Akerman has added two former federal prosecutors from Hinshaw & Culbertson and a dealmaker from Seyfarth Shaw, as the firm continues to expand its Chicago presence since its arrival in the city four years ago.
Sergio Acosta, once the general crimes section chief at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, now co-chairs the firm’s white-collar and government investigations practice, while former Illinois Solicitor General Joel Bertocchi—also a veteran of the Chicago U.S. Attorney’s Office—has joined as a litigation partner. Transactional expert Robert Winner is now part of the firm’s national corporate practice.
The additions bring the number of Akerman attorneys in Chicago to 56. The firm opened there with just eight lawyers, seven of them from Ulmer & Berne, in 2014.
But growth was always part of the firm’s plans for the Windy City, according to office managing partner Scott Meyers.
“The initial goal from day one was always to create an office in Chicago that reflected the national platform of the firm and offer a full suite of legal services,” Meyers said. “That’s why we wound up taking an entire floor as an initial lease.”
The firm has since moved upstairs in its perch above the Chicago River and now controls two floors, leaving room for over 90 lawyers. But Meyers noted that the growth was even faster than anticipated.
“All of this was based on client need and client demand,” he said. “The plan is to continue on the same path.”
Meyers said that the firm’s expansion in Chicago has been fueled by small, focused acquisitions—bringing no more than four attorneys at a time. This has allowed the firm to focus on preserving its culture. The most recent hires fit into this pattern.
Acosta spent seven years at the helm of the general crimes section before joining Hinshaw & Culbertson in 2010. In addition to his work on criminal defense and investigations, his practice also involves commercial litigation with a niche in gaming law.
Bertocchi’s strength is in appellate litigation, having served three years as the Illinois solicitor general. Before joining Hinshaw & Culbertson, he was a partner at Mayer Brown. He has briefed and argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and dozens before other state and federal appeals courts. A spokesman for Hinshaw & Culbertson did not respond to an inquiry about the pair’s departure.
Winner, who spent six years as a partner at Seyfarth, has over 20 years of transactional experience working with companies ranging from the startup stage to the Fortune 500.
The growth in Chicago comes in parallel to a national expansion in Akerman’s labor and employment group. In the last seven months, the firm has added 13 new lawyers, including three partners in Los Angeles, one in New York and one in Jacksonville.
“We are dedicated to growing our capabilities for clients in areas where they need us most,” Eric Gordon, chair of the firm’s labor and employment practice group, said in a statement.
In Los Angeles, Zachary Bulthuis came from Huntington Legal Solutions, while Michelle Lee Flores joined from Cozen O’Connor and Jeffrey Horton Thomas arrived from Thomas Employment Law.
In New York, Jeffrey Kimmel was previously at Meister Seelig & Fein, while in Florida, Jessica Travers joined from Littler Mendelson.
Firmwide, Akerman’s seven-year streak of record financial growth continued in 2017 as gross revenue rose 10.4 percent, to $385.2 million.