In 1925, during the height of the Great Florida Land Boom, attorney J. J. Williams Jr. arrived in Sarasota by ferry, establishing what would become Sarasota’s oldest and largest law firm. For nearly a century, Williams Parker has helped guide the growth and prosperity of Sarasota’s skyline and neighborhoods, its banks, schools, public hospital, thriving airport, and many of the enduring and iconic institutions responsible for the area’s good fortune and character. Navigating through the Great Depression and into the post-WWII boom, the firm added young, military-veteran attorneys Parker, Harrison, Dietz, and Getzen, assisting real estate titans in turning southwest Florida into some of the most coveted property in the world. Through the 1960s, Williams Parker helped develop Bird, Lido, and Longboat keys. Booms and expansion occurred again in the 1990s, 2000s, and today—the firm expanding and diversifying each time to meet its clients’ growing and complex needs while always staying true to our founding partners' vision and principles.
JJ Williams, Jr. hangs a shingle and briefly is sole practitioner at Commercial Court on Central between First and Third. Williams joins Sidney Rawson Perry forming Perry & Williams on top floor (7th floor) of First Bank and Trust Building, later called the Palmer Bank Building. Firm briefly was Williams, Perry & Williamson.
JJ Williams, Jr. came to Sarasota during a major land boom. No ordinary young lawyer, he was the son of a powerful mayor of Memphis at a time when that city was booming and expanding. Learning from his father, the younger Williams watched as ...
Height of the Florida Land Boom
Williams Organizes Venice-Nokomis Bank
John Ringling Bridge Built
John Ringling Bridge built to Lido and Longboat. Two bridges built to Siesta Key. Lido Beach Casino opens.
Sarasota Becomes Winter Home for Ringling Brothers
Sarasota becomes winter home to the Ringling Brothers Circus; John Ringling is the last surviving Ringling brother and speculates intensely in Sarasota land.
Great Depression Begins
New firm formed as Williams & Dart
Attorney Sydney R. Perry died August 16, 1929. New firm formed as Williams & Dart (with FW Dart).
Florida population 1.5 million
Lowe’s Field opens as Sarasota’s airport
JJ Williams serves as Sarasota City Attorney
Served 1933-1934 & 1936-1938
Williams Serves As Founding Director of United First Federal Savings
Williams serves as founding director and attorney of the United First Federal Savings and Loan Association.
Williams Helps Found Sarasota State Bank
F. Willis Dart Dies
F. Willis Dart died August 1937; son Francis Dart takes father’s place in firm. Francis Dart was the County Judge of Sarasota County.
Sarasota Municipal Auditorium opens
Florida population 1.9 million
Annual tourists 1 million
Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority Established
Longboat Key used as a bombing range
Post-war Florida boom
Arthur Bell Joins as Partner
Bell joins as partner, firm is now Williams Dart & Bell. Arthur Bell was son of firm’s longtime client Tom Bell. Mallory Frier was an associate at the firm in the late 40’s, left to practice in Gibsenton, FL.
Florida population 2.7 million
Annual tourists between 6 and 8 million
Florida Bar Formed
Florida Bar formed; UK PUD laws created; The Twin Motels opens on US 41 starting the tourism boom in Southwest Florida.
Florida Bar Exam now mandatory
W. Davis Parker Joins Firm
By February 1925, W. Davis Parker—second founder of the Williams Parker law firm—was in Sarasota from his native Georgia, a young child, just five years old, the middle boy of three sons. His father, Jere Parker and mother Kathleen (nee Davis), had brought the young family with them to the boomtown on the bay where Jere would work for the thriving newspaper industry as a typesetter until the dawn of World War II, when reduced fortunes would see him move his family to Atlanta. While in Sarasota in those early years, Jere Parker regularly made the papers for his appearances around town as
Ringling Isles Master Plan approved by city
William T. Harrison, Jr. Joins Firm
At the same time that Parker was joining the firm, Williams was interviewing and about to hire perhaps the single most influential attorney he would ever take on: William Thomas Harrison, Jr. Scholar, athlete and musician, Bill Harrison played piccolo in the University of Florida marching band. Harrison was also a young Korean War combat veteran with an enviable pedigree. His father was Judge William T. Harrison of Manatee County whose tenure ran from 1923 until 1959, serving an original circuit that covered eight counties, from Manatee to Everglades City to Winter Haven. Born in the family
Legal counsel for Sarasota Memorial Hospital
Legal Counsel for Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority
Firm begins serving as legal counsel for Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority
Firm Helps Found William G. and Marie Selby Foundation
Firm assists in establishing the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation.
