Winston & Strawn Looks to Grow Full Service Miami Outpost

Winston & Strawn has grown from six to 22 Miami lawyers since launching an office in the city in May, as it looks to offer a wide range of services in the emerging market.

“This isn’t a join the market and wait and see if things work out,” situation, said Enrique Martin, managing partner for the law firm’s Miami office. “Winston has come into Miami all in.”

The firm announced Monday that it hired transactions and financial services attorney Juan Azel, who was previously deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer for Cross River Bank.

Winston is among at least five major law firms that have made a play in Miami in the last two years. They’re following an influx of hedge funds, banks, and wealth managers that have descended on the city since the pandemic.

The firm has been poaching local talent with decades-long experience and well-known profiles in the market, a strategy they used with their Dallas office launch nearly three decades ago, Martin said.

“My phone is certainly ringing quite a bit,” Martin said. “There’s a sentiment out in the marketplace that if you’re not talking to us, potentially you may be missing out on something.”

Winston is looking to build a “full service” office by adding lawyers from a variety of practice areas, he said.

Other recent additions for Winston include Adam Foslid, who was chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Miami litigation department, and Carl Fornaris, who had been co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s regulatory and compliance practice and the blockchain and digital assets group. Winston also snagged litigation lawyers Jared Kessler, Craig Rasile, and Nicholas Rodriguez from Greenberg Traurig this summer.

Azel will advise domestic and foreign financial institutions and fintech companies on risk management, consumer and financial crime regulatory compliance, and corrective remediation responses to enforcement actions.

Some Miami legal veterans are skeptical that the growing wave of private equity and related business is enough to feed all the firms diving into the market.

Martin stressed that the firm “didn’t just show up with a group from outside Miami.”

Winston’s strategy was to “find a group of lawyers that know each other that have been successful that are known in the marketplace, then let them grow, and find lawyers with similar track records,” Martin said.