Christopher Cobb recently founded a law firm with partner James Gonzalez. Cobb was certified by The Florida Bar board of governors in 2009 in the area of construction law and is a past chair of the state Construction Industry Licensing Board.
Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer? I grew up watching my father practice law, so I was exposed to the law from a very early age. It was not until I reached high school and competed in a mock trial competition that I realized being a lawyer was a realistic opportunity for me. My father is now of counsel with the law firm so it’s pretty neat to work with him.
Someone other than my spouse who inspires me: My parents, because after 50 years of marriage they still enjoy each other’s company
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice of law? My undergraduate degree in literature is from the University of North Florida, so I wrote a lot in college. Ninety-five percent of the communication that I do as a professional is in writing. The ability to write effectively and clearly is, in my opinion, the most important skill a lawyer can develop.
How did you decide your practice area? And why have you chosen that? When I was a younger lawyer, a construction payment bond case landed on my desk. As I worked through the issue and the statute, I enjoyed the technical nature of construction law. Every time a construction case came in, whether it was liens, bonds or defects, I asked to be assigned to the matter. After a few years, construction law was about 60 percent of my practice. My construction practice naturally rolled into representing community associations. Construction law and community association law are governed by technical and time-sensitive statutes and, at least for me, they overlap. In 2012, my practice took a bit of a turn when I was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the Construction Industry Licensing Board. I was honored in 2017 when my peers voted me the youngest CILB chairman in the history of the board.
What has been the biggest change in your practice area since you passed the Bar? I passed the Bar in 2001 when email was just beginning to be used as a method of communication with clients. Now, email has become the preferred method. This changed the dynamic of litigation. A matter which had 100 letters in 2001 will now have 5,000 emails. Gathering, organizing and using those communications has changed dramatically.
What do you think will be the next biggest change in your area of law? Technology in construction is developing rapidly. The use of sustainable energy systems is growing, Specifically, how solar power is being introduced in construction will continue to advance. Also, the current state administration is on a deregulating platform and we could see some dramatic changes in Florida’s professional boards over the next few years.
If I could change anything in the legal system, I would: Start addressing our industry’s necessity for a collaborative firm/team environment while balancing the professionals’ growing desire for workplace independence.
What’s your advice for new lawyers? Take responsibility for your own professional development.