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The fast-growing Miami outpost of Richmond, Va.’s Hunton & Williams has lured away Holland & Knight’s three-man bankruptcy and creditors’ rights practice group, part of a push to add legal practice areas in Miami while expanding nationally in the busy field of bankruptcy law. Partners Craig V. Rasile, Jeffrey P. Bast and Andrew D. Zaron on Monday moved four blocks south on Brickell Avenue to join the 45-lawyer Hunton & Williams office headed by former Holland & Knight Miami executive partner Marty Steinberg. Rasile, 41, noted that Steinberg had helped elevate him to practice-area leader at Holland 10 years ago. “I consider Craig a superior creditors’ rights lawyer,” Steinberg said. “From what’s happened in the country in the last two or three years, they’re obviously in hot demand. But to be a full-service firm, regardless of the economic climate of the day, in any major city you must have a creditors’ rights practice and to do that effectively you must have the best lawyers.” Rasile chaired the bankruptcy/creditors’ rights practice for South Florida for Tampa-based Holland and helped build the firm’s bankruptcy practice group nationwide to about 55 lawyers from 25. He said he will have the same title and a similar role, helping Hunton & Williams expand its bankruptcy practice nationwide. His focus has been on workouts and commercial litigation in several industries, including retail, health care, energy, telecommunications and franchise operations. Bast, also an experienced litigator, represents corporate debtors, shareholders, trustees, receivers and other parties in complex workouts, reorganizations and liquidations. Zaron, a former intern for U.S. Bankruptcy Judge A. Jay Cristol in Miami, has experience in securitized loan transactions and bond transactions. One of the things that appealed to Rasile’s group about Hunton was Steinberg’s plans to expand the Miami office to as many as 100 lawyers, making it a full-service office for the 850-lawyer firm by making selective hires of individual lawyers and groups, rather than using the Holland business model of the past decade that saw rapid expansion through mergers with whole firms. The departure of Rasile, Bast and Zaron leaves Holland & Knight without any partners focused primarily on bankruptcy and creditors’ rights in Miami. Peter Prieto, executive partner for Holland & Knight in Miami, said Monday that the firm is considering moving lawyers from other offices to Miami, to serve existing bankruptcy/creditors’ rights clients. At the same time the firm already is in the process of identifying outside lawyers that it might hire. “We wish Craig, Jeff and Andy success in all their future endeavors. We still consider them our friends,” Prieto said. “Holland & Knight continues to have one of the largest creditors’ rights practices in the country, with more than 80 lawyers in that area,” he added. “It’s now commonplace in our profession to have lawyers move from one place to another, particularly in our firm, because we have a lot of talented lawyers who are always being recruited by other firms. It’s the price of being successful.” Steinberg, who left Holland & Knight four years ago to start the Hunton & Williams office, said he has affection for his former firm and isn’t singling out its talent for his new firm’s purposes. He has hired away lawyers from Greenberg Traurig, Steel Hector & Davis, both of Miami, and other firms, he said. “We’re equal opportunity cherry-pickers.”

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