Tell me a little about your background, your education and your career so far.
I grew up and attended college and law school in Alabama. War Eagle!! I moved to Ponte Vedra in 1989 after marrying my law school sweetheart, Holly Green. I practiced civil trial law in Jacksonville for 25 years at Harris, Guidi, Rosner and Dunlap. I started my current firm, Dunlap, Ravis & Miller, in 2016 and relocated to Ponte Vedra on A1A and have absolutely loved it since.
What initially drew you to the law? Is it something that you knew you’d want to pursue from youth or did you discover it later?
I was one of those lucky ones who always wanted to be a lawyer. I think, generally speaking, I saw the law as the framework of rules by which we all play. And he who knows the rules has a better chance at success. Additionally, there is tremendous competition in practicing law. There is strategy in the planning and execution of each case. There are winners and losers. That was probably the biggest driving force.
Tell me about your practice and what types of cases you work on. Can you tell us a little about the critical role lawyers play in our culture?
My practice has always involved representing the individual in civil disputes. A personal injury or wrongful death from an auto crash or other injury. An insurance coverage or claims denial. A defective and unsafe product such as a modified golf cart causing injury or death. Trucking crashes. Defective premises or property cases.
While the cases may have the same general theme, each one is different factually and each client has a very interesting story. Each case takes 18 to 24 months, some longer, so we really get to know each client well. Many remain long-term friends and our client referrals are our number one source of new business.
In terms of the lawyers’ role in our culture, we as a nation and in our individual communities have become so divisive and contentious on every issue that civil and criminal disputes are skyrocketing. Attorneys are necessary to resolve these issues and hopefully our civil justice system will remain intact to assist in resolving these differences.
It should not be lost on us the Founding Fathers chose to guarantee a civil jury trial in the Seventh Amendment/Bill of Rights to our Constitution. A pretty foundational right in our culture.
Do you have any advice for young readers who may be considering a career as an attorney?
Like most professions, the practice of law has changed drastically since I began. Sadly, the professionalism level has dropped among litigation attorneys. While competition is important and winning is the preferred outcome, the win-at-all-cost mindset has brought our profession down in the public eye. Email, Zoom, remote offices and the COVID isolation fiasco have all led to a disconnect in the personal communication and interaction among lawyers, clients and judges.
A career in law can still be an extremely rewarding profession on many levels if you approach it correctly and demand integrity of yourself and your colleagues. Those interested in the profession should go to the courthouse and observe all types of proceedings. The court staff and the Judges will welcome your interest. You will find it’s not all a John Grisham novel!
What do you like best about what you do?
Without question, it is the interaction with clients and their individual cases and legal needs. Our clients come from all walks of life. In representing them, I am able to learn about so many different products, engineering applications and best of all the anatomy and medicine involved in the injury and death cases. It is like playing multilevel chess on see through boards. A successful conclusion that actually changes lives in an otherwise unfortunate and often tragic situation is a tremendous reward for the hard work.
What do you like best about life here on the First Coast?
The pace of life is just right. The weather. The Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra. The water and abundant fishing opportunities. You can catch redfish, trout, flounder, tarpon and even snook on any given day in the summer between St. Augustine and Fernandina. It is a tremendous fishery.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Fishing obviously. Spending evenings with Holly and our friends at the great beach bars and restaurants. Training and retraining my GSP bird dog, Ruger. He requires major attention.
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