WHY TAMPA’S BENNIE LAZZARA JR. PUT ASIDE
CRIMINAL DEFENSE WORK TO CHAMPION
INJURED NURSING-HOME PATIENTS
INTERVIEW CONDUCTED AND EDITED BY BETH TAYLOR
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATT MAY
Q: What drew you to law?
A: It was important in my family that we
all go into some professional practice.
My brothers and cousins, most of them
went to medical school or dental school,
but I didn’t really have the aptitude for
the sciences, or the interest in them. My
uncle who was a circuit judge, he was
an inspiration to me to pursue the law. I
respected him a lot. I liked the way he held
himself with a lot of dignity. I thought he
was a stern man of a lot of courage.
Education was a priority [at home].
My father probably had an eighth-grade
education by most estimates. [He] was in
the produce business, and my mother was
a homemaker. He worked hard; he did well.
He put his son through medical school—my
Q: What was it like growing up in Tampa?
A: Since I’m from the Dark Ages, it was
another world. We were wanting to be a
big-league city, which we are now. It was a
fascinating place to grow up, because there
was a good mixture of cultures here. My
grandparents immigrated here from Sicily
in the 1890s.