Jorge Cruz-Bustillo. Photo: Michael Murphy

A five-member team of Kelley Kronenberg attorneys and another lawyer have joined Chartwell Law in Miami as part of firmwide expansion adding 25 lawyers.

The Kelley Kronenberg defectors are partners Jorge L. Cruz-Bustillo, Denisse M. Ibarra and Nathaniel D. Tobin and associates Nicole E. Crabtree and Joel K. Ortega. Their specialty is first-party property insurance defense.

Dennise Ibarra. Photo: Michael Murphy

The other newcomer is commercial litigator Zohra M. Khorashi, a former intern with a children’s advocacy nonprofit. Khorashi, who is fluent in Urdu, Gujarati and Hindi, focuses on premises liability, personal injury, civil litigation and commercial litigation.

“We are fortunate to be able to bring these experienced attorneys to Chartwell,” said partner Megan Dougherty, a member of Chartwell’s administrative committee.

Chartwell Law’s insurance defense attorneys represent domestic and international insurance carriers. The firm opened its Miami office five years ago through a merger with admiralty firm Houck Anderson.

Cruz-Bustillo, Kelley’s former Miami managing partner, made the move to Kelley Kronenberg three years ago from The Barthet Firm in Miami.

Michael Fichtel, Kelley’s chief executive officer, said the group’s departure was a mutual decision driven by firm culture.

“Politely and properly said, it just wasn’t a right fit for us and where we are going,” Fichtel said Friday shortly before the groundbreaking for a new headquarters in suburban Davie.

Chartwell’s additions make Miami its largest office, followed by New York City and Philadelphia. Chartwell recently added 15 attorneys in Florida offices and a total of 25 firm-wide.

“As we discover talented lawyers who are also good people, we find ways to incorporate them into our unique culture,” said co-founding partner Michael Diamond.

Both Dougherty and Diamond anticipate further growth in several states.

Chartwell Law, founded in 2002 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, now has to 128 attorneys in 18 U.S. offices. They represent companies, insurers, self-insureds and individuals in insurance coverage and defense matters, admiralty and workers’ compensation cases.

The firm’s expansion has come with growing pains.

Chartwell and Philadelphia defense firm Swartz Campbell reached a settlement in February over partner poaching in Florida to end five years of litigation with a mutual no-contact policy. The firm also is suing law firm Wadsworth Huott over the firms’ failed merger.