The largest law firm headquartered in South Carolina is beefing up its presence in the Sunshine State.
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough announced Monday that it is combining with Florida's Broad and Cassel this summer. The partners at both firms have approved the deal, which takes effect Aug. 1.
The combined practice will have more than 725 attorneys and other professionals with 25 offices in 11 states and Washington, D.C.
"This is an opportunity for us to be able to serve clients in a way we haven't been able to do before, both from a geographic and a practice-expertise area," said Jim Lehman, managing partner at Columbia-based Nelson Mullins.
Broad and Cassel has 10 offices in its home state, while Nelson Mullins maintains two outposts in Tallahassee and Jacksonville. Their combination will create what Lehman called a "super-regional" law firm with a heavy concentration in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.
"This puts us in the third-largest state in comprehensive way," Lehman said.
He estimated that the combined annual revenue at the 121-year-old Nelson Mullins is projected to jump as much as 25 percent after the combination, pushing it to about No. 66 in the nation from No. 87 in an annual ranking by Am Law.
Lehman said talks with Broad and Cassel's partners began more than two years ago.
"They had clients with needs beyond the state of Florida that they thought would be served well as part of a larger enterprise," he said.
Broad and Cassel was formed in 1946 and has about 150 lawyers. It is based in Orlando.
"You would definitely consider them a general practice firm like us, but they have some strengths we don't have," Lehman said.
Health-care law is one example, he said. The practice group at Nelson Mullins is well-versed in litigation and transactions while Broad and Cassel's lawyers has expertise in compliance and investigations.
"They'll also bring ... depth on the real estate side that we don't have," said Lehman, who will remain as managing partner after Aug. 1.
In Florida only, the firm will operate as Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel.
"They've been giving back to their community for more than 70 years," Lehman said. "The last thing we wanted to do was to lose that goodwill and name recognition."
C. David Brown II, chairman of Broad and Cassel, will become a voting member of the executive committee for the combined firm. He said the deal "positions us to offer them expanded services geographically and through additional practice areas."
"By joining together with Nelson Mullins — a firm that shares our culture, values and vision — we will be able to address client needs into the future,” Brown said in a written statement.