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Jax Daily Record Monday, Sep. 17, 200112:00 PM EST

Profile: Hal Castillo

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Hal Castillo is an independent attorney who has practiced marital and family law exclusively since 1991.

WHY THIS SPECIALTY?

“I’ve done all kinds of trial work but I found I enjoyed working in family law the best as opposed to other areas. It certainly isn’t as lucrative. People come to me with problems and I try to solve them and make things as good as they can be. My job is to make sure the result is not catastrophic to either party.”

WHAT’S TOUGH ABOUT IT?

“The difficult custody cases or those with complex financial assets to be investigated.”

EDUCATION

Emory University in Atlanta.

WHY GO INTO LAW?

“I was acquainted with Mack Crenshaw Sr., the father of the judge and Congressman. He was your prototypical gentleman lawyer. I was young and impressionable so I thought that’s what I wanted to be, a lawyer.”

WET BEHIND THE EARS

Castillo spent a year working as an assistant public defender prior to becoming an associate at Blalock, Holbrook, Lewis, Paul & Isaac. From 1977 to 1990, Castillo held the status of partner at Lewis, Paul, Isaac & Castillo. He worked his way through law school as an industrial salesman with the Aluminum Company of America.

DO YOU SEE YOUR FIELD BEING GOBBLED UP IN LAW FIRM MERGER MANIA?

“No. I think the practice of family law is more acclimated to small firms.”

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

In addition to The Florida Bar and Jacksonville Bar Association, Castillo is also vice president of the American Family Law Inn of Court and a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

WHAT’S THE DIVORCE RATE NOW?

“For first marriages it’s over 50 percent and for second marriages, over 80.”

HIS FAMILY

The Sawgrass Player’s Club in Ponte Vedra Beach is where Castillo and his wife Nancy reside. They have two grown children, Laurie and Stephen.

HOBBIES

Traveling, especially to Paris or San Francisco, studying wines, gardening and reading.

WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ?

“Shogun” tops his pile of must-reads. “Casablanca” and Ragtime in Atlantic Beach get his vote for best movie and restaurant, respectively.

WHAT INDUSTRY TRENDS HAVE YOU SPOTTED?

“I think divorces are getting too expensive and it’s not the fault of the lawyers per se; it’s the fault of the system. We need to strive to make them less complicated. When I first started, a contested divorce cost $750, now it’s $2,500. I have handled some that cost over $1 million. The Florida Bar, Supreme Court and the legislators are working to make justice more accessible but I don’t know that we’ve found a solution yet.”

—by Monica Chamness

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