This question-and-answer article is the first in an occasional series profiling midsize law firms in Florida.
1. How big is your firm, where is it located, and what are its primary areas of practice and focus? Broad and Cassel is a full-service law firm serving clients worldwide from 10 offices across the state of Florida in Boca Raton, Destin, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach. Founded by Alvin Cassel and Shepard Broad in 1946, the firm has more than 170 attorneys who provide legal support and business counsel spanning 25 areas of law and serving more than 20 industries. The primary areas of practice and focus are: * Affordable housing * Corporate and finance * Estate planning * Health law * Litigation * Real estate
2. Please explain your firm’s governance structure and compensation model. A management committee, comprised of key partners led by chairman C. David Brown II, governs the firm’s operations.
3. What do you view as the two biggest opportunities for your firm, and what are the two biggest threats? Change is the only constant, and over the years Broad and Cassel has made several strategic decisions that have helped the firm maintain a competitive advantage. The most vital strategy over the course of the firm’s more than 70 years has been the ability to adapt to a shifting marketplace, and over time the practice areas have grown strategically to better serve clients. In addition to this responsiveness to change, maintaining a strong capital base has enabled Broad and Cassel to weather multiple recessions and attract laterals.
Opportunities: Looking ahead, we expect to continue recruiting great talent. Several lateral hires in 2017 have positioned us well in key practice areas, including the creation of a new health care insolvency service for the firm. We’ll sustain this momentum into 2018.
Over the last decade, the need for highly specialized legal experts in the health care field has increased dramatically. We’ve seized on that, acquired the talent and built one of the most experienced and diversified health law groups in the Southeastern United States. Using our health law practice as a successful model, we plan to capitalize on the high-growth areas to further build other practice areas to be as robust as health law.
Threats: A trend we’re seeing is the introduction of artificial intelligence in our industry. We have highly specialized legal practices where companies come to us for very sophisticated, outside-the-box thinking where artificial intelligence will not be able to replace human interaction. Embracing technology to empower our attorneys is key to future success, but so too is human interaction with our clients.
4. After the recession hit, the prevailing theory was that midsize firms would start to see more work come their way from large clients who could no longer justify paying Big Law rates. What has been your experience? In our experience, what has driven new and repeat clients is stellar client service. Yes, we have localized rate structures and more reasonable rates than national firms. However, our focus has always been and will remain on surpassing client expectations and helping them achieve their goals. We’re very lean in how we operate and because of that it gives our clients great customer service. Our approach is really simple: serve not only as problem solvers but also trusted advisers.
5. There is much debate around how law firms can foster the next generation of legal talent. What advantages and disadvantages do midsize firms have in attracting and retaining young lawyers, particularly millennials? It’s about opportunity. Midsize firms offer more opportunities for young lawyers to learn and grow, providing greater access to clients that you wouldn’t have in a larger firm and the ability to be involved in large matters. Young attorneys get the opportunity to perform in front of clients at a much quicker pace. At Broad and Cassel, our attorneys thrive in an entrepreneurial setting. We empower them with the tools they need to excel as entrepreneurs themselves. In short, our attorneys must own their business to succeed in this organization. This provides young attorneys with a great learning opportunity and flexibility to manage their own practice.
6. Does your firm employ any nonlawyer professionals in high-level positions (e.g. COO, business development officer, chief strategy officer, etc.)? If so, why is it advantageous to have a nonlawyer in that role? If not, have you considered hiring any? Yes. Our chief operating officer and chief financial officer have helped manage the day- to-day operations of the firm for more than 20 years. Their focus on operations allows our attorneys to concentrate on what matters most: our clients.