FORT LAUDERDALE – Successful South Florida attorney and marijuana lobbyist Nicole “Nikki” Fried, who announced the formation of a new law firm earlier this month, said she hopes her example is an inspiration for other women active in politics and public advocacy.
"Some of the greatest responses I have received from across the state when my firm was announced were from the women in the political process," Fried said during an email interview with the Florida Record. "If I can inspire any of them and give them the strength to believe in themselves, that is just an added benefit of making this move."
Fried last week announced her decision to leave Colodny Fass and form her own South Florida firm, Igniting Florida LLC. Fried said she came to this decision because it was time.
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained," she said. "I have always lived my life to the fullest, taking on any challenge thrown my way and thriving to be the best possible version of myself. I felt that I had reached a point in my legal/professional career that it was time to make the leap. My strong relationships across the state and my diverse clientele afforded me this opportunity."
Fried said she will continue her government consulting and lobbyist work while working around Florida from Broward County where she lives.
"Igniting Florida is a full-service government consulting firm," Fried said. "My focus will be making a difference in Tallahassee and Broward County. I have had the opportunity to be involved in some major pieces of legislation and policy; that will not change. There is never an issue too large or obstacle to great that I am unwilling to tackle."
Fried said her new direction will not take her away from her clients, who are going with Fried to her new firm, or her marijuana advocacy.
"I can now give my clients my undivided attention and best serve their interests," she said. "As my daily quote for today states, 'It takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone.' - Hans F. Hansen."
Fried's prominence in government lobbying was solidified earlier this year during the 2016 Legislative Session; Fried was part of the main lobbying team who worked to pass HB 307. The legislation is an expansion of Florida's so-called "Right to Try Act" and recognizes the rights of terminally ill patients to experiment with non-FDA approved remedies, including medicinal cannabis. Gov. Rick Scott signed that legislation into law in March, when it took immediate effect.
The legislation and other government consulting and lobbyist activities have helped Fried become one of the most recognizable change advocates in Florida’s growing medical cannabis industry. Fried also is prominent in other causes, including an effort to ensure Florida's foster children receive college and graduate education exemptions.
In 2014, Fried was recognized by The Florida Bar’s Legal Needs of Children Committee “for her leadership of the Florida’s Children First lobbying team," according to her bio. Fried worked to pass a bill “that provided $4.5 million in appropriations to ensure Florida’s disabled dependent children have access to lawyers,” her bio says.
It is her marijuana advocacy that garners the most attention and that likely will continue.
"Considering my client, Florida Compassionate Growers, possesses one of the six licenses to grow and dispense medical marijuana, I will have the opportunity to be on the ground as this industry develops in the state of Florida," she said. "Medical marijuana is the largest-growing industry in the world and I look forward to being part of developing the policies that will impact Florida."
Fried chairs the Florida Bar's Young Lawyers' Division Board of Governors’ Legislative Affairs Committee and is on the boards of director of Broward Days and the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida. She was named a Rising Star by the Daily Business Review South Florida in 2014 and was also nominated for the same title in Florida Super Lawyers in 2009, 2010 and 2015.
Prior to joining Colodny Fass in 2011, Fried worked with Holland & Knight and was an assistant public defender in Florida's 8th Circuit.
Fried, a graduate of University of Florida Levin College of Law, earned her Master of Arts in political campaigning and Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Florida. She also was the school’s first female student body president and is the only person in the university's history to head all three university government branches as student body president, senate president and chief justice of the Supreme Court.
Fried is a member of the University of Florida's Hall of Fame, Blue Key Society and has served on the university's board of trustees.