Many South Florida law firms are expanding their counseling, transaction and litigation services, bringing in lateral partners and hiring associates to serve a growing client base. In mid-year interviews with South Florida Legal Guide, the managing partners at several leading firms expressed optimism about the future.
“South Florida continues to be a dynamic region attracting capital and investors from around the world,” said Joshua Kaye, managing partner, DLA Piper’s Miami office. “As a global law firm, we assist clients deploying capital in South Florida or elsewhere.”
Carlton Fields’ growth plans include building its real estate, healthcare, tax, corporate and white-collar practice areas, according to Amy E. Furness, co-managing shareholder of the Miami office. “We are interested in lateral recruiting, bringing in individuals or teams that would be a good fit for our firm,” she said.
Currently, the Miami office has about 100 attorneys and 100 staff members, as well as three summer associates. In real estate, the firm is looking to add attorneys experienced in both transactions and litigation.
“We are also talking with healthcare attorneys who are experienced in advising hospitals and other providers, working with acquisitions, as well as litigators on the defense side who can complement our statewide team,” Furness said.
Like other managing partners, Furness notes that advances in technology, particularly the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) applications is changing how law firms serve their clients. “The way we practice today is different than it was even five years ago,” she said. “We help our clients identify efficiencies in how we can serve their needs as alternatives to the traditional billable hour.”
Complex litigation is one of the strengths of Morgan Lewis’ Miami office, says
Robert “Bobby” Brochin, managing partner. “We are seeing growth in our labor-related litigation practice, including ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessibility, whistleblowers, discrimination and sexual harassment claims,” he said. “The metoo# movement is hitting the workplace here and across the country, and we are adding to our team to respond to our clients.”
Brochin has also seen growth in class-action defense cases, such as consumer claims against retailers and financial institutions. “We are very busy with that work here in Florida and nationally as well,” he said. “We are also proud of our pro bono contributions to issues involving Florida children.”
Another growth area involves defense litigation related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the False Claims Act involving government contractors. Brochin said the office, which now has 25 attorneys will be around 30 by year’s end. “We use technology to collaborate on cases,” Brochin said. “It allows our team to handle a class action in Ohio, as well as one in Florida.”
A longtime defense firm, Clarke Silverglate P.A. is growing its commercial litigation, product liability, and employment practices, according to Francisco “Frank” Ramos, managing partner. “More and more clients trust us with matters that may affect their future viability,” said. “Clients today want superior results at lower, more predictable cost. This model keeps our phones ringing.”
Ramos said the firm is growing at a measured pace in response to client demand. That includes one new associate and a partner-level attorney, with additional lawyers coming aboard before year-end.
““Our client roster and reputation for providing superior work product in a supportive, collegial, and mentoring environment helps us attract top-notch legal talent,” he said.
Since opening in 2012 with seven attorneys, DLA Piper’s Miami office has grown rapidly to approximately 50 attorneys. The firm has already added new partners and associates and expects to bring in more professionals later this year.
“Lateral growth is in DLA Piper’s DNA,” Kaye said. “Our firm’s very existence was the result of multiple law firms merging for the greater good of their respective client bases.”
The continued growth of the Miami office includes corporate, tax, real estate and litigation practices, Kay added. The firm’s professionals are increasingly offering strategic leadership and industry experience in fields such as healthcare and life sciences, private equity, and matters relating to the LatAm/Caribbean regions.
“We have a culture driven by success as a global business law firm, while making a difference in the communities in which our offices operate,” Kaye said. “That is a winning formula.”