Jonathan Zisser, co-founder and owner of Zisser Family Law in Jacksonville, has practiced in several diverse areas of the law over his career. He is the son of attorneys Elliot and Carolyn Zisser and has been recognized for his work.
I see that you have worked as an attorney for Defenders of Wildlife in Washington, D.C. Can you tell me about your experience there and your perspective on protecting endangered species?
My experience with Defenders of Wildlife was 20 years ago now, but I still remember working with the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S Forest Service and U.S. Department of Justice to protect the northern spotted owl species and its habitat due to the effects of logging and climate change.
In Jacksonville, you served as an assistant public defender. Can you tell me about your role and its importance to a society that respects the rights of the accused?
The fundamental role of the Office of the Public Defender is to provide competent legal representation to the criminally accused who cannot afford to hire an attorney. The right to counsel to everyone facing a possible deprivation of liberty is the one of the most fundamental and important constitutional rights we have. My role included representing children in juvenile court, the mentally ill in civil detention court and adults charged with misdemeanors to very serious first degree felonies. There cannot be two systems of justice in this county, one for the wealthy and one for everyone else.
How did your upbringing influence your interest in law?
Having two parents who are attorneys definitely kept the idea of being a lawyer in the forefront, but neither of my parents put any pressure on me to become an attorney, or to practice in the areas where they practice. But their passion and interest in the law and in helping people definitely influenced by decision to go to law school and become an attorney.
Tell me about your current practice. What kinds of cases do you take on, and how do you approach each new one?
My current practice focuses on family law, and the criminal collateral damage that often follows families in conflict, such as domestic violence, substance abuse and DUI. My focus in family law revolves mostly around representing parties going through divorce proceedings, custody and timesharing evaluations, valuation and distribution of the assets and liabilities acquired during a marriage, post judgment modification and enforcement of final judgments, and non-married parties going through paternity proceedings. I approach each case by analyzing the issues unique to the case, asking the client to evaluate the things that are most important to him/her, and developing a strategy with each client that can result in a successful settlement.
What are some of the achievements of which you are most proud?
I’m most proud of my inclusion on the SuperLawyers.com list from 2020-2022 and being named as a SuperLawyers.com rising start in 2013-14. I’m also proud of my annual commitment to pro bono service by providing time to Jacksonville Area Legal Aid in offering family law clinics to those members of the community who cannot afford to hire a family law attorney.
What do you like best about living here on the First Coast?
I love the quality of life that the First Coast provides. I spend much of my free time on the beaches stretching from Atlantic Beach to St. Augustine, riding bikes in the trails of Hannah Park and Guana State Park and enjoying paddle boarding and kayaking on the Intracoastal Waterway and St. Johns River. My daughter loves the beach and all the playgrounds around town. I also cheer hard for the Jaguars where I’ve been a season ticket holder since the beginning of the franchise, and enjoy the arts, culture and music that come to the greater Jacksonville area. I also love getting “down” to St. Augustine and “up” to Fernandina Beach and just walking around with friends.
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