Business Law – Walton County Bar Association
Call us: (850) 266-7044

Business Law

Anchors, Michelle
Keefe, Anchors & Gordon

Michelle Anchors is one of the Gulf Coast’s preeminent attorneys and a founding partner of Keefe, Anchors & Gordon.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University (B.A. 1987) and the University of Florida College of Law (J.D. 1991), Michelle provides counsel to many businesses, condominiums, and homeowners associations along the Emerald Coast. Michelle is also certified by the Supreme Court of Florida as a Circuit Court Mediator. She has received the highest rating offered by her professional peers in the Martindale-Hubbell peer review system and has been honored as one of Florida’s ”Legal Elite” by Florida Trend magazine.

Michelle’s depth of government and administrative knowledge allow her to match the needs of her private sector clients with the most efficient and effective solutions. After graduating from law school, Michelle served as a law clerk to Justice Parker Lee McDonald of the Florida Supreme Court. She subsequently served as Deputy General Counsel to former Governor Lawton Chiles and was a member of his staff when he served in the United States Senate. Since 2013, Michelle has served as a member of the Florida Commission on Ethics, and currently serves as the commission’s chair.

Michelle and her family have been leaders in the Fort Walton Beach and Destin communities for generations. In addition to serving as pro bono counsel to a number of local non-profit organizations, Michelle is personally and actively involved with a number of organizations and issues.  Former Governor Jeb Bush appointed Michelle to chair the Committee for a Sustainable Emerald Coast and in 2007 Michelle was named “Best Corporate Citizen” by Emerald Coast Magazine. In 2012, Michelle was honored to serve as one of the founding members and first President of IMPACT 100 of Northwest Florida, which raises and provides significant grant funding for deserving local non-profit organizations. Michelle also formerly served as chair of the Okaloosa County School Readiness Coalition and on the boards of directors for the University of West Florida Foundation and the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center.

Michelle, her husband Steve and their two children are active members of St. Simon’s Episcopal Church. She enjoys long distance open water swimming, playing the piano, and backpacking with her family.

Keefe, Anchors & Gordon
Beard, Amelia M. Hallenberg
McCalla Raymer, LLC

Mrs. Beard is the current president of the Walton County Bar Association and also served as the 2017 president.  Her practice includes real estate transactions and litigation, estate planning, business formation and collections.  She is licensed to practice in Florida and Georgia and lives in Freeport, FL with her husband and two sons.

Billhimer, Elizabeth C.
Clark Partington

Elizabeth joined Clark Partington’s commercial litigation section in early 2016 after practicing with a large firm in Washington, D.C. for more than a decade. Elizabeth is a native of Niceville, Florida and we are proud that she has returned home to bring the benefits of her D.C. experience to serve the legal needs of our local and regional community.   Elizabeth has extensive experience handling complex legal matters.  In D.C., her practice focused on general litigation matters, including representing companies and individuals in civil and criminal government enforcement actions, bid and grant protests in administrative and judicial forums, and conducting corporate internal investigations, compliance reviews and risk assessments.  Elizabeth has represented corporate clients in a variety of industries, including oil and oil services, pharmaceutical, automotive, advertising, and technology.  Elizabeth has performed numerous Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations on behalf of multinational clients with issues in numerous countries, including China, Iraq, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Angola, Romania, Austria, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, and Nigeria.  Elizabeth also has assisted companies in enhancing compliance programs to address anti-corruption and anti-bribery requirements.

Elizabeth also has dedicated her time to pro bono matters, including representing former service members before the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Army Board for Correction of Military Records and representing a national non-profit entity in various federal grant protests.

Elizabeth is licensed to practice law in Florida, Texas and the District of Columbia.

4100 Legendary Drive, Suite 200
Destin, FL 32541

Clark Partington's Website
Bowman, J. Bruce
Conerly, Bowman & Dykes, LLP & Attorneys’ Title

Practice Areas: Personal Injury Law, Destin’s only Certified Civil Trial Attorney, Civil Litigation, Real Estate and Corporate Transactional Law. Certified Civil Mediator.

Education: Graduated from University of Florida, B.S. Accounting, 1984; Graduated from South Texas College of Law, J.D. 1987

Associations: The Florida Bar (Trial Lawyer’s Section; City, County and Local Government Law Section), Texas Bar Association, Florida Municipal Attorneys Association, Okaloosa-Walton Bar Association, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, U.S. District Court, Northern and Middle Districts, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast (Board Secretary, 2003-2004), Guardian Ad Litem for the Second judicial Circuit, Leon County, Florida (volunteer, 2001-2002), Legal Aid Program (volunteer, 1990-2001), Shoreline Church – Legal Society, Leadership Okaloosa 2005, Christian Legal Society.

