George  Vaka

Vaka Law Group
Vaka Law Group
777 S Harbour Island Blvd; #300; 1 Harbour Plac
TampaFL 33602
(813) 549-1799
Website

Our Founder


George A. Vaka has been practicing since 1983. He has long been honored by his peers as one of the "Best Lawyers in America," and in 2014, 2017 and, again in 2019, was named "Lawyer of the Year" for insurance law by that same organization. He has been an “AV Rated Preeminent Lawyer” by Martindale-Hubbell for more than twenty-five consecutive years and has been recognized as a “Florida Super Lawyer” in both appellate practice and insurance law. Mr. Vaka was named a Fellow of the American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel, a privilege bestowed on less than 300 attorneys nationwide. He has been recognized as “Legal Elite” for his years of work and superior legal accomplishments. Mr. Vaka is a member of “The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers;” an invitation-only, nationwide organization that extends membership to only the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who exemplify superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and profile as a civil plaintiff trial lawyer. His reputation as a legal expert began when he was defending Fortune 500 companies and the insurance industry at trial and appellate levels. He has represented clients in a wide variety of civil legal matters ranging from mass tort product liability cases, medical device litigation, aircraft disasters, environmental torts to medical malpractice. His representation of insurance companies was likewise diverse ranging from automobile insurance, professional liability insurance to petroleum and environmental cleanups, just to name a few.


Mr. Vaka’s reputation as a legal expert grew when he was able to dedicate his practice to his passion for helping others. His practice is now limited to representing small businesses and individuals who often find themselves in “David vs. Goliath” disputes against corporate and insurance company giants. He has frequently volunteered his assistance to colleagues and peers and shared his legal acumen through presentations in the classroom and the publication of numerous articles on a statewide and national level. Mr. Vaka has been recognized in Florida courts as an expert in matters relating to torts, insurance and appellate practice. In addition, he is a circuit court and appellate court mediator certified by the Florida Supreme Court and appointed by the United States District Court.


Mr. Vaka is also recognized as a leader outside the courtroom. When elected President of the Florida Defense Lawyers Association; he was, at the time, the youngest person selected for the honor. His colleagues in the Plaintiffs’ bar also recognized his leadership skills appointing him to the Board of Directors and Chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the Academy of the Florida Trial Lawyers for three consecutive years. Mr. Vaka’s experience serving at the executive board level of Florida’s two largest and competing trial lawyer associations is unique among Florida’s trial bar.


Most telling of his reputation is the frequent description of him by his colleagues as a "Lawyer's Lawyer," a compliment recognizing his superior legal skills and extraordinary professionalism.


AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell

Board Certified by Florida Bar as a specialist in Appellate Practice since 1994

Fellow, American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel

Recognized as one of Florida's "Legal Elite" by Florida Trend Magazine

Honored in “Best Lawyers in America”, Named “Lawyer of the Year” in 2014, 2017 and 2019 in insurance law by Best Lawyers in America

Member “Leading American Attorneys”

Named as a “Florida Super Lawyer” in appellate practice and insurance law

Recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in Tampa Bay by Tampa Bay Metro Magazine

Recognized “Best Legal Eagle” in the state by Florida Monthly Magazine

Recognized as “Best Lawyers” by Corporate Counsel Magazine and National Law Journal

Member, "National Trial Lawyers; Top 100 Trial Lawyers"

Member:         Vaka Law Group, P.L. 2009 - Present

Member:         Vaka, Larson & Johnson, P.L.           1999-2009

Shareholder:  Fowler, White, Gillen Boggs

Villareal & Banker, P.A.         1988-1999


*Supervising Partner of the Appellate and Insurance Coverage Litigation Groups

Associate Attorney:    Fowler, White, Gillen Boggs

Villareal & Banker, P.A.         1983-1988



EDUCATION

Rutgers University

Cook College

New Brunswick, New Jersey

B.A. 1979


University of Florida

College of Law

Gainesville, Florida

J.D. 1983


Board Member

University of Florida Law Review


SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

Mr. Vaka has spoken frequently throughout Florida, the United States and U.S. Territories on topics related to tort and insurance matters, as well as, successful appellate practice. Demonstrative speaking engagements include:


Hillsborough County Bar Association Bench/Bar Conference “Preservation of Error for Appeal” (October 2012)

Welcome to Law School – University of Florida College of Law (September 2008)

The Basics of Coverage – Florida Liability Claims Conference (June 2005)

The Care and Feeding of Experts in Your Insurance Case: Finding and Retaining Expert Witnesses, and Presenting Their Testimony, The American Bar Association,

Section of Litigation – Tucson, Arizona (March 2005)

Annual Update Evidence and Civil Procedure – Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers Annual Convention (June 2004)

“Good Hands? Good Neighbors? Good Grief!” – Confessions of a Born-Again Bad Faith Lawyer - Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers Annual Convention (June 2003)

“Appealable Orders and Extraordinary Writs” – Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers Workhorse Seminar (March 2003)

Faculty Member, First through Fourth – Annual Program on Successful Appellate Practice presented by Stetson College of Law and Appellate Practice and Advocacy Section of the Florida Bar (1998-2001)

“Image is Everything – Winning Your Case in the Court of Public Opinion” – Earth, Wind, Fire and Water: Cutting Edge Issues in Property Insurance Claims Following a Natural or Man-Made Disaster presented by American Bar Association – St. Thomas, USVI (April 2001)


AUTHOR

Mr. Vaka has authored numerous articles and acted as a contributing author in several books on topics ranging from insurance to successful appellate practice.


