2023 First Coast Women in Law

Attorney at Law Magazine First Coast is pleased to present its annual Women in Law special issue, featuring the 2023 First Coast Women in Law. These spotlighted women attorneys have each shared a bit of the inspiration that drives their success in the practice of law.

Megan Russo

Russo Resolution

Megan RussoMegan Russo, the owner of Russo Resolution, is a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit civil mediator and a federal court certified mediator. She mediates cases throughout Florida. Prior to becoming a mediator, she represented both plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury and first-party property damage matters.

Inspiration. “The woman who inspired me the most in law was Michelline Haynes Ruth. She was a fierce litigator, an encouraging mentor and a woman of class and style. She told me that I could do anything in Jacksonville that I wanted to do with my career. Her words pushed me to become a mediator. I’m so grateful for her short, but impactful, time in my life.”

Gwen Griggs

Advos Legal

Gwen GriggsWith backgrounds in Big Law and C-suite roles, the founders of ADVOS legal built a new model, that measures what matters to the client, team and owner. Using consulting and tech, they now help other firms break through the pain points of the outdated model.

Inspiration. “Judge Marcia Morales Howard, a dear friend, and woman jurist who selflessly and tirelessly serves our judicial system and our community. Despite the substantial load of federal cases ranging from widely-covered politically charged disputes impacting 100,000s residents to presiding over emotionally charged sex trafficking cases, Judge Howard finds the time to be deeply committed to pro bono and volunteer causes. As the daughter of Cuban immigrants, she has conducted more than 20 naturalization ceremonies, including one that made national news, as she welcomed 64 people from 38 countries at a moving ceremony during a Jaguars football game. She is a loving mother, wife, daughter and sister, cares deeply for her truly remarkable family, and has been an incredible, generous and inspiring friend.”

Megan Block Russell

Rissman Law

Megan Block RussellMegan Block Russell received her Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law. While at Stetson, she ranked in the top 12% in her class and received a book award in Research and Writing I and International Advanced Legal Research. Block was active in the Florida Association for Women’s Lawyers, Entertainment and Sport’s Law Society, and played intramural softball. She is a member of the Jacksonville Women’s Lawyers Association.

Inspiration. My sister inspired me to become an attorney. She was in law school when I was figuring out what to do after college. I had many conversations with her about her studies and what law she was interested in. She sparked an interest in me that led me to attend law school, and, ultimately, become a lawyer.

Kathryn E. Stanfill

Hinson Law Firm P.A.

Kathryn StanfillKathryn Stanfill practices probate, including probate for personal injury and wrongful death; guardianship administration; estate planning; and landlord/tenant law throughout the State of Florida. Stanfill serves on the JWLA board of directors and the JBA/YLS board of governors.

Inspiration. “Growing up I was inspired by Clarksville Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn P. Bowers. Mayor Bowers was the first woman elected Montgomery County mayor. Through her position, Mayor Bowers showed me that women can hold a demanding career and still maintain a work life balance. Mayor Bowers encouraged my interest in law, and granted me an internship, which was my first exposure to the judicial system. That experience solidified my desire to become a lawyer and help people through their legal issues.”

Jennifer A. Mansfield

Holland and Knight

Jennifer MansfieldJennifer A. Mansfield is a partner at Holland & Knight with extensive experience in First Amendment law, insurance defense, Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) litigation and managed healthcare litigation. Prior to her law career, she served for three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay.

Inspiration. “Arabella Mansfield (no relation), America’s first woman lawyer.”

Jacalyn Crecelius

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid

Jacalyn CreceliusJacalyn Crecelius leads the Veterans Services Unit at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. Previously, she practiced family law, security clearance defense, and insurance/healthcare law. She has represented clients in county and circuit court and argued in administrative hearings in front of various federal agencies, including the U.S. departments of Defense and State and the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Inspiration. “I owe a lot to the late Deborah Kovac-Rump, former federal prosecutor, magistrate, and professor. I took her post-conviction appeals practicum in law school where I was able to see how she beautifully balanced her passions
of law and humanity. She demonstrated how to master and respect legal doctrine while also fighting tirelessly to ensure that those who most needed the law’s protections received them. I’m blessed to have had her as a mentor and friend.”

Kelsey Alvarez

Hall Booth Smith

Kelsey AlvarezKelsey Alvarez is a partner in the Jacksonville office of Hall Booth Smith, P.C. She handles a variety of general liability claims, and represents national chains on high exposure premises liability cases. Alvarez serves on an advisory board at Florida State College for the paralegal studies program. She enjoys spending time with her husband and family, going to the beach, and she is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Inspiration. “Sandra Day O’Connor was the woman who inspired me to be a lawyer. She is an unsung hero to women in the law. When I was young, I went to DC with my parents and we went on a tour of the Supreme Court. I was amazed with her display. I told my parents that day I wanted to be a lawyer, and I would be the first lawyer in my family. My goal then, and has been since, is to make my parents proud, be true to myself, and bring happiness and kindness to the profession.”

Ashley Hollingsworth

Tyson Mendes

Ashley HollingsworthAshley Hollingsworth is a partner in Tyson Mendes’ Jacksonville office. Hollingsworth is a trial attorney who focuses her practice on negligence and personal injury defense including transportation, premise liability, wrongful death, and construction defect matters.

Inspiration. “The late Patsy Mink was an inspiration to many in my community. I am a second generation Filipino-American with my family having settled in Hawaii prior to Hawaii becoming the 50th state. Patsy Mink was the first Asian-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representative and the first Asian-American woman to serve in Congress. She was one of the authors for Title IX of the federal Education Amendments, which mandated equal financing for women’s athletics and in academics at institutions receiving federal funds. Through racial and gender inequality she paved her own path and remarkably fought to clear the path for many others and for generations to come. At a young age seeing a strong female figure as a staple in my community was an inspiration and remains with me to this day.”

Brittany R. Ford

St. Denis & Davey, P.A

Brittany R. FordBrittany R. Ford is a partner with St. Denis & Davey, P.A. She practices statewide in the following areas: commercial litigation, insurance defense, premise liability, personal injury and wrongful death, and professional malpractice. Ford serves on the board of directors for the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association, and is a recipient of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers 2023 Leader in the Law Award.

Inspiration. “I am continually inspired by all the wonderful female attorneys I have met and worked alongside with the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association, especially past presidents Jamie Karpman, Sarah Mannion, Cyndy Trimmer, and Kelli Lueckert. However, my greatest and most constant source of inspiration and support are my best friends from law school. Our group chat is how I make it through each day.”

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