Suarez, a registered Republican who was elected mayor in November 2017, had been of counsel at Carlton Fields since last September, when he left his last firm, GrayRobinson.
Joining him in the move to Greenspoon Marder, a fast-growing Am Law 200 firm, is longtime Carlton Fields partner and Suarez’s sister, litigator Olga Suarez Vieira. In addition to their corporate and trial practices, the duo will also work alongside the firm’s real estate and hospitality, alcohol and leisure industry practice groups.
“It’s a great law firm with a great reputation,” Suarez said. “It’s a national firm with multiple offices throughout the U.S. and multiple practice areas that can really compliment what I do as a lawyer.”
One reason for his move this week, the Miami Herald reported, was a conflict of interest involving a case filed by Carlton Fields on behalf of a tenant of Watson Island, a man-made island in Biscayne Bay, over licensing rights related to the municipality’s desire to operate a heliport on the island.
Suarez declined to comment Wednesday about the conflict, but he emphasized that his move to Greenspoon Marder was driven by more than that.
“I think one of the things about Greenspoon Marder is that it’s a firm that doesn’t have any conflicts with the city and that’s certainly something that I think is important,” Suarez said. “My decision was more based on the opportunity and the quality of the firm and the caliber of the firm than anything else.”
Son of former Miami Mayor and attorney Xavier Suarez, Suarez began his legal career at now-defunct Haley, Sinagra, Paul and Toland nearly 13 years ago. Since then he has worked with clients on real estate and corporate finance matters, including acquisitions and joint ventures. He has also served as outside general counsel to a variety of companies, including consulting services firm Doctors Management Group.
Though he remained a practicing attorney throughout, Suarez began his career in public service in 2009 when he was elected District 4 Miami City commissioner. He was re-elected to two subsequent terms in 2011 and 2015.
A year later he joined Orlando-based GrayRobinson as of counsel, before heading to Carlton Fields nearly two months ahead of his mayoral election last year.
“I’ve been mayor now for 7 months [and] working as a practicing attorney,” Suarez said. He said it’s common for mayors to balance their obligations in public office with their work as fee-earners in private practice. “It’s very typical,” he said.
Dan Gelber, mayor of nearby Miami Beach, is a founding partner of Miami-based Gelber Schachter & Greenberg. Suarez’s father, who was the first Cuban-born mayor of Miami, also kept up his practice while in office.
“[Suarez] and [Vieira’s] practices are synergistic and offer our clients a deep breadth of experience,” Michael Marder, co-founder and co-managing director of Greenspoon Marder, said in a statement.
“We are thrilled to have this dynamic team join our firm.”
The pair are just the latest additions to Greenspoon Marder, which saw its gross revenue soar last year to nearly $134.7 million. Earlier this year, the firm moved into New Jersey by acquiring immigration boutique Nair Law Group.
The firm then moved to Nevada City to build out its cannabis practice before opening its third office in California with the addition of a group of lawyers from Eisner Jaffe in Los Angeles in April. Last month, Greenspoon Marder bolted on federal cannabis lobbying firm The Liaison Group in Washington, D.C.