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A prominent Miami law firm’s merger six months ago with the national firm Boies Schiller & Flexner has led to the departure of a South Florida partner who felt his locally focused estate planning practice no longer fit in. Douglas Kniskern started Friday as of counsel at Orlando, Fla.-based Broad and Cassel, where the wills, trusts and estates attorney will work out of the firm’s Miami and Fort Lauderdale offices. At 140-lawyer Broad and Cassel, which has seven Florida offices, Kniskern fills a gap in the firm’s trust and estate planning staff in Fort Lauderdale and adds depth to the practice area statewide for the firm, says Gabriel Imperato, managing partner of the Fort Lauderdale office. “I’ve known Doug for a long time, as a friend first and as my personal estate lawyer after that,” Imperato says. Kniskern, a 55-year-old Miami native, joined the law firm Zack Kosnitzky a half-dozen years go, working out of its Miami and Weston offices. On April 1, Zack Kosnitzky merged with Boies Schiller, an Armonk, N.Y.-based firm founded by David Boies that has a national clientele and a strong focus on litigation and corporate transactional work. Kniskern says he was concerned at the outset of the merger that the 30-lawyer Miami office would shift its attention to more national matters. He describes his practice as “heavily rooted in the community.” After working for the merged firm for six months, he says, both he and his partners decided that his practice wasn’t a good fit. “There’s a book about change called “Who Moved My Cheese?” he says. “Some people wait for the cheese to return, and others say, ‘Let’s go find more cheese.’” But he expressed affection for his former colleagues, saying they treated him well and that the parting was amicable. There’s no question that Boies Schiller has national clients and wants to focus less on routine cases and more on “bet the farm” litigation for Fortune 500 corporations, says Michael Kosnitzky, a Boies Schiller partner in Miami. “However, the firm recognizes the need to maintain a local presence and to be able to service our local clientele. And thus far our experience has been that the marriage of those two concepts has worked well.” “There are always going to be tensions when you go from a local practice to a national one,” Kosnitzky adds. Still, he says, the 200-lawyer national firm, which has 70 attorneys in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Hollywood, has experienced “very little fallout” from the merger and is adding lawyers, particularly litigators. Boies Schiller’s Miami lawyers currently are representing national clients such as Pennsylvania-based Adelphia Communication, in all general counsel and litigation matters, other than bankruptcy work. They also hope to pitch in with Miami-based Spanish Broadcasting System, a client for whom Boies Schiller’s New York lawyers have been serving as general counsel. Kosnitzky says that while some lawyers at his firm will continue to handle trust and estates work, Kniskern won’t be replaced as head of the wills, trusts and estates department. “It would be extremely difficult to replace someone of his caliber,” Kosnitzky says. “If you walked into South Florida and said, ‘Who are the best lawyers in town?’ Doug would be on the short list every time.” Kniskern got his bachelor’s and law degrees from Emory University, and an LL.M. in estate planning from the University of Miami. Admitted to the Florida Bar in 1975, he has served on the Bar’s corporate fiduciary liaison committee and its wills, trusts and estate certification committee. He also served as faculty adviser for the graduate program in estate planning at the University of Miami law school.

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