One of Us - David Willis


David Willis is a Jacksonville attorney and founding partner of the Willis Lucas Law Group. Willis lives in Jacksonville Beach with his fiance, Carla. Willis has four grown children, the youngest of which just started her first semester in college. He also has one grandchild. Willis is a life-long surfer and loves the beach life. In 2008, he and his partner Jonathan Lucas founded the Willis Lucas Law Group, a law firm that specializes in an array of areas including, but not limited to, civil litigation, criminal defense, personal injury, auto accident, DUI and construction law.

Where are you from originally?

I grew up here in Jacksonville. I lived in town, San Jose. I went to Wolfson High School. I’m a surfer, so I moved to the beach as soon as I got out of high school. I’ve been here in Jacksonville Beach ever since.

Where did you attend college?

I went to the University of North Florida and got a degree in business. I started out in the construction field. My father was president of a big construction company, so I started out after high school at his company. My first job was carrying sheetrock on a construction job downtown. I was in school at the time; worked full-time. And then I ended up liking the construction work and became a carpenter and started building houses and I ended up owning a carpentry. Then I got my general contractor’s license and started contracting and building houses.

Where did you go to law school?

In the early 2000s, I went to school at the Florida Coastal School of Law and got my law degree to be a construction attorney. I graduated in 2006 and got a job right away with a big law firm as a construction lawyer. Then in 2008, that company closed the entire construction department, so they let the lawyers go in the construction section of the firm.
I had an interesting journey from there. By happenstance, I started doing some criminal defense cases. I had done some work at public defender’s office in school, so I knew a little bit about criminal defense. I started doing light endeavors in the criminal defense and was successful at it. That blossomed into more and more cases and the next thing you know, I was (accidently) a criminal defense lawyer. I always intended only to be a construction attorney. Now, we have far more criminal cases than we do construction. The construction market is coming back and we have a good amount of construction cases, which I enjoy.

When did you open the law firm?

In 2008. We have two locations. We have the Jacksonville Beach location and a downtown location. My partner, Jonathan Lucas, has been with me since 2008. We now have a third attorney working for us, Doug Clifton. He’s from the public defender’s office, and he specializes in criminal law. With criminal law, we’re in court all the time, so we’re at the courthouse a lot, which keeps us sharp with our courtroom litigation skills.

What do you enjoy about your job?

One of the reasons I like doing the criminal defense work is that I have come to find that I enjoy helping people and that’s what we do as criminal defense lawyers, we help people — people that have a legal problem and we do all we can to help them resolve the problem. Everybody deserves a defense — that’s the American way. [Our role] as criminal defense lawyers is sometimes the lesser respected of the two sides that engage in a criminal procedure. There’s got to be the prosecution, but you’ve got to have the defense too. That’s how our system’s built.

What organizations do you belong to?

I’m the president of the Jacksonville Beaches Bar Association. I’m very honored to be the president. We’re always trying to encourage new members to join. JBBA doesn’t require that you work at the beaches, it’s open to everyone.
I’m the present elect of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Northeast Chapter. It’s a great organization — both the state and the local chapter that specializes for criminal defense lawyers. It’s a great opportunity for all practitioners in the criminal defense area to get together once a month, to network a little bit and to share information back and forth.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Surfing is my number one — always has been. I’ve been a lifelong devoted surfer. I like to travel — the traveling and surfing are intertwined. Carla and I both love to travel, and I skateboard.