Like his father before him, Mark Avera has a history of many years of service to the people of Florida. His knowledge and understanding of the legal needs of his clients come not only from the practice of law, but from his early career as a sheriff’s deputy in Alachua County.
Before becoming a law partner at Avera & Smith in 1989 (then Avera & Avera), Mark served as a sheriff’s deputy for Alachua County. He became the department’s youngest deputy ever to be promoted to the rank of Sergeant. His primary assignments were uniform patrol division, SWAT and the supervision of the department’s Street Crimes Unit.
Mark completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida while working midnight shifts for the Sheriff’s Department and went on to graduate from UF with a law degree. Today, Mark serves as Partner for Avera & Smith and works alongside his brother, Partner Lance Avera, who specializes in workers’ compensation law, Partner Rod Smith, who specializes in personal injury law and Managing Partner Dawn Vallejos-Nichols, who also specializes in personal injury law.
Mark is board certified in civil trial law (B.C.S.) by the Florida Bar. He received his initial certification in 1998 and has remained qualified for board certification in civil trial law since that time. Board Certification is the Florida Bar’s highest level of evaluation in competence and experience within a specific area of law and indicates superior professionalism and ethics in practice. Only slightly more than 1,000 of the more than 100,000 lawyers currently licensed in the State of Florida are actually board certified in civil trial law.
During his career, Mark’s professionalism and dedication to his work as a trial advocate are reflected by his induction into the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and in 2015 his induction into the International Society of Barristers. His accomplishments in the courtroom are recognized yearly in legal publications such as Florida Trend’s Legal Elite and Florida’s Super Lawyers. In 2007, he was recognized by Lawdragon as one of the top 500 Plaintiff’s Lawyers in America, and he was named Attorney of the Year by Courtroom View Network (CVN) in 2019. After the landmark Supreme Court decision in Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., Mark has been involved in representing Engle plaintiffs against various tobacco companies responsible for the deaths of smokers who began smoking as children in the 1940s and 1950s.
Beyond his professional achievements, he believes in public service to give back to the community that has been an integral part of his life. Mark currently serves on the board of directors for the Santa Fe College Foundation, and, in the past, he served on the boards of directors for the Children’s Home Society, North Central Florida Community Foundation, and the Executive Committee of the North Florida Heart Ball, American Heart Association.