Conerly, Bowman & Dykes, LLP & Attorneys’ Title
4481 Legendary Drive, Suite 200, Destin, FL 32541


Campbell, Bruton M.
Clark Partington Hart Larry Bond & Stackhouse

Brut’s practice focuses on all areas of real estate law and banking law. He represents clients on a wide array of real estate and loan matters. His clients consist of individuals, developers, builders, businesses, and financial institutions.

Brut graduated magna cum laude from Florida State University in 2008, with a degree in Political Science. He graduated, with honors, from Florida State University College of Law in 2012. While in law school, Brut clerked for the First Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in DeFuniak Springs, Florida and was a member of the Real Estate Law Society, the Student Bar Association, Business Law Society, and a Student Member of the American Bar Association.

4100 Legendary Drive
Suite 200
Destin, FL 32541
Florida State University College of Law, with honors, 2012
Florida State University, magna cum laude, 2008
Bar/Court Admissions:
Campbell, Scott M.
Clark Partington Hart Larry Bond & Stackhouse

Since his admission in Florida in 2003, Scott has focused his practice in all areas of real estate law, banking law, transactional work and corporate law involving closely held corporations and limited liability companies. He represents financial institutions, builders, developers, businesses and individuals in a wide variety of real estate, corporate and financing matters which include commercial and residential real estate transactions, secured and unsecured loans, complex loan workouts, entity formation, residential and commercial leasing and mergers and acquisitions.

4100 Legendary Drive
Suite 200
Destin, FL 32541
University of Florida 1999; Stetson University J.D with honors 2002
Bar/Court Admissions:
Florida; U.S. District Court for the Northern and Southern Districts

Martindale-Hubbell Rating:
Professional Recognition:
Board Certified in Real Estate by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization of Education; selected to Florida Trend’s Legal Elite 2011 “Up and Comers” as recognized by his peers.

Community Involvement:
Active member of the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce; Florida Banker’s Association; Member of the Board of Directors for Habitat For Humanity in Okaloosa County, Inc.
Cordle, Nathan R.
Clark Partington Hart Larry Bond & Stackhouse

Professional Experience:
Nathan believes in client-centered service, and understanding and meeting the unique needs of each individual client. Nathan’s primary focus is commercial and residential real estate transactions, title insurance, and title curative work. Additionally, his practice area includes general real estate law, business and corporate entity formation, and estate planning.

Prior to joining Clark Partington, Nathan served as attorney and manager for Capitol Park Title in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He also worked with Cynthia Lee Almond as an attorney in Tuscaloosa, focusing on real estate law, business law, estate planning, and probate law, and served as an Adjunct Instructor for the Honors College at The University of Alabama. Before becoming an attorney, Nathan worked as a real estate agent. He enjoys utilizing his real estate experience to better meet the needs of his clients and the local real estate community.

Nathan earned his law and undergraduate degrees from The University of Alabama. During law school, Nathan served on the Board of Governors for the American Bar Association, President of the Bench and Bar Legal Honor Society, and Treasurer of the Student Bar Association.

Born and raised in lower Alabama, Nathan grew up with Destin and South Walton as his back yard. He enjoys spending his spare time volunteering in the local community, and soaking in all that the Gulf Coast has to offer.

Certificate in Public Interest Law
Former President of the Bench and Bar Legal Honor Society
Recipient of the Dean’s Community Service Award

Alabama Bar Association
Tuscaloosa Bar Association
American Bar Association

Dykes, Jr., Hayward
Conerly, Bowman & Dykes, LLP
850-837-LAWS (5297)

Practice Areas: Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation, Contracts, Government Law, Personal Injury, and Business Law.

Education: Florida State University, B.S. Criminology, 1998; The University of Mississippi School of Law, J.D. 2001.

Associations: Admitted to Florida Bar 2002; admitted to U.S. Middle District of Florida 2002; admitted to U.S. Northern District of Florida 2006; admitted to Northern District of Florida Bankruptcy Court 2009; admitted to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals 2010; admitted to U.S. Supreme Court 2011; Former Assistant State Attorney, 6th Judicial Circuit (2002-2005); Phi Delta Phi 2001; Moot Court Board 2001; Okaloosa-Walton Bar Association, Florida Bar First Circuit Grievance Committee “B” (2012-2015, Chairperson 2014-2015); Florida Municipal Attorneys Association; Destin Forward (2008-2009); Destin Area Chamber of Commerce Board Member (2012-Present); Destin Area Rotary Club (2006-2013); Member Destiny Worship Center (2012 – Present).

