The Bleakley Bavol Law Firm – An “AV” Rated Full-Service Law Firm
Alexis Selby (author)
Location(s): The Bleakly Bavol Law Firm
Conveniently situated on 5.4 acres, just north of the intersection of Bearss Ave. and US 41, at 15170 North Florida Avenue, Carrollwood residents and those in the surrounding areas do not have to travel far to get excellent legal representation; Bleakley Bavol is your local full service “AV” rated law firm (the highest possible rating on Martindale Hubbell’s lawyer rating system) and is ready to help you, no matter what your situation may be.
Managing partner Robert Bleakley has practiced law for over 23 years. After 8 years practicing law in some of Tampa’s most respected downtown law firms, Bleakley opened the firm as a solo practice in April 2000. Originally located in the Bank of America Building in downtown Tampa, the firm’s early practice focused on defending trucking companies and larger business in auto, premises and workers compensation claims. However, almost from its inception, the firm began a 15 year trend of organic growth adding clients, new lines of business, and experienced attorneys. Today the firm employs 13 attorneys with further growth still planned. In 2008 the firm re-located from downtown to its current location near the corner of Florida and Bearss Avenue.
Robert is accompanied by his partner Chuck Bavol, who joined the firm in March 2011, transitioning the name from The Bleakley Law Firm to The Bleakley Bavol Law Firm. “When Chuck joined in 2011 he brought in sophistication, experience and excellent trial strategies and technological tools that really advanced our practice and allowed us to provide even better services to our clients, particularly in the area of litigation,” says Robert. Chuck is nationally recognized as an outstanding litigator who has served as national trial counsel for Dow Corning and regularly handles high exposure product liability, medical device, medical malpractice, and construction cases.
In 2012 Robert’s long-time friend and fellow Avila neighbor, Rob Grace, joined the firm. Bleakley describes Grace as a “throw-back”. He says, “Rob has over 24 years of experience practicing law and is one of the states’ most respected workers compensation litigators. He is a ‘lawyers lawyer’ – professional, ethical, and one of the hardest working attorneys I know.” Grace leads a team of experienced workers compensation defense attorneys that include partners Dave Lamont and Crystal Corry.
In 2015 the firm added north Tampa resident Kristen Allman, who spent the majority of her 28 year legal career as a board certified employment law specialist. Robert noted the firm has represented large companies and smaller businesses in employment disputes for years and adding an attorney with true specialization in the employment law area was something he had desired for many years.
In addition, Robert noted the long time contributions of partners R.G. “Mack” McCormick, who has been with the firm since 2001 and who, along with Robert, represents national floor cleaning companies and large malls in premises liability claims and been to trial many times with Robert. “We have fought many battles together and there is no one else I would rather go to trial with than Mack. In a very similar way, our partner Melissa Krepps has been through numerous trials with Chuck Bavol. She is the guru of federal court procedure and has successfully argued at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.”
Robert says, “not all of your readers are a general counsel or risk manager of a large company seeking representation in commercial or tort cases. But everyone in your audience will probably need a lawyer at some point in their lives.” In 2006 Bleakley added Christina Hebert as a partner in order to provide legal services to local businesses and individuals in areas other than just litigation. Prior to joining the firm, Christina gained experience working in a small Tampa firm where she was a partner and handled corporate work and business transactions, guardianship and probate matters as well as drafted wills and formulated estate plans.
Christina, who has 20 years of experience as a lawyer, prides herself on being able to provide face to face representation with clients. In that regard, the location of The Bleakley Bavol Law Firm’s offices to surrounding neighborhoods in Carrollwood, North Tampa, and southern Pasco County has been a bonus. This allows many clients convenient access for face to face consultation with their lawyer, a lost art among too many in the legal profession. At Bleakley Bavol, Christina has continued to focus her practice primarily in the areas of estate planning, probate, wills and trusts, as well as corporate law, business formation and transactions.
In addition, Robert noted Christina is an added bonus to the complex commercial litigation team at Bleakley Bavol. “Ronald Denman joined our firm in 2014 and, like Chuck, brought something new to our firm. Our firm had always had a commercial litigation presence but Ron really brings our commercial practice to entirely new level, expanding it to include complex probate and guardianship litigation. Ron is a former prosecutor and general counsel of a large corporation. He cut his teeth trying commercial cases down in Miami and throughout the south Florida area. Fortunately, when he arrived, we had Christina’s commercially oriented brain to lend to Ron’s team and it has worked out very well.”
