Attorney Jaret L. Davis is committed to turning South Florida into one of the nation’s leading technology centers. “We live in one of the most dynamic cities in the world, but the challenge is how to keep moving forward,” said Davis, who is co-managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Miami office. “In the past few years, we have made great strides in building our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Now, we need to help those startups begin to grow, so they can play a bigger role in the global economy.”
With a wide-ranging corporate law practice that includes a focus on technology companies in the areas of information technology (IT), life sciences and biotech, Davis, 43, was co-founder and currently serves as general counsel of the eMerge Americas global technology conference, now in its fifth year. “With great thought leaders as speakers and thousands of attendees from throughout the hemisphere, eMerge Americas continues to play a key role in raising Miami’s profile in the global technology sector,” he said.
More recently, Davis served as 2016-17 chair of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, the county’s economic development partnership, helping to launch the Connect and Grow initiative. “We want to build connections between entrepreneurial startups in all fields and established companies,” he said. “That’s a vital step in helping new companies scale up to reach larger markets and create more jobs. It’s also a winning combination for larger companies, because they get ready access to innovative ideas.”
Davis cites Watsco Ventures, the corporate innovation division of Miami-based Watsco, the world’s largest distributor of air conditioning and heating products and a Davis client, as a good example of a company that has been a leader in the ideas behind the Connect and Grow initiative. Through investments and an accelerator program, Watsco is supporting the growth of early-stage companies in the B2B and home comfort industries.
“We are also seeing some significant wins with our home-grown technology companies like Magic Leap and Cyxtera,” Davis added. “But our financial and business community needs to step up to the plate and keep this trend going.”
A South Florida Native
Born in Miami Beach, Davis grew up in Miami. His father was a businessman, his uncle was an attorney in New Orleans and his step-grandfather was Clarence Patterson, former city manager of North Miami and Opa-locka. “They helped instill my personal values, including justice and community involvement,” he said. “My parents raised me to understand the importance of giving back to my community and helping those who were less fortunate or unable to fight for themselves.”
In high school, Davis became interested in technology, analytics and finance, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics with minors in computer science and finance from the University of Miami. During college, he spent four years doing network diagnostics and manning the IT helpdesk for the University of Miami School of Business before enrolling at UM law school in 1996. “My ‘aha’ moment came when I fully realized the power of the law in analyzing and solving challenging problems,” he said.
In his first summer in law school, Davis clerked for the Division of Enforcement at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), giving him exposure to the field of securities litigation and enforcement. The following year he became a summer associate at Greenberg Traurig, with a focus on the transactional side.
After earning his law degree in 1999, he joined Greenberg and has been with the firm ever since. “One thing I love about law is that you can’t practice in a vacuum,” he said. “I enjoy meeting new people, listening to our clients and finding ways to resolve their issues.”
A Stellar Legal Career
Throughout his legal career, Davis has been a problem-solver, focusing on corporate and securities matters, including cross-border mergers and acquisitions, capital markets transactions, and large financings.
Davis was the lead attorney on the Greenberg Traurig team that represented Medina Capital in its $3 billion acquisition of a portfolio of 57 data centers and suite of cybersecurity and data analytics companies. Most recently this month Davis and his team represented Exactech, Inc., a NASDAQ company that is a leading developer and producer of orthopedic implant devices, in its $737 million merger with global private equity fund TPG Capital. He also previously led the team representing Terremark Worldwide, Inc., a provider of IT infrastructure, in connection with its $2 billion acquisition by Verizon Communications, Inc.
In 2010, Davis took over co-leadership of the firm’s Miami office, and now oversees approximately 170 attorneys and 200 business staff. “My leadership style is one of empowerment,” Davis said. “I’m very big on empowering and bringing resources to our associates, partners and staff. I enjoy seeing them develop their skills and grow in their careers.”
Davis has also received a number of awards in his career from professional organizations and publications, including the JM Family Enterprises’ 2016 African-American Achievers Award.
“I have a very busy calendar, but my legal and community activities tend to relate to each other,” he said. “There are a lot of connections in common and that makes things a little easier to juggle.”
Leadership in the Community
Along with his professional commitments, Davis has been a community leader throughout his career. He has served on the boards of City Year, the American Diabetes Association, Friends of Little River, the Miami Coalition for Christians and Jews and Past President of the Law Alumni Association for the University of Miami School of Law.
“You can’t be an effective leader if you treat every situation in the same way,” Davis said. “You have to understand the organization, its mission and its people. You have to be sensitive to the nuances and take a different approach for each leadership role.”
Davis has also been active in the healthcare sector, and recently became chairman of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital (formerly Miami Children’s Hospital), which has been at the forefront of utilizing digital health solutions. “This is one of the leading pediatric hospitals in the world, which is also an incubator for digital health solutions,” he said. “This is another successful example of how existing organizations can help startups scale up their products and services.”
Looking ahead, Davis would like to see stronger economic development connections and other business activities working across South Florida’s county lines, such as the recent regional proposal for Amazon’s HQ2. “To the outside world, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach are one major megalopolis – one of the most powerful in the country,” he said. “We need to work together to capitalize on our location, our multicultural workforce, and the many other business advantages and assets we can offer as a region.”
South Florida Legal Guide March 5, 2018