Sedgwick is acquiring Abadin Cook to become the latest international law firm to break into the Miami legal market.
The Miami office will be Sedgwick’s 16th overall and second in Florida. The firm also has an office in Fort Lauderdale. The San Francisco-based firm has 370 lawyers.
The new Sedgwick office opens today at the Abadin Cook office in Dadeland with five former Abadin lawyers: partners Ray Abadin, his wife Kim Cook and associates Suzette Russomanno, Viviana Varela and Erin Dardis.
Three other Abadin lawyers chose not to join Sedgwick and have formed their own firm, Maspons Sellek & Jacobs, with Miguel "Mick" Maspons, Mercedes Sellek and Kai Jacobs. They will be leasing space in Coral Gables.
Abadin, a litigator and longtime member of The Florida Bar board of governors, said he was approached by Gordon James, head of Sedgwick’s Fort Lauderdale office, a while ago. Both worked together at Conrad & Scherer in Fort Lauderdale many years ago.
"They wanted an office in Miami to capitalize on the Latin American market," Abadin said. "I’ve been on my own for 15 years and thought I could do better with a bigger platform. Sometimes in life a great opportunity comes knocking on the door."
For Sedgwick, acquiring a certified minority-owned law firm was important.
"The attorneys of Abadin Cook share our commitment to client service and focus on complex litigation and trial skills," firm chair Michael Tanenbaum said in a news release. "They will make a great addition to our firm, and their presence in Miami will complement the services we currently provide to our clients in the region and open a gateway" to Latin America.
Sedgwick is one of a long line of national and international firms that have sought to break into the Miami market. DLA Piper, Squire Sanders and Foley & Lardner are a few that have done so successfully. Jones Day is reportedly trying to do so.
For now, Sedgwick will remain at Abadin’s office but could move as the office grows, Abadin said.
Abbe Bunt, a legal recruiter with Bunt Legal Search of Hollywood, said Sedgwick is lucky to pick up Abadin Cook as its entree into Miami.
She called Abadin, a former president of the Cuban American Bar Association, "a big fish."
"His name speaks volumes and opens doors," she said. "I think Sedgwick has made a phenomenal acquisition. It’s a complement to their existing South Florida practice with a Miami-Latin flavor, and it certainly will propel them onto the South Florida international scene in a big way."
Maspons, who previously worked at Akerman Senterfitt and Carlton Fields, said he preferred to remain in a small law firm.
"It’s just the nature of my practice," he said. "I’ve worked at big firms, and it made it very difficult for my clients and me to be nimble. Most of my practice is local … and I don’t want to lose control over my clients."