Case

Holland & Knight media group breaks away

In 1 on January 21, 2009 at 12:26 pm
Tampa Bay Business Journal – by Agustina Guerrero
 
Holland & Knight has lost five more lawyers, this time from its media practice group.

Gregg D. Thomas, the lawyer in charge of Holland & Knight's media law department in Tampa, and four of his colleagues are planning to start their own firm.

Thomas & LoCicero will specialize in media, intellectual property, entertainment and general civil litigation.

The announcement came just one week after 12 lawyers from Holland & Knight's St. Petersburg office announced they were joining Trenam Kemker.

Thomas could not confirm which clients will follow him to Thomas & LoCicero. The Bar prohibits him from talking to his clients until reaching an agreement with H&K, he said.

But throughout their careers with Holland & Knight, Thomas and his colleagues have represented media giants like Media General Inc. (NYSE:MEG), New York Times Co. (NYSE:NYT), Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI), Tribune Co. (NYSE:TRB), and Knight-Ridder Inc. (NYSE:KRI).

Attorneys joining Thomas as partners in his new firm include Carol J. LoCicero, James J. McGuire, Susan Bunch and James B. Lake.

The decision to leave Holland & Knight was due in part to conflicts of interest, said Thomas.

"Big law firms have conflicts. Occasionally it was hard for us to represent media clients because of conflicts. We want to practice in a smaller environment," he said. "In many ways we are very sad to leave Holland & Knight. We've grown up with Holland & Knight. I've been here for 26 years. But we felt this was the right time to do it."

The decision of leaving Holland & Knight was made overnight, said LoCicero, who spent almost 20 years with the firm.

"I can't even begin to tell you how something like this evolves. It's like a little seed and it takes root and one day you do it," she said. "I just think it's a good opportunity for us. We are a group of people that have worked together for a long time. Emotionally it's always hard to make a change from a place you've loved for a long time. It's a big deal to me. It's like any big change in your life, I've got lots of friendships and professional relationships at the firm and I hope those will continue but we will no longer be in the same office."

Just as LoCicero, James J. McGuire did not rush into the departure, either.

"You make decisions largely giving yourself some time to think about it," he said.

The five partners had to consider the financial intricacies of starting a new business before making the big jump, he said.

McGuire was an attorney with Holland & Knight for almost seven years. During those years he encountered conflicts of interest while working for media companies.

Practicing in a smaller environment will create a "better situation for our clients," he said, with fewer conflicts. "We do a lot of work for media clients. Sometimes those clients are trying to get access to public records. If somebody in the law firm works for counties or people we want to get records from, even if the conflict is waived, the process can be delayed," he said. Going to a smaller firm that only specializes in media and intellectual property will expedite that, he said.

McGuire defined the group of lawyers leaving Holland & Knight as a "pretty cohesive group, we work a lot together." But like any other firm starting out, he said, going solo is risky endeavor. "There is no guarantee of business coming with you."

From Holland & Knight colleagues, the group received support.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for them but they have suggested that they want to start a smaller boutique practice. We are disappointed to see them go but we wish them the best of luck," said Brad Kimbro, executive partner of Holland & Knight's Tampa office.

Holland & Knight will use its national platform to keep serving clients in the media industry, he said. The media lawyers' move is unrelated to the one that took 12 lawyers from Holland & Knight to Trenam, Kemker last week, he said.

"In a large firm, there are going to be people that leave from time to time. This was our best year ever at the firm and we expect to refer clients back and forth with them in the future," said Kimbro. Despite the recent departures Holland and Knight is looking to grow in several areas, said Kimbro. "We are busy, we are growing," he said.

The additions would come in the corporate, mergers and acquisitions, securities, financial services, and litigation practices.

Thomas' and his colleagues' departure is expected to be effective Feb. 15, he said. The new firm's offices will be located on the Riverside Building, 100 W. Kennedy Blvd., in Tampa.
 

Posted via email from HKLaw Investigation

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