Make us your home page
Instagram

Prominent land-use lawyer Ed Armstrong plans to leave longtime firm

CLEARWATER — One of Pinellas County's most successful and high-profile lawyers is leaving the firm where he has worked for 30 years to open a small Pinellas outpost of Tampa-based Hill Ward Henderson.

Ed Armstrong, 55, went to work at Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns right out of law school and is now a shareholder in the firm, which is considered the biggest law firm based in Pinellas with 38 attorneys in Clearwater and Tampa.

But on Monday, Armstrong announced that around May 1, he will go to work for Hill Ward Henderson in a two-lawyer office the firm will open in the Clearwater area. Joining him in the office will be another Johnson Pope lawyer, Katie Cole, whom Armstrong mentored.

At Johnson Pope, Armstrong built a reputation as a winning land-use attorney, specializing in the kinds of cases that required interaction with or approval by government officials.

He has represented many of the bay area's most successful developers, including JMC Communities, Ocean Properties, Ryland Homes, David Mack, Nickel Plate Properties, and others who developed Walmarts, grocery stores, shopping centers and residential communities.

Other high-profile clients have included the Tampa Bay Rays, Westfield Countryside mall and the Church of Scientology.

He also established a reputation in another arena: politics. A Republican, Armstrong, of Dunedin, became known as a local rainmaker. Candidates for city, county and even state offices, especially in mid- and North Pinellas, often make an early visit to Armstrong seeking advice and his approval, knowing campaign cash from his associates could follow.

Armstrong declined to say why he has decided to leave Johnson Pope, saying only that "it's a great law firm and will continue to be a great law firm."

However, Johnson Pope managing partner Guy Burns said it was an "economic decision."

"I think he determined, for whatever reason, that his financial circumstances would be better there than here," Burns said.

Armstrong reeled in many of the firm's clients through the years, but Burns said the parting will be amicable and the firm will be fine. He called Armstrong "a good friend" who will be missed.

"I think a lawyer of that stature would be missed wherever he was," Burns said.

Jim Robbins, 53, the managing shareholder at Hill Ward Henderson, said Armstrong contacted them first. He said his firm is looking forward to having "two really fine lawyers" in their first Pinellas office.

Hill Ward is bigger than Johnson Pope, with around 90 lawyers and more than 220 employees. Robbins said he expects Armstrong and Cole to continue practicing land-use law and governmental relations.

Armstrong's and Cole's clients soon will receive a letter offering them the option of staying with Johnson Pope or following the two lawyers to their new firm.

Diane Steinle can be reached at (727) 445-4152 or dsteinle@tampabay.com.

Prominent land-use lawyer Ed Armstrong plans to leave longtime firm 03/04/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 4, 2013 11:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    Associated Press

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.