The move will give Tripp Scott more than 60 lawyers and make it a major player in the charter school industry, representing such clients as Charter Schools of Excellence, Florida Coalition of Charter Schools, Charter Schools USA, Red Apple Development and Florida Alliance of Charter Schools. Charter Schools USA alone manages 90 charter schools across seven states.
Both firms work with schools, owners and management companies on transactions, financings, school operations and legislation, according to Tripp Scott chief executive officer Edward Pozzuoli. And the merger will strengthen the firm’s offerings, he said.
“Those things bring our charter school expertise to a level that’s unrivaled,” Pozzuoli said.
In addition to charter schools, May Meacham brings Tripp Scott a significant number of clients in business, construction, real estate and banking, including Jamaica Broilers Group, Skanska USA Building and Balfour Beatty Construction, said name partner Robert Meacham.
The two firms also had clients in common, including Moss & Associates, Hill York Service Corp. and SunTrust.
May Meacham name partner Bill Davell said the merger appealed to both firms because it will enable the lawyers to provide a broader spectrum of services to clients. The move will also allow the firms to retain work they would otherwise refer out to other lawyers.
May Meacham, for instance, did not have an employment law practice or a full land-use practice, so it had to refer that work to outside firms on a fairly regular basis. Tripp Scott has lawyers who specialize in those areas, but it did not have anyone who handled construction litigation, which May Meacham did offer.
“We like being a regional law firm with influence throughout the state,” said Tripp Scott chief operating officer Paul Lopez. “This is probably the most significant group addition we’ve ever made. That was huge for us.”
Lopez said the firm in the past has chosen to grow organically — one lawyer at a time — rather than gobble up smaller firms. But in this case, the lawyers at both firms had known each other for years and had similar office cultures, so the decision to join forces came naturally once the conversation began.
The idea of joining forces came up during an October business breakfast when May Meacham’s Davell was chatting with Tripp Scott director Edward Curtis. Within days, the firms had a handshake deal.
Davell and Meacham said that over the years, their firm declined offers from large firms outside of the area. In those cases, the goal of the larger firm was to acquire a client base in a growing area. In this case, however, May Meacham saw the move as a merger of like entities that wish to grow their practices.
“This merger provides resources to our clients that we could not provide otherwise,” Meacham said.