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
A Prime Pedigree
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
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 bench.
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 Watergate scandal.
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 1983.
From Palm Trees to Politicians
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.
Latin Lawyer Award
Holland & Knight was recognized by Latin Lawyer
magazine for its advisory role in the financing of Colombia's
Pacifico 3 toll road project, a transaction that was named public
finance "Deal of the Year" by the publication. The project entails
work on a 146-km stretch of highway and is scheduled to take five
years to complete at a cost of $850 million. The financing was one
of the first international project bonds in Colombia.
Best of Show
Holland & Knight was named "Law Firm of the Year" in real
estate law and trusts and estates 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.
In a high-profile case, Holland & Knight helped secure a
unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision vacating all of former
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's convictions for public corruption.
Gov. McDonnell was convicted of bribery 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.
3 Months, 3 New Offices
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.
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.
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.