Insight

South Florida’s Legal Renaissance

What was once only thought of as a destination for vacation may now be the top legal market in the country, attracting talent from around the world.

Blue and orange block sections with gavels and busts
GS

Gregory Sirico

November 4, 2022 12:00 AM

Florida has long been a vacation destination, housing places like Disney World, Universal Studios and more than 1,000 miles of coastline. In fact, many opt to make their visits permanent. According to U.S. census data, in 2021, more Americans (around 220,000) moved to Florida than any other state.

But right now, Florida is attracting more than just tourists. The Sunshine State is going through a legal market resurgence, with lawyers, law firms and corporations flocking to open up business operations. According to Bloomberg Law, Florida-based law firms have reported a nearly 60% increase in lawyer retention for the first time since 2018. As a result of this ongoing legal resurgence, South Florida has seen a massive uptick in lawyer placements, steadily cementing the region as a major business and legal hub in the making.

South Florida’s most populated and commercially booming city, Miami, ranked fourth on a list of 500 U.S. cities evaluated in a 2019 financial growth study conducted by SmartAsset, a New York-based financial technology company. Additionally, in recent years, major tech and entertainment companies, including Microsoft, Apple and Paramount Global, have transferred business operations there, creating even more legal opportunities for young, up-and-coming lawyers to venture beyond conventional law firm roles.

As a window into Latin American life and culture, Miami has also served as a hub for law firms with a variety of international clients, including mostly countries in South America. Joe Ankus, a Miami-based legal recruiter with nearly 30 years of experience, has seen this shift in South Florida’s legal market firsthand.

“In the last 10 years, international law firms have dipped their toe into the South Florida pool, but now people are diving in headfirst. It’s been an irrevocable shift. The economy was doing really well pre-pandemic, and there was an increase in the developing technology and private equity groups springing up in South Florida. Then the pandemic created this desire to be in the open air and not encased in concrete. It led to a lot of northeasterners with ties to the tech and venture capital world looking at Miami as an opportunistic move,” stated Ankus.

Florida, which has seen a 19.3% increase in lawyers over the course of 10 years, also provides provisions within the state’s bar requirements that might explain the current legal boom. As long as an individual passes the Florida Bar or is already licensed to practice in a different U.S. jurisdiction, the Florida Bar Association allows that lawyer to practice in state. This privilege is also extended to international attorneys looking to make the switch. With the surge in South Florida’s legal market expected to advance, it continues to attract the top legal talent across the nation.

Headline Image: iStock/SERGGN

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