Atlantic Beach lawyer honored for 50 years with Florida Bar – The Florida Times-Union

This circa 1980s photo shows Elliot Zisser in his law office, prior to the widespread use of computers. The Jacksonville lawyer and Atlantic Beach resident was recently recognized by The Florida Bar for 50 years of membership.

Atlantic Beach resident and Jacksonville Attorney Elliot Zisser, a partner with Zisser Family Law, was recently recognized by The Florida Bar on the 50th anniversary of his membership in the state organization.

“While the practice of law has undergone many changes over his professional career, Elliot has remained committed to the high ideals of service to Floridians and the protection of their rights,” said Florida Bar President Dori Foster-Morales. 

Zisser was among the attorneys honored for their years of service at The Florida Bar’s Senior Lawyers Committee Luncheon that took place in Orlando on June 11 — which coincided with the organization’s annual convention.  

“Being part of The Florida Bar has been an important part of my life and has certainly helped me in my professional career, and in solidifying our firm’s legal strength over the years.” Zisser said. “I’m very honored and privileged to be recognized by my peers at this event, but it really doesn’t seem like it’s been 50 years.” 

Elliot Zisser founded his downtown firm, Zisser Law, with his brother Barry Zisser in 1971. Carolyn Zisser, Elliot’s wife, founded her law firm, Carolyn S. Zisser, P.A./Zisser Family Law, in Neptune Beach in 1975. The two firms merged under the name Zisser Family Law in January 2020, becoming a single family law practice with downtown and Beaches locations. 

Zisser's college photo
Zisser in 2020

The veteran attorney has handled a number of intriguing cases over the years, such as a divorce between a local woman and her husband, who was originally from Pakistan. 

The case concerned whether his previous marriage had ended legally, and if that would be recognized by the U.S. Courts. 

“Under Muslim law, he could simply say ‘I divorce you.’ It would hold up in Pakistan, but not in the U.S., since no due process occurred,” said Zisser. “His contention was that if he was never properly divorced there, under circumstances a U.S. court would accept, he was never married here, and he didn’t have to pay his wife anything.”

According to Zisser, the court held that even if that was true, he couldn’t take advantage of his own unlawful act. The court also said that he held himself out as a lawful husband and wife here, and never told his wife his previous divorce wasn’t legal, so he couldn’t use that for his own benefit. 

The judge ruled under a legal principle called estoppel, which prevents a person from asserting a claim or right that contradicts what one has said or done before, or what has been legally established as true. 

As one might expect, technology has played a crucial role in changing the practice of law over the years.

Taken around the year 2000, this photo shows Zisser's former law partner, Nancy Nowlis (right), looking on during a company event.

Zisser recalled that his firm has evolved from no one having a computer to there being one on every desk, no matter their role with the company.

“I remember saying to another attorney years ago ‘What does an attorney need with a computer?’ We understood why a secretary may need it, but not us,” he said. “Now, I have three computer screens on my desk at work and a phone. That’s probably the biggest change.

“We used to leave work at the office when we left work. Now we are always connected.”

In addition to Zisser, current partners in the firm include his wife, Carolyn Zisser and their son, Jonathan Zisser, who joined the downtown practice from the Jacksonville Public Defender’s Office in 2007. The firm also includes three associate attorneys who were on board at the Zissers’ previous firms: Joseph Alvarez, Katherine Johnson and Lynn Salvatore. 

Zisser Family Law handles marital and family matters including cases involving divorce, alimony and child support, timesharing, valuation and distribution of assets and complex valuations of businesses. With Jonathan Zisser at the criminal law helm, it also takes on criminal issues that arise in the context of family litigation, such as domestic violence and domestic battery, DUI offenses, child abuse and other cases.  

For more information, call the downtown office (904) 353-3222, Beaches office (904) 249-8787, email [email protected] or visit 

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