Sherril Colombo, president, FAWL, Miami-Dade Chapter.
Sherril Colombo, president, FAWL, Miami-Dade Chapter. (J. Albert Diaz)

Traditionally gathering steam after the new year, lateral season has come early in Miami, with a host of top lawyers moving to different law firms in recent weeks.

Barbara Ferrer last week joined GrayRobinson as a shareholder in the real estate group, defecting from Holland & Knight. Ferrer’s move comes just two years after she joined Holland with three other lawyers from Broad & Cassel.

Ferrer has represented national and local entities in various deals. She represented Total Bank in the structuring and closing of a construction loan for the expansion and renovation of the Flagler Dog Track/Magic City Casino. Ferrer also represented SunTrust in the closing of a $78 million construction loan for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Miami Beach, an intricate deal that exposed some troubles with maintenance of the 1953 facade, and a $55 million loan to the Ritz-Carlton Club in Jupiter.

Another prominent shareholder, Sherril Colombo, has moved from Wilson Elser’s Miami officer to Littler. Colombo, who specializes in Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and labor and employment law in general, is immediate past president of the Miami-Dade chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers and recent chair of the labor and employment section of the Florida Bar.

Duane Morris also beefed up its Miami office with the addition of four construction litigation experts from Daniels Kashtan. Partners Alvin Lodish and Scott Kravetz, who started work Friday, will head up the firm’s Florida construction litigation group, joined by special counsel Michael Shuman and associate Andrew Bauta.

“We have a major construction practice nationally, and we are one of the leading construction law firms, and we really wanted to add that expertise here in Florida,” said Harvey Gurland, Miami managing partner for Duane Morris. “With the construction and development work that goes on in Florida, we have been looking for the right group for a number of years.”

Miami boutique firm Salazar Jackson has launched an India practice group with the addition of Neha Dagley as senior counsel and chair. Dagley, formerly with Schechter Law in Fort Lauderdale, is a Mumbai native and fluent in Hindi and Gujarati. She will focus on the firm’s growing client demand for trade and investment in India.

At Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, the firm added two new attorneys in the Miami land development and zoning group, shareholder Maria Gralia and of counsel Javier Fernandez. The lawyers represent clients in all aspects of land development approval and entitlement process for residential and commercial developments.

Gralia previously worked as assistant general counsel to the University of Miami, overseeing the university’s extensive real estate portfolio. Fernandez was formerly with Akerman and previously served as chief of staff to former City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.

Joe Ankus, a legal recruiter with Ankus Consulting of Weston, said the lateral musical chairs is an anomaly for August.

“Historically, the period of major lateral movement has largely been January through May,” he said. “That is the traditional time. This is aberrational. But I don’t think it’s a red flag of anything significant. These are unrelated moves.”