Dexter Lehtinen
Dexter Lehtinen (J. Albert Diaz)

Former U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen and four other Tew Cardenas lawyers have split from the Miami law firm to open their own shop following the death of co-founder Thomas Tew.

The new firm, Lehtinen Schultz Riedi Catalano De la Fuente, opened at 1111 Brickell Ave., where the lawyers leased 1,300 square feet. The group includes Thomas Schultz, a former chair of the federal judicial nominating commission; Claudio Riedi; John Catalano; and Domingo Gamboa De La Fuente Jr. All are partners.

“A number of us had worked together on various matters,” Schultz said. “We all went to lunch together one day and became good friends and just said, ‘Why don’t we start our own firm?’ Then we found this wonderful space.”

The lawyers began their talks several months ago. It was around the time a merger was about to close between Tew Cardenas and Fox Rothschild, but it fell apart at the 11th hour. Then Tew fell ill with pancreatic cancer and died last month.

Now the firm’s future is in question. Managing partner Joseph Rebak said the remaining 14 lawyers are all considering various options and offers.

“Dexter, Thomas and the others are great lawyers, and I wish them the best,” he said.

The new firm specializes in general commercial litigation, real estate, land use and local government and zoning work.

Lehtinen, spouse of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, served as U.S. attorney in Miami from 1988 to 1992. Both are former state lawmakers. Dexter Lehtinen also was general counsel for the Miccosukee Indian tribe, pursuing environmental litigation to protect the Everglades, and was sued by the tribe after a change in leadership.