George A. Dietz Joins the Firm
Born in St. Petersburg, Florida, George attended the University of Florida College of Law School and served in the Korean War as a JAG officer in the U.S. Marine Corps before joining Williams Parker in Sarasota in 1955, becoming a name partner of the firm in 1959.
George specialized in real estate law and was instrumental in developing much of Sarasota County and Longboat Key, including the Meadows, Bay Isles, and the Longboat Key Club.
Throughout his career, George was active in community affairs and in the broader legal community. He served as the president of the Greater
Williams Dart & Bell dissolves
Dart and Bell leave and form own firm. Williams practices with Parker, Harrison, and Dietz.
Historic Asolo Theater Opens
Historic Asolo Theater opens in current location; S 41 rerouted; Puerto Rico’s Horizontal Property Act
Williams, Parker, Harrison, Dietz forms
January 1, Williams, Parker, Harrison, Dietz forms
William E. Getzen joins firm
William E. Getzen joins the firm from Illinois Law; Firm involved with ARVIDA, schools, and US 41 development
Arvida purchases Ringling Isles
Arvida purchases Ringling Isles and properties; Drawbridge to Lido replaces Ringling Bridge
Florida population 5 million
Annual tourists 10 million
New College established
James L. Ritchey joins
James L. Ritchey joins firm; installs first copy machine at firm
Moved to State Street office
Move to State Street office, 1538 State Street, room for 12 attorneys; IZ Mann builds Sarasota’s first condominiums at Sarasota Harbor West
Firm Establishes Name As Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen
Firm establishes name as Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen; JJ Williams Jr. dies age 82
Save Our Bays Launched
Save Our Bays launched & dredging outlawed in Sarasota.
Florida population 6.8 million
Annual tourists 20 million
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall opens.
Disney World opens
Firm Builds Office at Orange and Ringling
New building at 1550 Ringling Blvd (200 S. Orange); decision to buy and build over leasing at United First Federal Building, JJ Williams does not live to see new building; Taylor Woodrow purchases land for The Meadows
Oil shortage recession through 1975
Charles D. Bailey Jr. Joins Firm
J. Michael Hartenstine joins firm
Michele Boardman Grimes Joins as First Female Attorney
Community Foundation of Sarasota County formed
Community Foundation of Sarasota County formed; I-75 reaches Sarasota
Florida population 9.75 million
Annual tourists 20 million
William M. Seider Joins Firm
William M. Seider joins firm after clerking for Florida Supreme Court Justice Overton
Mote Aquarium opens on City Island
Davis Parker dies
Davis Parker died 62 years old (married to Charlotte Williams)
Sunshine Skyway Bridge opens
Ed Smith Stadium opens
Florida population 13 million
Annual tourists 40 million
Second building expansion
Manatee County approves Lakewood Ranch
First home sales in Lakewood Ranch
Patterson Foundation formed
Florida population 16 million
Annual tourists 42 million
Ringling Bridge to Lido opens
William Seider named firm president
Global Financial Crisis
Florida population 18.8 million
Annual tourists 82.3 million
Florida surpasses New York as third most populous US state after California and Texas
Williams Parker launches Requiste
Williams Parker launches Requiste publication.
Barancik Foundation Forms; UTC Mall Opens
The Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation is formed. The mall at University Town Center opens.
Ric Gregoria named firm president
Ric Gregoria named firm president (to present); firm begins expansion and modernization of practices
105 million tourists visit Florida
First year the number of annual tourists to Florida surpasses 100 million.
200 S. Orange sold
Florida population 21.5 million
Annual tourists 125 million (2018)
The Bay Master Plan phase 1
Firm Celebrates 95th Anniversary
Williams Parker celebrates its 95th anniversary and pays tribute to late founding partners Harrison and Dietz, who were instrumental not only in establishing the strength, stability, and culture of the firm but also in shaping the community itself.