Hayward Dykes, Jr. was voted to Florida Trends, Florida Legal Elite Up & Comers for 2010. One of 111 attorneys in the State of Florida voted by their peers in the Legal Elite balloting.

Gordon, A. Benjamin
Keefe, Anchors & Gordon

A native of Fort Walton Beach, Ben is a founding partner in Keefe, Anchors & Gordon.

With over 15 years of experience focused on legal issues impacting businesses and individuals, Ben works to avoid liability triggers as general counsel as well as to resolve disputes through litigation. Ben counsels new and existing businesses on creating a strong foundation for a successful enterprise, including with respect to operating agreements, contracts, and employment issues. In particular, Ben frequently advises clients and litigates issues related to trade secrets, non-compete, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure agreements. Ben’s litigation practice primarily focuses on real estate litigation, commercial litigation, corporate and partnership litigation, and condominium/homeowner’s association litigation. Ben works closely with real estate developers, commercial property owners, bars and restaurants, retail businesses, and the hospitality industry, as well as local Northwest Florida manufacturers, technology companies, and government contractors.

Ben’s practice is strongly influenced by his legal experiences within and beyond Northwest Florida. After graduating from law school, Ben served as a law clerk for the Honorable C. Roger Vinson, Chief Judge for the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola. Ben entered private practice as an attorney with King & Spalding LLP in Washington, D.C., where he focused on complex business litigation in state and federal courts throughout the country. While Ben continues to spend significant time in D.C., his home is Northwest Florida where he serves local businesses and clients, with his unique understanding of how the local dynamics of this community interrelate with the legal and business realities outside the region.

Ben and his family have a long history of service to our area, serving as teachers, volunteers, and active leaders in our legal and business communities. Ben’s father, the late Honorable Ben Gordon, Jr., served Northwest Florida as a County Judge and Circuit Judge for more than twenty years. Ben continues to serve his community in many roles, including having been appointed by Florida’s governor to serve on the Judicial Nomination Commission for the First Judicial Circuit and serving as the chairman of the First Judicial Circuit’s Grievance Committee B.

Ben and his wife Amanda have two children, with whom they love to travel as often as possible and with whom they are regularly boating when home in our emerald waters.

Keefe, Anchors & Gordon
Gutai, Jennifer
Conerly, Bowman & Dykes, LLP & Attorneys’ Title

Practice Areas:  Real Estate Litigation, Condo and Homeowners Association Law; Landlord/Tenant Law; Employment Law; Complex Civil and Business Litigation, Torts, Contracts, Leases, and Municipal Law.

Education: University of Buffalo, B.A. Political Science, magna cum laude, 2006; Florida State University College of Law, J.D. 2010 (Dean’s List 2009).

Associations: Admitted to Florida Bar, 2010;  Okaloosa Bar Association; Treasurer, Young Lawyers Division of Okaloosa County Bar Association, 2015-2016; St. Andrews Bay American Inn of Court, 2013-2015; FSU Moot Court Team, 2008-2010.

Conerly, Bowman & Dykes, LLP & Attorneys’ Title
4481 Legendary Drive, Suite 200, Destin, FL 32541

Hawkins, John W.
Matthews & Jones LLP

John Hawkins’ path to the Emerald Coast is familiar to many who now live here full time. John grew up in Dallas, Texas and obtained his education and real world work experience in Texas, but once John experienced the natural beauty of the area and the warmth of its residents, the desire to live here was irresistible.

A graduate of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, with a double major in Finance and Petroleum Land Management, John worked in the oil industry as a landman for a Fortune 500 corporation while obtaining a Masters of Business Administration degree specializing in Management from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. John then became a futures trader for Elf Trading, Inc., the international trading arm of France’s national oil company, Elf Acquitaine, and was involved in risk management and speculative trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the International Petroleum Exchange in London (IPE), and the Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX), with traders in ETI’s offices in London, Paris, Geneva, Tokyo, and Singapore. During his stint in the international commodities markets John attended the South Texas College of Law in Houston, graduating with a Juris Doctorate degree.

In 1993 John relocated to Destin and opened his solo general practice, broadening his commercial litigation experience to include family law, personal injury, misdemeanor criminal defense and business planning. John has been a member of the American Bar Association since he was a law student, and a member of the Okaloosa-Walton Bar Association since 1993. John is a long standing member of the Estate Planning Council of the Emerald Coast, and served as President  of the EPCEC in 2008.

