Mr. Rick A. La Trace
Phone : (251) 441-9271
J.D., with honors, Illinois
Institute of Technology
Chicago-Kent College of Law,
B.A., Criminal Justice, summa
cum laude, Saint Louis
B.A., Psychology, summa cum
laude, Saint Louis University,
Rick La Trace is an experienced lawyer who represents lenders and financial institutions in special asset matters, where the client’s primary goal is asset recovery. Working with clients on their commercial and residential troubled loans, Rick has deep understanding of their business objectives, knows what their cost and risk profiles are, and understands the borrowers’ industries. This ensures sensitivity to what clients need, immediate response times and a promise that not a minute will be wasted.
Immigration is also an active part of Rick’s practice. Representing large foreign employers with operations and offices in Alabama, he advises them on all aspects of immigration compliance and visas, and has represented clients under federal investigation or audit for alleged Form I-9 violations and employment of individuals not authorized to work in the U.S. Rick handles every immigration question, filing, administrative matter or controversy.
Handled one of the single largest foreclosures in Alabama consisting of the consecutive foreclosure of 80 condominium units with dozens of bidders present. Subsequent to the foreclosure, represented the lender in multimillion dollar deficiency litigation and defended multi-million dollar lender liability counterclaims against bank.
Successfully worked with a banking client to negotiate and secure workout agreements for numerous defaulted commercial loans by large residential property developer.
Advised a banking client on and successfully obtained court appointment of receiver to preserve operation of existing bowling alley on mortgaged property to secure rents, evict tenant, and protect value of property pending judicial foreclosure.
Represented a banking client in foreclosure of a large residential subdivision. Filed multi-million dollar deficiency lawsuit post foreclosure against borrower and guarantors. Borrower and guarantors filed multi-million dollar counterclaims against banking client. Successfully negotiated settlement of all claims prior to trial.
Assisted client in UCC repossession of all of borrower’s asphalt paving equipment and subsequent sale of equipment at auction. Obtained missing motor vehicle titles on some repossessed equipment and negotiated settlement with IRS on some equipment for which IRS claimed superior security interest to client.
Conducted over 1,000 non-judicial and judicial mortgage foreclosures of both residential and commercial properties for lenders in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, for which the process included initial loan document review, title review and analysis, demand letters, handling intervening bankruptcy filing by mortgagors and post foreclosure ejectment actions.
Regularly assist lender clients in creditors rights matter including preliminary analysis of clients secured and unsecured claims, perfection of judgment liens, fraudulent transfers, discovery in aid of execution, and judicial lien enforcement.
Representative Immigration Experience
Successfully defended client in two I-9 audits by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including design and implementation of hiring and I-9 compliance policies.
Regularly advise small and large business clients on employment eligibility verification matters including hiring process, I-9 Form, E-Verify, creation of compliance policies, and conducting external audits of clients I-9 forms and practices.
Obtained multinational executive immigrant visa (EB-1) for local steel manufacturer.
Regularly assist a mental-health provider in securing H1-B non-immigrant visas and employment-based immigrant visas.
Coordinated with Chinese immigration officials to obtain travel visas for 30 employees of local stainless steel manufacturing plant to train at foreign facility in China.
Regularly represent individuals locally and abroad with familial immigration matters such as marriage to a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent residence, naturalization, and other matters where clients are in removal proceedings.
