A veritable global conglomerate, Holland &
Knight complements its fleet of offices in the United States with
locations in the UK and Latin America, including England, Colombia,
and Mexico. With a political pedigree and strong Capitol Hill ties,
the firm covers dozens of practice areas, from industry-specific
teams to litigation, corporate law, intellectual property and
One of the nation's largest law firms, today's
Holland & Knight hardly resembles the startup opened in 1968.
The firm was a combination of the two firms built by Florida
practitioners Peter O. Knight and Spessard Holland, with roots
dating back to 1889 and 1929, respectively.
Holland's life could have gone in a very
different direction. As a young man with a strong pitching arm, he
was recruited by the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team; he
turned down the offer and went to Emory University, instead. From
there, he went to the University of Florida Law School. World War I
then interfered with his career. After completing overseas service,
Holland returned to Florida and became a county judge, then opened
a small firm with his partner W.F. Bevis. He ascended quickly
through Florida's political ranks, becoming the state's governor in
the early 1940s and then serving 24 years in the U.S. Senate.
Likewise, Peter Knight's career combined law
and politics. A Valparaiso Law grad, Knight became the mayor of
Fort Myers, Florida at the tender age of 20. In 1889, he was
elected to the Florida legislature and began practicing in
Tampa-then a fledgling municipality. He was one of the city's most
prominent men, establishing a bank and an electric utility. As his
law practice grew, Knight turned away from politics, declining
President Warren G. Harding's invitation to the U.S. Supreme Court
Present-day Holland & Knight owes much of
its success to the late Chesterfield Smith, who oversaw the
combination of Holland and Knight's practices and was the new
firm's first managing partner. Before the tie-up, Smith had served
as president of the Florida Bar Association; a decade later he
became president of the American Bar Association. It was Smith,
speaking on behalf of the ABA, who made one of the earliest public
calls for an investigation of President Richard Nixon's role in the
Besides keeping an eye on Washington power
players, Smith worked to transform Holland & Knight from a
regional practice to a global firm. One of his key ideas was
decentralization: boundaries between local offices would be fluid,
and lawyers would be matched to clients on the basis of skill and
compatibility, not geography. Smith remained in charge until
In the 1990s, Holland & Knight experienced
a significant expansion, opening new offices across the U.S. and
making its way overseas. While the firm still has eight offices in
Florida, it now boasts 19 offices outside of the Sunshine state,
from San Francisco to Bogota. On the east coast, the firm's
Washington, DC office has continued to gain strength and is the
center of the firm's lobbying activities. In fact, Holland &
Knight is known as one of the top lobby shops inside the Beltway,
having helped clients secure billions of dollars in funding for
infrastructure, development and research projects.
Three New Offices in Three Months
In May, Holland & Knight opened an office in London to
expand its transportation finance practice. The office includes six
attorneys, all of whom previously practiced at Clark Ricketts, a
well-established London law firm whose practice is devoted to
transportation law. Earlier in the year, the firm expanded its
presence in the financial services industry by adding an office in
Charlotte, N.C., and opened an office in Stamford, Conn., with a
group of corporate and M&A lawyers.
In a high-profile case, Holland & Knight attorneys
represented former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell before the U.S.
Supreme Court in the appeal of his bribery conviction. Gov.
McDonnell was convicted of corruption by a jury in September 2014
for accepting gifts to promote a diet supplement, a conviction that
was subsequently upheld by a federal appeals court. A decision by
the Supreme Court is pending.
A team of Holland & Knight attorneys advised BBAM Aircraft
Management in connection with a $1.2 billion deal involving the
leasing of 49 aircraft to 37 airlines is 25 countries. BBAM is a
global leader in aircraft lease management, and the deal was the
largest in its history. The transaction was named "North American
Deal of the Year" by Airfinance Journal, the industry's
foremost trade publication.
Bienvenidos a Cuba
Holland & Knight assisted Starwood Hotels in obtaining a
license to operate hotels in Cuba from the U.S. Treasury
Department. Starwood subsequently signed an agreement to manage
three major hotels in Havana, Hotel Inglaterra, Hotel Quinta
Avenida, and Hotel Santa Isabel, becoming the first U.S. hotelier
to operate in Cuba since the communist revolution.
Tops in Maritime, Native American Law
Holland & Knight was named "Law Firm of the Year" in
Admiralty & Maritime law and Native American law by U.S.
News-Best Lawyers in its annual ranking of law firms and their
practice areas. The rigorous evaluation process included the
collection of client and lawyer feedback and peer reviews from
leading attorneys in the field. Only the firm with the most
impressive overall performance was chosen for this honor.
Lone Star Expansion
On Sept. 8, Holland & Knight opened an office in Houston,
its third in Texas. The firm added offices in Dallas and Austin in
2013 and 2014, respectively. In making the announcement, Holland
& Knight noted that Houston was critical to the firm's
strategic expansion efforts in North and South America and cited
its importance as one of the primary gateways to Latin America for