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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 24, 201905:10 AM EST

The Marbut Report: Donley Law Firm opens in Orange Park

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Four years after establishing a solo practice, Amber Donley buys an office condominium.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

When attorney Amber Donley was featured in the Jacksonville Daily Record’s “In the Law” in December 2017, her advice for new lawyers was “Rome was not built in a day and neither is your legal career.”

She’s living that advice.

Nine years after she was admitted to The Florida Bar in October 2010, and four years to the month after deciding to establish a solo practice, Donley has opened the Donley Law Firm in her office condominium at 1700 Wells Road in Orange Park.

“In four years, I’ve been able to purchase my own commercial real estate,” Donley said. 

“If someone had told me in law school that I’d own my own business, I’d have told them they were crazy. When I think about it, it’s pretty incredible.”

A native of Miami, Donley’s first career was in elementary education. After graduating from Bethune-Cookman College, she taught fifth grade in Osceola and Polk counties.

Donley moved to Jacksonville and enrolled at Florida Coastal School of Law. After graduation and admission to the Bar, she practiced at a small Jacksonville firm until returning to Florida Coastal as a career counselor specializing in diversity and public interest outreach.

After nearly four years, Donley said she believed it was time for a change.

“I was at a pivotal point. I left without knowing what my next step was. Did I want to go back into practice or did I want an alternative career?” Donley said.

After friends and family advised that she should open her own firm, Donley prayed for a sign to make that “abundantly clear.”

The next day, “a father whose daughter and my daughter were on a volleyball team together called to say he had a family law matter and needed my help,” she said.

She started with shared office space in South Jacksonville where she had access to a conference room and basic office equipment.

“I needed a place to meet people so they’d take me seriously and want to hire me,” Donley said.

To learn the business side of practicing family law, guardianship, estate planning and probate law, she took advantage of practice development resources from The Florida Bar and networked with attorneys with established practices.

“At the beginning, I didn’t have the capital and I didn’t want to feel obligated to get clients and not be able to service them because I was focused on meeting expenses. I started small and built up to where I am,” Donley said.

A Clay County resident, Donley started looking for a building or an office suite to purchase about a year ago and wanted it to be close to home.

“When I realized it was the step I wanted to take, everything fell into place,” she said.

“It was one step at a time, and I’m glad I took the leap of faith.”

John Stewart

The Florida Bar president visiting Northeast Florida

The Florida Bar President John Stewart will be spending a couple of days in November in Northeast Florida.

On Nov. 14, he’s been invited to address the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association’s monthly CLE luncheon at 11:45 a.m. at The River Club Downtown.

Stewart is scheduled to visit the St. Johns County Bar Association when the group meets for lunch at 11:45 a.m. Nov. 15 at Blackfly The Restaurant at 108 Anastasia Blvd. in St. Augustine.

Stewart is a partner at Rossway Swan in Vero Beach. He was elected to the board of governors in 2007 and was sworn in as president of The Florida Bar in June.

Florida-Georgia moot court Nov. 1

The 39th edition of the Hulsey/Gambrell Florida-Georgia Moot Court competition will be Nov. 1 at the Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse.

The annual tradition is scheduled each year the day before the Gators and Bulldogs football game Saturday at TIAA Bank Field. 

It features two students from each law school arguing a theoretical Florida Supreme Court case before a panel of five federal judges — two from Florida, two from Georgia and a neutral.

This year’s panel comprises 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Gerald Tjoflat, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia Judge William Moore Jr., U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Judge Brian Davis, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia Judge Lisa Godbey Wood and U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Judge Marcia Morales Howard.

The competition begins at 9:30 a.m. The public is welcome to attend.

Daniel Bean

Bean appointed to Port Authority board

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Daniel Bean, an attorney and founding partner at Abel Bean Law, to the Jacksonville Port Authority board of directors.

Bean served in the U.S. Navy from 1987 until 2012. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Vanderbilt University and his J.D. from the University of San Diego.

His appointment is for a four-year term, subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

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