Philadelphia-based Fox Rothschild is the latest law firm to launch a Miami office, snagging prominent banking lawyer Raul Valdes-Fauli to head its operations.
Valdes-Fauli left his former firm, Fowler Rodriguez Valdes-Fauli — now Fowler Rodriguez — in Coral Gables last month and opened Fox Rothschild’s new office in mid-March. He is joined by an associate, Thomas Oppenheimer.
"Fox Rothschild was looking to open an office in Miami, and I was around," Valdes-Fauli said. "It’s a nice firm and a great opportunity, and I’m looking forward to it."
Valdes-Fauli, a former mayor of Coral Gables and former chairman of the board of Banesco Bank, had been a named partner at his former firm since 2005.
Fox Rothschild is the latest in a string of national and international law firms trying to break into the Miami market and capture lucrative Latin American legal business. Earlier this week, San Francisco-based Sedgwick acquired Miami boutique firm Abadin Cook to establish a foothold here. Others to open in recent years include DLA Piper, Squire Sanders & Dempsey and Foley & Lardner.
Fox Rothschild opened a West Palm Beach office in 2005 and was looking to expand to Miami for a while, managing partner Mark L. Silow said. Currently occupying temporary office space in Coral Gables, the firm is scouting for a permanent home there or downtown. It hopes to grow the office to 20 to 25 lawyers.
"We realized that Miami is a very distinct market from Palm Beach," Silow said. "A lot of business we have in Palm Beach is Miami-based litigation so it will be helpful to have a presence in Miami."
With capital flooding the area from both Latin America and Europe, and the real estate community rebounding, "Miami seems to have fully recovered," he said. "Things are really booming there."
Additionally, gaining a foothold in Latin America is a primary driver of the firm’s interest in Miami, he added.
Attorneys at Fowler Rodriguez did not return calls for comment.
Joe Ankus, a legal recruiter with Ankus Consulting of Weston, said he has not seen so much activity in the Miami legal market in three years.
"These firms are hoping that by planting the seeds in Miami, it grows fruit in their other offices," he said, adding that Fox Rothschild is a "highly respected Pennsylvania law firm."
Abbe Bunt of Bunt Legal Search of Hollywood agreed.
"The Miami economy is clearly attractive to a variety of firms, global, national and regional," she said. "It seems every day we hear about a firm opening here or targeting Miami and looking for an opportunity to open."
Valdes-Fauli has been practicing for more than four decades, serving as senior tax counsel for Creole Petroleum Corp. in Caracas, Venezuela, and as tax counsel for Standard Oil Company in New Jersey. Fox Rothschild maintains 18 offices and employs 550 lawyers nationwide. The firm placed 118th on the Am Law 200 list of top law firms in 2012.