If television never had been invented, S. Grier Wells might be a veterinarian.
Instead, the shareholder at GrayRobinson is a trial attorney, past president of The Jacksonville Bar Association, former member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors and this year’s recipient of The Florida Bar President’s Award of Merit.
Wells grew up on a farm and for a brief time in high school considered a career as a veterinarian. But hours of watching a particular television program led him to the law.
“I was influenced by Raymond Burr as Perry Mason. That’s how I knew I ultimately would become a lawyer,” Wells said.
It turns out the law was the right choice and it has been for almost 40 years.
“I enjoy working with clients who have problems and either advance what they believe to be the right course of action or ultimately solve their problem,” Wells said.
He also could have had a career in the military. Trained as a U.S. Army demolition specialist, he was stationed in Heilbronn, Germany, with the 237th Engineer Battalion.
Wells was selected by the commanding officer to be the director of the unit’s American Youth Association, an organization for dependents of military personnel deployed overseas.
“It was like the YMCA for military children,” Wells said. “I went from being the point man in blowing up bridges to setting up activities for military children.”
After earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in 1969, Wells graduated from the UF College of Law in 1975.
Heeding his calling as a trial lawyer in the areas of commercial, construction and employment litigation, Wells became active in the American Board of Trial Advocates. He was president of The Jacksonville Bar Association in 1987-88 and four years later, joined the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar.
“I ran for a vacant seat and won the election. Then I just got involved,” said Wells.
During his tenure on the board, he was co-chair of the Bar’s Disciplinary Review Committee and was chairman of The Bar’s Special Committee on Lawyer Referral Services.
The committee’s recommendations on regulating how and whether non-attorneys can essentially market legal services were adopted in large part by the Bar and are now under consideration for adoption by the Florida Supreme Court.
“It protects the public and it protects the profession. The primary objective is to be able to inform and protect the public,” Wells said.
In addition to his service to the legal profession, Wells also has on his curriculum vitae president of the San Marco Preservation Society, trustee of Riverside Presbyterian Church and Day School and Better Business Bureau board of directors. He volunteers with the Downtown Ecumenical Services Council and HabiJax.
Now that his term on the Board of Governors has concluded, Wells said he’ll have about 200 hours each year available for other projects.
“I intend to get involved with something else. I just don’t yet know what.”