LeRoy Giles Founder of Giles & Robinson, P.A.
LeRoy Giles Founder of Giles & Robinson, P.A.
LeRoy Giles Founder of Giles & Robinson, P.A.by:
August 30, 2016
Attorney LeRoy Giles founder of Giles & Robinson law firm, the oldest law firm in Orlando. Mr. Giles began practicing law in Orlando in 1908 and James C. Robinson joined the firm in 1948.
Listen as Mr. Robinson describes his first job assignment from Mr. Giles in this excerpt from an oral history interview with Jim Robinson at his home on Lake Conway, March 11, 2016.
We came to Orlando and I started looking for a job and I visited Ben Fishback. He was a prominent lawyer here and he was related to Betty by marriage. His office was right across from Lake Eola. An interesting thing, he didn't have any room, but his office was an office on the ground floor and he had a window in it. So he opened the window and stepped out and said, "Let's go over and see Judge Smith." Well, I wanted to do that. We did. We met Judge Smith, and Judge Baker, John Baker was a prominent lawyer. And it ended up with my going to see LeRoy E. Giles. We talked for a little while and he knew my father and he knew about me because my father was very prominent in the community.
A kind of interesting parallel was that he grew up on a farm outside of Lancaster, South Carolina. My mother came from Sumter and they met and my mother was an honor graduate of Winthrop University in 1913. My father was one of eight children, and they lost the farm in a financial crisis. They went into Lancaster to find a place to live either six or ten years old, never went to school another day in his life. And I often wondered, but never asked what did her parents think of her marrying this boy with her background. Well, he was a brilliant mind. brilliant. He was able to kind of educate himself become head of department stores, very successful. Real estate. President of the Chamber of Commerce. President of the Rotary. Very outstanding.
And anyway, Roy Giles was chatting with him. He didn't say he'd hire me. He just said, "I got a problem." He represented the Atlantic Coastline Railroad, big client. And he said, "Now go back in the library and look up some law." Because they gave a common carrier that's what you called railroads. They had certain duties with regard to passenger's luggage. So I did. And I came back and he was going home. The next day I came in, he hadn't said he'd hire me. He wasn't there, but the lady in charge said, "Your office is that one." So I went in there and sat down. They gave me a bunch of abstracts of title which I'd never seen and I worked through them. I discovered a good bit later my salary was $150.00 a month.
The next day I had a call from a man named Linton Allen, he was president of First National Bank. We were on the fourth floor. He was on the first floor. He said, "I want you to come down and see me." I went down. He said, "I want you to be part of our bank." He said, "Sign this promissory note." It was several thousands of dollars and I'm going to buy stock in our bank in your name. And I said, "Sir, I can't pay it. I don't have any money." He said, "Don't worry about it. You're going to be a success." He said, "I know about you," through his mother in law who had been my Sunday School teacher. And he also knew about my activities in high school. So incidentally, that stock, I used the dividends and the bank grew and the bank became successful. And that stock, I think the note was for $10,000. became worth about a million dollars. And I gave stock away to my children and to various others. I still have some not too much.
But anyway, that was kind of my start LeRoy Giles, and he, and my father and several other people, notable in 1933 or thereabouts, formed the First Federal Savings & Loan Association. And, that was Mr. Giles' biggest client and ultimately I became the attorney for him and also a director on the board and it figured largely in everything. And so that was kind of the beginning. And there was a fellow there already name David Hedrick and he was from Jacksonville, a young lawyer. He'd been there about a year and many prominent people, lawyers, had started out in his firm: Supreme Court Justice Campball Thornal, judges, you know. But, Mr. Giles was especially kind to me. He was just like another father and he always called me "Sonny". And after we got things going good we found a firm: Giles, Hedrick, and Robinson in about 1952. I started in 1948 with the firm. Anyway, it grew very successful. Mr. Giles died in '63, I think. We were moving into a new building and he never occupied his office....