1 FLORIDA / 2015 SUPERLAWYERS.COM MAGAZINE THE ANNUAL LIST The Top Attorneys in Florida 10 YEARS SEE PAGE 4 INCLUDING RISING STARS PRESIDENT FOR LIFE Bankruptcy lawyer Jeffrey Warren s firm won t let him not be leader ALSO BENJAMIN CRUMP: FRIEND TO THE FAMILIES OF MICHAEL BROWN AND TRAYVON MARTIN LEANING IN WITH MIAMI BUSINESS LITIGATOR EFFIE SILVA WHAT MAKES MIKE PAPANTONIO AMERICA S LAWYER
2 SUPER LAWYERS MAGAZINE / FLORIDA 2015 TABLE OF CONTENTS COVER STORY FEATURES 12 PRESIDENT FOR LIFE Jeffrey Warren doesn t like to talk about himself, but he came through for Steinbrenner, protected Ponzi victims, and his firm won t let him not be its leader. BY HARRIS MEYER 18 BENJAMIN CRUMP. JUSTICE. The Tallahassee attorney for the families of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin has one goal: proving that black lives matter. BY CARLOS HARRISON 22 SENATOR SILVA Miami litigator Effie Silva focuses on business and health care law, but maybe someday BY G.K. SHARMAN DEPARTMENTS 5 WORD FOR WORD Marcia Silvers, Peter L. Gladstone and Joseph W. Jay Fleece III divulge which fictional lawyers they identify with. AS TOLD TO JESSICA TAM 6 10 YEARS A look back at a decade of covers. BY JESSICA TAM THE ANNUAL LIST 26 SELECTION PROCESS SUPER LAWYERS 28 THE TOP LISTS 31 LISTED ALPHABETICALLY 41 LISTED BY AREA OF PRACTICE RISING STARS 103 LISTED BY AREA OF PRACTICE HAVE AN IDEA FOR AN EDITORIAL FEATURE? it to Beth Taylor at 8 Q&A: AMERICA S LAWYER Mike Papantonio, law partner of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., says trial lawyers without some rage in their hearts aren t doing it right. INTERVIEW BY BETH TAYLOR LAWYERS DID NOT PAY TO BE INCLUDED IN THE EDITORIAL FEATURES, DEPARTMENTS OR SUPER LAWYERS LISTS. COVER AND TABLE OF CONTENTS PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDWARD LINSMIER (WARREN); MARK WALLHEISER (CRUMP); SCOTT WISEMAN (SILVA) 2 SUPERLAWYERS.COM ATTORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAWYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
3 ASSOCIATES AND BRUCE L. SCHEINER, ATTORNEYS FOR THE INJURED FORT MYERS Preston J. Scheiner* Bruce L. Scheiner Two Generations Committed to a Single Cause: Maximizing Each Client s Recovery *CHOSEN TO 2015 RISING STARS The Scheiner Bldg Evans Ave. Fort Myers, FL (239) BLSLAW.com Bruce L. Scheiner has been practicing personal injury law for more than 40 years. He is dedicated to that practice, a zeal that was absorbed by his son. Our conversations around the dinner table were about our cases, recalls Preston J. Scheiner. That s where I first learned that success is always earned. The younger Scheiner shares his father s fundamental belief in the righteousness of their cause. They care deeply about what they do. That s why Bruce Scheiner gives his personal cellphone number to nearly every client, and why referring attorneys entrust the firm with their personal injury clients. Referring attorneys want the best outcome possible, he says. And, of course, they want their clients to be happy, which means open and continuous communication. Preston Scheiner joined the firm eight years ago, and knew after his first trial that it was his destiny to be a trial lawyer. I am more comfortable in the courtroom than any other arena, he says. Trial ready and a skilled negotiator, he believes the value of a case is determined not by the classification or type of injury but by the unique experience of the individual he is representing. Awards include a $3.6 million jury verdict in a slip-and-fall case for a client who required multiple knee surgeries.* We have demonstrated that we have the resources and the chops when the insurance companies fail to deal fairly, he says. Our reputation is built on significant results. *The case was subsequently settled during appellate proceedings. Every case is unique and past results should not be used to predict or guarantee future outcomes or performance. SUPER LAWYERS MAGAZINE / FLORIDA
4 10 YEARS 2015 GENERAL MANAGER Laura Long PUBLISHER Cindy Larson FROM THE PUBLISHER Our inaugural issue of Florida Super Lawyers & Rising Stars Magazine, back in 2006, featured Pedro Martinez-Fraga on the cover. A decade later, we re still going strong. How do we choose which lawyers to feature? We pick from attorneys selected to the current year s Super Lawyers list. Then we look at which firms and practice areas we ve recently covered we don t want to play favorites or ignore deserving-butlesser-known candidates. represents the families in the high-profile We also aim for diversity in region, shooting deaths of Michael Brown and gender, ethnicity. Attorneys ranking near Trayvon Martin. His mission: spread the word the top of the list are more likely to be that black lives matter. In Miami, McDermott included and appear on the cover. We re Will & Emery partner Effie D. Silva practices partial to lawyers who are breaking new business and health care law, and took on legal ground or have a career s worth of a pro bono case to protect the privacy of notable accomplishments. juveniles in the law enforcement system. And The one thing that isn t a factor? Mike Papantonio s journey took him from Advertising. As with the Super Lawyers list, disadvantaged childhood to author, radio/ editorial is never for sale. Our magazines TV host (along with firm partner Robert F. and editorial team have won more than a Kennedy Jr.), and class action/environmental dozen journalism awards, and of that we lawyer at Pensacola s Levin Papantonio are proud. Thomas Mitchell Rafferty & Proctor. We are honored to tell the stories of This lineup adds to the notable amazing attorneys who are making a attorneys we ve featured in the past, such difference. In this issue, we talk to bankruptcy as Jane Kreusler-Walsh and Benjamin Hill attorney Jeffrey W. Warren, who isn t III. Here s to the next 10 years. one to brag, but he s saved the day for clients including George Steinbrenner. His colleagues at Bush Ross in Tampa want him to be firm president for life. Benjamin L. Crump at Parks & Crump in Tallahassee CINDY LARSON ADVISORY BOARD The Super Lawyers Board of Advisors is composed of attorneys who embody excellence in practice. The board, which provides counsel, feedback and editorial ideas, includes lawyers from across the country and of varied firm sizes, who have consistently appeared at the top of the Super Lawyers lists. EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Erik Lundegaard EDITOR Beth Taylor MANAGING EDITOR Ross Pfund CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Amy Kates, Lauren Peck EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Jessica Tam PHOTOGRAPHY Edward Linsmier, Mark Wallheiser, Scott Wiseman CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Carlos Harrison, Harris Meyer, G.K. Sharman RESEARCH RESEARCH DIRECTOR Julie Gleason RESEARCH TEAM LEAD Laura Roepke SENIOR RESEARCH SPECIALIST Chris Cheng RESEARCH EDITORS Caroline Daykin, Jessica Dehn, Annette Durkee, Johanna Grosse, Wendy Lees, Jill Steward DATABASE OPERATIONS DIRECTOR OF DATABASE OPERATIONS Evan Kentop DATA ADMINISTRATORS Traci Davey, Cale Millberry, Laura Smith DATA SPECIALISTS Beth Callentine, Mary Cheam PROFILE PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR Michael Pease PROFILE PRODUCTION Alison Mannelin, Rachel Uhlig PROFILE PROOFING