Judge James W. McCann
Undergrad: University of Miami- 1975
Law School: Nova University Law School- 1978
How long have you been practicing law? Over 42 years (including serving as a Circuit Judge in the 19th Judicial Circuit for over 16 years (Jan. 1, 2005-February 28, 2021); and before that (2001-Dec. 2004) as a Child Support Enforcement Hearing Officer).
Why did you want to be an attorney?
This is a nation of laws; and I believed that it would be an honorable profession to practice law.
What do you like most about it?
Having the exclusive privilege, as a member of the Bar, to represent individuals, governments, and corporations before the Court.
What don’t you like?
Legal advertising; although, it is apparent that it has become a necessity for even good lawyers (to advertise) to compete for business. In the early days of my career, the good lawyers earned their market share by being good lawyers and word of mouth; which traveled far and fast enough. Now you can run a tacky T.V. commercial and get hired to represent someone who needs competent representation; even if the advertising lawyer has never tried a case. Having presided over more than 250 jury trials, I can tell you that potential jurors are mostly negatively affected by lawyer advertising; and, unfortunately, hold those negative views against all lawyers, whether they advertise or not. Fortunately, there are some very professional and informative TV commercials by very competent lawyers and law firms who will do an excellent job for the clients they represent. In the name of free speech, I have no issue with the latter category of advertising by lawyers and law firms that have the best interest of their client as their focus and ethical obligation.
What are the biggest changes you have seen through the years?
Apart from legal advertising, the massive number of new lawyers that start practicing law with no mentoring or guidance. I don’t know whether that should be considered courageous or oblivious, but we all need mentoring and guidance from someone who has competently and ethically done this before. Getting a law degree is just the beginning.
How do you define success?
Completing a legal career with a reputation of being honest, competent, and professional with your peers and the Court.
Who Inspires you?
My late mother and father who had virtually nothing; and gave everything to their children; my five brothers and sisters; the late Senator John McCain (a true American Patriot), my Uncle Pat McEvoy (who came from Ireland on the Queen Elizabeth, was immediately drafted and deployed by the U.S. Army to Korea, and still works full-time at Home Depot at the age of 92); and my two daughters.
Who has been the most influential person in your career?
John F. Romano, Esq. West Palm Beach, FL., when, he invited me; and David Roth invited the, now, Florida Supreme Court Justice, Jorge Labarga, to join the Cone, Wagner, Nugent, Johnson, Roth & Romano Law Firm in April, 1987, both of our careers changed forever (Jorge Labarga’s more so than mine, of course). Jorge Labarga and I have had a lasting friendship ever since. Although that law firm is no longer in existence, it produced 1 County Judge, 14 Circuit Judges, 4 Fourth District Court of Appeal Judges and 2 Florida Supreme Court Justices. I will be forever grateful to John.
If you could choose anyone as a mentor, who would you choose?
Daniel T.K. Hurley, Senior Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Tell the truth.
What advice would you give to someone looking to become an attorney?
If you want to do this for money, you are doing it for the wrong reason. Pick something else to do.
If you weren’t an attorney, what would you be doing?
Piloting aircraft or helicopters.
If you could switch places with someone for a day, who would it be?
The F.B.I. Director (I would learn as much as I could about what is really important to know in 24 hours).
What’s on your bucket list?
Learning to fly helicopters; a date with Nina Agdal (if I am not married; although comments like this will result in me being single real soon!); meet Pope Francis; learn to speak Spanish; a Porsche 911; at least 2 weeks in Tahiti; catching a trophy Permit on a fly rod; and taking a small vessel cruise with my wife down the Danube River from Germany to the Black Sea.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If you could have dinner with any person, alive, dead or fictional, who would it be and where would you go?
My mother and father; at the best Italian Restaurant or Steakhouse in New York City.
What is something (a fun fact) that many people don’t know about you?
I know most of the Victoria Secret Angels by name (although none of them know me).
It has been an honor and privilege to be able to serve as a Circuit Judge here in the 19th Judicial Circuit. It has been a distinct pleasure and a joy to have actually known and been a friend to so many of you for so many years. I am truly a very fortunate man. Thank you. James W. (Jim) McCann