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Jacksonville Bar Association Honorary Member Robert Gobelman

The JBA recently honored six of its members with Honorary status for achieving 50 years of membership to the Florida Bar and those six were asked to share the knowledge they have gained through their careers by answering the questions listed below.

What attracted you to the practice of law?

I was offered a full scholarship to the University of Chicago Law School.

Who was your mentor and what information did you learn that you still use today?

My mentors were the late Ray Ehrlich, who hired me after law school, and the late Jack Mathews; I was taught by example to work hard, learn the law, take pride in my work product and be honest with judges and other lawyers.

What was the transition like out of law school?

As you would expect, as a new lawyer, the practice of law was much more difficult than law school since you were now dealing with real people with real legal problems and your legal opinions and legal advice could result in serious financial consequences.

How did you feel when you tried your first case on your own?

Nervous and excited, and later exhilarated since I was successful.

How has the practice of law changed since you first began?

When I started in 1958, all attorneys I was in contact with considered it a profession and acted accordingly; over the years it changed and now the practice of law is treated more as a type of business rather than a profession.

What has been your proudest moment during your legal career?

I can’t single out a particular moment; I have felt proud on the occasions when a judge or jury or appellate court agreed with my client’s position on a case and ruled in my client’s favor based on my legal effort.

What advice would you give to a law school graduate?

Make an effort to get a job with a law firm that has a good reputation, work with and for a lawyer you can learn from, work hard and diversify your practice in the early years; as you gain experience, you will have a tendency to develop an interest in the areas of law that are most attractive to you and in which you are most capable. 

Do you participate in any volunteer activities?

I have worked with (Jacksonville Area) Legal Aid over the years; in 1958 and for a number of years thereafter, it consisted of volunteer attorneys meeting once or twice a month as a panel of three and reviewing the client problems of the individuals who had presented to the Jacksonville Bar Association and if the problem required attorney representation, one of the three panel attorneys would take it and represent the client pro bono.

Do you utilize the latest technology in your practice?

Yes, we use technology in our practice, although whether it is the “latest” remains to be seen.

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