As John and Dana Matthews grew to know and respect each other as colleagues and friends, they shared a vision to create a full service locally based law firm to meet the increasing demand of a rapidly growing Northwest Florida client base, and formed Matthews & Hawkins, P.A. in July, 1998.  Drawing on his practical experience in the business world, John’s practice transformed to concentrate in business planning, estate planning, and litigation of probate and trust matters.  After serving as Managing Partner of the firm for 14 years, in 2012 John decided to become Of Counsel, and now provides private client services in addition to serving as a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit civil mediator and qualified arbitrator.

4475 Legendary Drive
Destin, FL 32541

University of Texas
(B.B.A., 1981);
University of Texas of the Permian Basin
(M.B.A., 1985);
South Texas College of Law
(J.D., 1990)

Practical Experience
Crown Central Petroleum Corporation, 1982-1985
District Land Man;
Crown Central Petroleum Corporation, 1985-1989
Product Trader;
Elf Trading, Inc., 1987-1990
Futures Trader

Bar Admissions
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida;
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas;
U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals

Okaloosa-Walton County Bar Association;
American Bar Association;
State Bar of Texas;
The Florida Bar;
Estate Planning Council of the Emerald Coast
(President, 2008)

Areas of Practice
Asset Protection and Wealth Preservation;
Estate and Trust Planning;
Guardianship and Conservatorships;
Gift and Generation Skipping Tax Planning;
Probate and Post Mortem Estate Tax Planning;
Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorneys and Living Wills;
Complex Commercial Litigation
Helmich, Kevin M.
Beggs & Lane, RLLP
(850) 650-4747

Kevin M. Helmich focuses on Estate Planning and Probate, and also represents approximately 500 closely held corporations and limited liability companies. Corporate services include setting up corporations, annual maintenance, preparation of contracts and related transactional services.

In 1992, Kevin M. Helmich graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Illinois, College of Law. While in law school, he focused his course work with a heavy emphasis in taxation. His final year of law school, Mr. Helmich was the recipient of the J. Nelson Young Award, an award given annually by the University of Illinois to its top law student in the area of taxation. Following graduation, he went to work as a Judicial Clerk for the Honorable Benjamin K. Miller, Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.

In 1994, Mr. Helmich entered private practice in Springfield, Illinois. Initially, his workload was divided evenly between estate planning and tax free municipal finance. In 1996, Mr. Helmich moved to Florida and focused his practice in the areas of Estate Planning and Probate. In 2000, he received his certification from the Florida Bar Association as a specialist in the field of Wills, Trusts and Estates. Mr. Helmich is a member of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar, and a past committee member of the Wills, Trusts & Estate Section of the American Bar Association.

Address:  4405 Common Drive East, Suite 102
Destin, FL  32541

Beggs & Lane, RLLP
Hoffer, Stefan Thomas “Tom”
Matthews & Jones, LLP
Matthews & Jones LLP
Kerrigan, Jane
Arnett & Kerrigan, PL

husband Mike, to join her mother, Karen Arnett, in the family practice. Now a resident of Grayton Beach, Jane has firmly established herself in the community and has expanded her family to include three young children.
Jane has experience in many facets of the law, but she found her calling when she began assisting individuals and families in planning for their futures and the futures of their children and loved ones. In order to better serve her clients, Jane went back to school to obtain her masters of law in taxation from the University Of Alabama School Of Law. Jane focuses her practice on Estate Planning, Elder Law, Long Term Care, Medicaid, Veterans Benefits, Health Care Directives, Financial Directives, and Asset Protection.
Jane is admitted to practice in Illinois, Indiana, and Florida. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Estate Planning Counsel of the Emerald Coast (Destin), Walton County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel, and Elder Counsel.
Jane is available for speaking engagements for client seminars, community groups, and professional organizations.

Arnett & Kerrigan, PL
Pleat, David B.
Pleat & Perry, P. A.
(850) 650-0599

Mr. Pleat, founding partner of Pleat & Perry, P. A., graduated from Duquesne University in 1981 (B.A.).  He attended law school at the University Of Baltimore (J.D. 1985) and was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1985.

