In Memoriam: Mark Hulsey, Jr.
Mark Hulsey, Jr., Florida Bar president from 1969-70, died of natural causes in Jacksonville on July 22. A champion of the legal profession and the public it serves, Hulsey left a remarkable legacy, expanding The Florida Bar Foundation’s mandate that eventually created the Interest on Trust Accounts Program. That accomplishment alone has resulted in the distribution of millions of dollars to programs that provide legal assistance to those who otherwise would not be able to afford it.
His dedication to the betterment of the legal profession didn’t stop there. In fact, those who knew him best remember Mark Hulsey’s insistence that anything could be made better with enough passion and persistence.
“He believed that there was nothing that could not be improved,” recalled former Bar President Hank Coxe in his remarks at Hulsey’s memorial service. “He was always listening to others intently, then asking the familiar, ‘Well, what are we going to do about it?’”
A Jacksonville native, Mark Hulsey, Jr., was born in 1922 and in 1943 received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, immediately joining the U.S. Navy upon graduation. Hulsey completed officers’ training in time to land on Omaha Beach during the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of Normandy. He returned to the UF College of Law, where he was president of Florida Blue Key and was elected to the UF Hall of Fame, receiving his juris doctorate in 1948. In 1947, Hulsey joined the Naval Reserve, and in 1951, he was called from his law practice into active duty to serve in the Korean conflict.
After serving for two years as assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, he trained and practiced law with outstanding lawyers Chester Bedell, Elliott Adams, Harry Gray, Joe Glickstein, and Lloyd Smith. He retired as a reserve captain in 1965 and in 1969 joined Smith, Hulsey & Busey, later becoming senior partner and retiring in 2005 as chairman emeritus.
During his term as Bar president, Hulsey urged fellow Board of Governors members to create the Judicial Qualifications Commission, a committee he would serve from 1972-84. The commission, Hulsey knew, would help to bolster professional pride.
“He was intolerant of lawyer misconduct and intolerant of judicial misconduct,” said Coxe of his friend. “But he was the champion of respect for the judiciary. Anyone who spent time talking with Mark knew that respect was a special creature: respect for institutions, respect for relationships, and respect for people.”
Hulsey’s emphasis on professionalism could be seen in his first Bar Journal column written as Bar president. “Few organized bars in America approach the high sense of purpose and accomplishment of The Florida Bar,” he wrote in June 1969. “Witness our ever improving disciplinary machinery and careful, yet increasing, extinguishment of the unauthorized practice of law.”
Hulsey was also a member of the first steering committee for continuing legal education, which directed the publication of the Bar’s first practice manual.
His dedication to service didn’t stop with the legal community. Hulsey also had a passion for children. He served on the board of the Children’s Home Society for half a century and as its president from 1962 to 1965.
In 1985, Hulsey was a recipient of The Florida Bar Foundation Medal of Honor, in part for his work which helped initiate the IOTA program.
For years, Hulsey was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Jacksonville, where he served several times as senior warden and chancellor of the diocese of Florida.
At the close of his first Bar Journal column, Mark Hulsey stated that one of the primary goals of his Bar presidency would be to ensure that Samuel Johnson’s infamous statement about lawyers — “I do not wish to speak ill of any man behind his back, but the fact is, he is a lawyer” — would be found false thanks to a dedication to both professionalism and service to the community.
In his years on this earth, Hulsey easily met that goal, contributing to the betterment of the legal profession and the reputation of his fellow Florida lawyers.