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Fla. Powerhouses Capitalize On Local Edge In Growing Market

Nathan Hale LAW360.COM

The firms chosen as Law360's 2019 Florida Powerhouses have all thrived by drawing on their extensive coverage of the Sunshine State to capitalize on the abundance of litigation and other legal work in construction, insurance, real estate and other fields that have accompanied the state's rapid population growth.

Law360 is recognizing four firms that feature some of the deepest benches in the state: Akerman LLP, Cole Scott & Kissane PA, Holland & Knight LLP and Morgan & Morgan PA.

Akerman and Holland & Knight, two of the state's oldest full-service firms, are no strangers to this list, although Akerman is returning after a one-year absence. They are joined by two first-time honorees, litigation-focused firms Cole Scott & Kissane and Morgan & Morgan.

All four were founded in Florida. Cole Scott has grown rapidly since its start with a dozen attorneys in Miami in 1997, and this year it assumed the mantle of employing the most lawyers in Florida with 448 across 12 offices, including a Tallahassee outpost that opened this month. Akerman is not far behind with 382 attorneys in the state, while Holland & Knight has 366, and Morgan & Morgan has 355. Those three firms, however, all top Florida-exclusive Cole Scott when counting their offices outside of the state.

"If you look at the various things that attract people to a state, Florida essentially has all of them," said Cole Scott managing partner Richard P. Cole, citing the warm weather, low taxes and business-friendly policies. "When you have that kind of dynamic growth in a state, it's good for all aspects of lawyer work, whether it's real estate work or corporate work or tax work or what we do in civil litigation."

Florida Bar President John Stewart also pointed out how this population and business growth generates multiple layers of legal work. When a major company expands or moves to the state, that adds not only high-level work for the corporation but also all kinds of ancillary work in areas such as construction, real estate, estate planning and personal injury law.

"You're only really growing lawyers, if you're growing work for them," Stewart said. "The ancillary piece for that is probably bigger than the primary work."

The Florida market, especially Miami, also remains an attractive target for out-of-state firms, according to Joshua Dull, a partner with legal recruiter Major Lindsey & Africa, who said he has fielded more inquiries from firms not in the market in the last year than ever before.

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