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The Bar Bulletin
Jax Daily Record Monday, Aug. 6, 201805:20 AM EST

Helen Peacock Roberson: The reluctant attorney

Recently appointed to the Judicial Nominating Commission, she didn’t always want to follow in her father’s footsteps for a career in law.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

For someone who was at one time firmly against following in her attorney father’s footsteps, Helen Peacock Roberson built quite a career in the legal profession.

A commercial litigator with 13 years of experience, she practices in state and federal courts and is a member of three local voluntary Bar associations, including the Jacksonville chapter of the Federal Bar Association, of which she is slated to be president in 2019-20.

Her latest accomplishment is being appointed to the 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. On July 17, Gov. Rick Scott named her to the nine-member group that selects candidates to be considered by the governor for appointment to vacant seats on the bench.

“I want to be involved with who our judges are going to be. It’s important to make sure you have qualified candidates on the bench. We have very good judges and it’s important to maintain our judiciary,” Roberson said.

She more or less grew up in law. Her father, Ray Peacock, had a small general civil practice in Clearwater. Her mother, a mathematics teacher, was the bookkeeper. Roberson would go to the office with her parents on the weekend to help with the business side of the practice.

“This was in the days before computers, so I would put the checks in order so she could reconcile the accounts. It was a great way to learn numbers and how to count,” Roberson said.

In her teens, she was the summer receptionist at the firm.

“I did everything at the firm. Because of that, was adamantly opposed. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I wanted to do something else,” she said.

Roberson enrolled in college at the University of Florida, initially studying accounting because she had to choose a major.

“It was the first one on the list, so I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll go with that,’” she said.

Helen Peacock Roberson holds the Bible as her husband, Circuit Judge Eric Roberson, left, is sworn in by Chief Judge Mark Mahon.

Later, Roberson took some business law and criminology classes that revived her interest in the law.

“I knew I was going to have to eat my words when I decided to go to law school, but my dad went to UF and I had some of the same teachers that he had when he was there,” she said.

“It’s funny how life works out.”

Roberson said she enjoys her practice because Tanner & Bishop has a diverse civil practice.

“We do a wide variety of cases. I really enjoy the research and the writing, If I was just doing one thing, it might get boring. I like to keep my mind challenged, so the practice here works well for that,” she said.

Roberson and her husband, Circuit Judge Eric Roberson, have two young children. She said balancing her career with family life can be challenging, and knowing how to maintain a schedule is the key to making it work.

“The law is not a 9-to-5 job. I chose this career, and it’s not always easy, but you make it work. You find a way,” she said.

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