Partners Michelle Schulz and Elsa Manzanares, practice group attorney Kim Carlson and two nonlawyer trade professionals joined Akerman’s government affairs and public policy practice group in mid-January. Schulz and Manzanares had been co-chairs of Gardere’s international trade group. They represent Fortune 500 companies in international trade and customs compliance and enforcement.
Schulz said the group was looking to move to a firm with a broad reach into Latin America, and Akerman has offices in port cities, including Miami and Los Angeles, along with an office in Washington, D.C. Schulz said her team is also impressed with the international trade attorneys at Akerman, including Felipe Berer, a partner in Miami, and Felicia Nowels, a partner in Tallahassee.
Dallas-based Gardere has offices in Austin, Houston, Denver and Mexico City, while Akerman has 24 offices in the United States.
Akerman opened an office in Dallas in 2009 but expanded into Houston, San Antonio and Austin in 2016, when it added 30 trial lawyers from the Houston litigation firm Beirne, Maynard & Parsons.
Richard Spees, the Washington, D.C.-based chair of Akerman’s government affairs and public policy practice group, said in a statement that enforcement policies and regulations are ever-changing for trade clients, and Schulz and the team will “help clients navigate the most complex aspects of international trade, advocating for exporters and importers in U.S. government investigations, fines and penalties, audits, disclosures, transactions and other trade matters.”
Schulz declined to identify clients the group brought with them to Akerman, but she said they do a lot of work for clients in the oil and gas, aerospace and technology industries.
“We do things like licensing and working with the government to get approvals where they are needed,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Gardere did not immediately comment on the departures.