Al Cardenas
Al Cardenas (J. Albert Diaz)

Prominent Republican lobbyist Al Cardenas is leaving the Miami law firm that bears his name, Tew Cardenas, to join Squire Sanders as a senior partner.

He will split his time between the firm’s Miami and Washington offices starting March 1.

Cardenas is the latest lawyer to announce his departure from Tew Cardenas, which is splintering following the death of co-founder Thomas Tew last month. Five other lawyers left to launch their own Miami law firm, Lehtinen Schultz Riedi Catalano de la Fuente, last week.

In addition to running his legal practice, Cardenas is the founder of Cardenas Partners DC, a Washington-based federal consulting and lobbying firm, and the Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners, a Tallahassee- and Tampa-based lobbying practice. Squire Sanders will partner with the Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners, and absorb one partner there, Emily Zammit.

Cardenas said he decided to join Squire Sanders because the firm has a substantial Latin American practice, as does he. Cardenas has represented the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Puerto Rico and El Salvador, lobbying for their interests on trade, tariff and other issues in Washington.

Cardenas has also known Luis Reiter, Squire Sanders’ Miami managing partner, for years.

“When I met with Squire Sanders management, I was convinced it was the right place and the right platform,” Cardenas said. “They have 39 offices in 19 different countries … so it will allow me to expand my business.”

Cardenas, who spent half his career at Greenberg Traurig, also was drawn to return to a BigLaw environment.

“A number of clients I’ve had to refer to different law firms with energy and commerce practices,” he said. “Now I’m in a platform that can handle all of their needs internally.”

Additionally, he is looking forward to the firm’s 1,400 lawyers referring lobbying work to him.

For Squire Sanders, snagging Cardenas was a major coup.

“When we sat down and looked at the opportunities to work together, the benefits to our clients and his, we realized it was a perfect fit,” Reiter said. “We have clients in Latin America who need assistance in Florida and Washington, D.C. He has such a strong background in Florida.”

Chair of the American Conservative Union, Cardenas served two terms as chairman and three terms as vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. He also chaired the Florida campaign of a number of presidential and statewide candidates and has been a delegate to every Republican National Convention since 1976.

He was part of Ronald Reagan’s transition team responsible for the Commerce Department, chaired the President’s Commission on Small and Minority Business Affairs in 1982 and served as special ambassador to St. Kitts-Nevis when the Caribbean country won independence in 1983.

Cardenas also served on President George H.W. Bush’s Trade Policy Commission and served on the Federal National Mortgage Association board during the Bush administration.