It will soon be time for Florida Solicitor General Scott Makar to start a new chapter in his legal career, as a judge serving in the Florida First District Court of Appeal.
Before his appointment to the post by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum in 2007, Makar was chief of the appellate division for the Office of General Counsel for the City of Jacksonville, where he worked from 2001-07.
Before working in the public sector, Makar was a partner with Holland & Knight in Jacksonville. He is the first lawyer from Jacksonville selected for the First District Court of Appeal since Judge William Van Nortwick in 1994.
“It’s been nearly 20 years since the last time someone was selected out of Jacksonville for the First DCA,” said Makar. “It’s an exciting opportunity that I am really looking forward to.”
Makar will finish his fifth year as the state’s solicitor general March 23, a chapter in his legal career that has provided some of his most memorable experiences.
“Arguing four cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during the same term is one of the high-water marks of my time here,” said Makar, whose office argued five cases from 2009-10, with a deputy solicitor general arguing one of the cases.
Florida’s Solicitor General serves three primary roles: overseeing civil appeals involving the state’s interests in all state and federal appellate courts; teaching at the Florida State University College of Law; and serving as a policy adviser to the Attorney General.
Makar represented the State of Florida in Florida v. Graham; Florida v. Sullivan; Stop the Beach Renourishment Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection; and Holland v. Florida during one term of the Supreme Court. Arguments for the Graham and Sullivan cases were scheduled for consecutive days.
“I learned that I could really turn on a dime and get up to speed quickly,” said Makar. “That time in my life is something you dream of during law school. We all realized it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Another role he valued was being able to teach at the FSU College of Law.
“Dean (Donald) Weidner and the academic deans at Florida State University College of Law gave me the flexibility to teach almost anything I wanted,” said Makar. “I thoroughly enjoyed having academic license to teach fun courses.”
Many judges on the First DCA teach at different schools and Makar said there is a strong likelihood he will rejoin academia in the future.
Makar said will miss the camaraderie with fellow lawyers and the adventures of new cases and policy issues, but he looks forward to his next opportunities.
“Joining the First DCA allows me to continue what I love to do: research, writing and education,” said Makar.
He has been contemplating whether to staff his office with an assistant and two law clerks or with three law clerks.
“I’m leaning toward three law clerks, with everyone chipping in,” said Makar.
His children’s artwork and academic accomplishments will continue to hang from the walls of his office, wherever it is.
“Without it, my office is nothing but a bunch of legal papers,” said Makar.