Powerhouse attorneys Stuart Grossman and Roy Black reflect on their careers and art

Roy Black, left, and Stuart Grossman at Black's home. Photograph by Nick Garcia.
Roy Black, left, and Stuart Grossman at Black's home. Photograph by Nick Garcia.

Stuart Grossman and Roy Black have mastered the art of the courtroom. As lawyers at the pinnacle of their profession, they craft arguments, canvas for facts and paint pictures for juries that win their clients freedom and multimillion-dollar verdicts.

It only stands to reason that these guys are avid art fans who count the days every year until Art Basel. Art for them is an escape from their hectic work lives — and each has his own way of enjoying it.

Roy Black looks to art for home decoration

For Black, it’s something to decorate his Coral Gables house, built by George Merrick and designated a historic property. “None of it is really worth anything,” he said, being polite. “The pieces are more decorative than anything else.”

Take the groovy gold gator hanging on a wall. Photographer Greg Lotus, who has shot many a Vogue cover, noticed it while at a party at Black’s and asked to borrow it for a photo shoot. Now, next to the gator (Black graduated a double ’Cane, by the way, and has been a teaching at the law school for nearly 45 years), stands the framed magazine piece Lotus sent as a thank-you.

Or take the numerous works by 1960s cartoon/pop artist Peter Max, who Black became friends with while defending him on charges of income-tax evasion. “I would sit with him and my wife, and he would draw pictures while we’d be talking and give it to us,” Black said. “Just a fascinating man!”

Stuart Grossman prefers art that is modern and abstract

Grossman, meantime, is the more traditional art collector, catalogue and all. He started buying pieces two years into his career under the tutelage of Helen Heninger, then the art director of Gump’s Gallery in San Francisco.

Grossman tends toward the modern and abstract, with pieces from the likes of Larry Rivers, Richard Diebenkorn and Robert Motherwell, and displays them in his Florida and Montecito, California, homes. At last year’s Basel, he picked up a video piece honoring Georgia O’Keefe.

The two powerhouses met as lawyers “trying to make a living,” as Black puts it, and now hold two of the 500 spots in the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers. Though they run in the same circles, their client list is quite different.

Stuart Grossman and Roy Black catch up in the backyard of Black's home. Photograph by Nick Garcia.

Career paths that point toward justice and philanthropy

Grossman, an avid skeet shooter and fly fisher, fights for the underdog and for lifesaving procedural changes: a black man who died after police applied a chokehold, an 8-year-old killed after the power company knocked out lights to a busy intersection, two young men who became quadriplegics after jumping unknowingly into shallow water.

“I try to make a difference and right something that’s happened,” Grossman said.

Grossman lives in Coral Gables with wife his wife, Karyn, also an art collector, and has a passion for philanthropy. A former chair of the Miami-Dade County Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Grossman also founded Margaux’s Miracle Foundation, named in honor of his daughter, who died of a rare childhood cancer. It funds, among other things, a research fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. 

Black, who says his sole hobby is reading, is noted for successfully defending William Kennedy Smith against rape charges in the nation’s first televised trial. He married one of the jurors, Lea, who starred on Real Housewives of Miami and is known for her fundraising efforts for at-risk youth through their Blacks’ Annual Gala and other nonprofits. Black’s many headline-attracting clients have included Rush Limbaugh and, “Who’s that boy singer today?” he asked with a smile. Bieber? “Yes! That was an experience.”

Stuart Grossman, left, and Roy Black, at Black's home. Photograph by Nick Garcia.

Taking time to enjoy it all

Despite years of intense lawyering, Grossman and Black find time to appreciate things like fine art — or a good laugh. Like when Grossman came to Black’s home for this article’s photo shoot wearing slacks and a shirt, only to have his counterpart greet him in a full suit.

“I thought it was casual!” Grossman said. “I almost called you to find out how you were dressing.”

Not skipping a beat, Black retorted: “You’re a [personal injury] lawyer — you can be casual. I’m more corporate.” He paused. “But you do need a lot of makeup.”