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Who We Are

Who We Are and What We Do

The Florida Justice Association (FJA), formerly the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (AFTL), is dedicated to strengthening and upholding Florida's civil justice system and protecting the rights of Florida's citizens and consumers.

We passionately believe that all Floridians benefit when deserving individuals have a fair chance to seek justice in our state's courts and that Florida's consumers are made safer when large corporations and industries are held to a high ethical standard and accept fair responsibility for their actions.

FJA works in the legislative, political and public arenas to ensure that Floridians know and understand the importance of their rights to justice and to make certain that these rights, which are at the very core of what it means to be American, are safeguarded and protected.

FJA History

A few years after the end of World War II, a group of attorneys from around the State of Florida who primarily represented injured accident victims formed a small organization called Negligence and Compensation Lawyers of Florida (NACLAF). The organization was spearheaded by Miami attorney Perry Nichols, who felt that attorneys needed closer communication, educational opportunities, and support from one another.

On May 20, 1961, NACLAF reorganized into the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers and consisted of less than 50 members. Al J. Cone was the first elected President of the Academy, with Warren Goodrich as Vice-President and Victor Tipton as Secretary-Treasurer and Editor of the new Academy monthly publication – the Bulletin, renamed a year later to the Journal.

In 1970, the Academy rented a small office space in Tallahassee, Florida, and hired its first executive director. In 2007, the Academy changed its name to the Florida Justice Association in an effort to better reflect our ideals as an organization. 

The original intent of NACLAF was to represent the interests of average injured citizens in the Florida Legislature and in the courtroom. In the 1950s, Nichols recognized that the civil justice system favored business interests over the interests of the individual and injured persons. He and the founding fathers of the Academy set out to shift the focus of justice to protect Florida’s consumers. The leadership and FJA staff continues this mission today.

FJA Past Presidents

Al J. Cone (1920-2008) 1961-62
Warren M. Goodrich (1922-2009) 1962-63
W. Clinton Green (1907-1973) 1963-64
S. Victor Tipton (1915-2008) 1964-65
William N. Avera (1927-2009) 1965-66
Samuel D. Phillips, Jr. (1920-1983) 1966-67
J.B. Spence (1922-2011) 1967-68
James W. Cullis (1927-1987) 1968-69
William J. Tanney (Deceased 2009) 1969-70
Raymond F. Ferrero, Jr. 1970-71
Lefferts L. Mabie, Jr. (1925-1996) 1971-72
Bill Wagner 1972-73
William M. Hicks (1928-1996) 1973-74
John A. Thabes (1933-2005) 1974-75
B.J. Masterson (1919-1994) 1975-76
Anthony W. Cunningham (1931-2009) 1976
William F. Blews 1976-77
Aaron S. Podhurst 1977-78
Larry S. Stewart 1978-79
Michael Maher 1979-80
Fred A. Hazouri 1980-81
Stephen F. Rossman 1981-82
Robert O. Stripling, Jr. 1982-83
Ira H. Leesfield 1983-84
S. Sammy Cacciatore 1984-85
W.C. Gentry 1985-86
Christian D. Searcy 1986-87
J. Ron Smith 1987-88
Mel R. Martinez 1988-89
John F. Romano 1989-90
Karen Gievers 1990-91
Phil Freidin 1991-92
Wayne Hogan 1992-93
F. Gregory Barnhart 1993-94
Lake H. Lytal, Jr. 1994-95
Richard W. Slawson 1995-96
Richard J. Roselli 1996-97
James P. Kelaher 1997-98
Jeffrey M. Liggio 1998-99
Neal A. Roth 1999-2000
Lance J. Block 2000-01
Mark W. Clark 2001-02
Howard C. Coker 2002-03
Richard M. Shapiro 2003-04
Alexander M. Clem 2004-05
Web E. Brennan 2005-06
Edward H. Zebersky 2006-07
Frank M. Petosa 2007-08
Thomas S. Edwards, Jr. 2008-09
Michael A. Haggard 2009-10
C. Richard Newsome 2010-11
Fred A. Cunningham 2011-12
Gary M. Farmer, Jr. 2012-13