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Quinn Emanuel Launches Office in Burgeoning Miami Market (2)

May 10, 2021, 2:18 PM; Updated: May 10, 2021, 8:04 PM

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is launching a new office in Miami with 10 lawyers from Hogan Lovells and Greenspoon Marder, as well as Miami’s mayor, as the firm looks to capitalize on city’s budding technology and finance sectors.

Quinn Emanuel’s third new office opening in 2021 comes as many Big Law firms are pushing into newer regional markets in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hogan Lovells litigation partner John O’Sullivan and Greenspoon Marder commercial litigation partner Olga Vieira are joining the firm as partners, while Mayor Francis Suarez is joining as of counsel. Hogan Lovells counsel Jason Sternberg is also joining as partner along with associates Joshua Fordin and David Nabors. Clifford Chance associate Thalia Lamping is poised to join the firm as well.

Along with its newest additions, the firm is relocating partners and co-chairs of Quinn Emanuel’s investigation, government enforcement and white collar defense practice Samuel Williamson and Alex Spiro from New York and partner David Orta from Washington to help build the Miami practice.

Williamson and O’Sullivan will serve as co-managing partners of the new Miami office, which is currently looking at real estate options in the city.

A firm with a such a heavy focus on litigation like Quinn Emanuel’s hasn’t existed in the city for years, but “once they decided they would make it work in Miami, it was an easy choice,” O’Sullivan said of his decision to join the firm.

Quinn Emanuel started contemplating a move to Miami last summer, according to founder John Quinn.

“It’s obviously a market that’s really taken off,” he said in an interview, particularly within the financial and business communities. He said Miami’s budding technology scene was also of interest to the firm.

Suarez, who was formerly of counsel at Greenspoon Marder, was elected Miami’s mayor in 2017 and during his tenure has sought to lure innovators in the technology and finance sectors to low-tax Florida.

The Miami-area attracted $1.06 billion in venture investment in startups last year, though it is just a small fraction of the $156 billion invested in startups across the country in 2020, according to research firm Pitchbook. Earlier this year, Softbank Group Corp. committed $100 million in funding for companies in the Miami-area.

“It’s no secret that I have made it a top priority to attract the top companies and investors here; given Miami’s staggering growth, it is the perfect setting for a world-class litigation firm like Quinn Emanuel,” Suarez said in a statement.

In 2018, Suarez joined Greenspoon Marder from Carlton Fields after a conflict of interest reportedly arose from a case where an attorney at Carlton Fields represented a company suing the city of Miami.

Representatives from the Miami mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the previously reported conflict of interest or on Suarez’s move to Quinn Emanuel.

While at his previous law firm, Suarez underwent an ethics process and got an opinion from the city’s ethics commission, Quinn said, and likewise received similar opinions from the state’s ethics board and commission in his move to Quinn Emanuel.

“We understand very well that there are conflicts to be avoided there and that’s very important,” he said.

Jan Jacobowitz, of Florida-based Legal Ethics Advisor, said that such dual role could pose challenges for Suarez. and the firm.

“In this situation, although or because Quinn Emanuel’s and the mayor’s vision for Miami align, it seems like navigating conflicts of interest will be unavoidable and may be prove to be treacherous depending upon the specific circumstances that arise,” she said.

Following Quinn Emanuel’s announcement, Greenspoon Marder said that it would be adding Suarez’s father and former Miami mayor Xavier Suarez as of counsel in the firm’s Miami office on Monday.

Despite court closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, Quinn Emanuel pulled in $1.3 billion in gross revenue in 2020, according to the latest Am Law data, an increase of about 4% over 2019. Profits per partner at the firm equaled around $4.7 million, up roughly 2.4% from the previous year.

Quinn Emanuel’s move to Miami follows similar moves by other Big Law firms to capture work in new markets across the country. Cooley is poised to open a new office in Chicago, adding the chair of Winston & Strawn’s technology and emerging companies practice Rick Ginsberg and DLA Piper partner Greg Grossman.

Debevoise & Plimpton, Freshfields Bruckhaus & Deringer, and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison have all lately announced office openings in Northern California and Kirkland & Ellis recently opened an office in Austin.

Quinn Emanuel this year already announced office openings in Austin, Texas and Atlanta.“I think there’s a good chance we’ll have another announcement in the not too distant future about a new office,” Quinn said.

(Updated to include comments from O'Sullivan and Quinn throughout)

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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