JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This Black History Month, News4JAX is recognizing key figures of the past and present in the Black community.
Black attorneys make up only 5% of the U.S. population, according to the American Bar Association.
One Jacksonville law firm is working to change the narrative and inspire others to get into the legal field while also working to make a difference in their community.
Husband and wife team LaToya and Louis Fields are trailblazers in their own right and they want to use their platform as lawyers and HBCU grads to show that success can happen despite the staggering statistics.
You might have seen their billboards, like one on Haines and 8th streets.
But LaToya and Louis Fields said they’re not your average law firm.
“We care more about the client than the actual case. That’s why we’re doing it,” LaToya said.
They opened their boutique firm last fall and said they work hard every day to make sure families have proper representation.
“I like advocating for people, so it was a natural fit for me,” Louis said.
They both went to First Coast High School.
“She didn’t really speak to me in high school. She was cool. I wasn’t,” Louis recalled.
They said they didn’t get to know each other until they ran into each other at Florida A&M School of Law in Orlando.
“Her mom was my seventh grade math teacher. I played football with her brother, so I knew her family really well,” Louis said.
The story of exactly how they officially met depends on who you ask.
“We officially met while we were in law school, while parking one day we ran into each other and were like, ‘Oh, hey. I know you from First Coast,’ and that’s kind of how we met,” LaToya said.
“That’s pretty much a synopsis, the facts are a little different but that’s the story,” Louis said. “She was in the car and when she saw me get out of the car, she hopped out really, really quickly and I think I initiated the conversation -- fast forward, we ended up walking in together and the rest is history.”
LaToya disputes that she “hopped out” of the car.
A few years later with law degrees under their belt and each passing the Florida Bar on their first attempt, the couple is now married with a young son.
Representing people in cases ranging from personal injury to car accidents to sexual assault, the Fields do their best to be a voice for the voiceless as part of the 5% of Black lawyers in the nation.
“Representation matters. For me it really took me a while to know what I wanted to do, because growing up in Jacksonville, you didn’t really see a lot of Black attorneys,” LaToya said. “Not saying there weren’t any, but you didn’t see a lot of promotion.”
That’s why they want to be more visible.
“Now that we are in the position that we are in, we think that it’s just so important that the children around the city see Black attorneys,” Louis said.
The Fields hope that as they continue to use their legal minds to fight for justice that other young children of color are inspired to do the same.
“My wife and I used to talk about this day in law school, when we were up at 3 in the morning, studying, burning the midnight oil, just trying to get through. But if you try, if you believe and you never give up, yeah you will fall a thousand times, but that 1001st time that you just kept going is the time that’s going to work for you,” Louis said.
Despite just opening, Fields Law is already getting recognized for its work.
LaToya Fields was recognized earlier this month by the Florida Black Expo as part of their “Top 20 Under 40″ class of 2023 list.