19 May 2022

Winston & Strawn and Kirkland & Ellis both target ‘dynamic’ Miami with new offices

Chicago firms take different routes south, Winston through lateral hires while Kirkland opts to relocate team

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Winston & Strawn and Kirkland & Ellis are both opening in Miami – Winston after hiring six partners from rival firms, Kirkland through the relocation of a team of senior lawyers from Chicago and New York.

Both Chicago-based firms cited Miami’s status as a growing business centre as the rationale for their moves – the city has been variously dubbed the Wall Street of the South and the New Silicon Valley due to the number of banks and technology companies setting up shop there.

Winston’s partner laterals hail from firms including Greenberg Traurig, Jones Day and Hogan Lovells. Kirkland said it expects the office to open its doors in the summer as it looks to enhance its existing relationships with Floridian clients.

Winston’s six new recruits are commercial litigation partners David Coulson and Gustavo Membiela, M&A and private equity specialist Enrique Martin, financial services and crypto lawyers Kimberly Prior and Daniel Stabile, and project finance and infrastructure partner Richard Puttré. 

Puttré will chair the firm’s Latin America projects group, Prior and Stabile join as co-chairs of the firm’s digital assets and blockchain technology group, while Martin will serve as office managing partner. The Miami office will focus on all of those practice areas, plus real estate and bankruptcy. Additional partner arrivals are expected shortly.

We made a thoughtful, deliberate decision to establish our newest office in Miami

Tom Fitzgerald, Winston’s chairman, said: “Miami has attracted significant pools of capital from public and private businesses as well as from high net worth families and individuals. It is a dynamic financial hub, an epicentre of business activity spanning numerous industries, and a critical nexus point for banking and international trade with Latin America and other parts of the world. After careful study of various cities’ legal and business markets, we made a thoughtful, deliberate decision to establish our newest office in Miami.”

Martin brings with him three decades of experience, most recently at Jones Day and before that Greenberg Traurig, where he spent more than 20 years. His practice focuses on domestic and cross-border M&A, private equity, joint ventures, restructurings and other capital markets transactions.

Trial lawyer Coulson joins from Greenberg Traurig, where he spent just shy of 23 years. His experience spans class action defence, securities and commercial litigation and product liability. Fellow litigator Membiela joins from Hunton Andrews Kurth, where he spent more than 19 years, having started his career as an associate at Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

Digital assets specialists Prior and Stabile both join from Shutts & Bowen. Prior had two spells at Shutts spanning more than 15 years, book-ending a brief stint at Baker McKenzie. Stabile spent just over 10 years at Shutts in Miami, having joined from Dewey & LeBoeuf in New York.

Puttré also brings with him near three decades of experience, joining after a short stay at Hogan Lovells and more than 20-years of service at Jones Day. He also had earlier spells at McGuireWoods and legacy firm Dewey Ballantine.

Michael Elkin, Winston’s vice chair, said: “This prestigious group of partners will be a focal point for collaboration across the firm. They will help us build new avenues for corporate transactional services in this fast-growing business destination. Litigation in the Southern District of Florida has increased in the past few years, driven by a significant uptick in product liability and class action matters.”

The Miami move is the firm’s largest expansion since it opened in Dallas in 2017. The office will initially be located at the Southeast Financial Center in Miami’s financial district before moving to a newly constructed state-of-the-art office tower at 830 Brickell Avenue overlooking Biscayne Bay.

Kirkland

Kirkland’s new office, meanwhile, will initially be staffed by corporate partners Eduardo Leal, Matthew Arenson, Jeffrey Swatzell and Jeremy Liss while the firm recruits more lawyers to flesh out the team. Liss, Arenson and Swatzell are relocating from Kirkland’s Chicago headquarters for the launch, while Leal is moving from New York.

“We are excited about the opportunity that Miami offers: a vibrant and growing business community where talent and capital are moving at a rapid pace,” said Kirkland executive committee chairman Jon Ballis.

He added: “Kirkland’s ability to attract, train and retain the best legal talent is key to our continued success, and being present where that talent wants to be is critical.”

The move comes after a period of heavy US-focused expansion activity on Kirkland’s behalf, which included a couple office openings and several key lateral partner hires.

Kirkland joined a slew of large US law firms targeting the Texas legal market by opening an office in Austin last spring. It quickly added an intellectual property practice to its Austin office in June when New York partner Jeannie Heffernan relocated from New York to take advantage of the growth of high-tech clients in the state.

It followed up in September with another office launch, this time in Salt Lake City, in a bid to deepen its ties with prominent local law schools as part of its flagship strategy of recruiting leading legal talent.

Other US firms to launch in Miami recently include Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and King & Spalding.
 

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