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Florida's longest-serving judge joins Naples office of statewide law firm

Hugh Hayes is the longest-serving judge in Florida history.

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  • | 9:30 a.m. February 6, 2023
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Judge Hugh Hayes
Judge Hugh Hayes
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Statewide law firm Gunster, which expanded to Naples late last year by merging with a local practice, has made a splashy hire: Retired 20th Circuit Court Judge Hugh Hayes of Collier County has joined the firm as an of counsel attorney. 

Hayes — the longest-serving judge in Florida history — will focus his practice in the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution practice, serving as a mediator, arbitrator and special master to select clients, according to a statement. A former U.S. Army intelligence officer, Hayes was a judge for 44 years, both with the 20th Circuit and county court. He served two terms as chief judge of the 20th Judicial Circuit (2003-2007) and served as the administrative judge for Collier County on multiple occasions, the release adds. 

“During my time on the bench, I was always aware of Gunster’s reputation as a statewide firm which focuses on the future of Florida, its citizens and their business affairs,” Hayes says in the release. “The attorneys, professional staff and the organizational leadership of Gunster, including those in Gunster’s new Naples office, put the interests and the welfare of their clients first, and treat all of the participants in Florida’s legal system with dignity and civility. 

The move follows Gunster’s merger with Grant Fridkin Pearson last November, which added 12 attorneys and 15 professionals to the overall practice. West Palm Beach-based Gunster also acquired a Tampa firm last year, picking up Barnett, formerly known as Barnett, Kirkwood, Koche, Long & Foster. The firm has 12 offices across Florida. 

“Judge Hayes is a highly accomplished and well-regarded member of our judiciary, particularly in Southwest Florida, Gunster Managing Shareholder and CEO Bill Perry says in the release. “He is known for his professional conduct, vast knowledge, and his affable demeanor, amongst many other great things.” 


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