Founded on Tradition and Integrity
Building on Commitment and Service
Returning the Favor
By David Morrill
A graduate of the College of Law’s 1969 charter class has announced plans to establish an endowed professorship at the College. John W. Frost II, of Bartow, will contribute $100,000 to FSU over the next five years to establish the professorship. The university will seek state matching funds to bring the total endowment to $150,000. The endowed professorship will be the first established by a graduate of the College.
The gift, according to Frost, is his way of paying the College back for what it has given him. “The law school gave me the support and training to do something I really enjoy, which is practicing law. I’m proud to be a lawyer and I enjoy going to work each day. I feel I have an obligation to the institution that gave me that opportunity.”
In acknowledging the gift, Dean Donald Weidner said, “Never in the history of our law school has an alumnus made a gift of this magnitude. In these tight budget times, when so much of the news is bleak, John’s generosity and moral support are exhilarating. As a long-standing friend and supporter of our school, his gift has deeply touched us all.”
Frost will not designate a specific area of law to which he would like to see the professorship’s proceeds applied. “I’m leaving that decision up to the faculty and the dean. These are tough times economically for public education, and the law school needs the latitude to spend the money where it will do the most good. Obviously, I hope it can be used to attract outstanding faculty to the college and to keep the great faculty already there,”
Originally from Jacksonville, Frost joined the Bartow office of Holland & Knight following his graduation from law school in 1969. “I chose the Bartow office because I wanted to go into trial practice and they had a litigation department there,” he said. “An added bonus, I had the opportunity to work with Stephen Grimes, who was not only an excellent lawyer but a great teacher as well.” Grimes, currently a Florida Supreme Court Justice, headed Bartow’s Holland & Knight litigation department until 1973, when he was appointed to the District Court of Appeal.
Grimes recalls Frost “as probably the finest young lawyer I ever worked with. Right out of law school he had excellent instincts.” Grimes, who has maintained his friendship with Frost over the years adds, “Today of course, John is one of the best trial lawyers in central Florida. He is extremely ethical, but extremely aggressive on behalf of his clients.”
In 1981, Frost and a friend left Holland & Knight to establish their own Firm. Today, Frost & O’Toole has seven attorneys and concentrates in the area of plaintiffs personal injury and commercial litigation.
Of his adopted hometown, Frost describes Bartow as not only a good environment for practicing law, but a great place to live. I’ve been in Bartow for 24 years- I keep up with the years by the age of my oldest daughter, Ashley, a second-year-law-student at the College of Law.” A chief attraction of Bartow and Polk County, according to Frost, is that despite their large population, they retain a rural character. “Polk County is made up of a number of small towns, and, as a consequence, we don’t have a lot of big city problems. It’s nice not to have a lot of big city problems. It’s nice not to have to sit in traffic” he says.
While in law school, Frost was chosen by Mason Ladd to serve on the first moot court team and was elected president of the law school student body. Although he says he has many pleasant memories of his law school years, he especially recalls the Friday afternoon football games during the fall. “We had a talented bunch of players-some of them former FSU varsity players-and we had some pretty spirited games.” Some of the players Frost remembers were Keith Kinderman, Kim Hammond, Jim McConnaughhay and Nick Geeker.
Although Frost won’t designate an area of the law that his gift will be used for, he has a strong interest in strengthening ties among the law school, its graduates and the community of practicing attorneys. “I think it’s critical to establish a relationship between law students and attorneys. Working attorneys have experience and insight that faculty, and especially students, can benefit from. At the same time, attorneys need to keep up with the trends in jurisprudence that the law school teaches. The gap right now is too large. I hope, in some way, my gift can help close that gap.”