The Middle District of Florida continues to be the go-to federal venue for wage-and-hour disputes under the Fair Labor Standards Act, keeping both defense and plaintiffs lawyers busy. That’s the word from Tracey Jaensch, managing partner in the Tampa office of Ford & Harrison.

About 30 percent of all FLSA cases in the nation are filed in Florida, a statistic that has remained constant for the past three to five years. Jaensch offered several reasons: Florida has a weak union presence and lots of low-paying jobs in health care, hospitality and tourism.

Jaensch said FLSA cases have taken up a larger percentage of her firm’s overall workload, but she hasn’t had to hire new lawyers. There have been reports in the local media that national firms are opening up offices in Tampa to pick up the surplus FLSA cases, she said. Jackson Lewis, for example, has opened an office in Tampa, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported, joining additional national labor and employment firms that include Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart and Fisher & Phillips.

Otherwise, "The Tampa legal market has always been highly collegial," Randy Wolfe, managing partner of Foley & Lardner’s office there, said. "While there is plenty of good work for all of the good lawyers, the current environment means you can’t just sit behind your desk expecting the work to arrive wrapped in a bow — you must go out and pursue it."

Heading east along the Interstate 4 corridor, "The legal market in Orlando has gone through a Darwinian change," said Mike Gay, Foley managing partner there. "Clients today are more informed and know what they want. Those lawyers and law firms that adapt by continually seeking new ways to exceed their clients’ expectations will thrive. Those who cling to the old models of practicing law will fail." — Jeff Schweers