COORDINATOR Erika Skornia-Olsen ONLINE OPERATIONS DIRECTOR OF ONLINE OPERATIONS Garth Gillespie ONLINE APPLICATION DEVELOPERS David Malouf, Josh Rogers, Daymon Schroeder PRODUCTION PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Linda Eklund SENIOR PRODUCTION MANAGERS Tina Justison, Barbie Lefrancois PRODUCTION MANAGERS Alicia Collins, Todd Proud MANAGER OF ART & PRODUCTION Erica Sorrentino GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Rich Ganzman, Meredith Ogorek PRODUCTION Shuné Benny, Da Chaun Bolden, Andrew Eiser, Tim Knecht, Kiara Mayfield, Amy Sherren, Blyth Smith MARKETING & PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER Ashley Armstrong PRODUCT MANAGER Jam Liske MARKETING & EVENTS Denise Bowe, Patrick Dunn, Mari Henderson, Caroline Moran, Melissa Pendino ADVERTISING SENIOR REGIONAL SALES MANAGER John Klipka SENIOR ASSOCIATE PUBLISHERS Aaron Andreen, Richard Ausman, Susan Bennett, Chris Castleberry, Dave Burris, June Ford, Hope Jara, Matthew Kusilek, Camille Lane, Dan Lehman, Amy Omenn, Rob Poncin, Joe Rodriguez ASSOCIATE PUBLISHERS Julia H. Bobadilla-Melby, Brett Fritsche, Michael Loonan, Neil Myklebust, Amy L. Voigt, Susan Wanzek VIEW THE LIST OF ATTORNEYS ON THE ADVISORY BOARD SuperLawyers.com/AdvisoryBoard facebook.com/superlawyers Super Lawyers Magazine is published monthly or more; each issue is devoted and distributed to varying locations throughout the U.S. by Super Lawyers, 610 Opperman Drive, Eagan, MN 55123; Toll-free: ; Fax: ; superlawyers.com. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Super Lawyers: Circulation Coordinator, th Ave NE, Suite 650, Bellevue, WA 98004; ISSN Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. twitter.com/superlawyers 4 SUPERLAWYERS.COM ATTORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAWYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
5 WHICH FICTIONAL ATTORNEY DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH AND WHY? AS TOLD TO JESSICA TAM Ally McBeal. The obvious choice would be Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, but I bet everybody is saying that. So if I could exclude him, since he s the lawyer everyone wants to be, I would probably pick Ally McBeal. I think that, for a generation of women, she portrayed lawyering as a way to seek justice but also still be a lady. Being a female lawyer, I liked that when I was growing up, so I think she would be the second choice. She made it look like it was challenging, yet fun. And I think that being a lawyer can be very challenging, but at times it can be very fun. I watched every single episode. MARCIA SILVERS / FOUNDER, LAW OFFICES OF MARCIA SILVERS; CORAL GABLES; APPELLATE Arthur Kirkland and Lt. Daniel Kaffee. My top two favorite courtroom scenes are the opening statement in And Justice for All and the final scene in A Few Good Men. In And Justice for All, Al Pacino plays attorney Arthur Kirkland, a public defender in Baltimore accustomed to making plea deals for defendants assigned to him, working the system in a not terribly dignified manner. Similarly, in A Few Good Men, Lt. Daniel Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise, is the military s equivalent of a public defender, appointed to defend two Marines accused of murdering a fellow serviceman. He, too, has a reputation for staying out of the courtroom and plea bargaining. Over the course of these quite different stories, both characters are transformed from ignoble to virtuous, each standing up to authority in the preservation of truth and justice. After 26-plus years of lawyering, I always feel the same idealistic way when I step into the courtroom: that our greatest duty as lawyers is to the foundation upon which our legal system is based on leading the court to truth. PETER L. GLADSTONE / PRINCIPAL/ SHAREHOLDER, GLADSTONE & WEISSMAN; BOCA RATON; FAMILY LAW Atticus Finch. He is the standard that most lawyers aspire to, and he has great qualities. Some people have indicated to me that they think I have some of the same qualities. There are others out there that I don t aspire to, but I like their characters in the movies. One would be Tom Hagen [from] The Godfather. He was kind of the Irish- American fellow that, behind the scenes, took care of business. I always thought that was a fascinating character. And then getting a little edgier, Frank Galvin from the movie The Verdict. I thought that was a great character: never giving up, fighting for justice. He has some personal flaws his alcoholism and things of that nature and I certainly don t identify with that, but he had this great case and did a fantastic job with it. JOSEPH W. JAY FLEECE III / FOUNDING PARTNER, BASKINFLEECE; CLEARWATER; ESTATE & TRUST LITIGATION SUPER LAWYERS MAGAZINE / FLORIDA
6 10 YEARS THEN AND NOW A LOOK BACK AT A DECADE OF COVERS BY JESSICA TAM 2006 PEDRO MARTINEZ- FRAGA Since March 2014, Martinez-Fraga has co-led Bryan Cave s international arbitration team. This year, he released his fifth book, Public Purpose in International Law: Rethinking Regulatory Sovereignty in the Global Era, co-authored with C. Ryan Reetz. He is also a World Bank arbitrator in a case filed against Argentina in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, involving the investment treaty between Spain and Argentina ROY BLACK I ve been a trial lawyer for nearly 45 years now, and the fact that I am doing the criminal and the civil litigation keeps me fresh, says Black of Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf in Miami. When he s not representing clients in mortgage, bank and tax fraud investigations or representing multinational corporations, athletes and entertainers in high-stakes civil matters, you can find him at the University of Miami School of Law, teaching trial and appellate advocacy. When not working, he says, I try to be the best father and husband that I can be ERVIN GONZALEZ Our biggest highlight from the past year, Gonzalez says, would be handling and resolving successfully, for a confidential amount, the construction-collapse case at a [Miami Dade College] parking garage. The project included five floors of concrete. Gonzalez, with Colson Hicks Eidson in Coral Gables, represented the widows of two of the workers killed, and an injury victim. He also continues his longtime work on the plaintiff s steering committee for the BP oil spill litigation CHRIS SEARCY The trial lawyer we dubbed The War Horse helped secure a settlement of $17.5 million in a negligence case over the death of Vince and Judy Modica after a truck driver for a health-food distributor rearended them. In 2014, the Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley president received the Pursuit of Justice Award from the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section; and he helped obtain a $10 million award for a man permanently injured after a multiplecar pile-up ROBERT JOSEFSBERG In 2012, Josefsberg received the Selig I. Goldin Memorial Award from the Florida Bar Criminal Law Section and the Hon. Theodore Ted Klein Special Recognition Award from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. In 2013 he won the Florida Bar Foundation s Medal of Honor Award. The trial lawyer with Podhurst Orseck in Miami is also happy to report that five grandchildren are in higher education. The pinnacle is that a granddaughter is in law school, he says. That s the best thing that s happened JANE KREUSLER- WALSH Life has been a roller-coaster for Kreusler-Walsh, with the Law Office of Kreusler-Walsh, Compiani & Vargas in West Palm Beach. In 2012, her mother passed away. That same year, her firm won the Athena Award from the chamber of commerce. In 2013, the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches awarded her the Women in Leadership Award for the private sector. And last year, she received the Monsignor Jeremiah P. O Mahoney Award from the Guild of Catholic Lawyers of the Diocese of Palm Beach. 6 SUPERLAWYERS.COM ATTORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAWYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
