HISTORY & PRACTICE

Our History

In 2020, the Bedell Firm celebrated a 155-year milestone. As the oldest law firm in continuous existence in Florida, the Bedell Firm strives to continue its legacy of providing comprehensive and professional legal representation to every client. Learn more about the Bedell Firm’s extensive history.

1865

Bedell Firm Founded

The Bedell Firm is founded by United States Union Army Colonel Horatio Bisbee

Horatio Bisbee

1865

1898-1927

A Partnership Formed

Bisbee partners with George Bedell

George C. Bedell

1898-1927

1905

Bedell Building Constructed

The Jacksonville Free Public Library was constructed, which would later become the home of the Bedell Firm

1905

1912

Bedell Serves as Florida State Bar Association President

George Bedell served as president of the Florida State Bar Association (predecessor of The Florida Bar)

1912

1927-59

Bedell & Bedell Formed

Bisbee leaves the firm. George Bedell’s son Chester joins as a senior partner, creating Bedell & Bedell

Chester Bedell

1927-59

1948

Bedell Co-Founds Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers

Chester Bedell and Perry Nichols of Miami founded the Academy of Florida Trial lawyers, an organization of plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers

1948

1959-65

Bedell, Bedell, & Dittmar

C. Harris Dittmar joins as a partner, creating Bedell, Bedell & Dittmar C. Harris Dittmar
1959-65

1965-69

Bedell, Bedell, Dittmar & Smith

1965-69

1967

Bedell Serves as Organizing Chairman

Chester Bedell was organizing chairman of the Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar

1967

1969-75

Bedell, Bedell, Dittmar & Zehmer

1969-75

1974

Gurney Trial

Harris Dittmar and Charlie Pillans represented Senator Edward Gurney, R-Fla, charged with seven counts of conspiracy, perjury and bribery, and obtained not-guilty verdicts on all counts.

1974

1974

Turner Trial

Charles Pillans represented Glenn Turner, criminally charged in 21 counts, in a nine-month trial before Judge Tjoflat resulting in a hung jury on all counts.

Charles Pillans

1974

1975

Smith Appointed First District Judge

Partner Robert Smith, Jr. was appointed by Governor Askew as a judge to the First District Court of Appeals

1975

1972

McArthur Trial

Chester Bedell obtained in the Florida Supreme Court the reversal of Nadean McArthur’s conviction for first degree murder of her husband, Charles, owner of McArthur Dairies. 351 So.2d 972

1972

1977

American Bar Foundation Award

Chesterfield Smith presented Chester Bedell with the American Bar Foundation award as the lawyer who for more than 50 years epitomized the best of the American Trial lawyer

1977

1977

Dobbert Trial

John DeVault and the firm successfully represented the guardians of two children of John Dobbert (convicted of the murder of two other of his children), against the City of Jacksonville for failure of police officers, and other city employees, to come to the aid of the children when notified of their abuse. 310 So.2d 19.

John A. DeVault

1977

1983

Zehmer Appointed First District Court of Appeals Judge

Partner E. Earle Zehmer was appointed by Governor Bob Graham as a judge to the First District Court of Appeals

1983

1983-1986

Bedell, Dittmar, DeVault, Pillans & Gentry

1983-1986

1984

Bedell Firm Moves

The Bedell Firm relocates into the firm’s current home at the Jacksonville Library Building

Bedell_Building

1984

1984

U.S. Industries Trial

Harris Dittmar won a $38 million verdict against U.S. Industries in a civil fraud case in federal court

1984

1986

Webster Appointed Circuit Court of Duval County Judge

Partner Peter D. Webster was appointed by Governor Bob Graham as a judge to the Circuit Court of Duval County. Judge Webster in 1991 was appointed to the First District Court of Appeal.

Peter D. Webster

1986

1986-96

Bedell, Dittmar, DeVault & Pillans

1986-96

1987

Tanner Trial

John DeVault won a reversal of the criminal conviction of Anthony Tanner in the Supreme Court of the United States. Tanner v. United States, 483 U.S. 107.

1987

1995-1996

DeVault Served as Florida Bar President

John DeVault served as President of the Florida Bar

1995-1996

1996-Present

Bedell, Dittmar, DeVault, Pillans & Coxe

1996-Present

1999

Cedar Bay Trial

John DeVault and the firm successfully represented Cedar Bay Generating Co. in a dispute with Florida Power & Light, represented by David Boise, obtaining a $18.5 million verdict upheld on appeal. 775 So.2d 293

1999

2002

Corrigan Appointed U.S. District Court Judge of the Middle District of Florida

Former partner Timothy J. Corrigan was appointed by President George W. Bush to the United States District Court of the Middle District of Florida

2002

2002

State v. Griffis

Hank Coxe’s client, after a five month trial, was acquitted of all charges including murder in State v. Griffis in Bradford County, Florida.

2002

2006-2007

Coxe Served as Florida Bar President

Hank Coxe served as President of The Florida Bar.

Hank Coxe

2006-2007

2012

Five Firms Assemble

Hank Coxe assembled five law firms who successfully represented pro bono a 12 year old, the youngest person in Jacksonville history, to be charged with first-degree murder as an adult

2012

2012

Florida Supreme Court Representation

Hank Coxe and Michael Lockamy represented three sitting Florida Supreme Court Justices in the dismissal of a matter brought by the Executive Branch, after which John DeVault won dismissal of a lawsuit aimed at removing the Justices from the merit retention ballot. Michael Lockamy was key to the success in both cases.

Michael Lockamy

2012

2013

Four Firms Represent Pro Bono Case

Hank Coxe, along with John DeVault, assembled four law firms to represent pro bono the City of Jacksonville’s first female general counsel and secured dismissal of a lawsuit challenging her right to office.

2013

2016

Family Law Leader

Ashley Wells Cox assumed leadership of the family law practice and continues to do so today.

Ashley Cox

2016

2017

Representing The City of Jacksonville

Hank Coxe, with the assistance of Michael Lockamy, assembled a team of several law firms to represent the City of Jacksonville pro bono and secure a judgment allowing an election to stand, which approved a sales tax of $2.7 billion to cover the City’s unfunded pension liability.

2017

2017

Coxe Named to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission

Hank Coxe was named by the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court as just one of three Florida lawyers to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, which meets only every 20 years.

2017

2018

U.S. Senate Race

Hank Coxe and Michael Lockamy assisted other Florida firms in representing clients who sued to prohibit Florida’s governor from interfering in his U.S. Senate race and intimidating local election officials and volunteers responsible for vote counting.

2018

2019

Duval County School Board

Hank Coxe and Michael Lockamy assembled a team of several law firms to represent pro bono the Duval County School Board to successfully attack, for the first time in Jacksonville history, the Charter of the consolidated city and to allow Duval voters to approve a $1.9 billion capital tax to benefit the public schools.

2019

2021

35 Years of Best Lawyers in America

Bedell Firm celebrates 35 years of attorney recognition in Best Lawyers

2021

The Bedell Firm’s legacy of excellence continues just as it did 155 years ago. Today, the firm’s core practice areas include civil, criminal, and family law litigation. Learn more about the firm’s history and practice.