Back row, left to right: Jeffrey Lee, Mark Arinci, Jill Bustamante, Chris Boothe, Frank Corman and Sarah Hartsfield. Front row, left to right: Mark Carlson, David Iacuzio, Mary Ritten and Joseph Barnette.

Holland & Knight has expanded its yearlong hiring spree and its focus on representing financial institutions by adding a dozen real estate finance lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The group, which includes five partners, two senior counsel, four associates and a contract attorney, has joined the Miami-founded Am Law 100 firm from Winstead, an Am Law Second Hundred firm that Holland & Knight has a history of recruiting from in Charlotte.

Holland & Knight’s Charlotte office opened in early 2016 when the firm hired three partners, including one from Winstead, Tim Ryan, who handles commercial lending work and is now the office’s executive partner. A year later, Holland & Knight returned to Winstead by recruiting real estate partner Brian Cary and financial services partner David Jacobs.

Joseph Guay, the New York-based leader of Holland & Knight’s real estate group, said the dozen-lawyer team was encouraged to join the firm by their former peers.

“They have a pretty sophisticated real estate finance practice representing a lot of our key strategic clients, so it was kind of a no brainer for us,” Guay said. “They were looking to move to a bit of a bigger platform. We have 27 offices where we do real estate in the U.S. and provided a good place for them to be and hopefully grow their client relationships.”

The incoming list of laterals includes partners Jeffrey Lee, David Iacuzio, Joseph Barnette, Mark Arinci and Christopher Boothe.

Jeffrey Lee

Lee is ranked by Chambers and Partners as a top real estate finance lawyer in North Carolina for his work in the commercial mortgage-backed securities market (CMBS). He has represented financial institutions based in Charlotte, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco.

Guay said the addition of the group’s CMBS practice would be a “strategic fit” for Holland & Knight’s real estate finance practice, which hasn’t traditionally handled a lot of that type of work.

“Holland & Knight has built an impressive team of real estate and finance professionals in almost every major city in the U.S.,” Lee said in a statement. “We imagine that a multitude of opportunities will flow from this extensive network. Likewise, we look forward to providing local Charlotte support for various firm clients.”

For its part, Texas-based Winstead is coming off a relatively strong financial year for an Am Law 200 firm. The 321-lawyer firm saw gross revenue rise 1.5 percent, to nearly $217 million. Revenue per lawyer rose 3.2 percent, to $675,000, while profits per equity partner increased 5.2 percent, to just north of $1.1 million. The firm’s Charlotte office lists 17 lawyers on its website.

Holland & Knight also had a successful 2017, posting a 5.6 percent jump in gross revenue, to $848 million, as revenue per lawyer grew 5.1 percent, to $786,000. Profits per partner at Holland & Knight were up 5.4 percent last year, to $1.36 million.

So far this year, the nearly 1,200-lawyer firm has been busy adding partners.

Earlier this month, Holland & Knight hired Matthew Grosack in Miami, where he had previously been a health care litigation associate at DLA Piper. In April, Holland & Knight added Salvador Fonseca Gonzalez, the former head of litigation and arbitration at Baker McKenzie in Mexico City, where Holland & Knight snagged a five-lawyer team from Jones Day in January.

Holland & Knight has also hired Winston & Strawn real estate partner Loren Higgins in San Francisco, brought on former federal prosecutor Adam Bookbinder as a partner in Boston and grabbed ex-Greenberg Traurig commercial and bankruptcy litigation partner Annapoorni “Anna” Sankaran in Houston.

“We’re aggressive in the market, and I think our firm has a good story to tell,” Guay said. “Our success has allowed us to go into the market and be attractive to a lot of lateral candidates.”

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