7 2012 ROBERTA COLTON In 2012, Colton received the Doug P. McClurg Professionalism Award, the Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association s most prestigious honor. This year, she wraps up her work as 11th Circuit Regent for the American College of Bankruptcy. She also serves on the executive board of her firm, Trenam Kemker in Tampa SIDNEY STUBBS Stubbs had another career highlight in Having the Palm Beach County Bar Association name its Professionalism Award after me was an incredible honor, says the Jones Foster Johnston & Stubbs litigator. The concepts of professionalism, if followed, will enable the legal profession to survive through bad times and good CELENE HUMPHRIES AND STEVEN BRANNOCK Good news from Brannock, with Brannock & Humphries: We were fortunate to have a few more of our Big Tobacco cases... move to a conclusion; we were delighted to see our clients receive the fruits of their long litigation process. He has seen their cover photo on other attorneys coffee tables, and was even asked for an autograph Florida Super Lawyers honorees DAVID BARKSDALE Criminal Defense Litigation ALLAN F. BROOKE II Criminal Defense Litigation PATRICK P. COLL Commercial Litigation BRIAN T. COUGHLIN Rising Stars honoree Criminal Defense Litigation HENRY M. COXE III Top 10 Criminal Defense Litigation JOHN A. DEVAULT III Top 10 Commercial Litigation R.H. FARNELL II Commercial Litigation COURTNEY K. GRIMM Top 50 Women & Top 100 Commercial Litigation MICHAEL E. LOCKAMY Rising Stars honoree Commercial Litigation CHARLES P. PILLANS III Commercial Litigation C. WARREN TRIPP JR. Commercial Litigation Litigation Excellence Since The Bedell Building, 101 East Adams Street, Jacksonville, Florida (904) SUPER LAWYERS MAGAZINE / FLORIDA
8 Q&A AMERICA S LAWYER Mike Papantonio, law partner of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., says trial lawyers without some rage in their hearts aren t doing it right INTERVIEW BY BETH TAYLOR Q: You are a plaintiff s lawyer, author, environmentalist and TV commentator plus, you do a radio show with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Let s start with lawyer: What makes you so successful? A: If you get the best trial lawyers to tell you a fundamental part of being a little better than average, [they ll say] there has to be some rage. I have watched young trial lawyers come up. They can have a technical ability, but if they don t have some underlying sense of rage about injustice, they are never going to be an excellent trial lawyer. Q: Rage? A: I don t think people would ever characterize me as a raging, angry person. [But] you have to have that in your heart when you are doing battle with a corporation that you have every right to be angry at. They have killed your clients in mass torts. My God, they have killed them by the hundreds. You have read the documents. And for you not to be able to say, This really makes me angry, and not draw on that sense of anger that becomes part of your personality you are probably in the wrong business. Q: Did you develop a sense of injustice as a child? I understand you did not have a privileged childhood. A: I think that s an important point. I was raised by many different families all over Central Florida, from Bradenton to Sarasota, Tampa, Arcadia. Growing up like that, you do see a remarkable amount of inequality. You develop your own sense of what s right and wrong. Even though people along the way have been very kind, you still know something is different [for you]. There is no way to grow up like I grew up and not have some sense of [injustice]. The trick is not to let it affect other parts of your life. You have to be able to separate a courtroom from how you deal with other parts of your life, but I m absolutely convinced there has to be some underlying element of anger to be able to call on and have the jury see it. Q: All the moving around resulted from a dysfunctional birth family? A: I think, in the long run, it really helped prepare me to do what I do now. It doesn t sound magical, but it was, in so many ways, because it exposed me to so many things; I never think of it as a negative at all. At one place I learned to be a musician, another place I learned to paint, another place I learned to fly airplanes. I would live for a year and a half at one place, and then somebody else would invite me to live with them. It s a great comment about the decency of people, I think; it s just had a big impact on me. I try to give back. Q: When did you decide to go into the law? A: I loved the character Atticus Finch. But I was going to become a journalist, and then somebody introduced me to Perry Nichols. He was just a huge, huge force in trial law. He, along with Melvin Belli, had developed demonstrative evidence and really taken it to a whole new level. And, oddly enough, Perry Nichols had a ranch in Arcadia. Somebody said to me, You know, Mike, you really ought to think about law school. I want to introduce you to Perry Nichols. I went to meet him there in Arcadia, and in the short time I was around him, I was very moved by what he wanted to do in his life. He did well by doing good in so many ways. 8 SUPERLAWYERS.COM ATTORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAWYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
9 Q: And in 2011, you won the Perry Nichols Award from the Florida Justice Association for those committed to fighting for justice. A: It came full circle. Q: Was it difficult for you to put yourself through college? A: Not really. I sold books door to door. Dictionaries and children s books. I started my senior year in high school. You would work during the summers, you d work three solid months most of the time, but you were able to make a lot of money. I did that for six summers. Q: In law school, did it take you a while to settle on a practice area? A: I knew that I would be a terrible fit for representing corporations against people: I won means I kept somebody from being compensated for their injury. I knew that almost immediately. I don t like to see a corporation sell a product that they know, they know, they absolutely are certain is going to cause injury or death. There is no way I can put my arms around that and say, Yeah, I m going to be on your side. Q: When you graduated from Cumberland, you took a job as a prosecutor in Pensacola? A: I liked Pensacola. It has an incredible beach, and I used to windsurf. It was a place I loved. I realized that I was not going to be a great brief writer. I mean, I can write briefs. But I thought my strength probably was going to be in the