BigLaw Comes to Town

The South Florida legal market is hot property, rapidly becoming one of the busiest locations for legal market expansion the US.

Miami has long been a bridge into Latin American, but the region is expected to become a hotspot for tech and cyber companies, along with private equity and venture capital firms. The arrival of companies including Microsoft, Apple and Paramount Global has instigated large law firms to set up and expand their operations in South Florida and will no doubt bring in a steady influx of high-level work. A benefit of following these companies is that they are used to paying the rates that firms like Kirkland Ellis, Winston & Strawn and Sidley Austin charge when their offices open later this year.

The question of who, other than established clients, will pay the higher rates in Miami does arise. You can get a very good Corporate Lawyer for around $900 per hour, compared to New York or Chicago where you will be paying around $1800 per hour. These firms arriving in Miami bring with them the opportunity of being very fruitful for both businesses and Attorneys but only if clients will see the value in paying a higher rate.

For local Lawyers the prospect of earning New York rates in Miami is very attractive, however, the question is, will clients follow their Attorney and leave the established law firm relationships that have been built over the years? The local firms will have to be strategic about how they keep their Attorneys and clients from making the jump to BigLaw. A lifeline for some of the local firms is that many of the big firms’ regular clients will follow the movements of the big firms, having worked together in other states and cities, therefore, these firms could hold back their intent to find new clients.

The law firms that will likely see a challenge keeping their Attorneys tied down will be firms that have highly ranked corporate, finance, tech and cyber practice groups. Attorneys with a substantial knowledge of the intricacies of Miami’s legal market, with respect to those groups, will be very attractive prospects to the newest firms in town. They will be able to guide the firms in a more streamlined manner, into the long-established market, by leveraging their experience, network and relationships. Naturally, the firms that have been targeted up to now are firms at the top of the AM Law rankings, such as Greenberg Traurig, Jones Day, Hogan Lovells and Hunton Andrews Kurth as their Attorneys will be accustomed to BigLaw’s way of operating, in terms of expected hours and their handling of blue chip clients.

In the long run, the Florida-based firms with a regional or a national presence will likely be targeted by big firms as they look to bolsters their core practice groups in Miami. The firms that have quietly been leading the rankings in South Florida for decades are essentially next in the line of fire from headhunters looking to entice their highly-rated Attorneys away, with the promise of a step up to an international firm and corresponding salary.

For many of the firms in South Florida, the influx of BigLaw means that they will need to rapidly evolve and put into place strategies to mitigate the impact these big law firms will have on their long-standing grasp of the Miami legal market.


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If you are an Attorney based in Miami, or a law firm looking to attract the best talent in the area, contact Sean Vita-Yamarte on for the support of an experienced and knowledgeable Consultant.

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