Holland & Knight, Florida’s largest law firm, will leave four markets next year, consolidate some offices and cut its work force by 120 people.

Holland & Knight, which has long been Florida’s largest law firm and the nation’s eighth biggest, will exit four markets next year, consolidating offices in three metro areas and reducing its work force by about 50 lawyers and 70 support staff members.

Among the markets targeted for consolidation is the Tampa Bay area, where Holland’s offices in Bradenton and Lakeland will be closed and an office in St. Petersburg will be closed or greatly reduced in size.

The 35 lawyers and 59 support employees in the three locations will be invited to join Holland’s Tampa office, a spokeswoman said. The firm’s administrative office in Lakeland will not be affected.

Holland has 1,285 lawyers in 26 offices nationwide. When the reductions are complete at the end of 2006, it will be left with 18 offices in nine states and the District of Columbia. The firm said it is unclear how many lawyers will remain after consolidation, but the cuts won’t necessarily jeopardize its first-place rank in Florida. Florida’s No. 2, Greenberg Traurig, had 1,149 lawyers as of midyear.

In a voice mail message to Holland employees on Friday, managing partner Howell W. Melton Jr. said the cutbacks were being made to strengthen the firm’s economic foundation and competitive position.

”We are now making an investment in our future, which will lead to a Holland & Knight that is even stronger financially,” he said.

Melton said no more closings or consolidations are planned.

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