courtroom. Everything about my life prepared me for that. So I thought, Well, OK, this gives me some more trials. That evolved into this job. One of the lawyers who worked here, Leo Thomas, is a fairly well-known criminal defense lawyer. He is the one who developed the battered-woman syndrome defense. He used to see me on the other side of the table in trials, and he offered me a job. Q: Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Rafferty & Proctor has been around quite a while. A: David Levin and Reubin Askew started the firm. It was 60 years ago, and it started as a plaintiff s firm, which was fairly unheard of at the time. You had a few, maybe, in Birmingham and maybe one or two along the Gulf Coast, but most of the big plaintiff s firms [in Florida] were developed by Perry Nichols and that crowd down around Miami. So it was an unusual thing. They created a culture. Q: How did you come to know Robert F. Kennedy Jr.? A: Well, I was involved in a fight down here. A paper mill wanted to pump some ungodly amount of its toxic waste into a bay in an area where I used to windsurf. I rented an airplane and flew a banner across the sky saying, Don t pollute our bay. I parked my truck on the end of the bridges with big signs, and I was waiting to get fired by my law firm any time, because I m sure they thought I had gone completely crazy. A friend of mine got wind of it and he said, You and Bobby would really get along. Bobby flew down here, and he asked me if I would start a Riverkeeper for him in Florida. I said, Sure. We ve just become really good friends. We do radio together, TV together. He s my law partner as well. He and I started handling some smaller environmental cases down around Florida. And from there, we tried some bigger cases. Q: What exactly is Riverkeeper? A: The program is designed to start an activist grassroots fight wherever a corporation comes in and messes with a waterway. Sometimes that activist fight is not in the courtroom; sometimes it is just by demonstrating and protesting. Truly, the core of it is hands-on activism. It s one thing to do an article in a newspaper or a letter to the editor and say, Gee, this makes me mad. It s another thing to show up at the CEO s house with signs and explain to the folks at their country club what they are doing to your community. So this is more of an activist group, and I like that. I like the fact that they are not afraid to jump in the middle of a fight. They know it takes more than a letter to the editor or a $10 donation you ve just got to get your hands dirty. Q: You and Mr. Kennedy have been doing radio together for some time. A: I had started something called Mass Torts Made Perfect in Vegas, and I started seeing that if you believe that you are really effecting change by simply being a good lawyer in your office, you really are not doing enough. In Las Vegas twice a year, there are 700 to 800 lawyers, excellent lawyers, [who attend], most of them with their hearts in the right place. The point that I ve always made was, You can t expect to take on corporate America by simply filing a lawsuit or even winning the lawsuit. I came up with a concept of bouncing stories. First of all, you have to have a good product... a television segment or radio segment that somebody wants to listen to. So Bobby and I started that with the radio. We knew that we could do very progressive, in-your-face, radical stories that told more than the headlines because we weren t limited. Nowadays, I do television a lot, and I m limited most of the time to six minutes. Well, you can t tell these stories in six minutes. Secondly, they probably don t want you to tell the stories on a corporate network. So Ring of Fire [on radio and TV] was a product of that. It s a nationally syndicated show. We have to get our stories out, and you can start by bouncing the story: simply doing a segment. Every week I do something called Free Speech TV, and some of the best lawyers in the country are involved. We do a segment and we will cut it up and put it on the Internet, and before you know it, reporters are hearing it for the first time. Then they start asking, Well, what is this story about DuPont? Tell me SUPER LAWYERS MAGAZINE / FLORIDA
10 Papantonio shares his progressive viewpoint on Ring of Fire, the show he co-hosts with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The Internet adds mileage to their message. more about it. It takes the next step and somebody like Bloomberg picks it up, and then somebody like The New York Times. But you have to begin somewhere. There is a real arrogance among lawyers. They believe that the results that they get in the courtroom are just so radically important that it s going to be a sustainable story but it s a three-day story at best, and then people forget it on the fourth day. You have to be able to sustain that story. So Bobby and I started that with Air America. It was a whole host of great progressives that became our friends, and they remain our friends. So Air America fell apart; everybody went their own way. Rachel [Maddow] went to MSNBC, Thom [Hartmann] went to RT Network and Free Speech TV. People look at Air America and say, Oh my God! It didn t work. Well, it did work, because the message is still there. Bobby and I still do this, week in and week out. It came out of a combination of lawyering and politics, and you can t talk about one without the other. You can t change much just practicing law anymore. Q: Where is Ring of Fire carried now? A: New York, Chicago, LA we re really all over the country in little parts. But it s not so much the transmission of the radio program every week. This week we might be talking about Rick Perry and the judge failing to dismiss his case in Texas. We will take that segment and we will cut it up and it will be used throughout the Internet. And it has pretty big legs because of that. Q: You also do MSNBC, Free Speech TV, RT Network and, sometimes, Fox? A: I used to do Fox. It was torturous, and it was [also] fun, because you could approach it with reckless abandon. So I did it as long as I could stand it, I guess is the best way to put it. Q: On Ring of Fire, you are called America s Lawyer. Who came up with that title and why? A: Either Thom Hartmann or Ed Schultz. The issues I was talking about were not just about my narrow practice. The issue may be climate change, and what is it that we have to do. It might be poverty; it might be minimum wage. It really wasn t put together as any kind of big PR push initially, but all of a sudden, it started taking hold. I walk through an airport sometimes and people say, You re America s Lawyer. Johnnie Cochran used to be my law partner; he used to be America s Lawyer. He has passed on, and I don t think they mind me using that. People can t remember Papantonio, but they can remember America s Lawyer. Q: You re working on a major environmental case now. A: DuPont made a product called C8, which is an additive that they used to make Teflon. 