From hurricanes to oil spills to pharmaceutical and personal injury lawsuits, Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz has brought world-class legal council and representation to the Pensacola area.
The firm, led by partners Bryan Aylstock, Justin Witkin, Douglass Kreis and Neil Overholtz, will celebrate their 10th anniversary this month.
“One of the ways we’ve been a Game Changer in this community is just through our growth and our success,” says Witkin. “We’ve gone from two attorneys and two staff members to 15 attorneys and 60 staff members.”
In that time, AWKO has recovered over $500 million for clients across the country. Most recently, they led the charge in a lawsuit against Avandia, a diabetes drug shown to cause increased cardiovascular risks. The lawsuit involved about 50,000 clients nationwide.
“We were able to achieve successful resolution for our clients and assist others in doing the same,” says Aylstock.
While AWKO is well known for its large pharmaceutical and medical device lawsuits, big-money cases aren’t the only thing the firm is about.
“A lot of our time and focus, without the intent of getting paid, is devoted to some of the local causes,” says Witkin.
The damage caused by Hurricane Ivan presented an opportunity for AWKO to lend a hand to the community.
“We gave lots of free seminars and educated people about hurricane insurance issues, and recovering from the hurricane,” says Overholtz. “We represented a lot of people.”
The oil spill crisis offered another such opportunity.
“We hosted several free seminars at Pensacola Beach,” says Overholtz. “We brought in experts from around the state to focus on our litigation.”
“We just want to educate people about their legal rights and responsibilities,” says Witkin. “That’s part of how we want to give back…to our community.”
AWKO’s ability to build local talent has helped strengthen Pensacola’s economy.
“We’ve also sent a number of our staff members to law school who have returned to us as lawyers,” says Aylstock.
And when hiring outside talent, the partners’ passion for the area is contagious.
“This area has been a part of my life,” says Overholtz. “I always knew I wanted to come back and be a lawyer in Pensacola. We all fell in love with the community.”
Unlike many of our Game Changers, AWKO isn’t currently focused on growing the size of their business.
“I don’t think we’re going to continue to grow by leaps and bounds,” says Witkin. “There’s a balance where I think you have the right number of people. I think we’re at a nice size.”
But that doesn’t mean AWKO isn’t committed to the future.
“Where I think we’re going to continue to grow is in terms of our involvement,” says Witkin. “When we get involved in cases, we are typically in a leadership position. I think our growth will be to refine what we do, to be involved in the highest levels of the cases that we work on.”
Witkin says that the company will also focus more on the community.
“We’ve asked all our employees to…identify two projects that they’re going to personally be involved in on a local level. That they’ll give not just of their money, but of their time. We’re also starting the AWKO Justice Foundation, through which we’ll organize and contribute to various causes, local and otherwise.”
Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz
17 E. Main St. #200