Attorney at Law Magazine Jacksonville Publisher Tom Brady sat down with Jay Howanitz to discuss his career.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney?
Howanitz: I first knew I wanted to be an attorney when I spent part of my high school summers working in my cousin’s law office. I was drawn to it by the fact that you could help so many people both inside and outside the courtroom. It always seemed to create a platform where people would listen to what was important to your client or a certain cause.
AALM: How would you describe your practice? What is your main area of law? What drew you to that practice?
Howanitz: My main focus is personal injury claims. I have been fortunate enough to have handled cases in just about every aspect of personal injury law. I was drawn to Spohrer & Dodd because of the reputation and the culture. The firm has the feel of a big family. You have to love what you do, and that sense of family makes you happy to go to work on a daily basis.
The biggest thing that drew me to this area of the law was the ability to help victims and their families. Growing up in the funeral business, I had a great deal of contact with families who suffered the greatest loss – the loss of a loved one. I have always wanted to do everything I can to help people in that time of need, and this was a way to do that.
AALM: Do you have any mentors that encourage you?
Howanitz: I have been fortunate enough to have worked my entire career with two of the best mentors I could have asked for in Bob Spohrer and Steve Browning. The greatest encouragement they could ever give is the opportunity to be part of the way they handle a case and represent our clients. I have also had a great mentor in Roger Dodd. Every time I sit down with him to discuss courtroom strategies, I feel like I am stealing a CLE that others pay for.
I aspire to be like attorneys Bob Spohrer, Wayne Hogan and Howard Coker, to name a few, who have zealously advocated for a cause knowing that a “thank you” may be all that’s available for payment at the end of the day.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
Howanitz: My biggest enjoyment is spending time with my family. Since Holly and I are both attorneys, we try to leave work at work.
This gives us an opportunity to enjoy life beyond work. I actually had the opportunity to play and coach football at the collegiate level, so football has always been a huge part of my life. As a family, Holly, Dutch and I enjoy our after-work walks, weekends at the zoo, Disney or Jags games during the season and traveling.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future?
Howanitz: Like the mentors and heroes named above, I want to be a person that other attorneys can reach out to for help or advice, and I hope to leave an impression on a legal community that has shaped my legal career.
AALM: What events are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
Howanitz: My wife, Holly, and I will be celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary. That is a big one for us. Also, every year, I help run a charity sporting clay event for the St. John’s Cathedral School. I have a blast participating and can’t wait to host that this year along with some other firm sponsored events.