Legal Market Spotlight: Tampa, FL

Legal market in Tampa | Special CounselThink you know all there is to know about Tampa? Think again! For example, did you know that Tampa is invaded every year by pirates?! In 1997, Tampa’s Gasparilla Pirate Fest was recognized by Events Business News as one of the most unique festivals in the country. Thousands of every day citizens transform themselves into “pirates” and invade Tampa Bay to pillage and plunder. It may also surprise you to learn that Tampa Bay is a popular birding site. The breeding population of the region totals 35,000-45,000 nesting pairs annually at more than 20 sites.

While Miami is often seen as the haven for the rich and famous, Tampa attracts plenty of celebrities including LA Dodgers’ super star Gary Sheffield, General Norman Schwarzkopf, George Steinbrenner and professional wrestler Hulk Hogan. Jerry Springer, Kirstie Alley, John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston are some of the celebs who live seasonally in Tampa. Famous rhythm and blues singer and pianist Ray Charles even began his career playing dance-hall gigs in Tampa!

This Florida city sits on the west coast, with all of the attractions of Gulf of Mexico living. White sand and expansive beachfronts make Tampa different from the east coast sister cities. Home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Rays and the Tampa Lightening, the city offers many different professional sporting options. In addition, the University of South Florida has a thriving college sports program. The ocean and the bay are the heart of Tampa and allow for year round boating, fishing, skiing, parasailing and other water activities. For those who aren’t motivated towards water activity, there are plenty of places to relax beach front with a cocktail or a good book.

Tampa’s economy began to dramatically improve in 2013. With a 3.2 percent growth rate, Tampa Bay came in 16th out of 363 metros, according to a U.S. Conference of Mayors analysis released late last year. Currently on track to grow 2.8 % in 2014, Tampa’s economy is showing strength. As with all major Florida cities, tourism, real estate and international trade play a large part in Tampa’s growth and development. Scoring big wins in attracting nonstop flights to Panama City, the new Amports terminal at the Port of Tampa, Synergy Health’s relocation downtown, and HealthPlan Services’ expansion, Tampa continues to lead Florida out of the recession, according to the President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The legal community in Tampa is a well balanced mix of sophisticated high end work found at boutiques, large regional firms and outposts of AmLaw firms and plenty of smaller to mid-sized firms servicing clients in the areas of foreclosure, consumer finance and insurance defense. Tampa lawyers have a strong sense of community and they network well with one another. Local ties and connections are important to many Tampa law firms, although they are welcoming to lawyers relocating to the favorable Florida weather conditions and great family quality of life. The areas of heath care, technology and real estate remain hot in Tampa.

Tampa attracts a number of publicly traded companies including Jabil, Tech Data, Sykes and Raymond James. The Bay area is also home to WellCare and Bloomin Brands. The mix of companies gives Tampa diversity in terms of industry. Technology, finance, real estate, health care and the restaurant/service industry are all well represented and put thousands of residents to work each day.

Come visit the Bay area today!

Where to Stay

So many choices, so little writing space! Tampa is a large geographical city and has a number of beach towns and Bay enclaves. The Tampa Sheraton Riverwalkprovides expansive water views and first class service. Bring your four legged friends! This downtown hotel is pet friendly. Be sure to dive into the riverfront outdoor pool while there. www.sheratontampariverwalk.com.

Those with a passion for the environment and protected wildlife will want to experience the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. A haven for wildlife, guests can enjoy this Bay front hotel located on 35 acres of a wildlife refuge. The hotel has many family friendly activities to engage kids of all ages.

Looking for an upscale boutique only that offers refined elegance and a gorgeous setting? You must visit the Epicurean Hotel. This modern, luxurious hotel leaves no detail to chance. Enjoy hand crafted cocktails, five star food and a decadent spa treatment at this Tampa jewel. Located in South Tampa’s SoHo district, this hotel sits in prime space to explore shopping at Hyde Park or take walk along the Bay. www.epicureanhotel.com.