Honors and Awards
Professional and Community Involvement
Member, Bar Association of the Fifth Circuit
Member, Mobile Bar Association, 2014 Chair Ad Hoc/Lawyer Mentoring Committee
Member, American Bar Association
Member, American Immigration Lawyers Association
Seminars / Presentations
Advanced Issues in Real Estate Law Seminar, December 2013; October 2011
As Judges See It: Top Mistakes Attorneys Make Seminar, December 2013
MERS and Securitization in Foreclosure Litigation Seminar December 2012
Fraud and the UCC in Mortgage Foreclosure Litigation in Florida Seminar, November 2012
The Frustrated Closer: Common Issues in Florida Real Estate Transactions Seminar, December 2012
Real Property Foreclosure: A Step-by-Step Workshop, October 2010
Florida Residential Foreclosure Cases: Litigation Issues, Strategies and Skills Seminar, October 2010
Legal Issues in Real Estate Foreclosure Seminar, November 2009
U.S. District Court (including bankruptcy courts) for the Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Alabama, 2002
U.S. District Court (including bankruptcy courts) for the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi, 2003
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, 2003 – U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, 2003
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 2003
What Our Clients are Saying
“My husband and I were referred to Johnstone Adams in the spring of last year. We are working very closely with Jessica Welch and Greg Watts on an ongoing and unwanted family estate matter. Ms. Welch and Mr. Watts have been so professional and knowledgeable.
In addition, considering the nature of the suit, Jessica has provided my husband and I with a peace of mind we didn"t think was possible during this extremely stressful time of our lives. She is an amazing trial attorney. They have gone above and beyond. To sum it up, I have nothing but the utmost respect and appreciation for them. I would strongly reccomend either of them to my dearest friends and family members. I'm so thankful that we stumbled upon them. I'm actually going to miss Jessica Welch when this is all over.”
“I am currently using this law firm and they are informative, keeping me up to date with my case, and they return your calls/emails immediately. I am very satisfied.”
“My wife and I approached Johnstone Adams to help us make a better informed decision regarding her immigration. They have been a truly invaluable asset. They brought their knowledge, experience, confidence, and calm demeanor to the process, which put our minds at ease. The worry and anxiety that we were facing melted away, and we have been, literally, hand-held during this daunting process. We can’t thank or recommend Johnstone Adams enough and look forward to continuing to use their services in the future.”
“Johnstone Adams was a great help when it came to drawing up our family’s will and advanced directives prior to the birth of our first son. These are certainly things that no one wants to think about, but the process was easy. They were professional and knowledgeable, answering all of our questions along the way with compassion and sensitivity. Johnstone Adams responded quickly to any questions and was easy to get in touch with! We would highly recommend them for any legal work!!”
“Jessica’s advice and assistance with our family's interests in a probate matter was exceptional from beginning to end-- always thoughtful, responsive and efficient, and focused and timely.
It was a genuine pleasure for the doubtless incorrigibly demanding old lawyer that I am to have a professional of her outstanding caliber assisting me on this matter—both generally and in my role as executor in particular—in a jurisdiction unfamiliar to me and on a matter completely outside of my own experience and expertise.
I might also point out that she was really excellent in interfacing, always in a timely and solution-oriented manner, with other parties involved in our matter to help keep our initiatives on track—including attorneys dealing with the disposition of residential real estate and financial assets.
Jessica and her excellent assistant, Shelly Perrone, also offered and provided pragmatic and efficient solutions to logistical and execution issues made significantly more challenging than usual given the COVID-19 crisis and my own location far from Mobile-- in Paris, France.”
“I highly recommend attorney Rick La Trace. Aside from being professional, polite, and yet firm, Rick is a combination of knowledge, detail, and responsiveness. (In my opinion, there are very few professionals who have ALL three qualities. Rick is one of the very few.) What makes him stand apart from the rest, is that he takes the time to listen to his client's concerns (no matter how "trivial"). He educates client’s on how the law works, shares his opinions, including the pros and cons of each. We would definitely use Rick's services again, and highly recommend him for anyone who wants a lawyer that they can trust to thoroughly handle their case from start to finish, even down to the small details. You can tell from working with Rick that he's not just about getting paid for his services, but that he enjoys working through problems and finding creative solutions for his clients. Also, I highly recommend the Johnstone Adams, LLC systems and processes. Shelly and Cathy were on top of things. I give Rick and Johnstone Adams more than five stars.”