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Less than a week after Broad & Cassel named prominent white-collar defender Dan Small its Miami litigation chief, Small and two other lawyers have quit to join Duane Morris. Small left along with colleagues Joanne Erde, co-chair of the health care practice, and associate D. Michael Bitz, an orthopedic surgeon turned health care lawyer. They joined Duane Morris in Miami on Monday. Small, a former federal prosecutor, was the firm’s third head of litigation in Miami in less than a year. The office has been plagued with management problems and turnover. In a news release, Broad’s Miami managing partner, Michael A. Dribin, who was appointed last week, stated the firm was “troubled by this unusual incident” but was “more determined than ever to create a premier litigation department at Broad & Cassel.” “We were startled to find out that they were not committed to our expansion, especially since only last week Dan Small accepted the position as head of our litigation department,” Dribin said in the release. “Dan just joined our firm in September, and while there were challenges to him assuming the head of the department, we addressed his issues and were moving forward.” Small, a former federal prosecutor, did not return calls for comment. While working as a federal prosecutor in Boston in the 1980s, he brought cases against associates of former Boston Mayor Kevin White. He also worked as a trial lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. In addition, he represented former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in a criminal case. Erde, a partner at Broad & Cassel since 1999, represents hospitals on issues concerning Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, fraud and abuse matters, and corporate compliance. In an interview, she said she was not unhappy at Broad & Cassel but got a great offer from Duane Morris. “I thought it was a good opportunity for me to have a national platform in health care,” she said. “They have a large health care practice. I thought it would be good for my clients.” Broad has hired the Alexander Group, a Houston-based legal recruitment firm, to find a new litigation chief as well as other lawyers in litigation, real estate and corporate law. In an interview, Dribin said that he only learned of the resignation of the three lawyers Friday and that they gave no reason for their departure. He said he expressed his unhappiness to them. Philadelphia-based Duane Morris, which has been on an expansion tear in Miami and other cities and is seeking to expand its health care practice, had been wooing Erde for about two months, according to Charles C. Papy, managing partner of the Miami office. With the three additions, the firm now has 31 lawyers in Miami. Duane Morris owns medical malpractice insurance companies in Pennsylvania and Florida. Papy said it was only natural to extend employment offers to all three lawyers. “The three of them work on a lot of the same client base,” Papy said. “They refer clients to each other. We think they will be great additions to the firm.” Last week, Dribin said Broad & Cassel planned to bulk up its Miami presence, with room to add 10 lawyers. He said the firm is looking to grow in health care, litigation, and trusts and estates, among other areas. Broad, which had issued a news release last week trumpeting Small’s appointment, was mortified by the sudden departures, particularly Small’s, according to several sources who did not want to be identified. The firm has more than 150 lawyers in seven Florida offices, with its administration in Orlando. With the departure of Small, Erde and Bitz, the firm is left with 15 lawyers in Miami, down from about 36 lawyers five years ago. The firm, founded in 1946 on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, has seen its presence in Miami dwindle in recent years as it shifted its focus from South to Central Florida. In less than a year, Broad & Cassel has had three litigation heads in Miami. Alice Hector, whose ferocious child custody battle with her husband made national news, left abruptly last March for Akerman Senterfitt. She said Akerman made her a better offer. Her replacement, David Freedman, served as head of litigation for a year and was replaced by Small last week. Freedman is still with Broad & Cassel. At the same time Small was named litigation head, Dribin was named managing partner in the Miami office, replacing Mike Segal. Segal, who had held that post for 16 years, said he wanted to focus on his health care practice. In his news release, Dribin said, “Our strategic plan was never dependent on just a few personalities but rather on a long-term approach and commitment by the firm to create and maintain a premier litigation department.” This article originally appeared in the Miami Daily Business Review , a publication of American Lawyer Media.

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