There’s an easy camaraderie reflecting mutual respect and trust between law partners Tad Delegal and James Poindexter. Delegal is in his 30th year of practice, and Poindexter provides the energy and perspective of a young lawyer to the practice. Alexandra Underkofler has joined the firm as an associate, and together with their support staff, the team provides employment and administrative work at Delegal & Poindexter PA.
The firm represents clients in a wide variety of employment-related matters. While many employment firms serving individuals use a contingency fee model, Delegal & Poindexter finds that an hourly fee model permits better initial focus on evaluation and strategy, and better client outcomes with a “value-based approach.”
“Our goal is to provide big-firm detail with small-firm service,” says Delegal. “Larger firms have the resources to spend time and energy on cases to really drill down. We try to recreate that same level of detail and attention for individuals while still preserving that personal one-on-one relationship. We feel we can provide the same in-depth service for a reasonable cost.”
“We might be small in size,” adds Poindexter, “but we have a long reach. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. We realize the importance of litigation efficiency and work closely with our clients to ensure that the services provided match the level require in any case.”
The firm has tried its share of cases, but the lawyers are savvy enough to appreciate that not all cases are best solved at trial.
“We wind up trying a lot of cases for an employment firm, or firm of our size, but we also realize the importance of using good strategies to try to resolve cases up front by conducting in-depth evaluations and using effective pre-suit approaches,” says Delegal. “We look for creative litigation strategies at each stage and assist our clients in evaluating the best paths for their particular situation.”
Board certified by the Florida Bar in both labor and employment law as well as state and federal administrative practice, Delegal has the distinction of being the only attorney in the state who has received certification in both specialties. He also chaired both of those two certification committees for the Florida Bar.
This dual certification is particularly valuable when representing individuals contesting the government’s attempts to harm their professional status or career.
“We’re in a challenging area of law,” says Delegal. “In general, the law has developed in a fashion that is more favorable to the employer, so you have almost a built-in challenge from the outset.”
Over his career, Delegal has established himself as an authority in labor and employment law. A multi-award recipient, he is a frequent speaker and presenter for the Florida Bar and other organizations. A former Jacksonville Bar Association president, he is actively involved in the legal and local community and was awarded the Civility and Professionalism Award from the American Board of Trial Advocates Jacksonville chapter in 2019.
A Practice of Passion
Long hours and detailed research combined with rigorous preparation might not make for the glamorous scenes depicted in movies and TV shows, but all this meticulous dedication is rewarding for both partners.
Poindexter who has practiced labor and employment law in Jacksonville since 2015, currently serves as the co-chair of the Jacksonville Bar Association’s governmental relations committee. Poindexter is president of the Florida chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association and is also secretary of the Young Lawyers Section of the Jacksonville Bar Association. He also serves on the board of directors for Theater Jacksonville. He acknowledges that the workload can frequently feel daunting, but the results and client satisfaction are worth it.
“We have to be very research oriented with a considerable amount of writing,” says Poindexter. “Some people might find that taxing, but its stimulating for me. We take a great deal of pride in our work and it often makes for a long day. But it’s the work that we love and believe in so it’s never a hardship.”
Poindexter continues to hone his substantial skills while also serving in a variety of important positions. In 2019, Poindexter was named a recipient of the Top 10 Under 40 in the First Coast Legal Community by Attorney at Law Magazine.
Building a Brand
The team of Delegal & Poindexter have carved a niche for themselves, building on a growing reputation for comprehensive and exacting service.
Underkofler, who joined the firm in 2018 as a law clerk and became an associate attorney in 2019 upon bar passage, has quickly become involved in many of the firm’s cases, as well as professional associations in the community and beyond. She is excited to be part of a firm that represents clients effectively in such a specialized area of the law, with capabilities beyond that which might be expected from a firm of three attorneys.
“Having the opportunity to try an administrative case with Tad recently was one of the highlights of my legal career to date,” she says. “Working for a firm where your bosses trust you to handle matters in a professional and competent way, especially at trial, provides invaluable experience. Tad and James have trusted me to represent clients in a number of ways throughout my career and in doing so, have provided me many opportunities to grow as a litigator.”
The firm believes strongly in providing strong support personnel, who perform many of the tasks that attorneys cannot and should not perform. Office manager and paralegal Moni Dover has been with the firm for over 10 years and has built a strong structure to support the firm’s legal services. Communication with clients is key, and Dover has created systems which ensure work is performed efficiently, so that clients know their cases are handled effectively. Dover works with administrative assistant Sabrina Miles, file clerk Ethan Aramis Tejedor and law clerk Jack Ford, along with other part-time personnel to ensure efficient work and client satisfaction.
“Our integrated approach utilizes advanced technology in case management and preparation along with our qualified team of professionals,” notes Poindexter. “Ultimately, our goal is to provide our clients with the highest quality legal representation in our endeavor to assist them in pursuing their interests and defending their livelihoods.”
The partners agreed early on that their approach would be uniquely their own, providing the best service possible for each client that simultaneously supports their commitment to also offering the best value.
“We’ve created what we believe to be a very client centered, value-based model,” says Delegal. “People are accustomed to the personal injury world and the contingency model, but our hourly fee practice that allows us to take on cases and dig deep or as is often the case, simply offer advice or guidance.”
“We always begin with an initial meeting to evaluate a claim,” says Poindexter. “It takes about two hours for us to provide thorough advice on a case, and we have a set fee for that time. Spending the necessary time up front, rather than charging for that time later in the representation, provides our clients with a better understanding of their options and permits them to better formulate a well-structured plan for addressing legal needs.”
“Our model helps us better serve a client who needs to negotiate a good severance or litigate a professional license case” adds Delegal. “TMany of our clients also come to us just for advice and it usually doesn’t make sense for a contingency system.”
Another important facet to the team of Delegal & Poindexter is their commitment to supporting and contributing to the community. Pro bono work is a high priority for both partners, in fact, they have received multiple awards in recognition of these efforts.
“Both James and I are very involved in pro bono work,” says Delegal, “including work we did in support of the local referendum supporting the school board.”
Honors in recognition of these generous efforts include a Twelve Who Care award Delegal was presented by a local news organization for his pro bono service to children with disabilities. Additionally, both he and Poindexter were named recipients of the 2019 Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Kathy Para Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award.
As they continue to grow their firm and reputation, the team of Delegal & Poindexter have positive expectations for the future.
“We, along with everyone else, are certainly looking forward to the end of the pandemic and all of its restrictions,” says Delegal. “Certainly, we saw an uptick in folks reaching out as businesses were forced to restructure or layoff, but now are seeing more and more non-compete cases as things are seemingly, slowly returning to pre-pandemic status.”
“As we continue to grow and build our reputation we will likewise continue to build and develop our skills so that we might better serve as advocates for our clients,” adds Poindexter.