Wade L. Hopping, a former founder of the Tallahassee law firm of Hopping Green & Sams and a former Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, died August 11, 2009. He was 77. His death came on the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of his firm.
Throughout his life, Wade was a source of strength and inspiration for many. For those of us who had the privilege to practice law with him, Wade was a mentor, teacher and benefactor whose friendship, fellowship and generosity enriched our lives and our families’ lives beyond measure.
Mr. Hopping devoted his energy to representing his clients before various parts of Florida state government, but particularly the Legislature. He participated in the negotiation and passage of various Florida laws, notably including the Florida Forever Act, the Growth Management Act, the Florida Power Plant Siting Act, the Florida Electrical Transmission Line Siting Act, the Environmental Land and Water Management Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Act.
He was a 50-year member of The Florida Bar.
In 1967, Mr. Hopping, a Republican, was named the Legislative Assistant and Constitutional Law Advisor to Governor Claude Kirk, Florida’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. In 1968, Governor Kirk appointed Mr. Hopping as the youngest Justice in the history of the Florida Supreme Court. He was defeated for election to a full term on the court.
Mr. Hopping then became Managing Director of the Tallahassee office of a Jacksonville law firm and, in 1979, led the formation of a new firm, Hopping Boyd Green & Sams. The firm specialized in environmental and land use law, two specialty practices which were coming of age when the firm was founded.
Now known as Hopping Green & Sams, the firm is the largest in Florida which specializes in governmental law. The firm now has 52 lawyers.
After graduating from law school at Ohio State University in 1955, Mr. Hopping served in the U.S. Army in Korea. He moved to Florida in 1958 and eventually became an advisor to Governor Kirk.
As a lawyer, Mr. Hopping had a long interest in law reform. He was a founding member of the Florida Law Revision Council and served as its Chairman in 1972-1974, when it recommended enactment of the Administrative Procedures Act. He was appointed by several governors to special commissions and task forces to propose reforms to a variety of state laws addressing development, growth management and environmental protection.
Among recent client matters he worked on was the State purchase of the 74,000-acre Babcock Ranch Preservation Area in Southwest Florida for $310 million in 2006, which was made possible by a special act of the Legislature. It was the largest conservation lands purchase in the history of Florida.
Mr. Hopping was active in a wide range of business groups. He served as President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce from 1986-1987. At his death, he was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Pacific Legal Foundation of Sacramento, California, one of the nation’s foremost advocates of private property rights.