The legal firm of McLin Burnsed marks a milestone this year as the practice turns 50. The legacy of late founders Walt McLin and Dewey Burnsed continues in what has become one of Lake County’s most prominent law firms.
The firm is celebrating its milestone anniversary with the grand opening of an expansive, newly renovated main office in Legacy Plaza, 26736 U.S. Highway 27 in Leesburg, a news release states. The practice continues to honor its founders’ vision by offering a spectrum of legal assistance, representation and mediation services to individuals and businesses.
Establishing the firm was an ambitious endeavor for Walt McLin and Dewey Burnsed, who in 1969 were only a few years out of law school.
Dewey, a Florida native, earned his juris doctor degree in 1965 from the University of Florida and moved to Leesburg to begin practicing law, focusing mainly on real property matters. Only a year into co-creating the firm, he was admitted to practice before the Florida Supreme Court in 1970. From 1968-1973, he had the honor of being the city attorney of Leesburg, a position he resumed in 1976. From 1972-1973, he served as president of the Lake County Bar Association and a board member of the Young Lawyers Section of the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors. In 1975, Dewey became a professorial lecturer at his alma mater, instructing UF’s law students in legal ethics, the release states.
Walt was widely regarded as a formidable guiding force in the communities of Leesburg and The Villages, not only for his legal acumen but also for his civic service. Walt earned his law degree in 1962 from UF. From 1971-1973, he served as chairman of an American Bar Association committee dedicated to dispensing legal aid to the families of soldiers in Vietnam identified as either prisoners of war or missing in action. Walt met with President Richard M. Nixon to promote the welfare of these families. Highly politically connected, he had longstanding relationships with several Florida state governors.
Walt was a past-president of the Lake County Bar Association and a former head of the Florida Board of Business Regulation. He also served as a director on several boards, including those of Citizens National Bank and then-Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida, the release states.
Once established, the firm’s success was rapid and continuous. McLin Burnsed offers Central Florida’s citizens and businesses legal representation across an array of practice areas, including: business and personal litigation, corporate law, estate planning, elder law, real estate law, tax law and others. The firm represents both plaintiffs and defendants and handles individual and business lawsuits, class-action cases and mediation services, as well as counsel on tax planning, company formation and many other legal endeavors.
“McLin Burnsed’s reputation has been built over 50 years of dedication to our clients,” tax and estate planning attorney Sarah Uhrik says in the release. “I’m incredibly proud to continue that legacy.”
The practice’s staff also is highly involved in education, civic support, humanitarian causes and community outreach.
Among its conceptions was the McLin Burnsed Scholarship Fund, an endowment to the University of Florida created after the founders’ deaths in 2007. The firm also provides student scholarship awards for higher education through The Villages Charter Schools and Buffalo Athletics. The firm sponsors American Red Cross Hurricane Relief efforts; Habitat for Humanity; LifeStream’s The Open Door, a homeless service center; the Leesburg Police Department’s holiday bicycle giveaway and Shop-with-a-Cop program; the National Fire Safety Council, a fire safety seminar for children; the Forward Paths Foundation; and many others.
In addition, for the past 23 years, the staff and attorneys have donated to the firm’s own Christmas Families Project, which provides struggling families with food, toys, clothing and other assistance, and helps stock local food banks.
“Part of the legacy of our firm is that we do more than just provide legal services,” litigation attorney Phil Smith says in the release. “We have a heart for our community and we want to make a difference. It’s something I’m proud of as the managing partner of this firm.”