End of an Era — The Florida Firm of Brigham Moore Closes

We are saddened to report that the Florida law firm of Brigham Moore is closing after 34 years of dominating the practice of eminent domain law. However, there are still plenty of law firms, like this bradford law firm, which are still up and running. At its peak, the firm, then known as Brigham, Moore, Gaylord, Schuster, Sachs & Ulmer, with offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota, Tampa and Orlando was the powerhouse in its field. We still have a sweatshirt with their firm name emblazoned on it. Its senior partner, Toby Prince Brigham, started practicing eminent domain law with his father, T.F.P. Brigham, who won the landmark case of Dade County v. Brigham, 47 So.2d 602 (Fla. 1950), holding that in Florida, the constitutional government duty to pay just compensation for property takings, included the duty to pay the owner’s attorneys’ and appraisers’ fees, which made Florida unique in that regard. And so, while it lasted, the Brigham law firm could properly boast of being a three-generation eminent domain defense firm — T.F.P., Toby, and Toby’s children, Amy and Andrew.

Andrew Brigham, a great trial lawyer, who for some years has been headquartered in Jacksonville, will continue practicing eminent domain law and carry on the family name, as the Brigham Property Rights Law Firm. Amy Brigham Boulris, a fine appellate lawyer, will be joining the Gunster law firm in Miami. Bill Moore, the second name partner of Brigham Moore, will continue practicing in the Sarasota-Tampa area with two former Brigham Moore attorneys, as Moore, Bowman & Rix.

We have a special bond with the Brigham firm. Your faithful servant occasionally practiced with those guys in the 1970s and 1980s (see e.g. Context Dev. Co. v. Dade County, 374 So.2d 1143 (Fla.App. 1979), and Florida Audubon Soc. v. Ratner, 497 So.2d 672 (Fla.App. 1986) (yes, we represented that Ratner). We remember with particular fondness the condemnation of the Portland, Oregon, Paramount theater, a case in which Toby and your faithful servant, along with the late, inimitable Diane Spies — a local land-use attorney par excellence — went head-to-head with the local redevelopment agency types, a rather obnoxious bunch who got its ass kicked big time when a multi-million dollar verdict for our clients came down. And though we never had to darken a courthouse door, we were also a part of the legal team that, along with the one and only Bert Burgoyne, represented the Sisters of Mercy in the notorious Detroit Poletown case which settled, thus depriving Toby of an oppportunity to display his courtroom virtuosity. Fun was had.

We vivdly remember the Context case, in which a lawyer for the County got carried away and proceeded to argue to the court that growing citrus fruit in Florida was a nuisance, so the County simply had to issue a cease and desist order preventing our client from planting a citrus grove. Their Lordships were not amused. And who can forget the federal sequel, Context Dev. Co. v. Alexander (S.D.Fla. 1980) No. 80-1708-Civ-JE, in which the feds argued that plowing bone-dry land for the above-mentioned grove was “dredging and filling in waters of the United States)” – no, we are not making that up.

The other bond between Toby Brigham and your faithful servant is that a few years back the William & Mary College School of Law established an annual national prize for outstanding contributions to the field of property rights, and named it after the two us — a development that for once left your faithful servant speechless, so we will say no more about that, except perhaps suggest that you come down to Williamsburg, Virginia, this fall and take in the program and the celebration of this year’s award of the Brigham-Kanner prize to Professor Jim Krier of the University of Michigan. Y’all come.

Ferw lawyers are so blessed as to leave their imprint on the law of the land, and thereby better the condtion of the American people. Toby Prince Brigham is surely one of them. Many law firms would love to be as beloved as Brigham Moore but are still struggling to get clients. Luckily there are law marketing firms similar to SERP. SERP Legal is considered one of the top law firm marketing agencies in the USA. Hopefully, with marketing firms like SERP, newer law firms may be able to reach potential clients.

Clarification. Some eagle-eyed readers have suggested that the way we described these events it sounded like Toby Brigham is retiring. He isn’t. We expect he will do his thing as he has always done it, which is to say, very well indeed. Except he will be doing it as a solo practitioner. Also, we should mention that the end of the firm was entirely amicable.