The bidding war for top laterals should heat up with three out-of-state law firms pushing to open Miami offices.
Fox Rothschild, a 500-attorney national law firm that already has a West Palm Beach office; Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, an international law firm with 650 attorneys; and SNR Denton, a 1,250-lawyer international firm, are all reportedly looking to hire lawyers to launch Miami outposts.
SNR Denton has one counsel in a Miami office primarily used by visiting attorneys. "I'm the beachhead for them here," said Timothy Ashby, who focuses on complex business transactions.
Mark Silow, firmwide managing partner for Fox Rothschild, said his firm has been trying to open a Miami office for two to three years but has yet to find the right lawyers.
"We're still in the meet-and-greet phase," he said. "We're anxious to get something going, but we're moving with deliberate speed."
The firm feels it needs to be in Miami to "make its mark on South Florida" and wants to capitalize on the expansive Latin American market, Silow said. Fox Rothschild is also looking at opening in Tampa and Orlando, he said.
"We think we have a business model that has translated well in other metropolitan markets, and we think Miami has the attributes of other markets we've been successful in penetrating," he said. "It's been on our list for a while."
It hasn't been easy to find laterals willing to jump to an out-of-town law firm "that is not that well-known nationally or in the Miami market," Silow added.
"In this market people are very leery of jumping," he said. "To get quality people to leave secure positions is a difficult thing. We're patient."
PUTTING OUT FEELERS