The Byrd Law Firm, located at 2151 Main Street, is the perfect combination of a small family owned business with the magnitude of a large law practice. The firm consists of lawyers Derek Byrd- criminal defense lawyer, his wife Heather – specializing in family law and divorce, and her brother Drew Solnoki – who does both criminal and family law. The firm was started back in the 60’s by Derek Byrd’s father, who was the preeminent criminal defense lawyer in Sarasota for many years. Derek Byrd was born and raised in Sarasota, graduated from Sarasota High School, attended Florida State and went to Quinnipiac University in Connecticut for law school. It was there that Derek met his wife, Heather, who was also in law school. Heather is from Long Island, NY and went to Fairfield University for her undergraduate degree and attended Quinnipiac for law school.
After graduating law school in 1995, they decided to return to Sarasota and start their careers there. Derek started out in the public defender’s office for two years, which was a great training ground as a criminal defense lawyer. At this time Heather was working for David Denkin’s office who hired Heather for his family law practice, where she learned her specialty. They took over Derek’s father’s practice at the end of their two-year training stint and started running the family practice. Heather’s brother, Drew, followed the same program and after three years with the public defender’s office, he joined the Byrd Law firm in 2010. Derek Byrd has become invaluable to the firm as he does both criminal and family law, and he does them extremely well.
Derek is a board certified lawyer, which less than 5% of lawyers in Florida hold this distinction. There is a very strict list of criteria that must be met in order to gain this designation, including having at least twenty-five trials, making them experts in their fields. Along with this highly specialized designation, Drew’s other significant accomplishments are that he was the president of the Sarasota County Bar Association, becoming the first criminal defense lawyer to become president. He was also president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, (FACDL) a statewide organization with over two thousand members. Derek has also been on Bill O’Reilly and Nancy Grace, and has had murder trials on Court TV.
Derek and Heather live in Cherokee Park and love the family oriented atmosphere of this neighborhood. They have two boys, Dalton (14) and Colby (11), both attending Pine View School and both excellent baseball players. Derek has been coaching the boy’s travel baseball teams for many years and loves working with the young kids. He says he is inspired by the kids empathy for others, giving him balance with his job as a criminal defense lawyer. They are also very passionate about travel, having been to Africa on Safari, taken trips to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, as well as London. They golf as a family and love spending time on the golf course. The Byrd Law Firm is a quintessential Sarasota business showing how a small family owned practice can be a world-class organization.