Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Matthew Posgay, a shareholder with Coker Law, who is board certified in civil trial law by the Florida Bar and in civil trial advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocates, in the latest Board Certified Lawyer of the Month spotlight. He has tried over 75 civil cases, bringing more than 65 to verdict.
AALM: What first drew you to this firm?
MP: I have been in practice for more than 27 years. I had a successful practice with an insurance defense firm and was running their Northeast Florida office. I wanted more for my career. I enjoy litigating and trying cases, but I was not helping people, which was my real calling for being a lawyer. I joined Coker Law more than 14 years ago because of their commitment to helping people obtain justice and their commitment to the Jacksonville community.
AALM: How is your practice different today than you’d imagined it in law school?
MP: I never realized in law school the extent that technology would impact the legal profession. It is more than just attending depositions and hearings remotely, as technology permeates every case. It involves electronic discovery, vehicle data recorder downloads, online research tools and case management software, to name just a few things that are so different now than they were when I was in law school.
Additionally, I had no idea how important marketing would be while in law school. My father was a solo practitioner in real estate and probate and the significant majority of his work came from referrals in the community and other lawyers, because they knew he was an excellent lawyer. I had the naïve thought in law school that being an excellent lawyer was enough to grow your practice. Although being an excellent lawyer is necessary to grow your practice, it is not enough. You have to learn to walk a fine line between letting people know what special skills and knowledge you have to help them, without coming across as bragging.
AALM: What compelled you to seek board certification?
MP: A mentor and longtime friend told me years ago to seek board certification as it was one way people would know you were excellent as a civil trial lawyer. Understandably, not many lawyers go through the process to apply for board certification and to take the examination, because in some ways it is harder to become board-certified than passing the bar exam.
AALM: Tell us about your mentors and some of the best lessons they taught you.
MP: I have been fortunate to have several excellent mentors during my career. I have learned from all of them, but the two that stand out most to me are Mickey Smith and Howard Coker.
Mickey is a trial lawyer in Palm Beach Gardens who was my supervising partner when I was a brand-new lawyer. He gave me the opportunity to try cases only a few months after I passed the bar exam. He also taught me you must be honest and work hard to be successful in the law.
Thankfully, I have also been blessed with Howard Coker as a mentor and a partner. Howard has achieved more as a lawyer than any of us will probably ever achieve, yet he still comes to work every day with a fierce passion to obtain justice for our clients. His energy and drive inspires me every day.
AALM: Are you active with any nonprofits or legal organizations? Tell us about any you feel particularly passionate about.
MP: I have been involved with the Raines High School Future Lawyers and Leaders program since its inception. It is an amazing program that Judge Brian Davis brought to Raines High School with the assistance of members of the D. W. Perkins Bar Association. There are amazing students at Raines who are interested in learning more about a legal career. We provide the students mentoring and coaching for a mock trial that is conducted in the spring.
I am also a member of Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2023 (without a doubt, truly the best class ever!). It has been great meeting so many amazing people, from such varied career and personal backgrounds, that are dedicated to making Jacksonville a better place for everyone. The more I learn about my adopted hometown, the more I love it.
I also serve as a member of the board of directors and the executive committee for the Florida Justice Association. It is the only statewide organization that works hard every day to preserve our constitutional right to civil jury trials.
AALM: Looking back on your career to date, is there anything you would change?
MP: My family has always been a priority to me and that will never change. However, I was so motivated to grow professionally and financially in the first half of my career, that I was not always completely “present” with my family, even when I was physically there. I am grateful to have amazing relationships with my wife and children, but if I was able to set the clock back a bit, I would make a more dedicated effort to be fully “present “with them when my children were younger. It is not a regret, but just a more mature understanding of the importance of the relationships we have with the people we love. Thankfully, this realization came to me while they were still young enough for me to change and we all have benefited from this insight.
AALM: Tell us a bit about yourself outside the office. What’s something your colleagues would be surprised to learn.
MP: Don’t rely on somebody else to provide the bar. If you have a cookout, a tailgate or some other event where drinks are needed, let me know and I will be there. Life is too short to drink mediocre liquor, beer or wine.