Aerlex – it means “Air Law.”
When Aerlex Law Group founder and president Stephen Hofer began thinking about starting a new law firm in 2005, he knew service to the aviation community would be one of the firm’s principal missions.
“I wanted a name that would be unique and memorable and, at the same time, would vividly and concisely describe what we were about,” Hofer recalls. “I decided on ‘Aerlex’ because Latin is the historic language of the law and in one simple, six-letter word, we would encapsulate our primary purpose – to practice ‘air law’.”
Since 2005, Aerlex has developed an international reputation for providing the highest quality legal services to clients in a variety of fields, and, in particular, aviation. The firm has handled hundreds of whole and fractional aircraft transactions having an aggregate value of more than four billion U.S. dollars, an amazing total made all the more remarkable by the difficult economic conditions in which it was achieved. Aerlex has represented clients from all over the world and has closed aircraft purchases on every continent except Antarctica.
With its principal offices at the Santa Monica Airport, Aerlex has long been Hollywood’s “go to” law firm when it comes to aviation matters. Aerlex’s client list includes numerous Oscar, Emmy and Grammy Award winners, as well as many other prominent actors, actresses, producers, directors and studio executives, internationally known recording artists and professional athletes. However, “A list” celebrities are not the only clients who turn to Aerlex for guidance when it comes to aviation-related matters. The firm has also represented Fortune 100 corporations, airlines and many of the country’s largest on-demand charter operators and aircraft management companies.
While Aerlex is justifiably famous for the work it does in the aircraft acquisition field, transactions are by no means the only thing the firm does. Aerlex supports clients in a number of other fields, including corporate, contract, tax, labor and employment, real estate, regulatory law, and litigation, including both insurance and non-insurance matters. The firm’s litigators are admitted to practice before numerous federal and state trial and appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court, as well as administrative agencies.
Aerlex grew out an earlier law firm that had been specializing in aviation insurance defense and litigation since 1991. When Hofer joined that firm in 1992, he immediately set out to expand that firm’s practice into other areas. His vision, he explains, was to provide clients who could not afford their own in-house legal department with the services of a “general counsel.”
“When I first began practicing law in 1980 at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which was then the world’s fifth largest law firm, new lawyers were given the opportunity to rotate through each of the firm’s different departments. A lot of the rookies gravitated immediately to whatever area they thought they wanted to work in permanently, but I was fascinated by the different fields of practice and I made it a point to do all of the rotations because I wanted to learn as much as I could about the law and how each of the various areas informed one another,” Hofer explains. “This ended up being great training for me when I became vice president and general counsel of American Golf Corporation in 1984 because I had the opportunity to utilize that broad range of experience in serving the needs of a company that was operating country clubs and golf courses all over the country.”
When he returned to the private practice of law in 1992, Hofer said he wanted to maintain that broad spectrum of legal experience. “It’s more demanding, obviously, but at the same time, it enables us to serve clients who have a wide range of legal needs. We’ve helped clients build, borrow, buy, operate, insure and maintain every type of aircraft from historic biplanes to the largest and most modern private jets and commercial airliners. And we’ve also handled the merger and acquisition of companies, the leasing of land, the construction of buildings and airplane hangars, the drafting of employee handbooks, the disciplining and termination of misbehaving employees, the defense of wrongful termination actions, aircraft sales and use tax exemptions, property tax reductions, state and federal tax audits, certifications by the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation, disciplinary proceedings before those same agencies, bringing and defending lawsuits, airplane repossessions – the list goes on and on. We are proud of the legal work we do – and humbled by the continuing opportunities to help meet the legal needs of the many clients we serve. It’s the Aerlex way.”