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Lawyer launches own firm after 94-year-old practice shuts down

Bill Robertson is a fifth-generation attorney in Sarasota.

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  • | 3:40 p.m. January 26, 2020
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Courtesy. Bill Robertson.
Courtesy. Bill Robertson.
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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SARASOTA — Like any good lawyer, Bill Robertson knows how to turn a problem into an opportunity. That’s how Robertson, 60, ended up opening his own law firm earlier this month, The Robertson Law Firm PA, after spending his entire career at one practice, Kirk-Pinkerton.

Founded in Sarasota in 1926 when it did legal real estate work for John Ringling, among other prominent residents, Kirk-Pinkerton was the only firm Robertson ever worked for. The personal injury, wrongful death and product liability attorney had been CEO of Kirk-Pinkerton, in addition to his cases, for the past decade.

But in what Robertson calls a financial dispute, Kirk-Pinkerton, with 11 attorneys, is shutting down. In addition to Robertson going out on his own, one lawyer, Tim Shaw, has left for Blalock Walters, while another is now with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick.

“It’s a sad day in some respects — we had a disagreement on some issues and decided to part ways,” Robertson says in an interview with the Business Observer. “I treasure my years at Kirk Pinkerton, learning along some of the greatest legal minds this community has ever seen. But I’ve always had a dream of opening up my own shingle.”

A fifth-generation attorney in Sarasota, Robertson also has lineage that did legal work for John Ringling and other area pioneers. That was when his great grandfather and grandfather opened the Robertson and Robertson Law Firm in town, in 1925.

Robertson, who at one point made it six generations in the family business, when his daughter, Elisha Robertson, worked for Kirk-Pinkerton for a time, plans to continue taking on high-profile cases. Clients and cases he’s worked on in the past include the BP oil spill, securing more than $30 million in damages after filing 115 claims for hotels, real estate firms and other businesses along with the cities of Sarasota and Bradenton Beach; representing the City of Sarasota and the City of Palmetto in lawsuits to recover damages related to the opioid epidemic against major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors; and assisting veterans in a class action lawsuit against 3M regarding faulty earplugs issued to the military.

“My proud family legacy was an integral part of the growth of Sarasota as we know it,” Robertson says in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to serve my clients and this community as the Robertson family has proudly done for more than 90 years.”




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