7801 Deercreek Club Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32256
A homegrown Nassau County lawyer is NEFAR’s new go-to advisor on legal issues.
Clyde W. Davis, Esq., a Northeast Florida attorney with more than 40 years of experience – including 37 representing a neighboring REALTOR® association -- has been hired as NEFAR’s General Counsel. He takes the place of long-time NEFAR counselor Jeff Marks, who retired at the end of 2021.
“I’m happy to be the attorney for NEFAR and look forward to being of service to the members,” Davis said. “I like the problem-solving aspect of real estate. I hope the membership will look at me as a resource. I love the idea of being able to take what I’ve done in my career, and what I do, and to bring it here and be able to say, these are problems, these are solutions, and these are the ways to prevent from having to hire people like me.
“I want to give back to the profession,” he continued. “I tell a lot of my clients that my job is to talk myself out of a job. If I can help you avoid a problem, then you will not have to pay me to solve a problem. Over the years, I’ve been very, very blessed to do what I do, and I have had more fun doing it that I could have possibly ever imagined. I’m happy to help NEFAR, and I was flattered when Jeff Marks told Glenn East to call me.”
Clyde Davis is a man whose family has lived in Nassau County for six generations. Decades ago, his family was the largest landowner in Nassau County, but during the Depression his grandfather sold 27,000 acres of timberland to Rayonier Advanced Materials, a chemical corporation with a pulp mill on Amelia Island. The transaction included having Rayonier hire his father and uncle along with the land. As a native of Amelia Island, Davis has had a front seat to growth in the region.
“I grew up here before Amelia Island Plantation, the Ritz-Carlton, and the whole beach resort idea took hold,” he said. “There were five traffic lights in the whole county when I left for college, and you used to drive over a two-lane drawbridge to get onto the island.”
Like his parents and his children, Davis is a Florida Gator through and through. After graduating from Fernandina Beach High School, where he played in the band and lettered in football, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and subsequently stayed in Gainesville to receive his Juris Doctor degree. However, at first, he did not set out to become an attorney, planning instead to follow in his father’s footsteps by studying forestry with an eye to working for Rayonier. It was a class in organic chemistry that waylaid his plans.
“Organic chemistry coupled with an active social life led me on another path,” he said. Because Davis couldn’t compete with the medical, dental and vet students, he decided to switch to change his major to business administration.
However, studying law was the result of a divine guidance and a loss at poker. “I used to think I could play poker. I was in a fraternity and the Interfraternity Council had a loan fund so that if you were in good standing with your fraternity, you could borrow a small amount to tide you over. My father was not somebody I could call and say I needed money because I had lost playing poker.” After Davis made the money back, he was on his way to the IFC Offices in the
student union when he ran into Bill Harrell, a law student who he had never met before. Harrell eventually became the founder of the Jacksonville Law Firm Harrell & Harrell. During their conversation, Harrell inquired about Davis’s grades and suggested he take the LSAT. Davis took the test three weeks later without any special study or prep course and passed with a score high enough to get into law school at Florida.
“His suggestion changed my life. As the result of that casual conversation, I have been blessed with a career that has been fulfilling beyond anything I could have expected,” he said.
Ever active on the UF campus, Davis has been honored with membership in several collegiate honor societies including the Florida Blue Key, the oldest and most prestigious collegiate leadership honor society in the state, as well as Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, and Savant Leadership Honorary, a prestigious, progressive collegiate organization dedicated to community service and ethical behavior. Also, after receiving his bachelor’s degree, Davis was one of eight graduating seniors placed in the University of Florida Hall of Fame by the school’s alumni association.
Davis’s introduction to real estate came nine months before he entered law school when he went to work briefly for Rayonier in the accounting department of its timber division. One of his assignments was verifying property records for tax purposes by traveling to small county courthouses throughout Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia to make sure Rayonier’s real estate deeds were properly indexed in the public record. “It gave me a good foundation for real estate law,” he said.
Davis’s uncle, Glyndon H. Waas, Jr., was also a REALTOR®, having started the Amelia Realty as a broker. “I had a family member in on the very beginning of the resort industry on Amelia Island. My uncle was on the ground floor when Amelia Island Plantation was just beginning,” he said.
Davis’s well-versed legal career began after graduation in the Office of the States Attorney in Jacksonville thanks to Ed Austin, a former state attorney who later became mayor. “Ed Austin was the best boss you could ever work for,” he said. Over the years he has served as Assistant State Attorney for Nassau County, as well as a special prosecutor in Milton, Fla., City Attorney for the City of Fernandina Beach, and counsel to the Ocean Highway and Port Authority of Nassau County. He currently is Senior-Managing Partner of Davis & Steger, PLLC, in Fernandina Beach, having entered his private law practice in 1985.
“My Uncle Glyn was very kind about sending real estate cases to me, and there was another real estate broker that had me doing closings out of her office. I was a jack-of-all-trades and did closings for several offices,” he said.
He also has real estate experience through buying and selling his own residential and commercial properties and has served as the attorney for the Amelia Island-Nassau County Association of REALTORS® since 1985.
Active in the Northeast Florida community, Davis has served on a variety of boards and civic organizations. He was a founding member of the St. Mary’s River Keeper as well as a founding member of the Barnabas Center and served on its first board of directors. He was also founding member of Nassau Friends of Scouting, now Friends of Nassau, Inc. He currently serves on the board of the Charitable Foundation of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, the Vocational Scholarship Foundation, and the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Charities. He has previously served as Senior Warden on the vestry of his church, and on the Boards of the Island Education Association, Communities in Schools, and the West Nassau Historical Society.
In legal circles, he was elected for three terms as president of the Nassau County Bar Association and is a founding member and Master of the Bench in the Robert M. Foster American Inn of Court, a group made up of practicing lawyers and judges in Nassau County. He has performed pro bono work as a panel attorney for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and is a member of the fraternal organization, Amelia Lodge #47, (Free and Accepted Masons of Florida).
A family man, Davis has known his wife, April, who is a retired educator, since their days at Fernandina Beach High. “I did not marry the ‘girl next door’ as my wife lived across the street from me in high school,” he said. “We graduated in the same high school class, and she had enough sense to avoid going out with me until after we’d both graduated from college.”
The couple have two adult children, Amanda C. “Mandy” Davis, and Joshua K. “Bud” Davis. When his children were growing up, he coached youth baseball, softball, and football in Fernandina Beach and served on the District Committees for the Boy Scouts of America.
An avid hunter and fisherman Davis retains membership in the National Wild Turkey Federation, and Ducks Unlimited. He has written many articles about The Great Outdoors that have been published in national and regional magazines including Turkey & Turkey Hunting; American Hunter; and Kudu, a publication of the African Safari Club.
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