Marks Gray, one of Jacksonville’s oldest and most respected law firms, is celebrating 120 years of service to Northeast Florida’s corporations and industry. The firm held a private celebration at its Southbank offices on Thurs. Nov. 14.
The firm also recognized some of its longest standing members, including James Rinaman, Jr., who practiced at the firm for 56 years before retirement and was influential in many events and cases that shaped Jacksonville, including consolidation. Retired members Vic Halbach was with the firm for 44 years and Frank Perritt (deceased) was with the firm for 46 years. The firm also celebrated those who joined immediately after graduation from law school. Jerry Weedon has been with the firm for 43 years. Nick Pulignano has been with the firm for 38 years. Bill Corley and Jep Barbour have been with the firm 37 years each. Giselle Carson has been with the firm 18 years and Tyler Oldenburg has been with Marks Gray for eight years.
Tracing its origin to 1899 when attorney Richard P. Marks opened his office in Jacksonville, the firm has become Northeast Florida’s comprehensive business and corporate law firm. The firm has weathered war times, economic peaks and valleys, as well as major changes in Jacksonville.
“We are proud to continue to serve as Jacksonville’s go-to firm for all things business,” said Frederick H. Kent, III, shareholder and partner. “We are honored to continue the legacy of our founders who were instrumental in building Jacksonville’s early business community after the Industrial Revolution.”
During 120 years of practice, Marks Gray has had dozens of presidents of the Jacksonville Bar, numerous presidents of the Florida Bar and several attorneys have gone on to be appointed and elected judges in our region. In addition, the firm has a long history of pro bono work and has donated more than 1,000 hours of pro bono legal services to our community in just the past 10 years. The firm has grown to more than 50 employees with more than 20 attorneys.
Richard P. Marks (1876-1942) was a United States Attorney and a founder of Florida Title and Trust Co. In addition, he was owner of the only Duval County real estate records that survived the 1901 fire, which destroyed most of downtown Jacksonville. These files are still in Marks Gray’s archives to this day.
Sam Marks (1885-1973) helped organize and served as general counsel for Winn-Dixie Enterprises. He was the executor of the estate of Charles E. Merrill, a founder of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., the successor to which is still a client of the firm.
Harry Gray (1890-1975) was a leading commercial and tort defense trial lawyer. He drafted Florida’s first Workers’ Compensation law in the early 1930s and was general counsel for the Florida Board of Architecture and the Florida Medical Association for nearly 50 years. He was president of the Jacksonville Bar in 1935 and the Association of Insurance Attorneys in 1963 and was a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.