The Times are Changing and We Need to Change with Them – Journal, Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (January 2004)

Some Tips on Avoiding Pitfalls and Potholes to the Infrequent Traveler of the Appellate Highway – Journal, Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (November 2003)

Sometimes Being An Appellate “Nerd” Pays Off – Journal, Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (February 2003)

North Florida Women’s Health & Counseling Services, Inc. v. State: A Blueprint to Help Challenge the Constitutionality of the 2003 Medical Malpractice Reforms? – Journal, Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (August 2003)

Preserving the Denial of a Challenge for Cause for Appellate Review – Journal, Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (February 2003)

Multiple Liability Insurance Policies – Florida Automobile Insurance Law, 4th Ed. (Fla. Bar Publisher) Summer 1998

CGL Policy is Not a Panacea for Employee Claims – The National Law Journal (August 26, 1996)

Non-Disclosure of the Underinsured Motorist Carrier at Trial: Jury Deception or Protection of the Jury Process? – Trial Advocate Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Winter 1996)

The First Party Insurance Bad Faith Claim: Basics and New Developments, Part II – Florida Bar Journal, Vol. LXIX, No. 7 (July 1995)

Multiple Liability Insurance Policies, Chapter 6 – Florida Automobile Insurance Law, 3rd Ed. (Fla. Bar Publisher) June 1995

Multiple Liability Insurance Policies, Chapter 6 – Florida Automobile Insurance Law, 2nd Ed. (Fla. Bar Publisher) July 1993

The New Uninsured Motorist Statute: Implications and Possible Constitutional Challenges – Trial Advocate Quarterly Vol. 11, No. 4 (October 1992)

Multiple Liability Insurance Policies, Chapter 6 – Florida Automobile Insurance Law (Fla. Bar Publisher) 1991

Bad Faith Actions in Florida, Defendant’s Perspective – Florida Insurance and Tort Law Update, Professional Education Systems, Inc. (1991)

Bad Faith in the 90’s – Trial Advocate Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 4 Symposium Editor (October 1990)

Case Comment, Shelby Mutual Insurance Company of Shelby, Ohio v. Mary Lou Smith – Trial Advocate Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 1 (January 1990)

Bad Faith Actions in Florida, Defendant’s Perspective – Florida Insurance and Tort Law Update, Professional Education Systems, Inc. (1990)

Possibility Plus Foreseeability Equals Liability: It’s Time to Rethink the Proximate Cause Equation in Florida – Trial Advocate Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 1 (January 1987)

Child Molestation: Intentional Act, Unintentional Injury? – The Advocate, Vol. XI, No. 3, Co-Author (June 1985)

Alpert, Products Liability, The Law in Florida – 1982 Supplement, Co-Author (1982)

Alpert, Florida Settlements and Release – Contributing Author (1982)

Police Records Bill Clouds Status of Meetings – Florida Freedom of Information Clearing House Newsletter, Vol. 6, No. 9, Contributing Author (November 1982)


BAR MEMBERSHIPS AND PRACTICE


Florida Justice Association (formerly Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers)


Board of Directors 2003-2006

Chair Appellate Section 2003-2006

Amicus Curiae Committee 1999-Present


American Associations for Justice (formerly Association of Trial Lawyers of America)

Insurance Section


American Bar Association

Litigation Section

Tort and Insurance Practice Section

Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee


The Florida Bar

Appellate Practice and Advocacy Section

- Charter Member

- Executive Council 1994-1997, 1997-2000

- Chairman Legislative Committee 1997-2000

- Vice-Chairman Membership Committee 1997-1998

Trial Lawyers Section


Hillsborough County Bar Association

Appellate Advocacy Committee

Insurance Coverage Committee


Defense Research Institute 1991-1999

1998 Exceptional Performance Citation for having supported and improving the standards and education of the defense bar and for having contributed to the improvement of the administration of justice in the public interest.

President’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Insurance Company Practices


Florida Defense Lawyers Association 1984-1999

President 1997-1998

President-Elect 1996-1997

Secretary-Treasurer 1995-1996

Board of Directors 1992-1995

Ex-Officio 1998-1998

Editorial Board - Trial Advocacy Quarterly 1989-1996 Amicus Curiae Committee 1991-1997

Convention Chairperson 1994

Best Amicus Brief Award 1996

President’s Award for Outstanding Service 1996 and 1999

Florida Liability Claims Institute Chairperson 1999

International Association of Defense Counsel 1991-1999


Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association


Association Internationale de Droit des Assurance (Int'l Association for Insurance Law)


University of Florida College of Law

Law Center Association Board of Trustees 2006-Present [Emeritus May 2012]

University of Florida College of Law Alumni Council Member (1986-2006)

President 2004-2005


Board Certified by Florida Bar as a specialist in Appellate Practice 1994-Present


ADMITTED TO PRACTICE

All of Florida state courts

United States District Court for Middle District of Florida

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

United States Supreme Court

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