(J. Albert Diaz)

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has opened an office in Miami with six lawyers from Boies Schiller Flexner.

Former Boies Schiller partner Jennifer Altman, who handles complex corporate litigation, will serve as managing partner of the new office, which opened Thursday. Altman and three others joining the firm—partners Michael Kosnitzky, Keith Blum and special counsel Ivan Mitev—previously worked together at the Miami firm Zack Kosnitzky, which merged with Boies Schiller in 2002.

Kosnitzky was the head of the tax and middle market practice group at Boies Schiller. Blum represents partnerships, limited liability companies, corporations and other business entities and their owners, with a practice focused on federal income taxation (including corporate and partnership taxation), commercial transactions and business entity law. And Mitev advises on the tax aspects of mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, private equity and hedge funds, cross-border investments and real estate investments, with a particular focus on partnership and international taxation matters.

Rounding out the new office is partner Shani Rivaux and senior counsel Aryey Kaplan. Rivaux is a commercial litigator who has represented Philip Morris USA, DuPont and WellCare, among others. And Kaplan has litigated cases ranging from healthcare to complex commercial litigation to consumer class actions and product liability defense. He is also a former Miami assistant state attorney.

Altman, Rivaux and Kaplan join Pillsbury as part of its litigation group, while Kosnitzky (pictured right), Blum and Mitev become the firm’s tax practice in Miami.

The team began working out of temporary offices at the Wells Fargo Plaza building downtown last week, but the firm is in negotiations for a bigger, more permanent location, which it hopes to occupy within the next few months, said Pillsbury chairman David Dekker.

Partners in Pillsbury’s construction and Latin America practice had been advocating for an office in Miami for several years, Dekker said. Pillsbury partners view Miami as a strong market for not only construction and work in Latin America, but also for litigation, construction law, intellectual property, transportation law, hospitality, estates and finance, he said.

Dekker said he met with Kosnitzky last fall after hearing that individual lawyers at Boies Schiller might be interested in a move.

Altman said she has for years received calls from headhunters and firms, but was initially averse to leaving Boies Schiller. After continued talks with Pillsbury partners, however, she decided the opportunity to establish the office of a global firm as managing partner in her hometown was too great an opportunity to turn down, she said.

With the former Boies Schiller team on board, Dekker said he intends to return to discussions with other area lawyers who expressed interest in joining Pillsbury’s Miami office. He said several Pillsbury lawyers in other offices have also discussed the possibility of moving to Miami, depending on the amount of work available. Pillsbury doesn’t have a set number of lawyers in mind for the Miami office, he said.

Pillsbury has 625 lawyers in 21 offices in the U.S. and overseas. The firm’s other Florida office, in Palm Beach County, has three permanent lawyers.

Dekker said Pillsbury’s largest practice area is litigation, with white-collar defense, antitrust, construction and insurance recovery being strong components of that practice. The second largest area would be corporate work in cross-border M&A and emerging technologies. Establishing an office in Miami is a way to expand the firm’s Latin America practice, Dekker said. He added that members of the new office are already working on the structuring of an acquisition for a Brazilian client.

Altman (right) said she and her team also plan to expand Pillsbury’s presence in health care litigation.

Copyright Daily Business Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.