He is known by his peers as one of the hardest working attorneys in central Florida. While balancing a demanding case load, Felipe Guerrero also places a high priority on giving back to his profession through leadership in the Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida (HBACF) and volunteering for a number of community service projects that benefit those who are less fortunate. His focus on mentoring and passion for learning are just a couple of the traits that demonstrate Felipe’s commitment as a young leader paving the way for diverse lawyers throughout the region.
Felipe is an associate in Dean Mead’s Orlando Litigation Department. He focuses his practice in the areas of commercial and real estate related litigation. Felipe has experience in a variety of matters, including contract and business disputes, commercial landlord/tenant disputes, commercial foreclosures, and enforcement of creditors’ rights under defaulted loan transactions and court judgments. Fluent in Spanish, Felipe represents many of the firm’s Hispanic clients in a wide range of litigation-related matters.
When it comes to practicing law, Felipe has developed a niche in real estate litigation which he views as an area of significant growth in the next five years. He enjoys helping his clients assert their rights and protect their interests. He notes, “real estate litigation cases are interesting because each case brings with it a unique set of facts and legal application. For example, what happens when an unmarried couple buys real estate together and subsequently brakes up?” Felipe believes in the importance of controlling the expense of the litigation for the client without compromising the client’s position and at the same time protecting and enforcing the client’s rights.
Last year, Felipe served as the president of the HBACF. With about 150 members, the HBACF serves a vital role in the local community by providing a voice for the concerns and opinions of Hispanics generally, and the legal profession in particular. The HBACF is comprised of judges, magistrates, attorneys, legal assistants, law students and other legal professionals. Says Felipe, “During my involvement in the HBACF, I have seen first-hand what separates this organization from any other — our heritage and culture. Even though our membership is comprised of many different nationalities, most of us share the same native language, traditions and challenges. Many of us are either first generation immigrants or not far removed from the first ones in their families to immigrate to the United States.”
Throughout his tenure as a leader on the Board, Felipe has emphasized the importance of building sustainable community service partnerships. One such example is their relationship with the Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund of Metro Orlando. Each year, the HBACF in partnership with the Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund of Metro Orlando awards a $5,000 scholarship to one law student each year. The 2012-2013 scholarship was awarded to a Florida A&M Law School student.
Equally important for HBACF’s outreach efforts was the development of a long-term partnership with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. The two organizations have aligned their goals to offer programming that enhances mentoring opportunities for small business owners to empower them to flourish in central Florida. Felipe is continuing his service to the community by working with the Chamber to accomplish these goals.
Always one to seek new professional development opportunities, Felipe knew that he wanted to use and build on the leadership skills he acquired through his involvement in the HBACF. That’s when the call came that would open a new door. In March, he was nominated for one of only 40 statewide spots for the first class of The Florida Bar Leadership Academy. After a highly competitive application process, Felipe was notified that he had been selected among the inaugural class of academy fellows. Beginning later this month, Felipe and other members of the academy will focus on the core elements of unified leadership training, mentoring and networking during the year-long program. Florida Bar President-elect Eugene Pettis said, “The academy’s mission is to enhance the skills of a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers selected from across the state that will enable them to become effective leaders throughout the Bar, our profession, and the greater community.”
Felipe’s involvement in the HBACF and the Orange County Bar Association will serve him well as he takes on this new endeavor with The Florida Bar’s Leadership Academy. In addition, he has followed the examples of his peers at Dean Mead by giving back to his alma mater — the University of Florida Levin College of Law. For the past six years, Felipe spearheaded the firm’s participation in the UF Law Firm Giving Program which generates support for academic programs, students and faculty, and provides assistance in meeting the financial needs not covered by tuition or state funding. In fact, Dean Mead achieved 100% participation from the Gators within the firm under his direction. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Felipe’s achievements were recognized by law school leaders when he was named as the recipient of the 2012 Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
Newly married, Felipe and his wife, Lisa, recently returned from their honeymoon trip to Costa Rica where they hiked around a volcano and went ziplining in the rainforest. “We were in awe of how beautiful the scenery was and the perspective you feel when flying through the tree tops,” says Felipe.
When asked about the advice he would give to students graduating from law school today, Felipe shared his three critical factors for success, “Work hard; make time to volunteer through your local Bar or another civic organization; and gain a sense of your community and its needs.” Without a doubt, Felipe knows the importance of leading by example and is determined to continue to do so.