Oct 04, 2021

Partner, Michael E. Dutko, Jr., Featured In Fort Lauderdale Magazine

Our Partner, Michael E. Dutko Jr., was recently featured in Fort Lauderdale Magazine’s October Issue. His Q&A advertorial provides some insight as to who he is as a lawyer, what his views are regarding land use and zoning, and more. Michael is located in the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office where he focuses his practice on government relations and public policy, procurement and government contracts, zoning, land use and development, land use and real property litigation and general commercial and civil litigation.

Mr. Dutko has extensive experience in the field of local government law, representing developers and builders in private practice as well as having served as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Delray Beach. In addition to providing legal services on a wide range of local government matters, he also served as the City’s board counsel for the Site Plan Review and Appearance Board, Historic Preservation Board, Code Enforcement Board, Board of Adjustment, Planning and Zoning Board and City Commission, guiding each body through the consideration of complex legal and controversial matters.

In particular, Mr. Dutko worked closely with the City’s Planning and Zoning Department regarding the review and processing of applications for development in the City, which is widely regarded as one of South Florida’s premier locations.

Why is it important to consult with a land use attorney?
Local governments have laws, and the bulk of any land use representation is ensuring that a proposed development complies with those laws. To do that properly, you really need to consult with a land use attorney who can perform a bona-fide legal review of all aspects of a land use issue. Too often, clients will come to me after having tried to navigate these processes on their own – and their complaints are always the same. “I wish I had called a lawyer sooner.”

What interested you in becoming a land use attorney?
I had the privilege of working with some incredibly smart and successful land use attorneys early in my career – attorneys who helped train me to be the effective advocate I am today. The passion and satisfaction they took from the work really lit a fire in me that drives me to this day. What I learned, and what I have seen firsthand, is that land use law offers the unique opportunity to help create the types of communities that raise the quality of life for all residents.

What sets you apart from other land use attorneys?
The goal of any land development application is to secure an approval for your client, usually through hearings before the local government reviewing the application. However, problems arise when an application is denied in violation of the law, which happens more often than many land use attorneys would like to admit. Appealing an improperly denied application requires a level of familiarity with litigation that allows you to develop a sufficient record and navigate a lawsuit challenging the improper denial. Many land use attorneys are not litigators and have never seen the inside of a courtroom. On the contrary, alongside my land use practice, I have significant litigation experience, both as civil trial lawyer and as an Assistant State Attorney, with substantial jury trial experience ranging from everything from civil breaches of contract to first-degree murder. I know how to develop a proper record, I know how to litigate a lawsuit, and I know how to protect your rights if it comes to that.