Mike Freed: The Running Lawyer

Board Certified Lawyer of the Month Mike Freed
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In the latest Board Certified Lawyer of the Month series, Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Mike Freed of Gunster to discuss his career and his decision to become board certified.

AALM: Tell us a little about your practice.

MF: I am part of the business litigation group at Gunster. Our group handles a wide variety of large, complex business disputes. Firmwide, we have more than 200 hundred smart, well-trained, and highly practical lawyers in 13 offices throughout Florida.

AALM: What compelled you to seek board certification?

MF: I saw board certification as an important recognition for lawyers who had reached a high level of skill, knowledge, professionalism, and accomplishment in their field of specialization.

AALM: Tell us about your mentors and some of the best lessons they taught you.

MF: Mark Hulsey of Smith, Hulsey & Busey, shared with me, as he did with many others, that lawyers should be like iron fists in satin gloves – that is, take the high road and lead with diplomacy, but be prepared to be firm and aggressive when necessary.

I also always have tried to remember something I heard Judge Peter Fryefield say, “You will be practicing law with the lawyers in this community longer than you will have any one case or any one client.”

AALM: Is there any particular case that has stood out in your career as a turning point?

MF: One of my most significant cases was the federal court litigation challenging the decision of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to strip accreditation from Edward Waters College. If the decision stood, it would have put the 150-year-old historically black college out of business. Instead, in a first-of-its-kind decision, Judge Corrigan ruled that SACS had deprived EWC of its due process rights. That decision had a huge impact on the students and alums of EWC and our entire city. I am so pleased to see all that Edward Waters – now a University – has accomplished since.

AALM: Tell us about an organization you’re involved with that you feel particularly passionate about.

MF: I am the president of the National Conference of Bar Presidents. The NCBP advocates for the organized bar and the legal community on a national level and provides resources and training to rising bar presidents across the country.

AALM: Tell us a bit about yourself outside the office.

MF: For the past five years, I have run from Tallahassee to Jacksonville to raise money for legal aid. The event, in which others join, is now known as Freed to Run. We are seeking to raise $2.25 million to endow Jacksonville Area Legal Aid’s Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership, which provides pediatric patients and their families access to civil legal help with things like access to health coverage, landlord-tenant issues, and other problems impacting children’s health. This year’s event will be Nov. 15-20, and we are still signing up relay teams and of course accepting donations.

I also perform stand-up comedy professionally.

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