November 29, 2014

Sector Portrait: Law

Florida's business courts

Attorneys laud progress in the system but see room for improvement.

Lean Law

» Law firms are hiring — but selectively.

From boutique legal offices to Florida’s top-name law firms, hiring is back but nowhere close to pre-recession levels.

Law firms are adding litigators and specialists in busy practice areas including corporate law, healthcare, bankruptcy, employment law and government regulation. The nine-office Gunster firm, which has added more than 25 attorneys as it expanded in Jacksonville and added a Tampa office, is notable for its growth. Most big firms have hired between five to 20 lawyers this year, focusing on experienced attorneys with a track record.

Manuel Garcia-Linares
Attorney Manuel Garcia-Linares:
Midsize firms "don’t have lawyers sitting around who don’t have work to handle."
The recession has taught law firms how to get by with less.

"In particular, we’ve seen the most significant cuts in areas like legal secretaries, finance and library research and mail staff," says Steven Sonberg, managing partner of Holland & Knight.

Sonberg says Holland & Knight, like other firms, has changed its hiring approach: It moved away from picking up attorneys "with books of business" toward those who fit into a practice area where the firm sees growth. And it’s expecting more productivity from all its lawyers.

Manuel Garcia-Linares, managing shareholder at Richman Greer, with offices in West Palm Beach and Miami, says midsize firms are doing well. "They don’t have lawyers sitting around who don’t have work to handle."

"All firms in Florida are experiencing a profit squeeze," says G. Mark Thompson, senior vice president of Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin. "And that will continue."

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Florida Law Firms 2012 - List available for download

Florida's 25 largest law firms, ranked by number of lawyers in Florida. Downloadable file includes data not published in Florida Trend, including full contact information, address, phone, fax and website, as well as area of specialty. Published in February 2012. Excel $29. Free HTML preview of Top 5 firms.

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