Partner Profile: Tom Ray

Tom Ray

AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? 

TR: After obtaining a four-year degree in history, I received a master’s degree in Soviet studies, intending to go into government service. I noticed that many government service employees had law degrees, so I went to law school. During law school, I found more interest in the trial/litigation side of practicing law rather than corporate law. 

AALM: Do you have any mentors or professors that encouraged you along the way? 

TR:  Frank Gaffney was an attorney I worked for in Ohio who encouraged me throughout my law school years. After law school, Rut Liles and the partners at Howell, Howell, Liles, Braddock, and Milton were great mentors who taught me how to best practice law when I first joined the firm. While he was a circuit court judge, I was fortunate to have Major B. Harding administer my oath, admitting me to The Florida Bar. To me, he exemplified the best of our fair judiciary. Finally, John Caven and Allan Clark were great mentors I had the privilege of practicing with for many years.

AALM: What drew you to your practice area? 

TR: I spend most of my law practice in the construction industry. My interest in and understanding of construction projects began during summer breaks from college when I worked in construction. As a new lawyer, the firms I worked with had clients in the construction industry, so my interest in construction law continued.

My first few years of practicing law involved representing defendants for insurance companies, so for about a decade beginning in 1995, I worked for a self-insured client defending personal injury claims.

AALM: What do you find particularly rewarding about your practice? 

TR: The collegiality of the Florida Bar members in general and the lawyers in Northeast Florida I deal with daily. 

AALM: What do you find particularly challenging about your practice? 

TR: The ever-present statutory and case law changes to Florida’s construction law. I keep pace by reading about the changes as much as possible and sharing information with my colleagues.

AALM: What drew you to join your current firm? 

TR: Lippes Mathias is a full-service law firm with a large geographic reach (offices in New York State, Washington, DC and Canada), so the breadth of practice areas and additional support I was able to provide to my clients was a huge factor in joining the firm. 

AALM: Tell us a little bit about your partners and your working relationship. 

TR: Lippes Mathias has 70 partners who cover a broad base of practice areas. I can call on any one of them to assist my clients in areas that I cannot and are eager to share information when requested across our areas of practice.

AALM: Are you mentoring any younger attorneys? 

TR: We have several younger attorneys in our office that I regularly interact with whether in discussion of client matters, case strategy or even to simply discuss new/updated laws. My goal is to teach them to practice law ethically and with a high level of competence for the overall benefit of our clients.

AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving? 

TR: I have two daughters who followed me into the practice of law, of which I am most proud.

AALM: What experiences have taught you the most? 

TR: Trying cases before a judge or jury can be quite humbling. Years ago, I stopped trying to predict how someone else would view my case because, over the years, I won some cases I thought I would lose, and I lost some cases that I thought I would win. That is quite humbling.

AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports? 

TR: Reading, boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities. My grandchildren’s sporting events are filling my schedule as well. I’m also looking forward to traveling for pleasure again.

AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future? 

TR: Continue working with and mentoring young attorneys at our firm.

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