Akerman LLP

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Akerman LLP
Akerman LLP
Headquarters Downtown, Miami, Florida
No. of offices 20[1]
No. of attorneys Approximately 600[1]
Major practice areas General practice
Key people Andrew M. Smulian, Chairman & CEO [2][3]
Date founded 1920
Founder Alexander Akerman and John Moses Cheney
Company type Limited liability partnership

Akerman LLP is a large law firm, based in Miami, Florida. It was founded in 1920 and has grown to become one of the largest in the United States. In 2012, the National Law Journal ranked the firm as 90th largest in the U.S. by number of attorneys, and the largest Florida-based firm.[4] In 2012, Law360 ranked Akerman Senterfitt as 94th largest in the U.S. by the number of attorneys practicing within the U.S. The firm is headquartered at 1 SE 3rd Avenue in Downtown Miami.[5][6] Akerman Senterfitt is generally known for its Corporate, Real Estate, Construction, Government Relations, Labor & Employment, Litigation, and Intellectual Property law practices and [7] has been recognized for encouraging diversity.[8]


Early history[edit]

Akerman LLP is a full-service law firm headquartered in Miami, Florida.[4] The current Chairman & CEO is Andrew Smulian.[9] It was founded in 1920 by Orlando attorneys Alexander Akerman and John Moses Cheney as Cheney & Akerman, with offices in the Dollins Building on 10 West Pine, Orlando, Florida.[10] By 1925, following the death of John Cheney a few years earlier, Alexander partnered with his first cousin Hugh Akerman as Akerman & Akerman.[11] By 1931, Alexander had retired and Hugh's brothers Emory Akerman and Joe Akerman joined the family-owned firm.[12] In 1933, Allison E. Palmer and William H. "Billy" Dial were hired. They were among the first attorneys to join the firm who were not related to the Akerman family. In 1936, Hugh Akerman and Billy Dial formed a partnership with Hugh's brother William Y. "Willie" Akerman. As Akerman, Dial & Akerman, these three men were largely responsible for the success of the firm up through the 1950s. Other figures in the firm's early history were George Garrett (1930s), Ed Shinkelzer (sp?) (1930s), Joe S. Kirton (1940s), Ben B. Moss (1940s), George T. Eidson, Jr. (1951), Ferg Monroe Alleman (1956), W. Stewart Gilman (1956), William G. Mateer (1957) and Donald T. Senterfitt (1958).[13] Name partners Eidson and Senterfitt played major roles in the growth and success of the firm from the 1950s through the 1990s. Some early clients of the firm included Orange County, Florida, the Gentile Brothers Company, A. Duda & Sons, and the Dr. P. Phillips Company. In 1934, a group of local businessmen, including Akerman attorneys Billy Dial and Allison Palmer, organized the First National Bank of Orlando (which later became SunBanks, now known as SunTrust Banks). In the 1950s, Dial was involved in bringing defense contractor Martin Marietta to the area. In the same decade, Billy Dial (as a member of the state Road Board) and Martin Andersen, owner of the Sentinel Star (now Orlando Sentinel), were instrumental in the routing of Interstate 4 through the Orlando area. Dial is also credited with bringing the Florida Turnpike through Orlando, but this was actually the result of a combination of fortuitous circumstances, not least of which was local opposition to the initial plans to locate the interstate through the eastern coastal counties of Florida.[14] The decisions to bring I-4 and the Florida Turnpike through the area literally made Orlando into the crossroads of Florida, one of the factors that later led to Walt Disney's choice of the area as the location for his amusement park, Walt Disney World.

