Attorney Derek Usman says he moved from Chicago to Wesley Chapel in 2015 to be closer to family, bringing his experience in litigation, employment law and business law to the Wesley Chapel and New Tampa areas.
He originally opened his local office of The Usman Law Firm, P.A., off of Bearss Ave. But recently, he moved to a new office on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. (south of County Line Rd., in the Central Bank building), to be right in the heart of the community where he lives and serves his neighbors.
From initial paperwork for business formation to settling disputes in court, Derek is both experienced and knowledgeable in all areas of employment and business law.
He can help business owners and other individuals who have legal issues that need to be resolved related to the workplace. This could be related to contracts, labor and employment, setting up a new business as a corporation LLC or partnership, or it could be related to severance agreements, sexual harassment or discrimination, disputes related to overtime, wages and commissions, non-compete agreement review and litigation, wrongful termination, and whistleblower and retaliation.
Derek earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from Indiana University in Fort Wayne in 1997 and his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the Northern Illinois University College of Law in 2001.
He is admitted to practice before the bars of Florida, Illinois, U.S. Tax Court, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Forming Businesses &
Derek says many attorneys who practice business and employment law specialize in either initial transactions or disputes. However, Derek isn’t limited to one area or the other.
“I know both parts and have experience in both,” he says. “I have more practical knowledge when it comes to forming agreements because I know what usually gets litigated in court.”
He says his clients benefit from the hands-on experience he has had in courtrooms, from county courts, to state, federal and even appellate courts.
“If an attorney doesn’t go to court,” he says, “it kind of becomes academic. You can read about it all you want, but it’s different when you actually litigate cases in the courtroom.”
He explains that this has an impact on the front end paperwork he creates.
“When I’m drafting an agreement, I know the pitfalls,” he says.
Derek is able to assist people starting a new business to chose the right business structure, such as an S-corporation or LLC, and help those business owners understand the implications of the different structures that are available.
His clients are both business owners and employees. Derek says that many of them come to The Usman Law Firm because of something that is increasingly popular these days, a noncompete agreement.
“Oftentimes, employers don’t want employees starting a competing business or using their customer base at their next job,” he says. “More and more, employers are creating these agreements for every little thing.”
Before someone signs such an agreement, Derek recommends a consultation with The Usman Law Firm.
“It can be negotiated,” he explains. “Just because they hand you something that says you can’t work anywhere in Florida, for example, you can usually negotiate those details.”
Specifics such as the geographic scope and the time duration of these agreements are often points that can be worked out in a more favorable way, he explains.
Cleaning Up Legal Messes
Tim Wojdan was referred to Derek last year, when he found himself in need of an employment law attorney.
“I was a senior executive with a company in St. Pete that was sold and being shut down,” Tim explains. “I wound up in a legal mess with regards to an employment contract and noncompete agreement.”
He says he had two phone consultations with Derek where he explained the situation top to bottom, and Derek immediately got to work.
“He very quickly resolved the issue in a favorable way,” says Tim. “With an entire corporation being shut down, there were many other employees in the same situation, but Derek had discovered that my particular case might infringe on a federal issue. The other side moved very quickly to settle once Derek introduced that information.”
Tim says Derek’s hard work brought the case to the forefront of many others being pursued at the same time.
He also says Derek’s expertise was valuable in the case, which was tricky because the corporate headquarters was out of state.
Tim says he highly recommends Derek, who has since worked with another member of Tim’s staff to resolve that person’s claim, as well.
“I was most impressed by his professionalism and his promptness,” Tim says. “Most of the time, I didn’t even have to call him because he was proactively reaching out to me.”
Local To New Tampa
One of the things that makes Derek’s firm unique is that not many business lawyers are physically located in or even near New Tampa. His office is much easier to get to for New Tampa and Wesley Chapel clients than firms in other parts of town. While there are many personal injury attorneys in the area, he says most business law firms are located downtown.
Derek sees his location as an asset. He regularly goes to court in both Hillsborough County and Pasco County, while some attorneys in the Tampa area won’t travel to Dade City for Pasco County cases.
He stays connected to downtown firms by being involved in the Hillsborough County Bar Association and by appearing in court. He says he is often in touch with big downtown firms and has a good relationship with many lawyers from those practices.
“I have a good rapport with attorneys from downtown firms,” Derek says. He also explains that this makes it easier to pick up the phone and discuss cases with attorneys who are representing his clients’ opposition.
Derek says his decision to move his firm away from downtown Tampa — into the heart of New Tampa and closer to Wesley Chapel — was intentional.
“I consciously decided to move my office here, in the community where I live,” Derek says.
Moving his office is not the only way that Derek connects to the New Tampa and Wesley Chapel communities. He is an active member of the North Tampa Bay (formerly Wesley Chapel) Chamber of Commerce. He also is involved in the community as a member of the New Tampa Rotary Club, where he enjoys building relationships with fellow Rotarians and the many opportunities to volunteer, like he does annually at the Wiregrass Wobble Turkey Trot 5K run.
(Note-we’ll recap this year’s Thanksgiving Day run in our next issue).
“Rotary Club leaders organize volunteer opportunities for members and make it easy for club members to participate,” Derek explains. “I don’t have to think up ways to volunteer in my community. They make it simple for me to be able to help.”
He adds that the events put on by the Rotary not only raise money for good causes, but are great family events that bring people together, too.
“Everybody likes it when you take your kid to the mall and everyone’s out and about, doing something,” he says, “like the Wiregrass Wobble.”
The Usman Law Firm is located at 20701 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. For more information, please visit UsmanFirm.com, call (813) 377-1197, or see the ad on page 41 of this issue.