One of Sarasota’s oldest and most prestigious law firms, Williams Parker Attorneys, is moving out of its longtime home but, in a way, it’s going back to where it began.
The firm has signed a lease for a 35,024-square-foot space at the Plaza at Five Points in Sarasota. The firm will take up the entire eight floor of the downtown building, at 50 Central Ave. The move is expected to be complete by the middle of next year.
The firm is moving from its current office at 200 S. Orange Ave. where it has operated out of since about 1976. Shareholders in the firm, officially named Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen, sold the headquarters in May 2018 to a New Hampshire-based investment firm. That firm, at the time of the sale, intended to redevelop the 3.3-acre property into a mixed-use building containing offices and residences that would rise 10 stories on the site.
The move to Five Points, meanwhile, is a homecoming of sorts for the firm. Its offices were in the Palmer Bank building from 1925 through 1957, where the Plaza at Five Points now sits.
The Palmer Bank space was too small, though, and there was only one elevator, which was operated by the landlord and only during business hours. William Harrison, one of the firm’s early partners, told the Business Observer in 2015 about many tiring climbs up to the office at nights and on weekends.
Williams Parker was founded in 1925. The firm specializes in trusts and estates practices, as well as real estate, business, tax, employment, litigation, healthcare and intellectual property practices.
According to a history on its website, J.J. Williams Jr. came to Sarasota by ferry during the land boom and established the firm, which went on to help “guide the growth and prosperity of Sarasota’s skyline and neighborhoods, its banks, schools, public hospital, thriving airport and many of the enduring and iconic institutions responsible for the area’s good fortune and character.”
Williams was later joined by partners Harrison, W. Davis Parker, George Dietz and William Getzen. Among its clients was circus icon John Ringling.
Today, Williams Parker is made up of 50 attorneys. The firm also serves clients globally through its membership in Ally Law, an international alliance of law firms with a membership of 60 firms that include more than 2,300 lawyers in 100 business centers throughout 40 countries.
The Plaza at Five Points is 16 stories and 108,329 square feet. This includes nearly 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail space with 50 residences on the top six floors.