3M used to make it and decided that it was too dangerous to make. DuPont continued to make it. DuPont then took the toxins from their product and they would release them into the water system, which affected the aquifer, drinking-water aquifer, for many counties between West Virginia and Ohio. It may be the biggest environmental case in America. Q: So where does it stand? A: The judge had put together a blue-chip panel of epidemiologists. And the panel came back and said that the C8 causes testicular cancer [among other diseases]. So we will be going to trial with those first test cases coming up this year. [Editor s note: According to newspaper reports, the panel found probable links to six medical conditions; DuPont, which has promised to phase out usage of the chemical by this year, has denied liability.] Q: You referred earlier to your Mass Torts Made Perfect program, and I know the speakers there have included President Clinton. That made me wonder how many presidents you ve met. A: Well, I have not gone out of my way to do that. This is going to sound so odd, but I ve got to tell you: If you walk into some lawyer s office that is all about meeting the president you walk in their office and they ve got pictures of here is me and Obama, here is me and Clinton I mean, it s almost like you are walking into [the office of] somebody who is a hunter, and they ve got all these heads on the wall, like, I shot this. Well, OK, I like Obama; I worked to try and get him elected. We 10 SUPERLAWYERS.COM ATTORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAWYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
11 spent a fair amount of money trying to do that, but you see, I don t have to own that real estate and say, Here I m shaking with Obama. See how important I am. You asked me the question. That is my reaction when I walk into somebody s office and it looks like celebrities on parade. It s almost a gag reflex. Q: Would you ever consider running for office yourself? A: I wouldn t have a chance. I have committed so much to my ideology. It s way left. Can you imagine the ads? But I think I accomplish a lot with media. I can go on the air and say things that a politician could never, ever say. Q: You ve written several books. Which is your favorite? A: At one point I wrote a book about Clarence Darrow. It was called Clarence Darrow, the Journeyman. I wrote that after In Search of Atticus Finch, and I was trying to analyze: What motivates and what characterizes a trial lawyer? How do they think? What should they be? So I started off sending out questionnaires all over the country, and the remarkable thing was the response was really good. So I knew they wanted to talk about it. But by the time I got to Resurrecting Aesop: Fables Lawyers Should Remember, I had a really very honed idea about what gave people satisfaction and dissatisfaction practicing law. It s my favorite book. It gave me time to process everything that I had learned over the years. And the things that I learned were so counterintuitive. You d think, for example, the most sustainably successful trial lawyers are the loudmouth cowboys, hard-drinking, two-fisted but they re not. Those are yesterday s images. The people who are doing the best now are people who have a family center; they care about their children, their families. They are going to work hard enough to succeed, but they have got a good spiritual center. It s amazing when you look at all of these similarities in these people. They are so different from the trial lawyer of yesterday. Racehorse Haynes, God bless him, I helped him get into the [Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association] Hall of Fame and he was a wonderful lawyer but... that image is no longer relevant. The people who do the best for themselves and the best, I think, for society in general are the people that just have a better center. They really invest in their communities. So Resurrecting Aesop gave me the chance to focus on those qualities. His fables weren t for children. His fables were for leaders, people who felt compelled to try to do better. It takes all of his fables and draws parallels [to] relevant issues for lawyers. So people can better understand what he was trying to say. Hopefully by June, I will have my first fiction finished. Q: What s it about? A: It s based on fact that has been tweaked just a little bit and put into the form of a fiction. People who know our firm, or know me, may know what the parallels are. We ve had such an incredible experience whether it was tobacco, whether it was environmental, whether it was pharmaceuticals, whether it s Wall Street, qui tam, you name it. We have done just about every kind of consumer-oriented law. So we have all these great stories to pull from, and what I m doing is I m taking these stories and adapting them. This particular book deals with three different lawsuits. Q: What would you like to be remembered for as a lawyer? A: The willingness to take on those fights that nobody else would take. I hate to oversimplify it, but there are so many law firms all over the country that are asked, Would you do this, would you take on DuPont in Ohio? And they ve said, Oh, my God! I can t spend all that money; I can t take the chance. I d like to be remembered, I guess, as the person who did that. Who said, Sometimes you ve just got to, you ve got to bet it all. This interview was edited and condensed. SUPER LAWYERS MAGAZINE / FLORIDA
12 President for Life Jeffrey Warren doesn t like to talk about himself, but he came through for Steinbrenner, protected Ponzi victims, and his firm won t let him not be its leader BY HARRIS MEYER PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDWARD LINSMIER JEFFREY W. WARREN PRESIDENT/CO-FOUNDER, BUSH ROSS; TAMPA BANKRUPTCY: BUSINESS FLORIDA SUPER LAWYERS: ; TOP 100 FLORIDA: ; TOP 10 FLORIDA: , SUPERLAWYERS.COM ATTORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAWYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
13 MAKE NO MISTAKE: JEFFREY W. WARREN COULD TELL LOTS OF WAR STORIES. Widely considered one of the best bankruptcy lawyers in Florida, he has a list of accomplishments that includes going before the U.S. Supreme Court (and winning), representing volatile New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner (in a bet-the-company case), and representing defrauded investors in a string of onlyin-florida Ponzi schemes. And before he was a lawyer, Warren was helping defuse campus confrontations as a University of Florida student leader in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But this intensely private man is just not comfortable talking about himself. Still, on a springlike January morning, Warren, 67, stands on the crow s nest atop his law firm s three-story Spanish colonial-style office building and tells a visitor with quiet pride about the full-service business law firm that he, more than anyone else, has built. And he explains in his soft North Florida drawl how he and his firm, Bush Ross, helped redevelop the depressed Tampa Heights neighborhood north of downtown Tampa, where they relocated eight years ago. Warren, built like the small linebacker he used to be at UF, points out a just-dedicated park beside his building that his firm helped plan and fund. Nearby is the old city water works structure that reopened last fall as a popular new restaurant. Across the street is the Mediterranean Revival-style building where Stetson University College of Law located its satellite campus a few years before Bush Ross moved in next door. Stetson shares the building with the Tampa branch of the 2nd District Court of Appeal. SUPER LAWYERS MAGAZINE / FLORIDA