Estate Planning, Wills And Trusts
Whether you want to do a simple will or trust to provide for the disposition of your personal belongings and other assets and property or are looking for business succession planning, Christina will offer well thought out advice and will assist you with your estate planning needs..
“At some point in their life, each and every person is going to need a will and I am here to help with that,” says Christina. “I will take the time to explain your options based upon your needs and goals and help to plan out all the details.”
If you have assets, and have yet to set up a will or trust, I think it’s time you come and talk to Christina. No matter what your situation may be, Christina may be able to help! “Having a will is so important,” says Christina. “You want to make sure your assets go to the people and in the manner which you want them to go. If you die without a will or a trust, your assets will pass according to the intestacy laws, which may not be consistent with your wishes.”
Having a will is especially important if you have children who are minors. Something people don’t often consider is the mechanism in which their children will inherit their property. “When minor children are involved, it is usually a good idea to have trust provisions to provide for the distribution of the money to children over time and in installments; otherwise the children could have complete control of the money when they turn 18. The use of trust provisions allows you to decide at what age the child will receive money and the amount they will receive. Trust provisions are particularly important when your children are young because you do not yet know what their maturity level with be and whether they will be able to handle a significant amount of wealth at the time of your death.”
From small family run businesses to large corporations, Christina has a lot of familiarity with estate planning from a corporate perspective as well, and has helped many business owners plan for the succession of their business.
Christina says, “I enjoy meeting with clients and getting to know them and finding out what it is they want to achieve. Building a strong relationship is really important to me. They need to be able to trust you and have confidence in the legal services you are providing them.”
Maybe you already have a will in place, but your situation has changed, such as you have recently gotten a divorce. Did you remember to change your beneficiary designation? This is a common mistake that many people forget to do. Your will does not determine where all of your assets will go, the beneficiary designation controls that. So if you forget to change that your assets can end up going to somebody that you didn’t want it to go to – such as your ex spouse.
There are so many things to take into account when estate planning, so why not talk to the professionals at Bleakley Bavol so you know it will get taken care of properly!
Trust Is The Key To Success
Bleakley credits the firm’s focus on building trust with its clients as the reason it has been successful. “Trust is so important; the client has to know that their lawyer is looking out for them,” says Robert. “Most people start with a preconceived notion that lawyers are only looking out for their own best interests, but we go above and beyond to prove that we put our clients’ needs first and will always do what is in their best interests. We preach to our new lawyers at every monthly meeting that we must take every opportunity to build trust with our client. In the end, if we can build that bond of trust with our client, where they know, because we have already proven it, that we are looking out for the client, we will be successful.”
With an experienced roster of attorneys, The Bleakley Bavol Law Firm draws on its vast experience to advise its clients of the significant costs and risks of litigation. But with each legal matter, there is also a possible solution. Robert says, “What I like best about practicing law is finding the solution. Sometimes there is no good solution, so sometimes my job is to find the least bad solution – a way out. All of our attorneys are really good at understanding the problem, finding the best solution for the client and developing a plan to get them there.”
Firm Administrator Jayme Bluffstone has been with the firm since 2004. She adds a different perspective on the growth and success of the firm. “We have great attorneys and an incredible staff supporting them. There is a lot of longevity in not only our attorneys but also our staff; our original legal secretary has been here with us for 15 years – since Robert opened the firm. I think that says a lot about the environment that Robert and Chuck foster here. This firm is family and we grow it that way. We are very particular about the people we bring in because that is a representation of who we are. We are different – our employees often comment that the environment here is completely different than any other law firm where they previously worked. We intentionally run it that way. We are different with a purpose.”
At Bleakley Bavol you get the best of both worlds, the experience, professionalism, and even an elegant legal environment, without having to drive downtown to get it. Christina Hebert added, “you can expect personalized attention from lawyers who truly care about you and your well being”. As their slogan proudly reads, “Large enough to handle complex cases, small enough to provide personalized service!”
The Bleakley Bavol Law Firm is located at 15170 North Florida Ave. in Tampa. The firm is open 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Mon. – Fri., with appointment times available outside normal office hours. For more information or to schedule a consultation please call (813) 221- 3759 or visit www.BleakleyBavol.com.