Lawyer (Law)
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Robert W. Kelley

Founding Partner | Kelley Uustal PLC

Robert W. Kelley has been recognized as a Distinguished Professional.

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Robert W. Kelley is a nationally acclaimed author and trial lawyer based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Over the course of his nearly four decades in practice, Kelley has achieved victories in numerous high-profile cases and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of his many clients. He is a founding partner of the law firm Kelley Uustal PLC where he leads a team of over twenty talented attorneys whose practice is limited to catastrophic injury and death cases.

Now with over 100 jury trials under his belt, Kelley looks back on what first motivated him to become a trial lawyer:

I enjoy being in the courtroom. I enjoy communicating with people, and I enjoy being on the side of the average guy, taking on corporate America.

Since earning his law degree from Nova Southeastern University in 1981, Kelley has more than lived up to that noble mission. Throughout his career, he has litigated against some of the biggest companies in the country such as Phillip Morris and General Motors (GM). He has won more than twenty-five multi-million-dollar verdicts, including the seventh-largest verdict by a jury in U.S. history according to the National Law Journal.

Many of these victories have occurred in the public eye. Famously, Kelley obtained a winning verdict after a six-month jury trial against GM, garnering him national attention and media coverage, including a segment on 60 Minutes. And most recently, his firm has taken on cases representing several of the families whose children were shot or killed in the tragic Parkland mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

These impressive feats have earned Kelley extensive recognition as well as a long list of awards and honors. Among many others, he has been named one of the Top Ten Lawyers in the United States by Lawyers USA, one of the Best Lawyers in America©, and one of the most effective lawyers in South Florida by the South Florida Daily Business Review.

As a board-certified civil trial lawyer and AV® Preeminent™ rated attorney, Kelley is widely regarded as a thought leader in law. He is a regular lecturer across the country and has served as an adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University Law Center. Kelley is also the editor of the Jury Selection Blog where he shares his professional knowledge with more than 2,000 subscribers, including law professors, attorneys, and judges. He recently co-authored the chapter on Jury Selection in the Florida Civil Trial Practice Manual (Eleventh Edition, 2018) published by the Florida Bar. Additionally, he is published in the Nova Law Review, the International Information Bulletin on Variable Stars, the Journal of the Florida Justice Association, and the Florida Bar Journal.

Across these many prominent platforms, Kelley strives to give his audience unique insight into the most important legal issues of the day. As one of the top trial attorneys in the United States, he pays especially close attention to trends in litigation. In particular, he notes the impact social media has had on the way that juries are selected:​

Selecting a jury is arguably the most critical part of a case. You need to get people who have an open mind and an open heart to hear the facts, people that don't have any prejudices or preconceived ideas. Our firm puts a lot of resources into that process. But with social media, you can learn a lot more about people than you can by asking them questions in court.​

Beyond his exceptional contributions to the legal field, Kelley is also active in numerous local and national charities, including as a former board member of the Broward County YMCA and the United Way. Currently, Kelley serves as a board member for the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale, which provides low-income families and the elderly with safe, decent, and affordable housing. Additionally, he and his firm served as Justice Circle Sponsors for Legal Aid and For The Public Good. Through his generosity, Kelley was the founding donor of the Kelley Boathouse at Fort Lauderdale’s Pine Crest School. He continues to be a significant donor to the Turtle Hospital and the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys.​

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Detailed Career Information | Expand All ⌵

Awards & Honors

  • EAGLE Legend Award, Florida Justice Association (2016)
  • People of the Year, Daily Business Review (2015)
  • Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, Nova Southeastern University (2013)
  • Lawyer of the Year, Lawyers USA Weekly (2009)
  • Top Ten Lawyers in the United States, Lawyers USA
  • Florida Super Lawyers®
  • The Best Lawyers in America©, Best Lawyers®
  • Most Effective Lawyers in South Florida, South Florida Daily Business Review
  • South Florida’s Best Lawyers®
  • AV® Preeminent™ Rating, Martindale-Hubbell®

Professional Memberships & Community Involvement

  • Florida Bar
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)
  • Attorneys Information Exchange Group
  • American Justice Association
  • Broward County Bar Association
  • Broward County Trial Lawyers Association, Past President (1997)
  • Florida Justice Association
  • DiveBar, Founder and Chairman of Board
  • Summit Council
  • Broward County YMCA, Board Member
  • United Way, Board Member
  • Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale, Board Member
  • Legal Aid, Justice Circle Sponsor 
  • The Public Good, Justice Circle Sponsors
  • Kelley Boathouse at Fort Lauderdale’s Pine Crest School, Founding Donor
  • Turtle Hospital
  • Dolphin Research Center

Education

  • Board Certified in Civil Trial Law, Florida Bar
  • Nova Southeastern University–Shepard Broad Law Center, J.D. (1981)
    • Honors: Editor-in-chief, Nova Law Review
  • Vanderbilt University, B.S., Physics and Astronomy (1977)

Admissions

  • United States District Court, Southern District of Florida
  • United States Court of Appeals, Fifth and Eleventh Circuits
  • United States Supreme Court
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