Geographical growth[edit]

Akerman LLP acquired its first office outside of Orlando (in Winter Park, Florida) in May 1958 with the merger of Turnbull & Senterfitt. The Winter Park office was in business up until about 1963, when Nat M. Turnbull departed the firm. In 1982, a Miami office was opened, marking the beginning of the firm’s current sustained pattern of expansion.[15] Two short-lived offices were opened in Tallahassee, the first in the late 1970s and again in 1986;[16] however, a permanent presence in Tallahassee was not established until January 1991 with the merger of Moffitt, Hart & Herron. This merger also gained Akerman Senterfitt its Tampa office.[17] The 1990s saw Akerman Senterfitt’s greatest expansion, mostly through mergers and acquisitions of other law firms. New offices were opened in Tavares, Florida (August 1996),[18] West Palm Beach, Florida (December 1995),[19] Fort Lauderdale, Florida (June 1997)[20] and Jacksonville, Florida (late 1999).[21] In 2010, Akerman took over the Palm Beach and Boca Raton offices of Butzel Long, and expanded the Akerman West Palm Beach office.[22] As a result, by the late 1990s, Akerman Senterfitt was recognized as one of the largest law firms in the state. In the early 2000s, the firm opened its first offices outside of the state in Washington D.C. (April 2004)[23] and New York City (November 2005),[15] followed soon thereafter by Las Vegas, Nevada and Dallas, Texas.[24] Recently, the firm has opened offices in Boca Raton, Florida (June 2010),[25] Salt Lake City, Utah (August 2011),[26] Tysons Corner, Virginia, Los Angeles, California, Madison, Wisconsin, and most recently Chicago, Illinois (January 2014).[1]

Name changes[edit]

(see below for documentation)[27]

  • Cheney & Akerman (1920–1921)
  • Akerman & Akerman (c. 1925 – c. 1932)
  • Akerman & Grey[28] (c. 1932)
  • Akerman & Palmer (1933)
  • Akerman & Dial (c. 1934)
  • Akerman, Dial & Akerman (1936–1958)
  • Akerman, Turnbull, Senterfitt & Eidson (1958 – c. 1963)
  • Akerman, Senterfitt, Eidson, Mesmer & Robbinson (c. 1963 – c. 1968)
  • Akerman, Senterfitt, Eidson, Mesmer, Robbinson & Wharton (c. 1968 – c. 1971)
  • Akerman, Senterfitt, Eidson and Wharton (c. 1971 – c. 1976)
  • Akerman, Senterfitt & Eidson, P.A. (c. 1976 – 2003)
  • Akerman, Senterfitt, Eidson & Moffitt (1991–1992, in Tampa and Tallahassee only)
  • Akerman Senterfitt, P.A. (2003–2013)
  • Akerman LLP (2013 to Present)

Mergers & acquisitions[edit]

(see below for documentation)[29]

  • Turnbull & Senterfitt – May 1958
  • Moffitt, Hart & Herron – January 1991
  • Stagg, Hardy & Mathews – November 1993[30]
  • Mershon, Sawyer, Johnston, Dunwody & Cole – December 1995 (West Palm Beach office)
  • Kronegold, Gottlieb & Goldberg, P.A. – June 1997
  • Milam, Otero, Larsen, Dawson & Traylor – late 1999
  • Muller Mintz, P.A. – January 2004[31]
  • Katz, Kutter, Alderman & Bryant, PA – April 2004
  • Pickholz Law Firm, LLP – November 2005
  • Wickwire Gavin – June 2006

Recent developments[edit]

Akerman Senterfitt is now known as Akerman LLP.

Merger difficulties[edit]

Akerman Senterfitt's management had planned a merger with the 300+ lawyer Philadelphia-based law firm of WolfBlock,[32] which would have created a single 800-lawyer firm.[33] But on 7 August 2008, the two firms released a joint statement explaining that the merger had been put on hold due to “a client conflict that cannot be discussed publicly”.[34] WolfBlock later dissolved in March 2009 due to financial problems.

Practice areas[edit]

Akerman LLP has the largest corporate, intellectual property, and litigation practices in the State of Florida. The firm also has large practices in construction law, real estate, bankruptcy, labor and employment law, and lobbying.[35][36]

