Roderick N. Petrey
Roderick N. Petrey (Rod) founded the Florida Justice Institute in 1978, and has served on its Board of Directors since then. More recently, he founded New Equity Partners after serving as President of the Collins Center for Public Policy, a Miami-based Think Tank, for twenty years. He is retired Senior Counsel to Holland & Knight LLP, a large international law firm, and serves as general counsel for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute, Florida International University and various other public and private institutions. Mr. Petrey is Vice-President and legal counsel for the P.L. Dodge Foundation and a member of the Board and Secretary of BAC Florida Bank. He has served as Vice-President of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation in New York, President of The Donors’ Forum of South Florida, President of the Florida Bar Foundation, Chairman of the We Will Rebuild! Foundation, chairman of the Florida Justice Institute, Chairman of the Miami Museum of Science, senior adviser to the Council for Educational Change, and an active member of other civic and business organizations. He received the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida, given to one lawyer in Florida each year who exemplifies the public service spirit of the legal profession. Mr. Petrey has received the “Spirit of Excellence” award from the Miami Herald, the Cal Kovens Distinguished Community Service Award from Florida International University, the Juvenile Justice Award from the Florida Conference of Circuit Court Judges and other recognitions. He is a member of the America Law Institute and the American Bar Foundation. Mr. Petrey was born in Lakeland, Florida. He received his BA degree magna cum laude from Yale University and his law degree from Harvard University. He has served as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. He is a military combat veteran, serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces (“Green Berets”) in Vietnam and as a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division.
One of the state’s most prominent trial lawyers, Benjamine Reid represents a diverse corporate clientele in litigation, and serves as a Director and Board Member of the Florida Justice Institute. Mr. Reid has extensive appellate experience in both state and federal courts, and focuses his practice on products liability, toxic torts, antitrust, business, class action and pharmaceutical litigation. Mr. Reid currently serves on the Board of Directors of Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A., and also serves on the Executive Committee for the Governor’s Council for Sustainable Florida, as a member of the Orange Bowl Committee, and as Co-Chair of the Legal Services Training Committee of the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association. Mr. Reid is a frequent lecturer and author in the fields of trial advocacy and class action litigation in both the United States and Great Britain. Examples of this activity include “The Trial Lawyer as Story Teller: Reviving a Lost Art” in Litigation Magazine as well as his design and presentation of a program in London entitled “Products Over the Pond! Has U.S. Style Litigation Invaded the U.K.?” Mr. Reid was also a faculty member at a trial advocacy program for U.S. attorneys and British Barristers at Wadham College at Oxford. Mr. Reid has received a number of awards for his pro bono activity and has been recognized in significant publications including Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Business Lawyers as well as in six separate categories in The Best Lawyers in America.
Mel Rea Maguire has over 29 years of business, governmental and academic experience, including 20 years in corporate law practice, with focus on financial institutions, international trade, economic development, and corporate finance and government relations, with the law firms of Holland & Knight LLP and Steel, Hector & Davis LLP. Mel is former Secretary of the Florida Department of Commerce and former Assistant Secretary for the Florida Economic Development and Tourism Divisions.
As a partner in two global law firms, Mel directed large platform client development initiatives and worked extensively with Fortune 500 companies. Mel also developed a variety of Client Development Programs as well as North-South strategies for multiple professional services firms at a global level. Mel has deep and wide relationships with business, government and civic organizations through the Americas and she has worked extensively with companies in the United States, Canada and Latin America. Mel’s recent work in academia includes Associate Dean for External Affairs, University of Miami School of Business Administration and Executive Director Management Development at Florida International University College of Business. Her work in academia includes development of programs, contracts and relationships with universities in China, Hong Kong, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Mexico and throughout the Caribbean.
Mel graduated, with honors, from Florida State University College of Law and with a B.A. from the University of Florida. Mel has served as Board Member of The Florida Justice Institute, as Lifetime Trustee of the Coast Guard Foundation Inc., and Board Member of The Latin Builders Association, The InternetBar.org, The Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Women’s Leadership Board, The Executive Committee and Chair of Legislative Committee on the Florida State University Foundation, Inc., a member of the Western Hemispheric Summit Executive Committee, the Florida International Affairs Commission, and the Council of the Americas, and Governmental Affairs Chair of the Greater Miami Chamber Commerce, Florida State University College of Law Board of Visitors. Mel is a Fellow of the American Bar Association Foundation.
James C. Cunningham, Jr. became a member of Florida Justice Institute’s Board of Directors in January 2019.
Mr. Cunningham graduated the University of Florida Spessard L. Holland School of Law in 1978. From 1979 to 1981, he was a law clerk to Florida Supreme Court Justice James A. Alderman. Afterwards, Mr. Cunningham practiced law for 36 years in Miami and concentrated his practice on complex commercial litigation. He retired from the practice of law in 2016 to become a full-time sculptor.
In addition to serving on FJI’s Board, Mr. Cunningham also serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Florida Law Center Association, Inc. and the Board of Advisors of the Georgia Museum of Art.
Tiffani G. Lee
Tiffani G. Lee is a partner in Holland & Knight’s Miami office and a member of the firm’s South Florida Litigation Group. She concentrates her practice in the area of complex commercial litigation in the state and federal courts of Florida. She is experienced in handling contract disputes, corporate dissolution actions, securities fraud actions, shareholder derivative actions and actions alleging various business torts. Ms. Lee tries cases in the state and federal courts of Florida.
In 2018, Ms. Lee was appointed as a special master in Chinese drywall litigation pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. As the court-appointed special master, she will coordinate disclosure and discovery schedules, resolve privilege or similar questions, monitor scheduling of depositions, and make recommendations to the District Court on discovery disputes.
Ms. Lee has been involved in the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout her career at the firm. Since 2009, she has served as the firmwide Diversity Partner. In that capacity, she leads the Diversity Council and serves on the firm’s Practice & Operations Committee and Partner Compensation Committee. She frequently speaks on diversity-related issues at conferences sponsored by national organizations and at client-sponsored diversity programs.
In the community, Ms. Lee is a member of the Orange Bowl Committee, Greater Miami Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Professionalism Panel. She is also a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami.
While in law school, Ms. Lee was President of the Honor Council, Writing and Research Editor of the University of Miami Law Review, elected to the Order of the Coif and awarded membership in the Iron Arrow Honor Society, the highest honor attainable at the University of Miami.
Founding Director and Board Member (1978-2003)
John Edward Smith
Founding Director and Board Member (1978-1998)
Founding Director and Board Member (1978-1991)
Eleanor Mitchell Hunter
Director and Board Member (1983-1991)
William J. Sheppard
Otis Pitts, Jr.