Saturday, September 22, 2018
Business

Butler & Hosch law firm shutters business, including Tampa office

TAMPA — Butler & Hosch, a national mortgage banking law firm, has closed its Tampa office and dismissed employees as it shuttered its business nationally.

Company officials did not return calls for comment. An office in Orlando that employed 30 lawyers and 100 additional staffers also closed, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.

Bob Hosch, the firm's chief executive officer and senior partner, told employees in a May 14 email that he was stepping down and said the company's strategy of expanding through the acquisition of competitors may have overwhelmed the firm's finances.

Butler & Hosch "grew too fast and could not merge processes from the acquired entities quickly enough to meet our economic forecasts, which resulted in short-term cash crunches and our ability to attract new capital … (Butler & Hosch) cannot continue to function," Hosch's email said.

Without an infusion of cash, he said, the firm had no choice "but to close its doors immediately" because it could not meet payroll.

The firm's Tampa office at 5110 Eisenhower Blvd. is locked and appears to be vacant. But Hosch's email did not say directly that employees are permanently laid off. In his email, Hosch said he "continued to hold out hope" more cash could be found from lenders to continue operations.

The firm's lawyers, even if they are laid off, are still attorneys of record on numerous foreclosure cases in states where the firm operates. The Daily Business Review in South Florida reported that in at least three cases Monday, Butler & Hosch attorneys failed to appear at scheduled court hearings.

The firm's finances have been turned over to an independent fiduciary, Michael Moeckler & Associates of Hollywood, Fla., which did not return a call seeking comment. The firm is not yet in bankruptcy. But civil litigation has been initiated in state court to sort out Butler & Hosch's debt.

"The challenge was to integrate the merger of equals while spurring growth in a declining market environment," Hosch told employers of the firm's acquisition strategy. Butler & Hosch "failed to meet this challenge and I too share in that failure. I am sorry."

The firm completed its most-recent acquisition on Jan. 30 when it acquired the "default assets" of the Atlanta-based law firm of Morris Schneider & Wittstadt. In fact, at least some of Butler & Hosch's Tampa employees previously worked for Morris Schneider & Wittstadt.

Hosch said the firm, founded in Florida in 1972, operated in 27 states and the District of Columbia, employed 700 attorneys, paralegals and back-office staffers, and was handling up to 60,000 foreclosure files for clients. It was believed to have about 100 employees based in Tampa.

Contact William R. Levesque at [email protected] or (813) 226-3432. Follow @Times_Levesque.

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