Nicole Sodano: A Dedicated Advocate for Property Damage Victims

Nicole Sodano is a seasoned property damage attorney representing plaintiffs, which means she helps individuals and businesses who have suffered property damage and have had their insurance claims wrongfully denied or underpaid. Nicole’s journey in law began in 2012 when she passed the bar exams for Florida and New Jersey simultaneously. Shortly after, she also passed the New York Bar exam and was accepted into the Washington D.C. Bar. Although she holds licenses in all four jurisdictions, her primary focus has been on Florida for the past several years. We at CIO Global, are proud to introduce Nicole Sodano as one of the Influential Legal Personality of the Year, 2024.

Five years ago, Nicole founded her own law firm, Sodano Law PLLC, where she specializes in First Party Property Insurance disputes. Her practice covers all types of insurance claims, but given Florida’s frequent hurricanes, she often deals with hurricane-related claims. These natural disasters can cause immense damage to homes and businesses, and Nicole steps in when insurance companies fail to handle claims properly. At her firm, she ensures that every client receives her personal attention and expertise, rather than being passed off to less experienced associates as might happen at larger firms.

Nicole’s motivation to pursue a career in law stems from her innate desire to help others, a trait evident since her elementary school days. She was always the one to speak up for others, which naturally led her to become a Plaintiff’s attorney. Her passion for law solidified during high school when she joined her school’s mock trial team, a pursuit she continued through college and law school. These experiences honed her litigation skills, which she now applies in real-life court scenarios.

Among Nicole’s significant achievements is her work for victims of Hurricane Ian, where she secured over five million dollars in compensation for her clients, mostly residential claims that were initially undervalued or denied. Her success in helping people rebuild their lives after such devastating events is one of her proudest accomplishments. Additionally, she was honored as the 2023 Female Civil Litigation Attorney of the Year in the USA, a testament to her dedication and expertise in the legal field.

Nicole Sodano’s career is driven by a genuine desire to help people get the compensation they deserve from insurance companies. Her personal involvement in each case and her relentless pursuit of justice make her a formidable advocate for her clients.

Nicole Sodano remains at the forefront of her field by staying meticulously updated with the latest developments and changes in the legal landscape. She believes that focusing on one area of law is crucial for mastering it. This philosophy, imparted by her Torts professor in law school, has guided her career. The professor advised that lawyers specializing in one or two areas become masters of their field, while those practicing in numerous areas may not excel in any. Nicole applies this principle to her practice, dedicating her efforts exclusively to First Party Property Insurance disputes. She keeps abreast of new case law, statutory changes, and Federal Court decisions, ensuring she knows the applicable rules in the counties and judicial circuits where she argues cases.

Nicole’s work is driven by core values and principles that prioritize her clients’ interests. She is committed to helping people and strives to ensure her clients receive enough compensation to repair their properties to their pre-loss condition. Nicole is willing to reduce her legal fees if necessary to achieve this goal. She also values professionalism and respect in her dealings with adversaries, understanding that the legal industry is inherently stressful. Nicole believes in the old saying, “you get a lot more with honey than you do with vinegar,” and applies this to maintain respectful and effective professional relationships.

Throughout her career, Nicole has encountered numerous challenging cases, particularly those involving complex insurance issues arising from natural disasters like hurricanes. One such case involved a residential home in the Florida Panhandle affected by Hurricane Michael in 2018. The home, situated near the shoreline, suffered extensive damage, including flood damage, structural issues, roof damage, and interior damage. The case was complicated by the fact that flood insurance and homeowners insurance are separate, with concurrent flood and wind damage often leading to exclusions under homeowners policies.

Nicole had to meticulously investigate and distinguish between flood and wind damage to ensure her client received the coverage they deserved. This involved retaining experts, such as a meteorologist, engineer, and general contractor, to provide testimony. The homeowners insurance company initially attributed most of the damage to flooding, which was not covered under the policy. However, Nicole successfully proved that the majority of the damage was due to wind, securing enough money for her client to demolish and rebuild their home. This case exemplifies Nicole’s dedication to her clients and her expertise in navigating complex insurance disputes to achieve just outcomes.

