A history rooted in Florida’s growth

The oldest commercial law firm in Palm Beach County, Gunster has always been a Florida institution, with roots that run deep and hold strong. Like the state itself, our firm has grown and changed while we’ve helped our clients prosper.

A singular Floridian in 1925

We began as a law firm of one. In 1925, John Kenneth Williamson opened his law office in West Palm Beach. He was the founding attorney for the First National Bank in Palm Beach. In 1942, Harvard graduate Joseph F. Gunster joined the firm and together they established the first law office on the island of Palm Beach.

Over the next 17 years, four more principals would join: David S. (Bud) Yoakley in 1948, Marshall Criser in 1953, A. Obie Stewart in 1955, and George Hersey in 1959.

The growth of a full-service Florida firm

By 1975, the 15-lawyer firm was the largest in Palm Beach County. Five years later, the attorneys opened an office in Stuart.

Our firm’s growth in the 1980s mirrored that of the state’s – rapid and exponential. By 1985, the burgeoning 55-lawyer firm had to relocate to larger quarters in West Palm Beach, expanding even further just two years later.

To serve the explosive growth in South Florida alone, our firm invited six attorneys from McCune Hiassen to join Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart and, in 1990, opened an office in Fort Lauderdale.

Five years later, a similar move occurred in Miami, where we combined our practice with the Miami firm of Valdes-Fauli, Bischoff, Kriss & Mandler. That same year, we opened our office in Vero Beach.

A firm for Florida in the 21st century

We continued to expand, establishing offices in two key areas of Florida: Jacksonville and Tampa. We now have more than 280 attorneys and consultants and over 290 committed support staff.

Gunster, Florida's law firm for businessIn 2008, our brand evolved from Gunster Attorneys at Law to Gunster, Florida’s Law Firm for Business.

In 2010, Gunster significantly grew its government affairs presence in Tallahassee with the addition of six attorneys and three government affairs consultants.

On the heels of that expansion, Gunster doubled the size of its Jacksonville office with the addition of the attorneys of Pappas Metcalf Jenks & Miller. This expansion added commercial real estate and land use practices and private wealth services to the vibrant litigation practice already in the region.

Also in 2011, and into 2012, Gunster continued to grow its land use practice with attorneys from across the state who brought with them significant experience in eminent domain and property rights defense.

Gunster began 2012 with a new office in downtown Tampa – the firm’s ninth office in Florida. With this expansion came a substantial health care practice, an emerging area of need for Florida businesses. In August of 2012, Gunster announced the opening of its tenth Florida location in the Florida Keys.

Gunster continued its expansion in 2013 with the opening of its eleventh office in Orlando. This further enhances the firm’s statewide footprint and strategically places the firm in every major commercial market in Florida. An Orlando location was the natural next step for Gunster, as the I-4 corridor is one of the fastest growing areas in the state and is the crossroad for Florida commerce.

In 2022, Gunster expanded its operations and opened its second Tampa office on Bayshore Boulevard, located on the western side of Tampa Bay. In 2023, the firm opened its 13th office, in Naples, located on the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Florida.

Today, Gunster is a vibrant, forward-thinking firm with its finger on the pulse of Florida’s business climate. Our approach to serving our clients is collegial and highly collaborative. Like Florida, there is nothing static about Gunster’s extensive business law practice. Our legal services are fluid and cross-resourcing to provide effective, cutting-edge solutions.

From that singular Floridian, Gunster has grown, expanded, diversified and multiplied, but always with a singular focus: Florida and our clients’ stake in it.