- October 28, 2021
One of Sarasota's most high-profile law firms, practicing everything from trademark secret cases to condo law disputes, is being blended in to a larger Ohio-based firm.
Sarasota-based Abel Band Chartered is now part of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, a 180-attorney firm with offices spread across three states, including one in Tampa and larger ones in Charlotte, and Toledo and Columbus, Ohio.
Attorneys and officials at both firms say the arrangement isn't a merger or an acquisition, but instead an agreement for the Abel Band attorneys and employees to be folded into Shumaker. There was no financial end to the deal, says Ben Hanan, a 13-year Abel Band attorney who will become managing partner of the Sarasota Shumaker office Aug. 1.
“It's a client-driven decision,” Hanan says of the arrangement. “There are some areas we didn't have the expertise in and Shumaker offers us those resources.”
Those areas include securities and health care law and certain cases involving large corporations, Hanan says. Indeed, Abel Band attorneys had been referring cases in those areas to Shumaker for several years, which is how the two firms began talking about a partnership in the first place.
Shumaker chief operating officer Paul Favorite says the arrangement is one of the largest ever for Shumaker, which he says has grown slowly since its 1925 founding. But, adds Favorite, “We've always considered Florida, and in particular Sarasota, to be a growth market.”
Hanan adds that the move with Shumaker isn't recession-related, as Abel Band's workload has remained steady during the downturn. Firm revenues dropped 5% last year, from $14.36 million in 2007 to $13.63 million in 2008. “We would like to see a better real estate market,” Hanan says, “but our attorneys are still busy.”
Abel Band has been practicing in Sarasota since 1960, when Harvey Abel, who then focused on real estate law, founded the firm. Abel soon brought in a few other local attorneys that specialized in real estate law, including David Band. Abel's daughter, Saralyn Abel Dorrill, joined the firm in 2001 in its real estate division.
The firm grew along with Sarasota and its attorneys represented some of the region's top developers, landowners and businessmen over the years, with a niche in condos. Abel, who retired from the firm in 2002, later wrote several manuals and legal book chapters on condo laws and condo association regulations.
Band left the firm earlier this year after disagreements with a few partners. The situation developed after Band, and the firm, were sued for negligence and malpractice in a few failed real estate deals.
Abel Band now has 30 attorneys and 40 other employees that will become part of Shumaker. “It's not a household name,” Hanan says, “but everyone in the legal community knows who they are.”