Mike Freed '90

October 24, 2022

As a shareholder and top litigator at business law firm Gunster who also moonlights as a successful stand-up comedian, Mike Freed ‘90 is no stranger to lawyer jokes.

“Many people joke that there are too many lawyers,” he says with a chuckle, “but what they don’t realize is that in reality, we do have too many lawyers in some places and not enough where they need to be.”

In his personal and professional lives, Freed is a tireless advocate for increasing access to cost-effective legal services for clients in need, especially in those places with too few lawyers. He founded Freed to Run, an annual journey run benefiting Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, during which Freed and his fellow racers run six marathons in six days — from Jacksonville to Tallahassee — to fund critical legal services for pediatric medical patients and their families. In its five years, the event has raised $1.9 million and expects to achieve its goal of $2.25 million following the 2022 race.

As Freed explains, reaching that goal “will fully endow a medical-legal partnership that provides free legal services to pediatric patients and their families that are navigating legal issues that are impeding their healthcare outcomes.” Freed credits his time at JU with instilling in him a long-term commitment to philanthropy and civic service.

“Four years at Jacksonville University taught me the importance of relationships, and the value of investing in the places that matter to me,” Freed explains. “I went on to Georgetown Law, and I can confidently say that in so many ways I got a better education at JU in terms of the lessons that I have carried forward. The people I met, the leaders I learned from — leaders like Dr. Fran Kinne — taught me how to build genuine relationships. And that being engaged with communities I care about - whether it’s sharing time and expertise, ideas, money, or using your voice to raise up an issue - is part of our responsibility and our privilege.”

Most recently, Freed has focused his prodigious talents and passion as a founding advisor for the Jacksonville University College of Law. In addition to providing a critical resource for attracting future lawyers and retaining Jacksonville’s young legal minds, he says, “law school is a wonderful incubator for creating clinical students to serve the legal aid community and assist lawyers with pro bono projects - it’s a symbiotic relationship that offers training opportunities, almost like a medical residency does for doctors, and also helps to close the justice gap in our community.”

Freed is lending his expertise in data and technology to reshape the landscape of legal education. At the Jacksonville University College of Law, he is introducing artificial intelligence tools used in the legal discovery process and automating the more repetitive aspects of legal filings or contracts, allowing lawyers to become more relationship-based, creative problem-solvers for their clients. As Freed says, the human side of law will continue to grow as the profession benefits from technology.

“If a computer can do something more efficiently and as well as a lawyer does, then the computer should do it. What a computer can't do is instill client confidence, come up with practical solutions to nuanced problems, get to know a client's business and personal life in a way that you can become a true trusted advisor. There's plenty of room left for original thinking.”

Thanks to Freed and partners like him, JU will soon be training those original thinkers who are fully integrated into cutting-edge legal technologies.

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