Nicole Sodano maintains a delicate balance between upholding the law and ensuring justice by adhering to principles of honesty, integrity, and pride in her work. She evaluates each case thoroughly from the beginning and only takes on cases where she believes the insurance company has wrongfully denied or underpaid a claim. By knowing when to say “no,” she preserves her reputation as an honest and ethical attorney who upholds the law while striving for justice.

Nicole recognizes the significant role technology plays in shaping the future of the legal industry. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the integration of technology into everyday legal practices, making processes more efficient. Virtual platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have streamlined court appearances, depositions, mediations, and arbitrations. This technological shift has saved considerable time and increased productivity, allowing Nicole to focus more on her cases rather than spending time traveling to and from court for brief hearings.

Ethical considerations are at the core of Nicole’s legal practice. She believes that one’s values and ethics should guide not only professional conduct but also personal behavior. Honesty and integrity are fundamental to her work, translating into better performance and stronger relationships with clients and colleagues.

Nicole has also been an advocate for positive change within the legal system. A significant instance of this advocacy involves recent changes to property insurance laws in Florida. Previously, if an insured individual or business owner filed a lawsuit against their insurance company and won, the insurer had to pay both the compensation for property damage and the attorney’s fees separately. This ensured that the insured had sufficient funds to repair their property without having to dip into their own pockets or take out loans. However, a law change on December 16, 2022, shifted this burden onto the insured, making it so that attorneys’ fees are no longer paid separately for insurance claims under policies starting after this date.

Nicole is deeply concerned about the adverse impact of this new law on Florida residents. She explains that, under the new law, if an insurance company wrongfully denies a claim and the insured hires an attorney, the attorney must work on a contingency fee basis. This means the attorney will take a percentage of the recovered amount, typically 40%, leaving the insured with significantly less money than needed to fully repair their property. If a public adjuster is also involved, their fees further reduce the insured’s recovery, potentially leaving them with only 40%-50% of the settlement.

To combat this detrimental change, Nicole is actively spreading awareness and educating the public about the new law’s effects. She is advocating for a citizens-led Constitutional Amendment to restore the old law, which ensured that attorneys’ fees and costs were paid separately in First Party Property cases. By getting this proposed bill on the ballot and voted in by the public, the old law would be reinstated as a constitutional right, preventing it from being easily overturned in future legislative sessions.

Nicole Sodano’s dedication to her clients, her ethical practice, and her advocacy for positive legal changes highlight her commitment to ensuring justice and fairness in the property damage insurance field. Nicole finds fulfillment in her work through the positive impact she has on her clients’ lives. She takes pride in helping people rebuild after devastating losses and considers her ability to secure fair settlements a significant achievement. Nicole’s commitment to her clients is evident in every aspect of her practice.

Nicole’s dedication to justice extends beyond individual cases. She actively advocates for systemic change to improve the legal landscape for all. Her efforts to educate the public and push for a Constitutional Amendment reflect her commitment to making a lasting difference.

In addition to her legal work, Nicole values work-life balance. She believes that maintaining a healthy balance between her professional and personal life is crucial for long-term success and happiness. This balance allows her to stay energized and focused, ensuring she can provide the best possible representation for her clients. Looking ahead, Nicole remains committed to her mission of helping property damage victims and fighting for their rights. She plans to continue growing her practice, staying at the forefront of legal developments, and advocating for positive change. Her dedication to her clients, her ethical approach, and her passion for justice make her a respected and influential figure in the legal community.

Nicole Sodano’s journey as a property damage attorney is marked by her unwavering commitment to her clients and her pursuit of justice. Her focus on honesty, integrity, and professionalism sets her apart, making her a trusted advocate for those in need. As she continues to navigate the evolving legal landscape, Nicole remains dedicated to making a positive impact and ensuring that her clients receive the fair treatment and compensation they deserve.