Business Strategies Drive Amiable Fowler White Split

12/21/2009

TAMPA — Fowler White Boggs has some empty offices after a contingent of commercial litigators with a wide range of experience left to form a new law firm.

Wiand Guerra King PL just opened its doors in Bayport Plaza, a Class A building in the Rocky Point area. The new firm’s 10 lawyers and their staffs occupy much of Bayport’s sixth floor.

The firm is led by Burton Wiand, a former Fowler White shareholder and a seasoned lawyer whose practice areas include securities and financial services litigation, representation of brokerage firms, securities law, white collar crime and government investigation. He is a former assistant chief trial counsel with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wiand, pronounced Whyan, has become known lately for his aggressive pursuit and recovery of assets in the fraud investigation of the Arthur Nadel hedge fund operations, but Wiand is quick to dispel the concept that the new firm’s focus is primarily on receiverships.

“This is a firm that handles complex civil litigation with a focus on litigation involving financial services and investment-related issues,” he said. “We represent corporations and individuals in commercial and business disputes and regulatory matters.”

High-profile effort

Wiand’s departure from Fowler White comes about nine months after he became the court-appointed receiver in the SEC case against Nadel, a Sarasota hedge fund manager accused of running a $400 million Ponzi scheme.

The receivership has been lucrative for Wiand and Fowler White as the complex investment scheme is dissected and assets are gathered in an attempt to return some money to defrauded investors.

Federal court records show Wiand has received nearly $160,000 in fees for his receivership activities. Fowler White has received $757,000 for the firm’s representation of Wiand in various receivership issues.

Two of Fowler White’s lawyers who have represented Wiand in receivership-related matters left the firm to join Wiand Guerra King.

Fowler White will still do some work on Wiand’s receivership, said Rhea Law, chair and CEO.

Law and Wiand, who called Fowler White a “wonderful mother,” both describe the split as amiable and driven by business strategy.

“It was a good business decision for them and for us,” Law said. “It’s very amicable. They will refer clients to us, and we’ll make referrals to them.”

Business currents

A lawyer at a large firm in Tampa who leads a complex litigation practice said the split reflects economic trends. Litigation practices currently are doing better financially than transactional practices, he said, asking not to be named.

It was the second defection in a little over a year from Fowler White, one of the region’s oldest and largest law firms.

Last fall, Robert Banker, who was a name partner, left with about 65 other Fowler White lawyers to form Banker Lopez Gassler PA.

Fowler White now has 65 lawyers in Tampa and about 125 in Florida. The firm continues to provide complex litigation representation, and currently is adding lawyers to broaden its experience base, Law said.

Lawyers in Wiand Guerra represent nearly 100 years of combined experience. In addition to Wiand, George Guerra and Peter King, other partners are Kacy Donlon, Gianluca Morello, Elaine Rice and Michael Lamont.

INFO

BUSINESS: Wiand Guerra King PL
ADDRESS: 3000 Bayport Drive, Suite 600, Tampa
NATURE OF BUSINESS: Civil litigation firm
PHONE: 813.347.5100
WEB: www.wiandlaw.com

jmeinhardt@bizjournals.com | 727.224.2299