South Carolina’s largest law firm is extending its reach into the south by adding a Florida-grown firm to its network.
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, and Florida-based Broad and Cassel LLP will merge Aug. 1, creating what they call “a super-regional firm along the East Coast.”
The combination will expand numerous legal services, including in the public finance sector, to 11 states and the District of Columbia with more than 725 attorneys and professionals.
Partners in both firms recently voted “overwhelmingly” to approve the merger, the firms said in a joint release. The combination had been discussed for about two years.
After Aug. 1, the firm will be known in Florida as Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel. At a time yet to be announced, Broad and Cassel will be dropped from the name, said spokeswoman Beth Huffman.
“Expanding in Florida is an important element to have the depth and breadth of a super-regional firm along the East Coast, and Broad and Cassel is an ideal partner given their strong presence in Florida,” said Nelson Mullins Managing Partner Jim Lehman. “Our goal is always to provide comprehensive solutions to our clients, and this combination will benefit clients of both firms.”
Lehman, who will continue to be the managing partner after the merger, said the firm will have leading national corporate and litigation practices in areas such as real estate, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and the automobile industry.
Specialty practice areas will include public finance, affordable housing tax credits, trusts and estates and construction.
“As Florida has grown over the past several decades to become the third-largest state [by population] in the country, Broad and Cassel has grown with it to serve our clients,” said Chairman C. David Brown II.
Brown, who will become a voting member of the Executive Committee, said the merger positions Broad and Cassel to offer its clients additional regional and national legal services outside Florida.
The combined firm’s municipal bond group will initially consist of seven bond attorneys from Broad and Cassel and five bond attorneys from Nelson Mullins.
The group will be headed by Broad and Cassel Partner Joseph Stanton.
The merger will allow the group to attract new attorneys and new clients, said Stanton, who works in the firm’s Orlando office.
“Our lawyers are and will continue to be active throughout the geographical area of our super-regional firm and will look for opportunities to serve existing and new clients, particularly in areas where the expertise of the firm and public finance intersect,” Stanton said in an email to The Bond Buyer. “We hope to attract attorneys who share our approach and philosophy regarding the practice of law to join the firm and our team.”
The combined firm will provide additional areas of expertise to public finance clients, said Stanton, who is issuer’s counsel for the Florida Development Finance Corp. and has been bond counsel for other agencies.
Stanton said both firms have similar philosophies about how clients are represented.
“I believe that this is a primary reason why the merger was overwhelmingly approved by both firms’ partnerships,” he said. “We have spent significant time and effort through the merger process to ensure our respective clients continue to receive the levels of attention and service to which they’ve grown accustomed.”
Founded in 1946 by Shepard Broad and Alvin Cassel in Miami, Broad and Cassel has 10 offices across Florida and 170 attorneys.
Nelson Mullins, founded in 1897 by one attorney, currently has more than 600 attorneys, policy advisors and professionals in 11 states and the District of Columbia. In Florida, the firm already has offices in Tallahassee and Jacksonville.
Post-merger, the firm’s largest office will be in Atlanta with more than 150 attorneys and professionals, officials said.