By: Max Crampton-Thomas
4 min read November 2019 — Seemingly every industry in the Tampa Bay region is firing on all cylinders as the area continues to exceed expectations in terms of economic growth. In concurrency with this growth is increased demand from businesses and individuals for legal services and counsel. Law firms in the region have taken notice and are acting swiftly to establish or reestablish themselves as prominent figures in this space. Invest: spoke with Michael Lundy, the managing and founding partner of Older, Lundy & Alvarez, and Kevin Johnson, a shareholder of Johnson Jackson, about the role of Tampa Bay in their businesses, navigating the lingering challenge of labor and the importance of technological advancements in the legal sector.
How is the setting of Tampa Bay conducive to your business and legal practice?
Michael Lundy: The Tampa Metro Area is growing rapidly in about every sector. I think that the local political climate is conducive to this growth. We are seeing development driven by businesses that want to operate in Tampa, as well as an influx of outside capital investment from sophisticated sources that see the area as ripe for growth. It seems as though all the pistons are firing at the same time.
My personal practice is marital and family law, but Older, Lundy & Alvarez handles real estate transactions and litigation, commercial litigation, tax work and corporate counsel. With so much local development and population growth, we have benefited greatly because there is a higher demand for the many services that we provide. It is our goal to provide legal services for every aspect of one’s life, or what we call “the ultimate representation.”
Kevin Johnson: For our business, Tampa is a great location for a multitude of reasons. One is that it is extremely easy to reach the entire state from this region. We are only a couple hours from Naples, Jacksonville and Tallahassee. We also have a terrific airport. Most significant would be the strong business climate in the region. Tampa has done a lot of things well over the last 20 years in regards to establishing a conducive environment for businesses in the region. We have been lucky because this city has had a string of progressive and insightful mayors who have gone to great lengths to really improve the business environment.
Has your firm been challenged in navigating the tight labor pool for legal professionals in the region?
Lundy: Recruiting talent has not been a challenge. We have been able to recruit incredible lawyers. Tampa has a large pool of amazing legal talent. Tampa is a great place to live. It is an area that has had undervalued real estate, especially in the Downtown area, and that has attracted a lot of development. There has been a steadily growing young population. It has become a city where we talk about technology all the time. Local leadership has had a great positive impact in the area as well. The county commissioners and past and present mayors have had their eyes on the future and have worked very hard to develop a true vision for Tampa. Also, we do not have an income tax in the state of Florida, which is an attractive factor on top of all the amenities Tampa has to offer.
Johnson: The labor pool for legal staff is tight, but we are happy with the people we have on our team. We have found that there are good people out there who you can hire, but there is obviously a lot of competition for them. As a smaller firm, we have to work harder to find those right people, and it really depends on finding the right recruiter to help with that process. It is also very much about the type of work environment we can offer potential candidates. Culture is truly the big driver behind this. We made a commitment to create the kind of culture where people would enjoy working for us. Not only do we offer competitive pay and good benefits, but they also have a lot of freedom in terms of being flexible with their work time to meet family obligations. We also offer legal staff the opportunities to learn and grow so that they can adapt to new skills and new positions. It is all about creating an environment where people really enjoy coming to work and where work doesn’t feel like a job.
How important is new technology to the future success of the legal sector in Florida?
Lundy: We have embraced technology. We are completely electronic, especially in our research and court filing. We are also all mobile and can work remotely when needed. We embraced technological improvements faster than other law firms and will continue to do so. It will be interesting to see how artificial intelligence will change law practices. Historically, the manner in which legal services were delivered has been very old school, but that is changing.
Johnson: The Florida Bar has been quite progressive when it comes to technology. The Florida Bar is really taking a leadership role and we are seen as the national leader in introducing lawyers to new technology and helping them deal with the effects as technology takes over their practices. We are fortunate to have such a progressive Bar in that respect. Our Supreme Court also has done a good job of trying to figure out where our rules should be so that it is easier for us to deal with the challenges that we face as lawyers. These elements combined make Florida a pretty good environment to practice in.
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