As one of the founders of Florida's first integrated law firm, William J. "Bill" Sheppard has been highly regarded as a prominent criminal defense and civil rights attorney during his tenure practicing law. Throughout his career, he has argued cases at every level of the judicial system for protections and defenses against civil rights violations for countless individuals. He has successfully supported the causes of racial equality, while also successfully vindicating the rights of others.
In celebration of Black History Month, The Jacksonville Bar Association lunch meeting Tuesday featured a viewing of the documentary "Conversations on Catfish, Courtrooms, and Change: The Life and Times of Henry Lee Adams, Jr." The film detailed the creation of what is believed to be the first integrated law firm in Florida - Sheppard, Fletcher, Hand & Adams. It has been entered in the Amelia Island Film Festival Thursday-Sunday. Pictured from left, William Sheppard, Jack Hand, Senior U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams, Lyman Fletcher and Circuit Judge Hugh Carithers, who was a partner in the firm. Adams was the first African-American judge in the Fourth Circuit, the first African-American U.S. District judge in the Middle District of Florida, appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, and the first African-American Senior U.S. District judge in the state.