Two Pennsylvania firms have become the beneficiaries of defections from the West Palm Beach, Florida, office of Edwards Wildman.
At least nine lawyers have resigned from Edwards Wildman’s main Florida office. Six partners are set to open a West Palm Beach office for Cozen O’Connor. Another partner and an associate have already joined Duane Morris and an additional partner is leaving to join a client’s in-house legal department, sources and the firms have said.
Earlier this month, corporate partner Leslie J. Croland joined Duane Morris’ Miami and Boca Raton, Fla., offices along with associate Driscoll R. Ugarte. Sources have said another partner is leaving to take an in-house position with a client.
Partners Michael E. Botos, D. Scott Elliott, John David Dickenson, A. Kenneth Levine, Simeon D. Brier and Harvey A. Feintuch are set to launch the new West Palm Beach location for Cozen O’Connor once all of the attorneys have been officially released from Edwards Wildman. Brier will work out of both the new office and Cozen O’Connor’s existing Miami location. Feintuch was a New York partner at Edwards Wildman that had recently relocated to Florida.
Cozen O’Connor has opened office space in West Palm Beach that can house approximately 15 attorneys, and Chief Executive Officer Michael Heller said the expectation is to grow the location and turn the firm’s focus to expansion in Miami as well.
Edwards Wildman has offices in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., though the seven attorneys listed on the firm’s website as working in Fort Lauderdale are also listed in the West Palm Beach office. There are currently 15 attorneys listed on the firm’s website as practicing in West Palm Beach. Once all of the departing attorneys officially leave, the firm would be left with 11 lawyers in that location.
Edwards Wildman came into existence as a 650-attorney, 14-office firm in October 2011 through the merger of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge and Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon. The firm now has 15 offices and just under 600 attorneys, ranking 80th on the Am Law 100 with gross revenue in 2012 of $352.5 million. Jonathan Cole, Florida managing partner for Edwards Wildman, confirmed numerous partners are leaving the firm but declined to state how many.
Cole, who started with Edwards Wildman 42 years ago, insisted the firm is here to stay and is looking to hire three associates. He also said the firm will soon close its Fort Lauderdale office in the second quarter, when the lease expires, but is looking for office space in Miami.
“We’re pressing forward,” he said. “We’re looking to relocate the Fort Lauderdale office to Miami. We like the South Florida market. We have a lot of clients in the three counties.”
Heller said Cozen had been looking to expand into West Palm Beach for a year because of its private client services practice. The six attorneys joining the firm focus not only on representing high-net-worth individuals but also in the areas of real estate, insurance corporate and regulatory work, reinsurance and commercial litigation.
When asked whether associates would be joining the West Palm Beach team, Heller said only that he would expect the office to continue to grow.