Thornton J. Williams
Thornton J. Williams received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University in 1977, and his Juris Doctorate from Florida State University in 1981. While attending Florida State University Law School, he was the president of the Black American Law Student Association (BALSA) and was awarded Best Team in the Southern Regional Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition and interned with Florida Supreme Court Justice Joe Boyd.
Thornton is the managing partner of Williams Law Group, P.A. He has practiced private sector and governmental and administrative law for over 30 years. Thornton practices in the areas of construction litigation, contract review, transportation and governmental law. He has routinely provided comprehensive legal services for major projects.
Thornton has had an extensive legal career in Florida’s government, beginning in 1982 as an Assistant State Attorney prosecuting criminal cases in the Felony Division of the Second Judicial Circuit. He has served as an Assistant General Counsel to Governor Bob Graham and as a Staff Attorney and Deputy General Counsel for the Department of Business Regulation, and has also served on Governor Jeb Bush’s Transition Team. Thornton left the Department of Business Regulation in 1990 to become General Counsel for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), serving in that capacity until 1996.
In over six years with the FDOT, Thornton actively participated in policy deliberations, contract negotiations and high profile litigation. Thornton was also responsible for the cost recovery areas for FDOT. Between 1990- 1996, FDOT was exposed to approximately $10 – 20 million per year but paid out only approximately 10% in claims each year.
He provided technical legal advice on all legislation for the FDOT. In addition to lobbying the transportation committees, he was also the lead lobbyist on all claims bills before the Legislature. In 1996, he was recognized by the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee for his involvement in the settlement of the largest claim bill in the history of the state of Florida for $21 million for FDOT, which had an exposure of over 90 million dollars.
He left the Department of Transportation and joined the firm of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell as a Partner. After working there for approximately two years, he formed the firm of Thornton Williams and Associates on August 1, 1998. The firm became Williams Law Group, P.A. on August 1, 2012.
He is the only General Counsel who has had a statutory section name after him by the Florida Department of Transportation, called the “Thornton Williams provision” and he has been recognized as a “Pioneer in the area of Transportation Law” in an article by the Florida Transportation Monthly magazine.
Thornton has written numerous articles for the Florida Engineering Society’s magazine, has been the Chair of the Floridians for Better Transportation, is the immediate past Chair of the Advisory Board of the Center for Urban Transportation Research Advisory Board (CUTR) which oversees a 19 million dollar annual budget on transportation research. Thornton was recognized as one of the top lawyers in transportation for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 in Florida, by the Miami Daily Business Review.
Thornton received an “AV Preeminent” rating from Martindale-Hubbell, on his first review. Martindale-Hubbell is the oldest lawyer rating company in the country and an AV rating on the first review is reserved for less than 2% of all lawyers, nationally. Per Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment; a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.
Thornton is considered one of the top transportation lawyers in the state of Florida. He was the lead attorney on the installation of SunPass, the Miami Intermodal Center and the I-595 Express, as well as many other transportation-related projects. He presently represents the MPO for the Leon County area, the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency (CRTPA) as well as other entities with transportation interest.
Thornton and his wife, Harriet, live in Tallahassee, Florida.
Overview – Thornton Williams’s Accomplishments in Transportation
- Deputy General Counsel of Florida Department of Business Regulation.
- County Attorney for Gadsden County for five and a half years.
- General Counsel of the Florida Department of Transportation.
- Provided legal advice on an annual 7 billion dollar transportation budget.
- While there, he created more diversity in staff and outside vendors.
- Revamped the entire legal office substantive operation which is the footprint for today’s operation of the legal office.
- Redesigned the physical layout of the office.
- A part of the financial recovery of FDOT in 1990- which had a 300 million dollar deficit when he joined the FDOT.
- Coined the term “transportation law”.
- Negotiated a 10 million dollar settlement for his client who was responsible for installing SunPass. The settlement was recognized as the reason that SunPass survived and was completed.
- Wrote all initial protocol for SunPass Collection for toll violator collections.
- Attorney for the Orchard Pond Toll Road in north Tallahassee. A 16 million dollar private toll road project.
- April, 2019, successful defended a client in a 63 million dollar bid protest, in the transportation arena.
- Has published more than 50 articles on transportation.
- Has published a national article on transportation issues.
- Recognized as one of the top transportation lawyers in Florida.
- Has a statutory provision named after him, called the Thornton Williams Provision.
- General Counsel for the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency, an MPO transportation agency in Tallahassee.
- He has had multiple articles written about him.
- Rewrote most of the statutory regulations for the utility industry, in the area of transportation, over a 10 year period, in section 337.403.
- Has routinely represented clients in multi-million dollar matters.
- Former Chair of the Advisory Board of the Center for Urban Transportation Research Advisory Board (CUTR) which oversees a 19 million dollar annual budget on transportation research.
- Former chair of Floridians for Better Transportation.
- Thornton was recognized as one of the top lawyers in transportation for 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, in Florida, by the Miami Daily Business Review.
- Thornton received an “AV Preeminent” rating from Martindale-Hubbell, on his first review. Martindale-Hubbell is the oldest lawyer rating company in the country and an AV rating on the first review is reserved for less than 2% of all lawyers, nationally.
- Provided legal services on the Miami Intermodal Center (2.0 billion dollar transportation project)
- Provided legal services on the I-595 Express (1.8 billion dollar transportation project)
- Participated in the Roads Less Traveled video produced by FDOT.