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Providence, R.I. Chicago. Sacramento, Calif. No longer just a Florida firm, Holland & Knight underwent explosive growth in the late 1990s that stretched it from the eastern seaboard to the Pacific coast. But the rapid expansion took its toll on the 1,155-lawyer firm, whose annual revenue grew at an anemic 3 percent over the past several years. And with profits per partner leveling off at a modest $450,000, the firm has struggled to attract top-drawer legal talent. So, last week, Holland & Knight announced a major restructuring aimed at spurring its lagging profits. “The changes are being made to the advantage of those of us who are primary work producers,” says Dirk Haire, a senior counsel in the Annapolis, Md., office. “There is desire to see the per-partner profits at a level of firms commensurate with our size.” To that end, the firm will shutter several offices next year, including those in such recently conquered territory as Providence, San Antonio, and Seattle, cutting some 55 attorneys in those offices. “The firm is in discussions with lawyers in each of these markets,” a firm spokesperson wrote in an e-mail. “They may form a new firm in their market or they may join other firms.” Other offices will be consolidated. The 33 attorneys in St. Petersburg, Lakeland, and Bradenton, Fla., will move to Tampa. Seven lawyers in suburban Chicago will move downtown. And two attorneys from Annapolis will join Holland & Knight’s D.C. office. A total of 136 staff members will be affected by the restructuring. This isn’t the first time Holland & Knight has retrenched in recent years. In May 2002 the firm laid off 60 lawyers and 170 staff members. According to Haire, the new cuts, which will leave the firm with 20 U.S. offices, are part of an overall initiative to increase business from major national clients and core practice areas, as well as to concentrate on clients in higher billing regions, including Washington. “The motive behind all these [changes] is to make the firm ultimately more profitable,” says La Fonte Nesbitt, managing partner of Holland & Knight’s D.C. office. “And make the firm more financially viable.”
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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