A Cuban native who grew up in Miami — he scored the first touchdown in the history of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in 1972 — Manny Diaz served as mayor of the City of Miami from 2001 to 2009; in 2008 he became president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He is now senior partner at Lydecker Diaz, a downtown Miami law firm specializing in commercial law.
Q. Most of us know you from your years as mayor of Miami. Your term ended in 2009. What have you been doing since?
Immediately after leaving office, I was honored to receive an invitation from the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. As a resident fellow, I spent a semester teaching some of the best and the brightest minds in America. During my weekly lectures, I was joined by several of my colleagues, including Mayors Michael Bloomberg [of New York], Richard Daley [of Chicago] and Antonio Villaraigosa [of Los Angeles]. It was an unforgettable experience, one that I will always cherish. While sharing my experiences with the students and inspiring them to public service, I also learned a great deal about America’s next generation of leaders. Their passion for public service gave me renewed hope about the future of our country.
Upon returning to Miami, I re-joined my friend and colleague Richard Lydecker as senior partner of Lydecker Diaz. [And] I have continued promoting my mayoral agenda through my membership on various national boards and frequent lectures on subjects such as the environment, the arts, education, public transit and transportation, infrastructure and urban planning among others.Q. You’ve also been working on a book; tell us about it.
It’s called Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood One City at a Time and will be published this fall by the University of Pennsylvania Press. I wrote the book because the focus of politics in America has to change. Many politicians write memoirs and biographies filled with anecdotes and personal recollections from their term in office. There is much of that in the book. The book also includes some of my personal history growing up in Miami.
But, it is also my hope that readers will find something even more important — the premise that we need to restore pragmatism in American politics, end the senseless partisan bickering and begin to govern for the next generation, not the next election. Q. Tell us about your day job. How many people are in your firm? What’s the specialty, and how has the firm fared during the ragged economy?
Lydecker Diaz is a full-service commercial law firm serving clients throughout Florida. In the last three years, our firm has grown by nearly 60 percent, from 40 attorneys to 70 attorneys. We are expanding our presence statewide through the opening of additional offices outside Miami and hope to continue our recent expansion efforts.
The firm’s areas of expertise include commercial & financial litigation, intellectual property, labor & employment, appeals, and corporate and business transactions.Q. Businesswise, what are the biggest challenges for you now?
The story of my life!! My biggest challenge continues to be finding enough time to dedicate to the public policy areas I so deeply care about while at the same time continuing to build upon the success of Lydecker Diaz. It is a delicate balance, finding enough time for public policy, work and family. However, it is a challenge I welcome.Q. Can you tell us about the most interesting cases you’ve had in your law practice since leaving office?