MIAMI — Wifredo A. Ferrer, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, has joined Holland & Knight as a partner at its Miami office.
Ferrer, who served as the district’s top law-enforcement official for seven years, will lead the firm’s global-compliance and investigations team. The team concentrates on corporate compliance and government investigations in the firm’s white-collar defense practice, according to a news release issued by the firm.
“This is a way for me to use what I learned at the department of the justice to help corporations and individuals with complex litigation and compliance matters,” Ferrer told the Florida Record. “It was a logical way to use what I learned.”
According to the news release, Ferrer had approximately 500 lawyers and professional staff at the U.S. Attorney's office, which was third-largest in the nation. The longest-serving U.S. attorney in the Southern District since the 1970s, Ferrer successfully prosecuted financial crimes including health-care fraud, complex investment and security fraud, identity theft, and Ponzi schemes, according to the news release. He also fought public corruption, environmental crimes, and drug and human trafficking.
However, his greatest career accomplishment may not be what one would expect.
“In a broad sense, the greatest accomplishment of my career, no doubt, has been serving and protecting the same community that welcomed my family when they immigrated from Cuba,” he said. “We didn’t have much. My parents told me and my brother that with work and education, we could reach our dreams.”
During his tenure, the U.S. attorney’s office secured full restitution for the defrauded investors of Scott Rothstein's $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme and participated in the extradition and prosecution of international drug traffickers such as Joaquin Guzman Loera ("El Chapo") and Guy Philippe.
Other achievements included the creation of the Violence Reduction Partnership. It used “a community-based, holistic approach” to reduce violence through enforcement, prevention, and the successful reentry of returning citizens into South Florida neighborhoods.
In his new position, Ferrer will focus on international and domestic investigations for corporate clients and use the firm's Latin America practice to assist regional clients. Also, he will advise companies on compliance with federal and state laws.
Ferrer was drawn to Holland & Knight because the firm’s mission is in line with his own.
“Their commitment to excellent service to clients and service to the community is what makes Holland & Knight special,” Ferrer said. “I share those values.”
Ferrer became interested in the law during his junior year in college. He graduated first in his class from the University of Miami, and earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. While there, he was editor of the Law Review and president of his class.
Learning and working in law were ways for him to do what is parents always wished.
“The last words my father told me when he died in 1995, he told me and my brother ‘to do good,’” Ferrer said.