Career Corner: Be the best possible lawyer you can be
Comiter Richard Comiter (JD 80, LLMT 81) always knew he wanted to be a tax lawyer.
He always understood numbers, his undergraduate major was accounting and he was a certified public accountant a year out of college. But when he began law school after working for a year as a CPA, he quickly realized he had a lot to learn about the grey areas of the law.
“In accounting, the answer to a problem is white or black,” Comiter said. “In law, the answer may often involve a grey area which has more than one answer and requires thought and clarification.”
Comiter focused in on those tough in-between areas that so often occur when examining the law, and over the past three decades he has built a well-earned reputation as one of the most highly respected tax and trust and estate lawyers in the state of Florida.
Some of Comiter’s more recent distinctions include being selected as the 2010-2011 recipient of the Tax Section of The Florida Bar’s Gerald T. Hart Outstanding Tax Attorney of the Year Award, as a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and being recognized by The Wall Street Journal and South Florida Legal Guide as a Top 100 Florida Super Lawyer.
He has been an active member of UF Law’s Board of Trustees since 2007 and is the head of its Planned Giving Taskforce. Comiter has kept himself busy over the past four years as a member of The Florida Bar’s Drafting Committee working to revise Florida’s Limited Liability Company Act. The Drafting Committee will be submitting the revised Act to the legislature later this year. Comiter said the revised LLC Act contains significant administrative, procedural and substantive changes to the existing LLC Act.
When Comiter graduated from UF Law with an LL.M. in Taxation in 1981, he went to work for the next nine years with a large South Florida law firm. Until he left that large firm and established a boutique tax practice with his partner, he felt he could not really start making a difference in the tax world.
“I felt that in a large law firm a tax lawyer is ancillary to the other partners’ practices,” Comiter said. “In your own tax firm you could build your own practice, have your own clients and create your own goals.”
He would continue on with his partner for another nine years before finally establishing Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun, which is now the largest tax firm in Palm Beach County.
Comiter said there have been three key guiding light principles he has strived to follow over the years in establishing and building his practice: Communicate with your clients, deliver the best possible work product you can, and do the right thing.
“The most difficult part of the practice of law is producing a high quality work product in a very complicated area of the law that has to be correct 100% of the time,” he said. But Comiter wouldn’t settle for anything less.
His advice to current law students when they graduate is to “focus on being the best possible lawyer you can be; learn how to practice law and don’t worry about bringing in clients until you know how to be the best lawyer you can be.”
Comiter’s expertise as a tax attorney and involvement in the Florida Bar Tax Section has resulted in his involvement in a number of other Florida Bar Drafting Committees involving business entities in the state of Florida, such as the Revised Limited Liability Company Act, the Revised Uniform Partnership Act, the Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act and the Olmstead Patch Drafting Committee. Comiter said his involvement with these Drafting Committees has brought about some of his most satisfying experiences.
“It’s very rewarding to see what you do – when you’re in a client meeting and the client questions why the law is a certain way, you can tell them why it was drafted this way, because you were part of the drafting committee that drafted the law.”