In 1980, three partners founded Kelley Kronenberg in a single office in Coconut Grove. Today, the firm has a national presence with 12 offices and nearly 100 attorneys.
Kelley Kronenberg began as a boutique workers’ compensation defense firm. It expanded its footprint in 1993 by opening an office in West Palm Beach. The firm has since evolved into a full-service defense litigation firm representing business clients and individuals nationwide in 25 practice areas, including first and third party insurance defense, admiralty and maritime, employment law, environmental law, and real property litigation.
Howard Wander, principal partner and chief operating officer, attributes much of the firm’s success to the progressive thought process of its leadership. “With regard to our future, our leadership shares the same vision. Often, with partnerships, the partners grow in different directions. We are lucky enough to have partners who have the same philosophy. Together, we created a successful growth strategy and remained cognizant of the demands of the marketplace. We have a clear understanding of our resources and are aware of the remarkable talent within our firm. Since our inception, we have known where we wanted to go, and have shared the same vision of how we were going to get there. It has worked for us for almost three decades.”
Attracting the right people and placing them in the appropriate office and position, rather than seeking growth solely for growth’s sake, has always been a priority. Many of the firm’s top attorneys have been promoted from within. For example, the managing partner of the Orlando office began as a law clerk in the Miami office while he was in law school. By promoting from within, their personnel already understand the firm’s vision, culture, mission and inner workings.
Wander says the quality of the firm’s people offers the firm a competitive edge.
“There is a very diverse group of attorneys in this firm. Our people make us different. Many firms seem to have a revolving door – people come and people go. We have a unique business model that works for our professionals and our clients. Our people have the opportunity to prosper and grow, whereas in other, more traditional firms, they would be stifled. We believe in providing people with the opportunity and resources to excel within the firm’s environment. Once people have joined Kelley Kronenberg, they have been vetted and are proven successful in their own right. From there, it is our hope they will take advantage of the exceptional internal resources we offer, including an in-house IT department that offers the most advanced and comprehensive technological systems, and a full-scale business development and marketing department that offers individual strategic marketing plans and targeted cross-marketing opportunities. We encourage our attorneys to direct their focus on their clients and practicing law, while we provide the business services and support they need to build a thriving practice.”
GETTING TO “YES”
Wander says Kelley Kronenberg is progressive in its nature and he calls their process “getting to ‘yes’ for clients.”
“We try very hard to avoid saying ‘no’ to clients. Instead, we approach each issue with the following mindset: how do we get to ‘yes’ and how do we make it work? The concept is simple; we listen to our clients, find out what they need, and we fill that need. ‘No’ is an unacceptable answer.”
The firm’s entrepreneurial spirit is also responsible for its continuing expansion. “There are several great law firms out there. However, what sets us apart is our relentless focus on service and the development of our practice to fulfill what our clients want and need. Some firms are not willing to be flexible and continue to conduct business the same way they did 20, 30 or 40 years ago. This firm is very open-minded and is willing to handle matters differently than we have in the past,” Wander says.
According to Wander, while many attorneys are excellent at their jobs, very few are business and sales-minded. “We have been blessed with decision makers who have an entrepreneurial spirit. They have a solid grasp of both the business aspect and the practice of law. These days, you have to see the bigger picture.”
CONSISTENCY OF VISION LEADS TO CONSISTENT GROWTH
The firm’s growth is exemplified by the expansion and relocation of the West Palm Beach office, a project led by Wander. The firm’s objective in relocating was to accommodate the firm’s growth and allow for a greater presence in the West Palm Beach and South Florida markets.
“We wanted to create a space that was fresh, modern, and unique to the specific culture and location of West Palm Beach,” says Wander. The new office offers a clean mix of modern and sophisticated designs. Textured wall detail, light fixtures, accent tapestries and unique art pieces provide an edgy feel to the traditionally stale law office environment. The all-glass conference center, off the reception area, includes a large contemporary table, a flat-screen TV and modern lighting that allows for an open, seamless and welcoming entry from the elevator lobby.
Currently, the office houses 14 attorneys, but the firm plans to double that roster during the next four to five years. Plans also call for doubling the size of the facility, currently at almost 8,000 square feet, within the same timeframe.
Wander says, “West Palm Beach is on its way back and is starting to recover from a growth slump. Development is occurring and the population is rising. Palm Beach County is open for business. It is important to be in the community and to be a part of that growth.”
The firm is also considering opportunities for expansion into the Midwest and Northeast markets. “We have very exciting opportunities coming our way. We are more prepared than ever before,” he says.