ABOUT MATTHEW K. FENTON, PARTNER
After practicing for more than twenty years and handling over two thousand employment law cases, I have observed that many of my clients, at some point in the representation, share with me that one of their primary motives in seeking legal assistance is to make sure that what happened to them does not happen to somebody else. As a passionate, competitive trial lawyer who enjoys holding employers accountable for their actions, I help my clients achieve their goal by taking on workplace bullies and not letting go until a reasonable measure of justice has been achieved. Clients often tell me that the most rewarding part of the litigation experience for them is the day that I take the deposition of the person who ultimately caused them to be terminated or otherwise violated their workplace rights, putting them on the hot seat and making them account for the half-truths and outright lies they often tell to cover up their unlawful actions. While the theater of courtroom combat is certainly an adrenaline rush, what I most enjoy about representing employees is watching a client move from frustrated and angry when I first meet them and, after a matter has concluded, seeing that they have obtained satisfaction and closure as a result of my efforts.
I am the first (and only) lawyer from a large family with mostly blue-collar roots. I am proud to be a “Double Gator,” graduating from the University of Florida where I received my bachelor’s degree in English in 1989, with honors, and my law degree, with honors, in 1993, while serving on the Editorial Board of the University of Florida Law Review. However, in terms of how I can relate to a broad variety of people and be equally comfortable with folks who perform hard physical labor for a living as well as business executives at major corporations, my former boss, United States Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo for whom I served as his first Law Clerk, often told me that I learned more about how to be a trial lawyer as a result of my years at Tampa’s Jefferson High School, an inner-city school with a remarkable mix of ethnicities and socioeconomic groups, than any other formal education I’ve had since.
Since leaving that highly coveted, career-shaping position as a federal judicial law clerk, I’ve tried numerous employment law cases in both state and federal courts. Moreover, I have been selected by my peers for inclusion in every edition of Best Lawyers in America every year since 2009, have been selected by my peers as a Florida SuperLawyer in Employment Law every year since 2012, and have been selected as a member of the Legal Elite in Employment Law by Florida Trend Magazine. In 2016, I was selected by Best Lawyers in America as the “Lawyer of the Year” for individuals in Tampa Employment Law. In 2017, I was the only employee-side attorney selected to the SuperLawyers “Top 50 Lawyers in Tampa Bay.” In 2018, 2019, and 2020, I was selected by my peers as “Top Lawyer – Employment Law (individuals)” in Tampa Magazine. I have also spoken on employment law topics and authored various publications on employment law, most recently contributing a chapter to the American Bar Association’s practice guide “Litigating the Workplace Harassment Case.” I have served as the Co-Chair of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the Hillsborough County Bar Association and am active in both the Florida and national chapters of the National Employment Law Association, the Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association, and the Florida Justice Association.
What is more important to me than any external recognition or involvement in the legal community are the contents of the folders I keep in my desk drawer filled with thank you letters, notes, cards, plaques, emails, and various other items received from clients through the years. Many employees spend more hours at work than they spend anywhere else – when something goes wrong in that relationship or when an employer fails to pay an employee what they are owed, it can become quite personal. I am always aware that when a client chooses me as their attorney, they have chosen to allow me to handle a matter that is very personal to them, and I treat it as such. I will try to learn about their family, their hobbies, and their interests, while sharing various aspects of my own background, including that I am lucky to be married to a first-generation Cuban American attorney, and am a father to two wonderful boys. When I’m not fighting for employee rights, I enjoy traveling with my family, collecting and listening to music from a broad variety of musical genres, live music, cooking, finding a great restaurant, spending time at the beach, and cheering for the Florida Gators.
Areas of Practice:
- Employment Law — Employee
- Florida, 1994
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida
- U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
- University of Florida College of Law, Gainesville, Florida – 1993 Honors: University of Florida Law Review, Editorial Board
- University of Florida – 1989 Honors: With Honors Major: English
HONORS AND AWARDS:
- In 2018, 2019 and 2020, I was selected by my peers as “Top Lawyer – Employment Law (individuals)” in Tampa Magazine.
- Florida Super Lawyers, Employment Law, 2012 — 2019
- Best Lawyers In America, Employment Law, 2009 –2017
- Florida Trend Legal Elite, 2012, 2017
Professional Associations and Memberships:
- National Employment Law Association, Member
- Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association, Member
- Florida Justice Association, Member
Pro Bono Activities:
- Volunteer, Hillsborough County Bar Association