Prominent Coral Gables criminal defense attorney Joel Hirschhorn and law partner Brian Bieber are joining GrayRobinson to start a white collar defense practice.

Hirschhorn has practiced law for 47 years, most recently with Hirschhorn & Bieber.

So why move to a big law firm now?

Hirschhorn said it was a combination of getting tired of the administrative duties of running a law firm and being wooed by GrayRobinson president Byrd “Biff” Marshall.

Hirschhorn also expects business to be steadier at a law firm with 280 lawyers and 11 offices.

“No one talks about it, but sometimes you can go months without a case in a small shop,” he said. “This is a large firm where so many people will have relatives who need a criminal defense lawyer.”

Bieber added: “We’ve been approached by several large firms over the last few years, and the chemistry wasn’t there, and when we met Biff and the Gray team we knew immediately it was the right fit. We handle major cases all over the country, and being affiliated with GrayRobinson certainly will give us the ability to use large firm resources that are helpful in major white collar cases.”

Marshall approached Hirschhorn and Bieber several months ago and invited them to the firm’s annual partners’ meeting, which appeared to clinch the deal.

Hirschhorn said he was surprised to meet so many former colleagues and even a lawyer he hadn’t seen since law school.

“The corporate culture is unbelievable,” he said. “They put on a glove, and it was a perfect fit, and thankfully it’s an expensive leather one.”

For his part, Marshall was looking to start a white collar defense practice for years and had not found the right team until a legal headhunter introduced him to Hirschhorn and Bieber.

“He was the perfect fit,” Marshall said. “We’re hoping he can start a statewide practice and recruit other lawyers.”

The two lawyers, who start at GrayRobinson on Nov. 1, also are bringing along associate Jake Greenberg. They will be based in the firm’s Miami office and travel to Gray’s other offices in Florida.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Hirschhorn’s practice consisted almost entirely of representing drug traffickers before famously announcing at a 1989 meeting of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers that he would no longer represent drug defendants.

Hirschhorn said he saw the writing on the wall when the government started seizing legal fees as forfeiture funds. He and Bieber transitioned to representing doctors, lawyers and business executives charged with fraud-related crimes as well as athletes and their families.

The two lawyers are representing Anthony Livoti Jr., general counsel for the Florida State Fraternal Order of Police who was charged with participating in a $1 billion Ponzi scheme. The Mutual Benefits case is in its eighth week of an expected 12-week trial before U.S. District Judge Robert Scola in Miami.