With nearly twenty years’ of practice, Derek Bruce has developed experience in numerous areas of the law, ranging from the representation of clients in complex business litigation and property tax disputes, to the negotiation of large real estate transactions and the resolution of sensitive land use issues. Today, Derek primarily represents clients before state and local governments throughout the state of Florida on land use, procurement and regulatory issues.
Before joining Gunster, Derek led the statewide governmental affairs team for one of Florida’s most recognizable entities and Central Florida’s largest employer. In that capacity, Derek developed relationships with some of the state’s most influential decision makers in government. Derek is dedicated to accomplishing his clients’ goals by working effectively with government officials and their staffs. His experience in dealing with elected officials on all level helps him to provide clients with a comprehensive understanding of how governments operate.
At the local level, Derek previously served on the Orange County Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Orange County Planning and Zoning Commission. While serving in these capacities, Derek became familiar with Central Florida’s development rules by not only applying the requirements of Orange County’s code on a daily basis to cases that came before his boards, but also by familiarizing himself with regulations in neighboring jurisdictions and municipalities in order to understand how those regulations interact to advance a regional approach to development. When a client’s objective necessitates a fight, however, Derek’s focus is steadfast in that he takes a back seat to no one. Having litigated multiple cases to favorable verdicts early in his career, Derek has the experience and skill necessary to take his clients’ cases before administrative or judicial tribunals if necessary. For example, Derek was named special counsel to the City of Eustis in 2014 to defend the City against a far reaching challenge to growth-friendly changes to its land use code and, as a result of Derek’s aggressive litigation approach, the challenge ended up being dismissed in its entirety.
A Florida native, Derek has lived in Orlando since the age of seven and is passionate about the community he calls “home.” He has served on the boards of numerous statewide and local community organizations, including Leadership Florida, the Central Florida Foundation, the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida and the Randy Roberts Foundation, to name only a few. He also has had the privilege of serving as president of the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida, chair of Business Force and chairman of the Orange County Redistricting Advisory Committee. A devoted Gator fan, Derek holds graduate degrees from the University of Florida in broadcast journalism, law and business administration. He currently sits on the University of Florida’s Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Upon joining Gunster in 2013 as one of the founding shareholders of its Orlando office, Derek’s leadership capabilities were quickly recognized. He was asked to serve as co-chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee in 2014 and has remained in that capacity since.
- The Best Lawyers in America®, Government Relations Practice, 2018
- AV rated as independently determined by Martindale-Hubbell
- Orlando Business Journal, “40 Under 40”
- The National Black Lawyers – Top 100
- BusinessForce, board member and past chair
- Leadership Florida, past board member
- Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber of Commerce, board of directors, past member
- Florida Chamber of Commerce, East Central Florida Regional Leadership Council, past chair
- Randy Roberts Foundation, board member
- Frederick Leadership Initiative, board member emeritus
- Orlando Marine Institute, past board member
- National Kidney Foundation, past board member
- Central Florida Foundation, past board member
- Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida, past president
- Seminole State College of Florida Foundation, past board member
- Metropolitan Orlando Urban League, past board member