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‘Phenomenal Year’ for Florida Lawyers

Posted Jun 18, 2007 4:16 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Defying predictions of a law practice slowdown, attorneys in South Florida report their business is booming.

"It was a phenomenal year to be a lawyer," John C. Sumberg, managing partner of Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, an 85-attorney firm in Miami, tells the Daily Business Review. "We had many very large transactions--several transactions in excess of a billion dollars - and those large transactions increase activity levels and increase profitability."

One reason why law practice was expected to slow down is a change for the worse in the state's recently red-hot real estate market. But this adversely affected new construction Miami condos more than the real estate market overall, and the state's economy remains strong in other areas, partners at major law firms say. Plus, clients are now willing to send corporate work to South Florida that once was reserved for counsel in New York City, and that has kept many attorneys quite busy.

However, the state's strong economy means less work for bankruptcy lawyers. And partners are concerned that rising associate salaries could reduce firm profits. Two national firms reportedly are paying starting associates $160,000 annually, although top pay for most big-firm first-years is closer to $130,000.

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