Local attorney earns 'super' reputation

alan_wachs

Alan Wachs’ waterfront office may only be 15 miles from the University of North Florida campus, but the award-winning attorney has come a long way since the Constitutional Law class that decided his future.

Sitting in the downtown Jacksonville office that reflects his outgoing personality, Wachs is surrounded by the things he loves — photos of his three children (Rachel, Ben and Sam), artwork they have created, nautical charts from boating trips he has taken around the world, an eclectic collection of coffee mugs and exotic cigar boxes. He is a man on the move, but anchored to a life he really began on the UNF campus.

A top Northeast Florida litigator, Wachs graduated magna cum laude from the University in 1990 with a degree in political science. Wachs credits many of the lessons learned at UNF as a foundation for his stellar law career.

“There were a couple of great decisions I made at UNF,” Wachs said. “One was to take a statistics class that has genuinely helped my career and the other was taking a law class taught by Harvey Schlesinger.”

Schlesinger is a former federal magistrate, and later became District Judge for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

“Judge Schlesinger’s Constitutional Law class was one of the reasons I decided to go to law school,” Wachs said. “So when it came time to be sworn into the Florida Bar, I asked Judge Schlesinger if he would administer the oath to me. And he did, twice — then and later when I was appointed to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.”

Wachs took that class with one of his close friends at UNF, Chris Harris, who is now one of his law partners. “We used to work on term papers together and now we write briefs together.”

Wachs is a partner at Volpe, Bajalia, Wickes, Rogerson & Wachs, where he focuses on complex commercial litigation as well as insurance and re-insurance litigation. He has received many awards and honors since receiving his juris doctorate from the Florida State University College of Law in 1993. Wachs is admitted to practice in the United States District Court in the Middle, Northern and Southern Districts of Florida and the United States Court of Appeals 11th Circuit. He is also a member of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners — a body of 12 appointed attorneys and three public members charged with overseeing the administration of the bar examination and making recommendations on the character and fitness of applicants to the Florida Bar. He holds the highest rating from Martindale-Hubbell, a national attorney rating service, and has been selected by Super Lawyers magazine as one of the top 5 percent of lawyers in the state for each of the past four years. Florida Trend magazine has also named him one of Florida’s Legal Elite for several years running.

But before becoming one of the best of the best, Wachs made lasting friendships on campus — many of which still thrive. He solidified many of those friendships at the old Boathouse, a lakefront venue used to serve campus enter­tainment and dining needs. Many students passed a great deal of time at the social hub of campus, and Wachs was no exception.

“We spent a lot of time there,” he said. “It was a surreal experience when I found myself in the new Boathouse with UNF President John Delaney. I was originally there as an undergraduate student and that day, I was a graduate and attorney representing the interests of the University. It was a really neat experience and one that I am proud of. When I was attending UNF as a student, I never thought I would be back one day to help defend its interests in the courts and work with a man of President Delaney’s stature.”

Delaney said much the same about Wachs. “It is an honor to count an attorney of Alan Wachs’ caliber among our most successful alumni. His career and accom­plishments speak volumes about the quality of our undergraduate programs,” he said. “Students who choose to study at UNF can go anywhere and do anything after graduation. Alan Wachs is one of the most respected and sought-after litigators in the state of Florida. He is precisely who we talk about when we talk about the difference our graduates make in our community.”

Wachs has come a long way since his days at UNF and he truly enjoys what he does. “It is hard for me to imagine doing anything else. It is great to have good clients and long-term relationships. But it is also great to get to go to trial. I really enjoy that competitive aspect of my work — it is not fun when you are told you’re wrong, but it is an awful lot of fun to be told you are right.”

And Wachs gets it right an awful lot.