Career Spotlight: Cary Davis
Cary Davis It’s not often someone makes the jump from journalist to attorney, but UF Law alum Cary Davis (JD 06) has done just that, and loves being part of the action.
Davis, who practices media law, intellectual property and commercial litigation for the firm Helms Mulliss & Wicker in Charlotte, N.C., spent seven years as an award-winning reporter with the St. Petersburg Times and the Ocala Star-Banner. After spending so much time writing about the police and the law, it was time to be the one helping to make the news, Davis said.
“I spent a lot of time sitting in court rooms as a member of the audience, thinking to myself, ‘Hey I can do that,’” he said. “I really wanted to start influencing and figuring out how to work with the law, and I wanted to be a player in the game.”
His years of experience as a reporter have really helped Davis serve his clients in a unique way, he said.
“My experience has really helped me understand what journalists need in any situation,” Davis said. “There are situations where they have to use the law to get records, or defend themselves against defamation or libel claims.” While at UF Law, the Duke Blue Devil alumnus and fan served as Editor-in-Chief of the Florida Law Review, graduated third in his class and was elected to the Order of the Coif, all experiences that prepared him well to practice law, he said.
“My involvement in school helped me gain a lot of valuable experience when it comes to leading and managing people and an organization,” Davis said. “The Law Review also taught me how to analyze cases and legal arguments from different angles and perspectives.”
Davis takes pride in helping clients fight for rights they deserve in his role as counsel, he said.
“I really enjoy helping clients solve problems, and I feel very strongly about the rights of the free press,” he said. “Right now I’m involved in several cases where we’re helping the Charlotte Observer fight for public records, which is very gratifying.”
When it came to finding a job that he loved, Davis had to look no further than North Carolina.
“My wife and I wanted to stay in the Southeast, but at the same time, stay away from the ‘big firm, big hours’ mentality of Atlanta and Miami,” he said. “Up here in Charlotte, chances of making partner are much greater, and the culture in and out of the office is great.”
For aspiring attorneys, Davis says the best thing to do is take a diverse schedule of classes.
“My best advice is to take as many different classes as you can and really expose yourself,” he said. “Every day I’m confronted with different areas of law – corporate law, trademarks, First Amendment, conflict of laws, securities, evidence, and ethics, for example – and it really helps to have a working knowledge of these areas.”
It wouldn’t hurt to check out the legal community in Charlotte, N.C., either, Davis said.
“It’s a great place to live and work, and I get to see some great college basketball,” he said. “Definitely explore Charlotte’s legal market.”