It was a chance meeting of two attorneys at a Christmas fundraiser.
Matt Hunt and John Phillips were both models in a fashion show for Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry in December. Turns out, they both use the same tailor, so they spent some time together at the show.
And that, Phillips said, is the beginning of “how two peas got put in a pod.”
Both of those peas were namesakes in Jacksonville law firms. Hunt with Hunt Green & James and Phillips with The Law Offices of John Phillips.
After the fashion show, they stayed in touch over Facebook, had a couple of dinners and began a conversation about working together. Both saw similarities in their approaches to the law and their clients.
A week ago today, Hunt started his new job as a partner in the family law division at Phillips’ firm. He’s been practicing exclusively in family law for more than seven years. It’s a new area of practice at the firm, primarily known for Phillips’ high-profile personal injury work.
Making the decision to leave the firm where he was managing partner wasn’t easy for Hunt. He and his previous partners had a history, both personally and professionally. They attended Florida Coastal School of Law together, Hunt said, then worked at Leigh, James and Associates.
Hunt, Nick James and Paul Green decided to go out on their own about three and a half years ago. For Hunt, the recent decision to expand the firm into Orlando made it difficult for him to continue there.
He and his wife, Janine, have young boys, Isaiah, 4, and Carter, 2.
Having to split his time between two cities was not something Hunt wanted to do.
As Phillips said, “When you’ve got three partners, one guy can get outvoted all the time and wind up in place he does not want to be.”
Hunt said he also saw the possibilities of what Phillips and he could build together.
“I was immediately optimistic and intrigued by this joint venture,” said Hunt, who is based in the firm’s Jacksonville Beach office.
“I went from Downtown life to beach life,” he said.
Hunt won’t be building his new family law practice from scratch. He said all of his clients chose to follow him to his new job. “Every single one of them,” Hunt said.
Family law is the second field of practice Phillips has added to the firm he opened in July 2011. Oddly enough, the addition of criminal law was linked to a Christmas occasion, as well.
Reid Hart’s uncle attended the firm’s holiday party and told Phillips he had to meet his nephew. At the time, calls for criminal work finished behind only personal injury. Phillips decided instead of sending all that work out, he should hire a criminal defense attorney.
For Hunt, the job change has been exciting, but somewhat surreal. New office, new boss, new direction.
All stitched together by the fact he and Phillips share the same tailor. When asked who wore the outfit best, Hunt laughed and said, “We both looked pretty darn dapper.”