On Nov. 14th, the Marks Gray law firm celebrated 120 years of practicing law. This is an amazing feat considering the numerous challenges in the practice of law over that time frame, the changes in technology, and the number of lawyers that have practiced law at the firm.
Richard Marks, who started practicing law in 1899, is credited as the founder of the law firm. He was later joined by his brother Sam Marks. Harry Gray joined the firm in 1916.
The firm had many names over the years:
- Marks, Marks & Holt;
- Marks, Marks, Holt, Gray & Yates
- Marks, Gray, Yates & Conroy
- Marks, Gray, Yates, Conroy & Gibbs
- Marks, Gray, Conroy & Gibbs, P.A.
In 1999, when the firm celebrated 100 years of practicing law, they changed the name to Marks Gray, P.A. and have kept that name for the past twenty years.
In December 2009, the firm successfully launched a new logo and website. They adopted the tagline LAWYERS FOR ENTERPRISE and launched their first planned advertising campaign. They officially registered their name and tagline as trademarks with the USPTO in 2018.
At the firm today, we still have the typewriter and desk that was used by Richard Marks in the 1900s. Now every lawyer has a computer with multiple monitors to keep up with the fast pace of the law in the 21st century.
There are many factors that have enabled Marks Gray to thrive over such a long period of time.
The Firm’s Talent
Marks Gray lawyers have become Judges and Senators and served as assistant state attorneys and assistant US attorneys.
They served in leadership positions with the:
- Defense Research Institute (DRI),
- Florida Defense Lawyers Association (FDLA),
- American College of Trial Lawyers,
- US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Historical Society,
- Association of Defense Trial Attorneys (ADTA),
- Products Liability Advisory Council (PLAC),
- American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA),
- Federation of Insurance and Corporate Counsel,
- International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), and
- International Trademark Association (INTA).
Many young lawyers have been trained at Marks Gray and moved onto larger law firms, solo practices, and in-house counsel for corporations and municipalities. And over the years, we have had countless hard-working and talented paralegals, legal assistants, administrators, and clerks.
The Firm’s Willingness and Ability to Change Over Time
As I reviewed the firm history, I was impressed to see that Julia Harding was the first woman lawyer to join the firm in 1917. This is amazing since women did not even have the right to vote in 1917, and the partners in the law firm actually hired a woman lawyer!
The firm also has a history of allowing its lawyers to develop new practice areas like media and First Amendment law in 1999, immigration law in 2002, and intellectual property law in 2013.
Over the years, the firm lawyers have practiced in a variety of practice areas:
- real estate law,
- estate planning,
- media law,
- employment law,
- insurance defense including medical malpractice defense,
- workers compensation,
- products liability, and
- catastrophic accidents arising from construction, transportation, and other commercial activities.
Even in tough times, the firm leadership has plowed through and worked together to continue representing companies, cities, individuals, associations and non-profit clients.
The Firm’s Connection to the Community
The firm lawyers have given thousands of hours of service to the communities in northeast Florida by serving on the boards of the:
- Jacksonville Bar Association,
- Methodist Regional Hospital System,
- Ronald McDonald House,
- Jacksonville Community Council, Inc.,
- Meninak Civic Club,
- Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce,
- Jacksonville Area Legal Aid,
- Leadership Jacksonville, Inc.
- St. Vincent’s Hospital,
- First Coast Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,
- Jacksonville Women’s Network, and
- many different Rotary Clubs, to name just a few of many organizations.
Few law firms in the United States last more than twenty years, but Marks Gray, P.A. has managed to keep practicing law for 120 years in northeast Florida. A big salute to all the lawyers, paralegals, legal assistants, administrators, and clerks that have worked at Marks Gray and made it a special place to work.