Where to Eat

Run, don’t walk, to Bern’s Steakhouse.A long standing Tampa tradition, Berns offers excellent cuisine and world class service. The perfectly aged steaks and the huge wine collection will delight you. Not a red meat lover? Try out Sideberns. The same owners of Bern’s Steakhouse offer Mediterrean fare in a hip, see and be seen environment at this refined but fun eatery. If you want to keep things more causal, try Gourmet Pizza Company. This locally owned pizza joint has been in uber cool Hyde Park since 1999 and makes pizzas with fresh ingredients and innovative toppings. Reviews have been sensational. For an authentic Cuban meal, visit historic Ybor City. The Columbia has been named an All-American Icon by Nation’s Restaurant News. Relish the paella “A la Valenciana” and be sure to top off you meal with the delicious flan.

Where to Drink

Datz Tampa is the place to go for craft cocktails. This Tampa eatery puts their own spin on traditional drinks and the results are terrific. Always on a mission to create the perfect cocktail with house-infused vodkas and barrel-aged blends, Datz is sure to please. For those seeking beer, beer and more beer, check out Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Ybor City. All the beers offered are handcrafted by a brewmaster and his assistant brewers. A ten barrel brewing systems ensures that every beer served hits the spot. For glitz and glamour, try Ciros Speakeasy and Restaurant on Bayshore Boulevard. Step back in time to the days of Prohibition and enjoy the beverages prepared by primarily European trained bartenders at this Tampa speakeasy. The sexy vibe of this dark, discreet bar encourages secrets whispered over fabulous cocktails. ired by

What to Do

Plan a visit to Busch Gardens to have fun for adults and families. Roller coasters, rides, animal shows and attractions will thrill visitors of all ages. The park is open 365 days a year! Check the website to plan your visit so you maximize your time at the park. The Florida Aquarium is located in a beautiful waterfront area of Tampa. With an outdoor water adventure zone for a fun day of cooling off for the kids and parents can enjoy a cool beverage at the adjacent bar and grill.

Don’t forget to get your tickets to a Rays, Bucs or Lightning game depending on the season of your visit. Plenty of opportunity to cheer on a professional sports team with a town full of great sports fans. Consider spending a day at Clearwater Beach, known for the volleyball tournaments hosted each year. Clearwater Beachhas wide, white sand beaches and great people watching. Come see the “digs” in action.

The Straz Center in Tampa hosts touring Broadway musical shows, rock concerts, operas and plays. From Madame Butterfly to Counting Crows to Brian Regan, this performing arts center has a lively and diverse line up of entertainment. Be sure to check their online calendar for the shows that will be in town during a visit. For a step back in time, visit the Tampa Bay History Center. This facility is a lovely tribute to Florida’s past with modern amenities, interactive programs, community involvement and fun for all ages.

Take a day trip to St. Pete, just a stone’s throw away from Tampa Bay. Have lunch and a round of golf at the Vinoy, a luxury hotel on the water. Book a spa treatment at the Don Cesar. Commonly referred to as the “Pink Palace”, this hotel sits right on the Gulf and was built in the 1920’s. The Gatsby era is evoked with the décor and vibe on the hotel. With over 11,000 square feet of spa facilities, you are sure to leave feeling relaxed and pampered.

Where to Live

There are so many terrific neighborhoods in Tampa and enough communities to fit anyone’s taste or lifestyle. Downtown Tampa and the Channel Districtis rapidly becoming a great option for residential living. Within a couple miles, residents can catch a show at Straz, attend an NHL game, visit the Tampa Theatre or visit any number of the best of Tampa attractions. There are plenty of nearby parks and waterfront pathways for running, biking and roller blading. Westchase is a popular suburb of Tampa for young professionals with families. The Veterans Expressway allows for access for commuters heading downtown for work each day. The community has a village with shops and food, swim and tennis centers and plenty of activities for children and their parents.

SoHo/Hyde Park is filled with young professions who want a hip, trendy environment without a lot of travel and commuting. With great dining and entertainment options often just steps away, this neighborhood has beautifully maintained shopping and professional services areas. Locals flock to the fun bar scene, upscale leisure activities and proximity to recreational facilities on Bayshore Boulevard. Seminole Heights is a funky community that is ideal for those seeking to be surrounded by antiques and recycling initiatives. Socially and environmentally friendly, this area has gourmet hot spots and shabby chic retailers all existing in harmony. This is a haven for artists or those who love art. All different types of home styles are represented here so there’s nothing cookie cutter to be found.

Please contact Nondas Davis at nondas.davis@specialcounsel.com if you have any questions about the Tampa legal market.

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