Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Scott Hodes is a Principal in Lateral Link’s South Eastern office. He utilizes his experience as a former partner to help partners and associates make lateral leaps in the Florida and Atlanta markets.
With the new year upon us, we look back at an exciting 2013 as we have witnessed a resurgence in the legal industry after enduring a rocky time during the recent recession. As economic and labor market conditions improve, many firms are seeing sustained signs of growth, especially in the South Florida market.
As evidence of this growth trend, one need not look any further than Miami-based Akerman Senterfitt, now known as Akerman LLP. With more than 550 lawyers and government affairs professionals, Akerman recently became the largest law firm in South Florida based on number of attorneys, eclipsing Greenberg Traurig. Akerman reported its third consecutive year of growth, with record gross revenues of $297.5 million and net income of $109.3 million for the 2013 fiscal year. From January 1, 2013, to date, 65 attorneys, including 19 partners, have lateraled in to the firm. During that same time period, only seven attorneys departed the firm.
The Miami office welcomed a number of prominent laterals, including the arrival of three alcohol beverage industry lawyers, Robert Lewis, Marbet Lewis, and Valerie Haber. More recently, partner William J. Spratt, Jr. joined Akerman’s healthcare practice from K&L Gates.
Another firm with an office in South Florida that is experiencing tremendous growth is Fox Rothschild. In a move that broadened its reach in Florida and bolstered services to clients with international interests, Fox opened an office in Coral Gables in 2013 through the addition of former Coral Gables mayor Raul J. Valdes-Fauli.
Several other firms have gotten into the South Florida mix as well, either by entering the market or by adding more local offices to service their clients. Many of these firms have cited the ability to expand their reach into Latin America and build or strengthen their firm’s international transactions practices.
Most notably, global powerhouse Jones Day opened its Miami office and added well-known and respected former Greenberg partner Enrique Martin. The firm is quickly expanding and becoming a major player in the market, with plans to grow significantly in short order.
In addition to Jones Day, South Florida has seen nationally known firms such as McKenna Long & Aldridge enter the market, and firms like Edwards Wildman, Sedgwick, and Buchanan Ingersoll expand their local presence. More firms are sure to follow, with some big names already rumored to open offices in the coming months.
Florida, and in particular South Florida, is one of the fastest growing legal markets and one of the largest in the country. Firms have been adding attorneys to their rosters in almost every practice area, and while this bodes well for the future of the Florida legal market, there are signs that this trend will translate to the growth of legal markets across the country.
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