Famous lawyers and alumni[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d http://www.bizjournals.com/albany/prnewswire/press_releases/New_York/2014/02/03/FL57176
  2. ^ Smulian's firm bio
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?germane=1202489565842&id=1202548639714
  5. ^ http://www.akerman.com/locations/index.asp
  6. ^ http://www.law360.com/articles/307154/law360-ranks-largest-law-firms
  7. ^ "Profile of Professional Organization Contributors Akerman Senterfitt". The National Law Review. The National Law Forum, LLC. 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  8. ^ "Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity". MultiCultural Law. L.P. Green & Partners, Inc. 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2012-12-19. 
  9. ^ http://www.akerman.com/bios/bio.asp?id=463&name=Smulian
  10. ^ 1921 "Orlando, Fla. City Directory" (published electronically at www.cfmemory.org; accessed 5 February 2006).
  11. ^ 1925 Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. "Telephone Directory" for Orlando, Florida (published electronically at www.cfmemory.org; accessed 5 February 2006).
  12. ^ Inferred from 1925–1931 Orlando telephone directories (published electronically at www.cfmemory.org; accessed 5 February 2006).
  13. ^ Complete names reconstructed from 1963 Orlando City Directory.
  14. ^ Proctor, Samuel. Interview with William H. "Billy" Dial, 15 September 1987 (typescript). Florida Business Leaders Collection of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, University of Florida.
  15. ^ a b Akerman Senterfitt website (www.akerman.com), accessed 5 February 2006.
  16. ^ "Scales of Justice Bear Shifting Alliances," Orlando Sentinel, 24 February 1986, pg. 25/Central Florida Business (NewsBank).
  17. ^ "Moffitt, Hart & Herron to merge with Orlando firm," Tampa Tribune, 12 January 1991, pg. 1/Business (NewsBank).
  18. ^ "Akerman Senterfitt adds top real estate attorneys to staff," Orlando Business Journal, 9 August 1996 http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/stories/1996/08/12/tidbits.html), accessed 5 February 2006.
  19. ^ "Law Firm opening West Palm Office," Palm Beach Post, 20 December 1995, pg. 5B/Business (NewsBank).
  20. ^ "The First Thing They Do Is Hire All The Lawyers," Palm Beach Post, 15 June 1997, pg. 1F/Business (NewsBank).
  21. ^ "Local expansions can have significant impact," Florida Times-Union, 26 March 2001, pg. FB-2/First Business (NewsBank).
  22. ^ http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20100616/FREE/100619894/florida-firm-takes-over-butzel-long-offices-in-boca-raton-palm-beach#
  23. ^ "Orlando Law Firm Expands Reach," Orlando Sentinel, 20 February 2004, pg. C3/Money (NewsBank).
  24. ^ http://www.jdjournal.com/2010/03/09/akerman-announces-opening-of-las-vegas-office/
  25. ^ http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20100616/FREE/100619894/florida-firm-takes-over-butzel-long-offices-in-boca-raton-palm-beach
  26. ^ http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/akerman_senterfit_opens_new_office_in_salt_lake_with_2_partners_from_van_co/
  27. ^ Compiled from Orlando city directories, 1921–1976; Orlando telephone directories, 1925–1931; and Interview with William H. "Billy" Dial, 15 September 1987.
  28. ^ Interview with William H. "Billy" Dial states the firm's name as "Akerman & Grea", however this seems to be a typo for "Akerman & Grey". The 1931 Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. "Telephone Directory of Orlando, Fla." (published electronically at www.cfmemory.org; accessed 5 February 2006), has no listing for an attorney by the name of Grea, but does have a listing for "Gray, Claude L. - Atty Exchange bl." Because the "Exchange bl." address is also given for "Akerman and Akerman" in this directory, I surmise that Claude L. Gray is the "Grea"/Grey referred to in the interview typescript.
  29. ^ Compiled from news articles in various Florida newspapers (all previously cited), the Akerman Senteriftt website (accessed 5 February 2006)
  30. ^ "Orlando law firm increases presence in Tampa with deal," St. Petersburg Times, 2 November 1993, pg. 6E/Business (NewsBank).
  31. ^ "Akerman Senterfitt, Miami firm to merge," Orlando Sentinel, 23 October 2003, pg. C3/Money (NewsBank).
  32. ^ WolfBlock LLP official website
  33. ^ WolfBlock & Akerman Senterfitt to Form 800-Lawyer Firm ABA Journal, 21 July 2008.
  34. ^ Akerman merger with Philadelphia law firm on hold Tampa Bay Business Journal, 7 August 2008.
  35. ^ Chambers USA profile
  36. ^ Full list of practice areas
  37. ^ Matzner's firm bio
  38. ^ [2]

External links[edit]