14 President and co-founder of his 50-plus-lawyer firm, Warren is best known for guiding Tampa-based building products manufacturer Celotex Corp. through a massive, yearslong Chapter 11 reorganization in the 1990s after it faced more than 100,000 asbestos-related lawsuits. A number of the cases went through the appellate courts; one went on to the Supreme Court. His goal was to uphold a bankruptcy judge s order to stop $70 million worth of bonds held by Celotex s appeals bond insurer from being paid out to a small number of claimants, and instead distribute the money to a much wider pool of claimants. Celotex was a massive case, and some would say we weren t big enough, Warren says. The boasting is about his colleagues. We handled it. Because of the quality of our team, I always had the resources. The case set an important precedent for the authority of bankruptcy judges to control reorganizations and preserve assets. Beyond that, the successful reorganization of Celotex enabled the company to continue operations and preserved thousands of jobs while creating a $1.5 billion trust for the benefit of injured claimants. Jeff was up against the best lawyers from all over the country, with multiple committees of creditors, marvels Harley Riedel with Stichter, Riedel, Blain & Prosser, another noted Tampa bankruptcy attorney who has worked with and against Warren. That is one of the all-time great Chapter 11 success stories in Florida. Judge Caryl Delano of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida met Warren when she was an opposing counsel in the Celotex case and he was the lead debtors lawyer. There were probably 50 other lawyers in the courtroom, each of whom had a different issue, all lined up to talk to Jeff, she recalls. I was overwhelmingly impressed to see that Jeff knew exactly what each lawyer s issue was and had his response prepared. Since then, he s argued many cases before her. I know I speak for all the bankruptcy judges in the Middle District of Florida in saying Jeff is held in highest esteem, she says. He s probably one of the best lawyers in the country, but he performs his role in the most professional and gracious way possible. He just embodies what every person would want in a lawyer. Warren deflects the praise with humor. I tell people that ever since the Celotex case, my career has been in a downward slide, he says, because you can t do anything more gratifying and thrilling than argue a case before the Supreme Court. WARREN GREW UP IN THE SMALL NORTH Florida town of Starke, the oldest of four children in a family of modest means. His father was a federal housing inspector, his mother a secretary and homemaker. A star linebacker in high school, Warren decided to study engineering and chose UF, which offered him a full four-year football scholarship. But after playing on the freshman team, he was deemed by now-legendary head coach Ray Graves to be too slow to chase down running backs and too small to be a lineman. I realized I wouldn t be a varsity player about the third practice, he says. Still, along with his freshman teammates, he made a lasting mark on the sports world by serving as a guinea pig in a key experiment that began in At that time, players, even in wilting heat, were given salt tablets and did not drink water during practice or games. But a kidney disease specialist from the UF College of Medicine, Dr. J. Robert Cade, approached Coach Graves with the seemingly outlandish idea that hydrating players would be better, and he offered his own thirst-quenching concoction containing salts and sugars. The players drank the lemony yellow beverage and were medically monitored during practices. Thus was born Gatorade. It was a huge improvement; it felt better to be drinking, Warren says. This fall, he plans to join fellow members of that freshman team in Gainesville for a 50-year commemoration of that breakthrough. Graves was instrumental in enabling Warren to pay for law school at UF. Graves arranged a graduate assistantship for him while Warren s wife, Susan a fellow UF student whom he married after graduating with a bachelor s in business administration worked a part-time job. I ll always remember how gracious he was to help someone who wasn t a star athlete, Warren says. He remained close to his old coach, who passed away this April at age 96. Warren continues to be a major fundraiser for the university s athletic programs. He bleeds orange and blue, Riedel says of Warren. Though he never suited up for varsity play, Warren rose to first team in campus politics. During his first year in law school, he became chairman of the giant Florida Blue Key homecoming celebration, which at the time was attended by all major Florida elected officials. It was a very important and difficult job, and you had to have the right person in charge, says former ABA president Stephen Zack, administrative partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner in Miami. As Blue Key president, he chose Warren to head the celebration and still considers him a friend. He handled it extremely well. He was exactly the right person to do it. As a student leader, Warren was involved in successful efforts to expand opportunities for female and black students in leadership positions in student government and other organizations at UF. He also participated in negotiations with the university president to improve relations with antiwar activists and black students involved in campus demonstrations. Dealing with all that social and political unrest was good experience for dealing with disputes in law, he says. That period, which he describes as formative for him, may have led to his political orientation as a moderate Democrat, which he maintains today despite ribbing from his mostly Republican colleagues at Bush Ross. Before Bush Ross, Warren went from law school to work at a sizable Tampa business law firm for nine years, becoming a partner. Then he and a group of attorneys from the firm spun off their own firm, which became Bush Ross. In the mid- 90s, Warren engineered a 14 SUPERLAWYERS.COM ATTORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAWYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
15 successful Chapter 11 reorganization for American Ship Building Corp., owned by Steinbrenner. The reorganization was achieved when the company won a favorable settlement of its contract battle with the U.S. Navy, after a bankruptcy judge agreed to order the depositions of high-ranking officials. Despite Steinbrenner s tough-guy image, what Warren remembers most about him was the importance he placed on family. Just before they were scheduled to travel together out of state for a critical business meeting, Warren got word that his father had died in Florida. Steinbrenner encouraged him to skip the trip. He said it was far more important to him for me to be with my mother than go with him to New Orleans for business, Warren says. That s a side of him I don t think people necessarily saw. Riedel, who also worked on the American Ship Building case, said the Yankees owner had great regard for Warren. Mr. Steinbrenner liked to get high performance from his athletes and his lawyers, Riedel says. Through George s and Jeff s efforts, we were able to reorganize the company, settle the cases against Navy, and continue the shipyard. At the end, George told me that Jeff did just a fabulous job. You didn t get that often from George. While leading the charge on these grueling cases, Warren found the time and energy to build the law firm he co-founded in 1981 into a powerhouse with a reputation for punching far above its weight class. He is one of the hardest-working lawyers in the firm, yet he does a remarkable job of managing this place, says David Banker, a Bush Ross shareholder. He s a machine. Jeff working hard is a level above everybody else working hard, echoes Drew Jenkins, a Bush Ross shareholder who started as a summer associate with the firm, then worked as a first-year associate under Warren. He has an extra gear. Indeed, Warren is so admired among lawyers at the firm for taking care of them and the staff and for crafting consensus that they have essentially Warren s victories include a win at the U.S. Supreme Court, but he d rather talk about his firm and the Tampa neighborhood he helped to redevelop. SUPER LAWYERS MAGAZINE / FLORIDA
