Career Spotlight: Jeffrey Hinds
Jeffrey Hinds Working for a large firm can be the number one goal for many, but UF Law alum Jeffrey Hinds (MA, JD 94) says owning a firm or working for a small one can really show how hard work pays off.
Hinds, who practices eminent domain and condemnation law in Tampa, originally wanted to be a criminology professor while he was an undergrad at UF. He said he decided to go to law school to get a better view of the law.
“I had fantastic professors in the criminology department, and a couple had law degrees,” he said. “I wanted to get that unique perspective of the law and the ability to practice would make me better at doing that.”
The small firm atmosphere and the attitude there of practicing the law ethically gave Hinds the motivation to practice law with the smaller firms, he said.
“In the first firm I worked at, everyone practiced law on a handshake and encouraged me to do the same,” Hinds said. “It was not a cutthroat practice like you might see in the movies.”
Hinds got his start in practicing eminent domain law, a field he was not very familiar with, when he went to work for the Florida Department of Transportation.
“My wife and I wanted to start a family, and while I enjoyed the opportunities of a small firm, I decided to seek a position that would give me more stability, and a more predictable work schedule,” Hinds said. “After I began working with eminent domain at the department, I realized how much I love it.”
Practicing a small field of law like eminent domain has its advantages, such as having relationships with other attorneys around the state.
“I feel I know the majority of people who practice eminent domain in Florida, and when it comes down to it, cases are puzzles that need to be solved,” he said. “It really helps to have relationships because then attorneys are more likely to approach a case as a problem to be solved, instead of a conquest to be won.”
Hinds now runs his own firm, and is of counsel to another. He says putting in work every step of the way is something special.
“The truth is working for myself is the hardest I’ve worked in my life,” he said. “But they’re my cases, my clients, and I get to practice law how I choose, which is very rewarding.”
Small firms are not for everyone, but if the ups and downs can be handled, Hinds recommends it.
“If students can understand that small firms have high highs and low lows, and their personal situation can accommodate that, then I encourage them to work for a small firm,” he said.