Top Lawyers

The search for Northeast Florida’s top attorneys takes one down two paths—one for those named tops in a peer review survey, the other for those the Florida Bar allows to be called experts.

Atticus Finch, Perry Mason, Lt. Daniel Kaffee, Matlock—good lawyers are a dime a dozen on TV and in the movies. Stuffy courtrooms, cantankerous judges and high drama involving suspicious groups of characters make for good, if not a little predictable, storytelling. But Hollywood knows we're all suckers for climactic outbursts like “You can't handle the truth!” and quiet words of wisdom such as “The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.

”So, in real life, how does one find a wise old legal sage or a hot-tempered associate with something to prove? The phone book, professional referrals, TV ads, Facebook, the guy sitting next to you at a bar—they all present an opportunity for success. That said, finding legal help is, of course, serious business. The opinions of others do matter, particularly when those opinions are unbiased and open for the taking or ignoring.

Every spring for nearly a decade, Jacksonville Magazine has presented annual compilations of highly regarded legal professionals practicing in Northeast Florida. Like all lists featuring references to the “best” or “top,” our attorney articles are subject to appeal. However, we present the lists as objective publishers. The lists are actually compiled by others. This year we relied on the expertise and judgment of The Florida Bar and South Carolina-based research and referral firm Best Lawyers. Though very dissimilar organizations, both Best Lawyers and The Florida Bar have foundations in public service and respect for the practice of law. Both also track legal careers and compile lists of attorneys whom, based on the criteria set by each organization, they consider worthy of distinction.

Here, we present both lists, Best Lawyers and Board Certified Attorneys. Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer-review organization in legal circles. For more than a quarter-century, the national firm has assisted clients and lawyers find legal counsel in unfamiliar jurisdictions or unfamiliar practice areas. Best Lawyers compiles lists of outstanding attorneys by conducting peer-review surveys in which thousands of lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. In the U.S., the company publishes an annual referral guide, The Best Lawyers in America, which includes more than 40,000 attorneys in 126 practice areas, covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

How does a lawyer receive consideration for the Best Lawyers list? There is no short answer; however, all the legal disclaimers and the methodology are discussed in detail on page 59. Read that for the full story. In a nutshell, we'll tell you that the current edition of The Best Lawyers in America is based on more than three million evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers. Because lawyers are not allowed to pay a fee to be on the list, inclusion in Best Lawyers is widely considered within the legal profession as an honor, a nod of approval conferred on an attorney by his or her peers.

It is important to note that the lawyers listed in Best Lawyers have no say in deciding in which practice areas they are included. They are voted into practice areas entirely as a result of the votes they receive from their peers. The subspecialties listed after their names are based on information from a variety of sources.

A portion of the 2011 Best Lawyers in America featuring attorneys in Jacksonville is posted here.