16 Jeff working hard is a level above everybody else working hard. He has an extra gear. BUSH ROSS SHAREHOLDER DREW JENKINS installed him as president for life. The firm used to have a rotating president, and Jeff didn t want to be president but it was his turn, Banker says. Jeff took it on and became so good that now we won t let anyone else be president. He has the patience of Job, and he lets everyone feel like they re heard. I want to make Jeff president until he dies. I want to make him dictator. A good leader knows when to listen and Warren did plenty of that when he stood before the Supreme Court. In his November 1996 oral argument in Celotex Corp. v. Edwards, the transcript shows that he deftly handled Justice Antonin Scalia s aggressive interrogation, including one of Scalia s dreaded hypotheticals. Although he was very well-prepared, as he always is, his worst fear was that the justices would not interrupt him, recalls George Wood, president and general counsel of Celotex, who attended the argument. He wanted them to ask questions as soon as possible. He s very good on his feet with the unexpected. He wanted to get off-script as soon as he could. You don t want to script a long lecture to the bright justices, Warren explains. What was remarkable was they knew as much about my case as I did. I got a complex question from Justice Scalia, but nothing threw me off balance. I just made sure I addressed them by their correct names. Warren smiles when recalling that his favorite aunt, who attended the argument along with his mother and other members of his family, was more nervous than he was. When the gavel sounded and he started to present his case, Aunt Mavis lowered her head and closed her eyes. A Supreme Court marshal tapped her on the shoulder and said there was no sleeping allowed. I m not sleeping, she snapped. I m praying for my nephew. In recent years, Warren has handled a number of complex, high-profile matters stemming from Ponzi schemes, such as the Botfly case, in which a purported foreigncurrency investment company defrauded investors out of $30 million. Now he s immersed in a hard-fought legal battle over the future of the famed but nowshuttered Colony Beach & Tennis Resort in nearby Longboat Key, where President George W. Bush was staying when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred. Warren is the only founder still at Bush Ross. He is proud that no one was laid off during the Great Recession. Business is growing, though he says it s always a challenge to remain an independent local firm. I know what it means to be given all the legal honors he s been given, but one of most impressive things is that he did more than almost anyone else to build that firm up from scratch, says his son Matthew Warren, a partner at Sidley Austin in Washington, D.C. Jeff was a big reason I joined this firm, Banker says. He has this inner peace and serenity that I aspire to. The world can be collapsing, and he s the calm in the storm. There have been some great leaders in the firms I ve worked for, but no one like Jeff. Several years ago, the world did seem to be collapsing on Warren. His mother, two sisters, brother, and 30-year-old son David, who was attending Stetson Law School, all died within a short time of each other. His brother perished in a motorcycle accident just as Warren was about to start a big trial in the long-lasting Colony resort bankruptcy case. Jeff handled the funeral and was there for the trial, Banker says. I don t think the rest of the world would have known he d just lost his brother. It was not an easy period of time, Warren says simply. Speaking of the death of his middle child, who had been ill for many years, he says, It leaves a hole in your heart. My faith has always given me hope, and friends and family give you the foundation. But that doesn t ease the heartache when you lose a child. His colleagues say practicing law and managing the firm offered him a refuge from his grief. But it s more than a refuge. He speaks passionately about bankruptcy law, which he acknowledges doesn t necessarily fascinate those outside the field. He loves it so much he never wants to give it up. It s something about the work ethic I have, he says. I m not really built to be retired. He s thinking a lot about the future of bankruptcy practice, and how the pendulum will swing on Chapter 11 bankruptcy: whether it will be primarily used to liquidate companies or to reorganize them and preserve jobs. Cases like Celotex and cases like General Motors evidence the great benefit to our country s businesses of having an effective reorganization process, Warren says. The U.S. bankruptcy system, he says, allows the owner of a small shopping center whose loan has matured but is unable to refinance to make payments to stay in business and keep his life savings. That s why I adore bankruptcy law, he says. I get as much joy out of helping someone with a small matter that means everything to him as representing a large institution, where it s just part of the balance sheet. It s a very creative practice. You find ways to make the best of bad situations. 16 SUPERLAWYERS.COM ATTORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAWYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
17 FLEITAS PLLC MIAMI A NEW BEGINNING FOR YOUR FLORIDA REAL ESTATE LAW AUTHORITY After more than a decade in the family business, Roberto F. Fleitas III launched Fleitas PLLC in 2015, a law firm focused on commercial and residential real estate and business transactions. REAL ESTATE EXPERT Fleitas III attained his J.D., M.B.A. and LL.M. degrees from Stetson University College of Law and is currently one of only 450 board-certified real estate law attorneys in Florida. Less than half of 1 percent of Florida lawyers are board-certified in this area of law. As a boardcertified lawyer, Fleitas III has met The Florida Bar s highest standards for special knowledge, skills and proficiency, as well as ethics in the practice of law. and schedules face-to-face meetings at clients request. Equally important in today s legal environment, the firm s billing policy is fair clients are charged based on the size and complexity of their transaction. Each client and each transaction stand on their own. We are not a cookie-cutter law firm, Fleitas III says. SUPER LAWYERS NOMINATION This year, Fleitas III was nominated by his peers as a Rising Stars honoree in the legal community. Fleitas also holds an AV Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell. BOUTIQUE PRACTICE By being selective about his clients, Fleitas III gives each client his personal attention. He meets with each client personally, and is fully versed in the issues and questions that can arise in a given transaction. ACCESSIBLE 24/7 Not only does Fleitas III provide expert counsel and honest advice, but he makes himself available to his clients around the clock. He shares his personal cellphone number 782 NW 42nd Ave., Suite 530, Miami, FL PH: (305) FX: (305) fleitaslaw.com SUPER LAWYERS MAGAZINE / FLORIDA
