by J. Brooks Terry
“This is it,” said attorney Michael Freed, among the unopened boxes and piles of papers surrounding his desk. “This is my new office. Pretty nice, isn’t it?”
Freed, a Jacksonville University graduate who just finished an eight-year stint with Smith, Hulsey & Busey, is the new managing partner with the law firm of Brennan, Manna & Diamond in the Humana Building. Friday was his first day.
“You see a good bit of mobility among lawyers today, but it was never in my plans to leave [Smith, Hulsey & Busey]. I thought I would be with them indefinitely,” said Freed. “They have an incredible and well-established reputation, but I was given a unique opportunity to lead one of the newest firms in Jacksonville and I wanted them to be clear on that. It was definitely an amicable parting and I’ll have no problem referring clients to them in the future.”
Brennan, Manna & Diamond is a full service, Akron, Ohio-based business law firm with about 20 attorneys on staff in three branches on the East Coast.
“It’s really easier to say what kind of cases we don’t handle,” said Freed, who primarily works on commercial litigation cases. “We don’t do personal injury, criminal law or domestic dispute cases. Just about everything else is fair game and this firm works very hard to effectively satisfy all of the client’s sophisticated needs under one roof.”
Freed and three other attorneys share offices with the Signet Group, the design firm renovating the Laura Place complex. They’ll relocate to Laura Place when the project is completed in a few years.
“We’re definitely committed to helping Signet attract more tenants to the property,” said Freed. “It’s an exciting project and our partners are all excited about it.”
Freed hopes his new position will give him the feel of having his own practice, but with the benefits of being under the scope of a larger, well-connected firm.
“Many lawyers think about going off on their own, but I wasn’t looking to do that,” said Freed. “Now I still have a lot of freedom, but [Brennan, Manna & Diamond] gives me the ability to serve a wider client base because they have offices outside of Florida. That was one of the more attractive components of their offer.”
Freed was also impressed with the high level of business savvy among the attorneys of Brennan, Manna & Diamond.
“Several of the lawyers with this firm have a deep understanding of how businesses operate,” he said. “That gives us an edge because we can help structure business dealings and assist with financial strategies and negotiations while providing any legal advice they need. That’s unique.”
Though he still has a lot of unpacking to do, Freed looks forward to watching the Jacksonville offices of Brennan, Manna & Diamond grow. They’ve only been up and running here for a year and half, but he said expansion will be inevitable.
“Of course we’ll expand as it makes sense for us, but when we do grow I predict it will be two-fold,” said Freed. “On one end, we’ll try to attract established lawyers who can bring a broad base of experience that can be well served here. On a second front, we’ll keep our eyes on associates and younger attorneys who can support our efforts and appeal to new clients in Jacksonville.”