TAMPA – Tom Scarritt possibly should win a separate award for the best locale from which to receive a bar association's civil trial attorney award.
"I was in Africa with my wife at the time of the awards banquet," Scarritt, who is founder, president and senior trial lawyer at the Scarritt Law Group in Tampa, said during a Florida Record interview. "So I shot a video from Africa accepting the award. There are elephants playing in the background."
It was from that location earlier this year that Scarritt received the Hillsborough County Bar Association's Michael A. Fogarty "In the Trenches" Award for 2016-2017. The award, given to a leading civil trial lawyer in recognition for professionalism and excellence, was given during the Hillsborough County Bar Association's banquet May 26 at the Chester H. Ferguson Law Center in Tampa.
Fogarty was a commercial litigator who practiced in Tampa and became well-known in area legal circles for great skilled and high ethics. Fogarty was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1994 at age of 43 and died of pneumonia six months later.
The Hillsborough County Bar Association named the award for Fogarty that same year.
"To be mentioned in the same breath as Mike Fogarty is something I will always cherish," Scarritt said during this acceptance comments from Africa.
Other awards presented during the banquet included the Herbert G. Goldburg, the highest award given by the Hillsborough County Bar Association Trial & Litigation Section to a trial lawyer, to Leonard Gilbert; and the James "Jimbo" Kynes Memorial “In the Trenches” Award for Criminal Trial Practice to Paul Sisco.
During his Florida Record interview, Scarritt offered some advice and a few rules for up-and-coming attorneys.
"I tell people who want to succeed in the law to follow these rules," Scarritt said. "No. 1, never underestimate your opponent. No. 2, always out-prepare your opponent. No. 3, don't do anything you're not afraid to tell your mother about."
Scarritt said his fourth rule underpins the first three.
"I tell everyone to always remember to do this," he said. "No. 4, always treat everyone with respect and dignity, no matter what. That includes the person who cleans the courtroom. A judge is always watching. If you treat everyone with respect and dignity, you will be acknowledged for that. And if you don't, then they're going to know you're a phony."
Scarritt, whose practice includes business disputes and personal injury, has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court for Florida's Middle and Northern districts and Florida's Supreme Court. He studied at the London School of Economics, on an Institute of European Studies Academic Scholarship, and Political Science and Civil Code Law at the University of Grenoble in France as a Rotary Club International Graduate Fellow. He earned a bachelor's degree with honors from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. He received his law degree from Florida State University College of Law. During that time, he was staff editor for FSU's Law Review and was a student intern for U.S. District Court Judge William Stafford.
In addition to the Scarritt Law Group, Scarritt was a shareholder and trial lawyer from 1983 to 1998 at Fowler, White, Boggs, Banker in Tampa, and founder, president, shareholder and senior trial lawyer from 1998 to 2000 at Davis & Scarritt in Tampa.