary of Relational Technology Services, Inc. and Assistant General Counsel and Assistant Secretary of El Camino Resources, Ltd., both independent technology leasing companies. Mr. Umans has a JD degree from Southwestern University Law School and a BA degree in Economics, with honors, from the University of Manitoba.


Mark Wada, founding shareholder of the Portland, Oregon law firm Farleigh Wada Witt, has been listed in Oregon Super Lawyers for the tenth consecutive year in the specialty area of banking and finance. And for the seventh year in a row Mark was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for banking and finance law. Mark has expertise in representing banks, commercial lenders, equipment lessors, private equity funds, and other financial service providers. Representation of lenders in commercial loans and leases to high tech companies, including intellectual property security agreements and warrant terms. Representation of numerous commercial lenders and lessors in workouts, collateral liquidations, collection matters and sales of individual loans and portfolios. In 2010, he was appointed to serve a three-year term on the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association Legal Committee. He is past-president of the Oregon Law Foundation and Campaign for Equal Justice, and has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Oregon State Bar Debtor-Creditor Section, the Board of Directors of the Multnomah Bar Association, as well as its treasurer, representative to the American Bar Association House of Delegates, and the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington.

 

 


Michael J. Witt today provides portfolio auditing services to commercial banks and finance companies, as well is active in law. He has written articles for Leasing News as well as other industry news media from his experience as Managing Counsel, Wells Fargo & Company, Des Moines, Iowa, and Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Advanta Business Services, Voorhees, New Jersey. He has served as an expert on finance and leasing laws for other attorneys, recently joining the LEAN Attorney network.

 


Irwin Wittlin is well-known in the leasing industry as he was past member of the Board of Directors of the United Association of Equipment Leasing (UAEL) at time of merger and formation of National Equipment Finance Association (NEFA). He is a past chairman of the legal committee and has spoken on a variety of legal issues at recent conventions, including the topics of, "Effective Lease Collections," “Working With Outside Counsel," "Fraud Prevention," "Maintaining Your Business Credit Line," and “Selected Issues in NorVergence”. He is an instructor for the Certified Lease Program Foundation ("CLP") on the subjects of lease law, lease documentation, and collections. Mr. Wittlin is a frequent speaker on various legal and collection related topics for various professional organizations, with an emphasis on leasing, business litigation and collections.