For Ashley Wells Cox of The Bedell Firm, being the recipient of the Barry Sinoff Award of Excellence in Family Law is an honor not only professionally, but also personally.
Senior counsel in the firm’s family law division, Cox first met Sinoff when she was going through her own divorce.
“I was immediately struck by his compassion and his ability,” Cox said. “Mr. Sinoff was gentle, yet firm, using his knowledge and experience to obtain the best results possible for his clients, while always being sensitive to their needs and struggles. He made me feel secure, and that was his gift during a tough time. I will always remember him and work to model my own character and professionalism after the example he set forth.”
After Sinoff passed away in 2016, Cox hired Patricia Abraham, who had been his paralegal for nearly 30 years, bringing a critical part of his practice into her own.
When it comes to role models, Cox has had some of the best. Chief among them are her parents, retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles T. Wells, and Linda Wells, a highly successful commercial litigator.
“They are my best and most longstanding mentors. They both taught me that honesty and professionalism are the most important qualities for any attorney,” Cox said. “They are both intelligent, compassionate, and hard-working. They both worked very hard but always put our family first and I have tried to emulate that with my own life and practice. If I could be half the parent, spouse and attorney that they both were and continue to be, then I am on the right track.”
And on the right track, she is. A magna cum laude graduate of Duke University, Cox graduated with honors from Northwestern University School of Law in 2002. She is married to Jeremy Cox, and they have three schoolage children: Madison, Leah and Fenn. In addition to managing a busy practice, Cox is a volunteer Guardian ad Litem, school advisory chair for Atlantic Beach Elementary, and president of Friends of Atlantic Beach Elementary.
With such an impressive legal pedigree, Cox may have seemed preordained to become a lawyer, but her first job out of college was as a teacher in Chicago through the Inner City Teaching Corps.
“After teaching, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in a field in which I was providing some type of public service and helping people,” Cox said. “I was deciding between obtaining a masters’ degree in social work or attending law school. My dad kept saying that I could do anything with a law degree, so I ultimately decided to go to law school.”
In fact, Cox has led a varied legal career. After practicing as a Skadden fellow at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, serving as assistant state attorney in Jacksonville, and a decade practicing private criminal defense at The Bedell Firm, she took the helm of the firm’s family law practice in 2016.
“Family law is helping people in crisis – often at one of the most difficult junctures in a person’s life,” Cox said. “I enjoy helping people through those tough days.”