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John S. Mills

John S. Mills is a Florida Bar board-certified appellate specialist.  AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell (since 2000), he is recognized as being among the top 20 appellate lawyers in the state by Chambers USA (since 2011), one of the Best Lawyers in America according to U.S. News & World Report (since 2012), among the top 2% of Florida lawyers according to Florida Trend's Legal Elite list (since 2005), and as a “Super Lawyer” in the top 5% of Florida lawyers by Law and Politics magazine (since 2006).  All of these recognitions are based purely on peer review and not through purchase, subscription, or advertising.

Although he is often retained in highly contentious, high-stakes litigation requiring zealous, creative, and sometimes aggressive advocacy, Mr. Mills strives to maintain a reputation of integrity, professionalism, and service to the bench and bar. Ever mindful of the need to extend professional courtesies and demonstrate respect for the courts, opposing parties, and opposing counsel, Mr. Mills is no shrinking violet when it comes to advancing his clients' interests on issues that truly matter.

A fifth-generation Floridian with roots in both Jacksonville and Manatee County, Mr. Mills earned his undergraduate degree in international affairs from Florida State University.  He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law, where he was the Executive Articles Editor of the Georgia Law Review and was inducted into the Order of the Coif.

He began his legal career as a law clerk for Judge Gerald B. Tjoflat of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  After that, he spent several years practicing commercial and employment litigation in the Jacksonville office of the international law firm Foley & Lardner.

In 2002, he started The Mills Firm to focus exclusively on appellate litigation.   As his practice grew, he took on partners to develop a firm that was known variously over the years as Mills & Carlin, Mills & Creed, and Mills Creed & Gowdy.

In 2010, he left that firm to restart The Mills Firm and shift his practice to Tallahassee, home of the two courts in which he most often appears:  the Supreme Court of Florida and the First District Court of Appeal. With an emphasis on constitutional and personal injury litigation, The Mills Firm has flourished and grown.

In 2019, he decided to return to his commercial litigation roots in Jacksonville and expand his firm’s depth and ability to provide more robust trial support services by joining forces with his friends at the former Tanner Bishop commercial litigation boutique to form Mills & Bishop. Despite the renewed emphasis on commercial litigation, Mr. Mills continues to handle constitutional and personal litigation, especially defending significant plaintiff’s judgments on appeal. He now splits his time between the Tallahassee and Jacksonville offices.

Over the years, Mr. Mills' appellate practice has spanned almost every imaginable area of the law, including business, personal injury and malpractice, class action, civil rights, family law, criminal, and administrative appeals.  He has represented all kinds of clients:  everyday people; families who lost loved ones; national corporations and business executives; non-profit organizations; entrepreneurs, small businesses, and local bars and restaurants; doctors, lawyers, and other professionals; artists and athletes; leaders of business, the community, and government; media organizations; children and their guardians; parents and grandparents fighting for their children; immigrants; and prisoners detained, convicted, or sentenced for everything from white collar crimes to drug offenses to first-degree murder and other violent crimes, including four death row inmates.   Mr. Mills has also served as special counsel to the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission in the successful prosecution of judicial misconduct charges against four Florida judges.

Mr. Mills has served as appellate counsel in two major cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, serving as lead counsel in a 2004 immigration rights case that ended the indefinite detention of over 2,000 Cubans who came to this country in the Mariel Boatlift and assisting in a landmark 2010 case that invalidated life without parole sentences for juveniles who did not kill anyone.  He has argued and won many ground-breaking cases in the Florida Supreme Court on behalf of the League of Women Voters and Common Cause and on behalf of plaintiff’s in multi-million lawsuits against the cigarette industry. He has been lead counsel in hundreds of appeals in the lower appellate courts, including the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and all five of Florida’s district courts of appeal.  While his focus is on Florida cases, he has also handled appeals in Michigan, Missouri, and the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Sixth, Eighth, and D.C. Circuits.

Mr. Mills has served in a number of leadership positions in the appellate bar.  He has chaired the Appellate Practice Certification Committee and the Appellate Court Rules Committee of The Florida Bar, and served on the executive committee of the bar’s Appellate Practice Section. He is an alumnus of the First District Appellate American Inn of Court and the Chester Bedell Inn of Court, as well as the board of governors of the Jacksonville Bar Association and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society

His professional awards include the 2006 S. Victor Tipton Award from the Florida Justice Association for “superior achievement in legal writing and commitment,” the 2006 Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, and the 2005 Pro Bono Award from the Appellate Practice Section of The Florida Bar.

He has lectured on advanced appellate topics at numerous conferences and seminars, including the Eleventh Circuit Judicial Conference, the Eleventh Circuit Appellate Practice Institute, the Florida Appellate Justice Conference, and the Florida Bar Appellate Practice Certification Review Course, where he taught federal appellate practice for several years to Florida appellate lawyers preparing to sit for the board certification exam.

Finally, Mr. Mills is a leader in the community.  He is an alumnus of Leadership Jacksonville and was recognized as a “40 Under 40” top business leader in the community by the Jacksonville Business Journal.  The media often turn to him both for background and on-the-record comment on various legal issues of public interest.

John Mills
  • Areas of Practice

    Board Certified in Appellate Practice by The Florida Bar

  • Education

    Florida State University, B.S., 1992
    University of Georgia, J.D., summa cum laude, 1996

  • Admissions

    Florida, U.S. Court of Appeals
    Third, Sixth, Eighth, Eleventh and District of Columbia Circuits
    U.S. Supreme Court

John Mills
  • Areas of Practice

    Board Certified in Appellate Practice by The Florida Bar

  • Education

    Florida State University, B.S., 1992
    University of Georgia, J.D., summa cum laude, 1996

  • Admissions

    Florida, U.S. Court of Appeals
    Third, Sixth, Eighth, Eleventh and District of Columbia Circuits
    U.S. Supreme Court