Pleat & Perry, P.A. was founded in 1995 with the goal of providing top-quality legal services in many  different areas. Our lawyers’ success has brought us to cases throughout the United States, but we remain primarily in service with offices in Destin and servicing the surrounding communities of Destin including Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, Santa Rosa Beach, Rosemary Beach Florida, Niceville, Crestview, Freeport, Walton County, South Walton, 30A, and others throughout the Florida panhandle.
4477 Legendary Drive, Suite 202
Destin, FL  32541

Pleat, Perry & Ritchie, P. A.
(850) 650-4402
Rahm, Mary Grace
Clark Partington Hart Larry Bond & Stackhouse
Sachs, Colleen
Dunlap & Shipman, P. A.
Dunlap & Shipman, P. A.
Slaman, Amy P.
Beggs & Lane

Beggs & Lane
4405 Commons Dr E Ste 102
Destin, FL 32541-3538
Young Lawyers Division:
Law School:          University of Miami School of Law, 2011

Real Property, Probate Law

Young Lawyers

Practice Areas:
Estate Planning

Probate and Trust Litigation

Real Estate

Federal Courts:
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida

U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida

Beggs & Lane website
Stratton, John M.
Matthews & Jones, LLP
Matthews & Jones LLP
Watson, Franklin H.
Watson Sewell, PL

Since 1997, Mr. Watson has practiced law in a boutique law firm environment. His practice is dedicated to business and real estate law, integrated estate planning and their related fields.

His real estate practice includes representation of clients as to a wide variety of transactions such as the purchase, sale, leasing and financing of residential lots, homes, subdivisions, multifamily developments, shopping centers, hotels, resorts and commercial office buildings. He also represents clients in personal property transactions such as those involving the purchase and sale of stock, limited liability membership and partnership interests, negotiable instruments, businesses and business assets. Mr. Watson’s finance experience includes both borrower and lender representation in the initiation, modification, purchase, sale and workout of secured and unsecured loans.

Mr. Watson’s practice in the area of integrated estate planning marries the client’s needs of life planning with death planning in order to protect their estates so as to provide for themselves as well as their loved ones during and after their lifetime.

Mr. Watson has supervised in the development of over thirty-five residential and commercial developments, providing legal representation in the acquisition, retention and financing of large tracts of land for the development of master planned communities, the disposition of finished lots to end users, investors and merchant builders, and has represented many clients in the development of apartment, office, retail, and hotel properties.  He also represents landlords and tenants in lease transactions involving residential and commercial space.
University of Alabama School of Law, Juris Doctorate
Concentration: Real Estate and Banking

University of Alabama Manderson Graduate School of Business
Masters of Business Administration
Concentration: Finance

Davidson College, Bachelor of Arts
Concentration: History & Philosophy
Professional Experience:
Watson Sewell, LLC, Attorneys at Law, ATTORNEY
Seagrove Beach, Panama City Beach and Miramar Beach, Florida

Franklin H. Watson, P.A., Attorneys at Law, President
Seagrove Beach and Miramar Beach, Florida

Seagrove Beach and Miramar Beach, Florida

1st National Bank & Trust, Board of Directors
Ft. Walton Beach, Florida

W. Wade Wallace P.A., Attorney at Law, Attorney
Destin, Florida
F.N. Wolf & Co., Inc., Account Executive (Stock Broker – SERIES 7 & 63 Licenses)
Charlotte, North Carolina

Alabama Small Business Development Center, Management Consultant
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Marvin’s Building Materials & Home Centers, Human Resources Consultant
Trussville, Alabama

The University of Alabama Executive MBA Program, Graduate Assistant
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The University of Alabama Department of Economics,
Finance, and Legal Studies, Graduate Research Assistant
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Johnstone Adams Bailey Gordon and Harris, Attorneys, Law Clerk
Mobile, Alabama

Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, Law Clerk
Charlotte, North Carolina
Licenses & Memberships:
Florida License to Practice Law
Alabama License to Practice Law
Florida Real Estate Agent License
Florida Bar Elder Law Section
Florida Bar Environmental Land Use Law Section
Florida Bar Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section
National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) Series 7 General Securities Representative (inactive)
Series 63 Uniform Securities Agent State Law License (inactive)

Watson Sewell, PL
5410 E County Highway 30A Ste 202
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459-6589

Watson Sewell, PL's Website
Williams, Kirby H.
Shoreline Title, LLC



Kirby is a real estate attorney board certified by The Florida Bar as a specialist in real estate law. He is a member of the firm of Barker Williams and licensed to practice in both Alabama and Florida. Kirby’s mission is to give sound, yet practical, legal advice to his clients-all while doing his best to be readily available to his clients. His practice areas include real estate financing, commercial and residential real estate transactions and real estate development.

Prior to Shoreline Title and Barker Williams, Kirby has worked with the law firm of Clark, Partington, Hart, Larry, Bond & Stackhouse in Florida and the law firm of Ruston, Stakely, Johnston & Garrett in Alabama. In addition, Kirby served as senior counsel for The St. Joe Company one of Florida’s leading real estate developers.

Shoreline Title, LLC
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