Tampa-based, 200-lawyer Fowler White Boggs Banker continues its push into south Florida with a move to a 12,500-sq.-ft. office in West Palm Beach's One Clearlake Centre. President and CEO Rhea F. Law says the new space is part of Fowler White's strategic plan to become a true statewide firm. But what about another Fowler White in the region -- the well-established, 70-lawyer Fowler White Burnett of Miami?
Both firms were founded nearly 60 years ago by the late Cody Fowler and Morris White. In 1969, the Miami office split off, although the two founders continued to work for both firms. By 2000, however, things had become less amicable, and the firms went to court over who had the right to use the abbreviated "Fowler White" designation. Ultimately, they agreed that each firm would always carry at least one name in addition to Fowler White. The Tampa-based firm promised not to open an office in Miami-Dade County; Miami-based FW said it wouldn't open a branch in Hillsborough.
While the firms are treading closer to one another's turf -- FW of Miami has a St. Petersburg office, for example -- they have different growth strategies. Law is leading a major growth charge so her firm can get work from clients who require multiple offices across the state. Fowler White Burnett Managing Director Christopher Knight (who clerked at the other FW, incidentally) says his firm is on a different track, taking higher-exposure work and growing primarily within the Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm offices it already has.
Could the Fowler Whites ever get back together again? Neither Law nor Knight would rule it out.