Longtime Tampa business law firm merging with statewide firm Gunster

A longtime Tampa business and tax law firm is merging with one of the state’s biggest law firms.

Barnett, Kirkwood, Koche, Long & Foster is being absorbed by West Palm Beach firm Gunster, which now has more than 250 attorneys in 12 offices around the state. That includes Barnett’s Bayshore Boulevard office as well as its own office in downtown Tampa.

The deal more than doubles Gunster’s Tampa presence. Before the merger, Gunster had 43 employees in Tampa, including 29 attorneys. Post-merger, the company will have 90 employees here, including 51 attorneys.

“As we continue to grow strategically, it is important to align ourselves with attorneys who are committed to both to the legal profession, the local communities we serve and to the state of Florida,” Bill Perry, Gunster’s managing shareholder, said in a statement. “The Barnett attorneys’ leadership and enthusiasm around these causes are qualities we hold sacred at Gunster, making this merger attractive from a cultural standpoint, as well as a client-service perspective.”

Terms of the merger were not disclosed.

Related: Florida’s largest law firm finds new home in Tampa’s Westshore District

Barnett was founded as a boutique tax, money management and estate planning firm more than 40 years ago, and has since expanded to encompass many business law sectors, including tax and corporate finance law and corporate and insurance litigation.

“After diligent consideration, the shareholders of Barnett determined that Gunster was the best fit for continuing and broadening the level of service and care we provide to our wonderful clients, while strengthening the professional culture for our exceptional attorneys and staff,” Barnett managing partner Peter Kirkwood said in a statement. “There are many outstanding law firms in Tampa, but we believe Gunster shares our commitment to excellence.”

Related: Law firm expands Tampa lease in one of year’s biggest office deals

Kirkwood and fellow partners Leslie Barnett, David Koche and Thomas Long are among the 22 Barnett attorneys moving to Gunster.

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