Jones Walker

George Fowler III (left) and Bill Hines flank a model of the Celebrity cruise ship, Century. It was given as a gift to Fowler by Richard Fain, CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., following the recovery of a significant claim. Fowler and 10 other attorneys from the boutique maritime law firm Fowler Rodriguez have joined the staff of Jones Walker.

Eleven attorneys from the boutique maritime law firm Fowler Rodriguez, including the founding partner, have joined the staff of Jones Walker.

Bill Hines, managing partner for New Orleans-based Jones Walker, said the move will lift his firm to more than 380 lawyers. The attorneys will join the Jones Walker offices in New Orleans, Miami and Houston.

“This is real exciting to me,” said Hines, who has known George Fowler III, the founding partner of Fowler Rodriguez, since the late 1970s. “George’s firm is very strong in Latin America and very well regarded in south Florida. They’ve done a lot of work for underwriters in Europe as it relates to maritime issues.”

Both Hines and Fowler credit Jose Suquet, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Pan-American Life Insurance Group, for bringing them together. Jones Walker and Fowler Rodriguez both did work for Pan-American Life.

Hines said he started “talking quietly” with Fowler about joining the firm in December 2017 and an agreement was pretty much done nine months later.

“It made a lot of sense to me,” said Fowler, who will join the New Orleans office. “I like to try cases and develop strategy. I had gotten in too much management.”

The move will allow Fowler to offer more services to clients, such as Carnival Corp. Before, he had concentrated on maritime and international law. “With those two specialties, it was hard to handle anything else,” he said.

Adding attorneys from Fowler Rodriguez fits in with Jones Walker’s recent strategy. In the fall, the members of Liles & Rushin, known for its expertise in housing law, joined the Birmingham, Alabama, office. In 2016, six attorneys from Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, known for its construction expertise, joined the Atlanta office.

New Orleans is known for its ties to Latin America. Fowler and Hines said they want to renew some of the historic relationships that institutions such as Ochsner Health System, Tulane University and the major banks used to have. “It will be fun civically developing that business,” Hines said.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.