Attorney and Certified Mediator
As an attorney for over twenty (20) years, Cara Higgins has been a managing partner and trial attorney. Cara devotes a large percentage of her practice to litigation, has tried numerous state and federal cases, and argued appeals before both the Florida Third District Court of Appeal and the Federal Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She has years of experience in the defense of investigations and prosecutions by the U.S. Government and its agencies against both individuals and businesses. Cara is dedicated to protecting her clients, their families and their businesses.
Cara has extensive trial experience and has tried dozens of cases before both juries and the court. Cara has tried a variety of state and federal cases including but not limited to complex civil litigation, criminal defense, marital and family law, probate, administrative and regulatory matters, construction law, animal law and real estate cases.
While proceeding to trial is often times necessary, Cara is also a strong advocate for dispute resolution. She is a Certified Mediator who has both mediated and participated in countless successful mediations. Cara operates a Mediation Center in Key West, a space dedicated to providing litigants with comfortable and private accommodations for mediation or arbitration processes.
Cara is prepared to bring her years of experience to the defense of your business, your family and your rights.
EDUCATION and EXPERIENCE
Cara received her Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from West Virginia University in 1995 where she was honored as a University Honors Scholar and as Outstanding Freshman of the Year, 1993.
After graduating from Villanova School of Law in 1998, Cara served as a judicial law clerk in the Family Division of the Superior Court, Trenton, New Jersey. During her clerkship, Cara was also certified by the State of New Jersey in Civil Mediation and Conciliation Skills by the Administrative Office of the Courts and has served as a mediator in Civil and Matrimonial cases.
In 1999, Cara joined the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office in Trenton, New Jersey where she successfully tried numerous criminal felony cases including narcotics cases and high profile rape and attempted murder cases. She was named Coordinator of the Mercer County Drug Court Program and was honored by her office as Distinguished Assistant Prosecutor of the Year, 2002.
In addition to serving her clients, Cara dedicates time to her community.
Cara was elected by her peers in the legal community to the Florida Bar Board of Governors, Young Lawyers Division. Cara represented the 16th Judicial Circuit on the statewide board, which includes Monroe County and all of the Florida Keys, for (3) three terms. Cara also served as the President of the Monroe County Bar Association and as President of the Monroe County Chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL).
Cara is passionate about serving the business community in Key West. Since 2007, Cara has been extremely active in the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce, an organization of over five hundred (500) local businesses. Cara has served on the Chamber Board since 2007, a majority of those years on the Executive Committee. She served as President of the Chamber in 2011 and has received numerous awards and accolades for her dedicated service.
Cara was appointed to serve on the Board of Commissioners, Lower Florida Keys Hospital District, Monroe County by both Governor Charlie Crist and Governor Rick Scott.
In February, 2015, Cara was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to the Board of Directors of the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority. The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority Board of Directors is a policy-making Board and their powers and duties include the right to negotiate and establish employee compensation; enter into contracts; prosecute and defend lawsuits; build, operate and maintain water production and distribution facilities and in general, make policy decisions on all items included in the operation of a water utility. She was reappointed to the Board in 2018 by Governor Scott for a second four (4) year term.
Cara is an active Rotarian and proud member of the Key West Sunrise Rotary Club. Cara also dedicates her time to the Board of the Key West Military Affairs Committee. She has served on the boards of local schools, as a mentor for Take Stock in Children and the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monroe County.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
In 2018 Cara was honored with the ATHENA Award by the Key West Chamber of Commerce. This award recognizes professional women for their business success, community service and encouragement of other women. Named after the Greek goddess of courage and wisdom, this award is a program of ATHENA International, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating leadership opportunities for women.
In 2017, Cara was presented with the William “Billy” Appelrouth Award by the Key West Chamber of Commerce. This award is the highest recognition of individual efforts on behalf of the community. In 2019 Cara was again honored by the Key West Chamber of Commerce with a “Piece of the Rock” for her significant contributions to the Key West Business Community.
Throughout her career, Cara has been presented with professional and academic awards. She is frequently asked to lecture on topics including criminal law, animal law and law office management and procedure. Cara has been an Adjunct Professor at the Florida Keys Community College as well as a featured lecturer and panel moderator for various organizations. Cara and some of her most famous clients, the six-toed Hemingway cats, have appeared on several major television news programs and in various news publications.
Cara’s proudest accomplishments are her two children. As a full-time resident of Key West since 2003 she is dedicated to raising her family in our amazing Key West community.
· U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, 2011
· U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, 2005
· Florida Bar, 2004
· New Jersey Bar, 1998
· U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, 1998
· Pennsylvania Bar, 1998
· Certified Mediator, 2019
· Villanova School of Law, 1998, Juris Doctor
· West Virginia University, 1995, B.A., Magna Cum Laude, University Honors Scholar
Associations and Memberships
· The Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors 2007 to present (President 2011)
· Key West Military Affairs Committee (Member and Board Member)
· The Florida Bar, Young Lawyers Division–Board of Governors (2006 – 2011)
· Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, Board of Directors 2015 to Present
· Lower Florida Keys Hospital District, Commissioner, 2010 to Present
· Athena International
· Monroe County Bar Association, President 2010
· Sunrise Rotary Club
· Montessori Children’s School, President 2014
· Key West Montessori Charter School, Treasurer 2013-2014
· Monroe County Chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Past President.
Cara Higgins Law