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Al J. Cone was the first president and founding member of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers , now the Florida Justice Association, and founder of FLAG, now the Florida Justice PAC. He had the vision to see a need for a statewide association of trial attorneys and dedicated his life to the civil justice system of Florida. Al’s lifetime of service to the FJA and to the consumers of Florida spanned nearly five decades. Successful lawyer, celebrated community leader and decorated war hero, he was born in Levy County, FL and attended the University of Florida where he earned his BSBA in 1943. He immediately shipped out to the front line in WWII. After a distinguished career serving his country, where he received medals for valor, including British Military Cross, Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, and several Purple Hearts, Cone returned to law school at the University of Florida, presided as president of Blue Key, and graduated in 1950. Upon graduation from law school, he accepted an associate professorship of Law at UF, teaching Constitutional Law, Municipal Corporations, Legal Bibliography, and Legislative drafting. Al joined the insurance defense firm of Jones and Foster in West Palm Beach. Al eventually determined that he wanted to protect the average citizen, and began his long, distinguished career as a plaintiffs lawyer.
Portrait of Founder, Al J.Cone Jr. In the private collection of the Florida Justice Association. Dedicated on Behalf of John F. Romano by Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, Benefactor. FJA Founders Award
He was a Senior Partner of the 20 member law firm of Cone, Wagner, Nugent, Johnson, Roth and Romano for over 25 years. More judges were a product of his law firm than any other firm in the state of Florida. During Al's career in West Palm Beach, he was the President of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Founder and President of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, now known as the Florida Justice Association, a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, International College of Trial Lawyers, International Society of Barristers. Some of his many accomplishments include being listed in 'The Best Lawyers in America', 1987-1997, Woodward and White; He was voted as one of the 'Best Lawyers in the U.S.' by Town and Country Magazine in May, 1985. Listed as 'Men of Achievement', Eagle Hall of Fame Award, 1990; Southern Trial Lawyers Association War Horse Award, 1989; Special Leadership Awards from the Academy of Florida Trail Lawyers, 1977-1978; and he is the recipient of the Roscoe Pound Foundation award. In 1989, Al decided to retire to his north Florida 'roots' so he bought a farm in Ocala. But unable to retire for long, Al began practicing law in Ocala. In addition to his law practice he founded the Friendship Club of Ocala, a monthly gathering of individuals from all racial backgrounds who met to discuss mutual community issues, served on the board of Rotary Club, Tiger Bay Club and was an active member of the Interfaith Alliance Group and Junto. Described as a voracious reader and selfless individual, Cone unsuccessfully campaigned for a Florida Senate seat in 1996. In an opt-ed article in the Ocala Star-Banner, Cone wrote about partisan divisions: 'Lets try reason, restraint, generosity of thought and good manners in the old-fashioned, Éway. We might be pleasantly surprised at what courtesy and fair play can accomplish. The Al J. Cone award was created in his honor to pay tribute to an attorney who has pledged their life to upholding consumer rights and fighting for justice. The award reads: “A career of leadership; A career of example setting; A career of devotion; A career of courage.” The winner of this award must be a leader, dedicated and poised not only for personal achievement as an attorney, but also success as an individual.
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