Career Corner: Alum makes way in nonprofit law and lobbying

Published: February 3rd, 2014

Category: News


Photo by Kelly Logan

By Andrew Steadman (2L)

As a young conservationist, John November (JD 09) dreamed of protecting Florida’s coastal marshland.

Rather than standing in front of a bulldozer, a temporary fix, November wanted to enact a kind of change that would protect the land over the long run.

November said UF Law provided him with the skills he needed to make a difference, standing up for the causes he supports and providing assistance to nonprofit groups along the way. He hasn’t looked back.

November said his path to nonprofit conservation work began even before he enrolled as an undergraduate at UF. He founded a group called the Marsh Preservation Society when he was 18. November had the goal of protecting a piece of property in Atlantic Beach, Fla., that had become a sought-after property for would-be developers.

“It was the centerpiece for the rest of the preserve,” November said. “This island was sitting right in the middle of it, and it was destined to have houses built on it.”

November wanted to explore the strategies that would allow the society to save the island. His interest in the legal options available to accomplish that objective eventually led him to UF Law.

“That’s the reason I went to law school,” November said.

As luck would have it, November was able to help save that island, some 10 years after he first started the society. He helped negotiate the sale of the land to a buyer and obtain a conservation easement, ensuring a construction-free future for the marsh.

In the time since November received his J.D., he has compiled an extensive resume of conservation and nonprofit projects, a string of achievements that began while he was still a law student. In 2008, Professor Tom Ankersen, director of the University of Florida College of Law Conservation Clinic, selected November to help write a conservation easement for a property that was home to seven springs that fed Gum Slough, a tributary of the Withlacoochee River in Sumter and Marion Counties.

Soon after November’s graduation in 2009, a community organization in the Florida Keys called Citizens Not Serfs enlisted his assistance to fight the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s downstairs enclosure Pilot Inspection Program. Under the program, the residents of Monroe County – a coastal floodplain – were required to pay for inspections of basement enclosures when they applied for building permits, renewed their flood insurance, or sold their homes. In some situations, FEMA would then require that noncompliant portions be demolished.

November received a fellowship with Citizens Not Serfs. He worked with the Florida Keys Contractors Association and authored Florida Law 2011-82, a piece of legislation that would prohibit local inspectors in Florida from requiring, upon application for a building permit, the inspection of any portion of a building not directly impacted by the permit.

Sponsored by Florida Rep. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, and former Florida Sen. Steve Oehlrich, R-Cross Creek, the legislation passed and became Florida Statute 553.79. Enforcement of the pilot program ceased on July 1, 2013, and it was officially terminated on Jan. 14, 2014.

November, who served as the secretary of the Animal Law Association while he attended UF Law, said he stays in contact with members of the UF Law faculty.

“During the process of negotiating the end of the pilot program, I directed all of my administrative law questions to (Professor) Mary Jane Angelo,” November said. “She not only provided me with guidance on the most appropriate legal strategies, but she also gave me real life advice on how to act in a cooperative manner so all the parties involved could achieve their goals.”

While working with Citizens Not Serfs, November said he brought a draft of his proposed legislation to Professor Joseph Little, who had been November’s Torts professor. Little’s advice helped November revise and refine the legislation, which eventually became a Florida Statute.

After the conclusion of his fellowship, November created November Consulting LLC, a solo practice that provides assistance and legal services with a focus on nonprofits and conservation groups. November said he often works with groups that have limited resources.

“They’re still able to get zealous representation from an attorney who’s going to give them a lot of time and effort,” November said.

Through November Consulting LLC, the Coastal Ocean Association of Science & Technology (COAST) hired November as the organization’s general counsel. November is also the executive director of GratitudeAmerica, a nonprofit organization devoted to providing community resources to veterans of post-2001 wars, their families, and the families of the fallen. The organization is hosting a Valentine’s Day weekend retreat for veterans in Marineland, Florida. The group hopes to eventually establish a permanent wellness center for military personnel in the town.

“Since I’m so visible in the community, and doing public interest law work, clients tend to come to me when they have issues that they believe would not just benefit themselves but would benefit the public in general,” November said.

November said making positive connections with people has been key to his success in his chosen field.

“By being active in the community and doing good work, people see it,” November said. “And then when they have a legal issue, people think of you.”

“Karma works for law practices as well,” November said.