J.B. Spence, a practicing attorney for the past 59 years, was inducted into the Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame on Apr. 24 at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. This was an honor bestowed upon only four other lawyers this year and is the culmination of a most distinguished career.
A native of Arkansas, Spence grew up in Tallahassee before joining the U.S. Navy during World War II and bravely serving six years in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters.
Taking advantage of the GI Bill following the war, Spence moved to Miami to attend and graduate summa cum laude from the University Miami School of Law. After graduation, he tackled public service as assistant attorney general of the State of Florida under the Hon. Richard W. Erwin, who later became Justice of the Florida Supreme Court.
In 1967, Spence founded the law firm of Spence, Payne & Masington and that same year won the first million-dollar-plus verdict in Florida. Amazingly, Spence now has more than $100 million verdicts to his credit, has argued before the Supreme Court of the United States, served on the Constitution Revision Committee, Florida Judicial Nominating Committee and even authored the book, Final Argument.
Now, at Leeds Colby Paris Spence Hoffman & Valori, Spence continues to litigate medical malpractice and premises liability cases. He serves as partner and, using his vast experience with aircraft and airline disasters — including such cases as the ValuJet, Eastern Airlines, Arrow Airways and National Airlines cases — he continues to fight for high-dollar amounts for his clients.
He has taught at the University of Miami as an adjunct professor of law, served as president of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers and is the 2001 recipient of the prestigious Al Cone Award.
While his accolades are too numerous to mention, his outreach to the community is evidenced by the organizations in which he has served.
He has been President of both the Dade County Bar Association and the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers. Spence also was a member of the board of governors of the Florida Bar for six terms, and belongs to the American Bar Association, Association of Trial Lawyers of America (serving as Chairman of the Medical Malpractice Committee), Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, Law Science Academy, New York Association of Trial Lawyers, California Association of Trial Lawyers, and Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.
He also is a member of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables.
Spence’s law firm honored him by creating a scholarship in his name at the University of Miami School of Law, which is awarded annually to a deserving law student in financial need.