News Column

Legal Eagles

November 2004, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine

Judi Erickson

“Minority firms need to come together to build critical mass and compete on a national level,” says Henry Adorno, president of Adorno & Yoss.
“Minority firms need to come together to build critical mass and compete on a national level,” says Henry Adorno, president of Adorno & Yoss.

In a measured march across the market, Adorno & Yoss is slowly building a national law firm that is edging into the ranks of the country's 150 largest. Already the nation's largest certified minority-owned law firm, the company in recent months has absorbed law offices in a half-dozen cities to nearly double its number of attorneys and push its projected combined billings to more than $80 million.

The firm's most recent merger addition in September was Bryant Law Group PC, an African-American-owned corporate firm that gives Adorno & Yoss its first footing in New York City. While the office is relatively small it has seven attorneys and focuses on corporate and intellectual property transactions Henry Adorno, president of Adorno & Yoss, envisions it expanding in the next year. "Having a strong presence in New York has been a key priority of the firm's for a long time," says Mr. Adorno. "We have been waiting for the right time to expand into this market and this is it."

But the New York market is just part of Adorno & Yoss' plan to expand its national footprint to compete with larger firms for corporate clients on a national and international scale as companies across the country become more cost-conscious and trim the number of law firms they use.

Adorno & Yoss' geographic reach now spans regional offices in New York (through its most recent merger); Miami (its existing office); Los Angeles (through a merger with Alvarado & Smith), Chicago (through a merger with Sanchez & Daniels), and Atlanta (which the firm opened in April with one of its own attorneys). The company also recently merged with Link International, giving it a Mexico City presence with 90 attorneys.

Adorno & Yoss has more than 260 attorneys in the United States, and a total of 350 professionals around the world. According to the National Law Journal survey of the 250 largest U.S. law firms, Adorno & Yoss is establishing itself in the 150-range ranking. The firm, with revenues last year of $48 million, ranked No. 106 on the Hispanic Business 500 directory of largest Hispanic-owned companies in the country.

But the firm isn't stopping there. "There are lots of opportunities out there," says Mr. Adorno, noting that other areas under consideration for expansion are Washington, D.C., and Texas. The company also is seeking to expand in Latin America.

In its U.S. efforts, because of differing state regulatory and bar association rules, each deal's structure is unique, although all involve ownership stakes and the adoption of Adorno & Yoss in the nameplates. The firms function as a single entity all marketing is being consolidated and coordinated with each office having a "managing shareholder" responsible for day-to-day operations and part of the executive committee managing the entire global firm.

Hugo Chaviano, a past president of the Hispanic National Bar Association and an attorney with Adorno, Yoss, Sanchez & Daniels, notes that while previous efforts to create a nationwide network of minority-owned law firms have not taken hold, Adorno & Yoss' approach through mergers rather than alliances "brings a new chapter in the development of the Hispanic and minority law field."

Mr. Adorno believes today's market conditions are significantly different enough to allow the firm to find success, with companies more receptive to diversity issues. "You're seeing in our firm, and we believe it can be duplicated in other industries, minorities working together from ownership all the way down. It could carry over to accounting and other professional services. Minority firms need to come together to build critical mass and compete on a national level."



Source: HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine


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