Hall of Fame

Dick Jacobs

Richard O. “Dick” Jacobs

2020 Inductee

J.D. ‘67

Richard O. “Dick” Jacobs is a 1967 graduate of Stetson Law. Prior to attending law school, he spent nearly a decade building a highly successful career in the life insurance business. That experience shaped his early legal career as a tax attorney. He co-founded a law firm that grew to about 100 lawyers, with offices in Tampa, St. Pete and Clearwater, and a satellite office in London. He served as Chair of the Tax Section of The Florida Bar.

In the late 1970s, clients asked him to join them in forming Park Bank of Florida. The bank grew fast and became a public company. When it began to flounder, Jacobs took over as CEO of the bank in hopes of righting the ship. His efforts were for naught, and the bank failed in 1986. It was the biggest learning experience of his life, and his book, Crash Landing: How to Survive a Business Crisis, was born of his efforts to understand how a well-meaning professional could fail.

Jacobs came to realize there was more to life than work and began pursuing new projects in venture travel and environmental conservation. His journeys, which took him to the seven continents, are what Jacobs would later call “dirty hands, wet feet” experiences that opened his eyes to how much of the rest of the world lived. In 2015, he published Wonderlust, a book of his photography and lessons learned from crisscrossing the globe.

His conservation work brought Dick back to Stetson Law for many fruitful collaborations. In 2016, he and his wife created the Dick and Joan Jacobs' Environmental Law Externship Fund to provide financial assistance for students to pursue the “dirty hands, wet feet” experiences. This year he launched The Stetson Environmental Tax Policy Writing Competition for students to develop innovative tax law policies to fund solutions for sea level rise.

Amidst all his traveling and philanthropic work, Jacobs had returned to practicing law with Holland & Knight, then Trenam Kemker with a focus on health care law. He was editor and prime author of Health Care Law - Mergers and Acquisitions of Physician Practices and was ultimately named to Best Lawyers in America and a Florida Super Lawyer for his work in this area.

He went Of Counsel at Trenam in 2011 at the age of 80 and retired fully in 2013. Characteristically, Jacobs retirement lasted only two years. In 2015, he reunited with several attorneys from his original firm at Johnson Pope Bokor Ruppel & Burns, LLP, where he remains on staff as Senior Counsel.

Jacobs latest book, Democracy of Dollars, is slated to be released in January. His vision for Stetson Law continues to expand, with the creation of a Center for Environmental Justice underway. It will provide students an opportunity to help architect environmental policies.