Akerman opened an office Monday in Chicago, its 20th office and first in the Midwest.

The Miami-based firm launched with eight lawyers, seven picked up from Ulmer & Berne, plus Miami partner Karen Kondell, who will split her time between the two cities. The office will be managed by new partner Scott Meyers.

The Chicago lawyers primarily focus on intellectual property and financial services litigation. Firm chairman and CEO Andrew Smulian said he wants to add real estate and other practices soon.

The new space at the Hyatt Center on 71 S. Wacker Drive can accommodate 30 lawyers.

“We are still on our client-driven strategy,” Smulian said. “We are not growing for growth sake just to add bodies. We believe clients come first, and we follow them wherever they need us. We’re excited to be in a major market, and we think we have a sophisticated team to carry the flag.”

Smulian hopes to achieve the same growth in Chicago as occurred in New York. Akerman opened its New York office seven years ago and now has 70 lawyers there.

The last major offices the firm opened were in Salt Lake City and Naples in 2011.

Bill Brennan, a law firm consultant with Brennan Strategy LLC of Philadelphia, said it makes sense for Akerman to branch out to the Midwest.

“Akerman has been very acquisitive, and I believe they will continue to be,” Brennan said. “It has expanded up and down the East Coast over the last decade substantially. And it makes sense for them to target the Midwest and the West Coast if they want to be a national firm. You can’t be a national firm without an office in New York, Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Dallas.”

Meyers concentrates his complex commercial litigation practice in the financial services and securities sectors, with an emphasis on hedge funds, investment advisers and money managers.

Other new hires in Chicago are:

• Partner Michael Switzer, who will serve as co-chair of Akerman’s intellectual property group along with West Palm Beach partner Mark Passler. Switzer is a former patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and also served as the first in-house U.S. patent counsel for Hitachi Ltd. in Tokyo

• Partner Mark Anderson, who focuses on IP counseling, prosecution and litigation for clients in the mechanical arts, electro-mechanical arts and electric arts

• Partner Stacy Baim, who represents technology clients in complex litigation and transactional matters involving patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and unfair competition

• Partner Brian Bianco, who focuses on IP litigation, representing clients in federal court and also counsels them on IP protection

• Associates Peter Hawkins and Alissa Misun Pohlman

Akerman has about 600 lawyers and lobbyists nationally. The firm ranked 108th on the Am Law 200 list of top 200 law firms in 2013 with gross revenue of $298 million.