Holland & Knight has hired Loren Higgins to help the firm grow its real estate practice on the West Coast.
“One of the things that really attracted me to Holland & Knight is its environmental and land use practice on the West Coast, which I think gives me tremendous opportunities to expand my relationship with existing clients,” Higgins said. “I was also attracted to the depth of the firm’s transactional bench, particularly the real state area, and the firm’s financial practice in the health care sector.”
Higgins’ practice focuses on commercial agricultural lending, health care finance and real estate finance. She also has experience advising lenders in connection with the construction of professional sports stadiums, including the $850 million financing of Levi’s Stadium, the 68,500-seat home of the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers, in Santa Clara.
Holland & Knight’s national real estate practice, whose New York-based group is led by former Dewey & LeBoeuf partner and prominent real estate lawyer Stuart Saft, is a boon to Higgins because most of her clients are large companies with operations across the country, she said. Those clients include American AgCredit, Capital One Financial Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co.
“[Higgins] is an outstanding real estate finance lawyer with an impressive roster of clients and will play an important role in expanding our finance and lending practice on a nationwide basis,” said a statement from Douglas Praw, who joined Holland & Knight’s Los Angeles office in 2015 and now leads the firm’s West Coast real estate group. “Loren’s addition is also significant as we continue to grow our San Francisco office and complement the wonderful work our firm’s well-respected West Coast land use and environmental group does throughout California.”
According to the data provided by the firm, Holland & Knight currently has more than 280 lawyers in its real estate practice. The firm’s San Francisco office, which opened in 1997, has about six real estate lawyers, and 16 members dedicated to land use and environmental work. In December, Holland & Knight hired Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman counsel Marne Sussman as a partner for that practice, although environmental counsel Andrea Sumits recently left Holland & Knight’s Bay Area base to become a partner at Berkeley-based boutique Environmental General Counsel.
Holland & Knight has also been busy lately hiring laterally elsewhere, bringing on a pair of corporate lawyers in Miami from Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, as well as adding a five-lawyer team in Mexico City from Jones Day, hiring former federal prosecutor Adam Bookbinder as a partner in Boston and grabbing Greenberg Traurig commercial and bankruptcy litigation partner Annapoorni “Anna” Sankaran in Houston.
“The culture at Holland & Knight is really open and very warm,” Higgins said of her new 1,079-lawyer firm, which saw its gross revenue and partner profits rise in 2017. “It has been a fantastic transition for me.”
Winston & Strawn also saw its financials surge last year, although Higgins declined to discuss Constance Ramos, a former colleague and partner at the firm in San Francisco who sued Winston & Strawn in late August for gender discrimination. Winston & Strawn successfully sought to have that dispute moved to arbitration, a ruling that Ramos, a former Honolulu high school classmate of President Barack Obama, and her legal team have appealed.