18 BENJAMIN L. CRUMP CO-FOUNDER, PARKS & CRUMP; TALLAHASSEE PERSONAL INJURY: PLAINTIFF FLORIDA SUPER LAWYERS: SUPERLAWYERS.COM ATTORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAWYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
19 BENJAMIN CRUMP. JUSTICE. The Tallahassee attorney for the families of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin has one goal: proving that black lives matter BY CARLOS HARRISON PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARK WALLHEISER INTEGRATION CAME LATE TO LUMBERTON, NORTH CAROLINA. It wasn t until fifth grade that Benjamin Crump rode the bus to the other side of town to attend what had been the all-white school. One day shortly after he started there, a classmate a white girl pulled out a $100 bill to pay for her lunch. We were just in shock, he says. I remember thinking, My mother would have to work two weeks to get $100. Most of the African-American kids ate government-subsidized and largely lackluster lunches. To prove it was her allowance and she could do with it as she pleased, the little girl bought all of them lunch from the for sale side burgers and hot dogs and the things kids like to eat, Crump says. I decided then: I want to get to where my people on my side of town can have a good chance at life like the other people, he says. I knew the reason we got to go to that school was because of Thurgood Marshall. And I said at that point: I want to be like him. I want to be like Thurgood Marshall because I want to help my community. His pursuit of that ambition has made him an internationally known crusader, a publicity-savvy advocate and a soughtafter champion for the families of fallen black children. It also has made him a recognizable figure the dapper man with the trimmed mustache and close-cropped hair appearing next to the grief-stricken parents of Martin Lee Anderson, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and others, encouraging them to tell their stories on cable and network news. Often, demonstrators wave placards behind them. It s part of a deliberate strategy of combining press and protests to force attention on cases, to win those families their day in court. That s what it s all about, he says. We ve got to prove to everybody in the world that our children s lives matter, too. Framed newspaper and magazine articles about those cases fill nearly every eye-level inch of the hall that wraps around the interior of Parks & Crump s spacious, yet unassuming, Tallahassee headquarters and around the dark wood SUPER LAWYERS MAGAZINE / FLORIDA
20 Trayvon Martin s parents, Tracy Martin (R) and Sybrina Fulton, arrive in court with attorney Crump on June 20, 2013, for George Zimmerman s trial in Sanford. REUTERS/Gary W. Green spectator seats, witness box and bench of the firm s full-size courtroom replica where its attorneys and witnesses practice for trial. The museum, as Crump s longtime assistant, Jennifer Morgan, describes the gallery of press clippings, also includes photos of the two firm partners with three Florida governors and two presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. In 20 years of practice, Crump has been named one of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers and one of Ebony magazine s Power 100, which honors influential African-Americans. He s received the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Martin Luther King Servant Leader Award. And his numerous seven-figure wins on behalf of clients have earned him a spot in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Crump remains humble about it all. He pauses to say grace over a takeout order of Chick-fil-A nuggets and fries, and credits a higher power with his success. A certain part of it is just doing the right thing and when you do the right thing, God just kind of takes over from there, he says. Ben tends to be the type of lawyer that certainly tries to put the person s best interests first, says the firm s co-founder and managing partner, Daryl Parks. On the wall of Crump s office, an image of Justice Marshall illustrates a framed article that Crump wrote for the Florida State University paper. And on the table in front of Crump lies Gilbert King s book Devil in the Grove, about Marshall s defense of four black men falsely accused of raping a white woman in Lake County. I ve always considered myself somewhat of a civil rights attorney, because I want to believe I was cut from the mold of Thurgood Marshall at my inception, says Crump, who is a past vice president and, starting in July, president of the National Bar Association. He spent his early years in subsidized housing in a poor town in tobacco country near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His single mother worked by day at a Converse shoe factory and by night as a hotel maid. My mother was smart, he says. She instilled in us early on that education was the way out. When Crump turned 12, his mother felt he would have better opportunities living with his stepfather in Plantation. He avoided the drug dealers who wanted younger kids to be their lookouts, studied hard and earned a scholarship to FSU. He majored in criminal justice, bore the brunt of his fraternity brothers jokes for not drinking (he still doesn t), and met his future law partner while they were both undergraduates. Crump was president of the black student union for two terms; Parks was also a two-term student government president at predominantly black Florida A&M University. They met when the two schools worked together on student government activities. Then Crump and Parks got into FSU s law school. We naturally bonded, Crump says. We said, We re probably the poorest people in here. We ve got to look out for each other. They hung a shingle straight out of law school, focusing primarily on wrongful death, medical malpractice and civil rights cases. First thing every kid in the projects says when they make it out and they do good is they re going to buy their mother a house, he says. I was blessed: Within the first 12 months of our practice, we did pretty good and I bought my mother a house. National attention came with the case of Martin Lee Anderson a decade later. The 14-year-old African-American died after a beating by guards in a Florida juvenile detention boot camp, as a nurse stood by and watched. Crump won a settlement of more than $7 million for the boy s family 20 SUPERLAWYERS.COM ATTORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAWYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.