How Orlando attorney Mark O’Mara
stays cool in the midst of chaos
BY G.K. SHARMAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SCOTT COOK
ON A PICTURE-PERFECT DAY ABOUT
10 years ago, a couple of lawyers took
advantage of a day off to go waterskiing
with some friends on the St. Johns River
north of Orlando.
The sun was warm. The river was perfect.
Everyone was having a great time. Joe
Flood was at the wheel of the boat and
Mark O’Mara was in the water, waiting for
his chance to ski.
As Flood—who once worked with O’Mara
at the Seminole County State Attorney’s
Office—tells the tale, O’Mara said, loudly
but very calmly, “Hey Joe, let’s go.”
The group on the boat was laughing and
talking. What was the hurry? But O’Mara
called out, “We really need to go now.” Still
cool as James Bond asking for a martini.
That’s when Flood saw what O’Mara was
pointing at. On the riverbank, he says with
a touch of horror in his voice a decade later,
was the biggest alligator he’d ever seen.
And it had its eye on the ski-wearing guy
bobbing in the water.
Then the gator slipped into the river.
Flood fired up the boat and they sped
O’MARA’S UNFLAPPABILITY HAS MADE
him one of the most respected—and
least grandstanding—attorneys in
“He has a unique ability to manage
the emotion and calculate how things
should be said or presented,” says Orlando
criminal defense attorney Donald R. West.
“Even when he’s a volcano inside, he is
still able to channel the emotion of the
moment into his role as advocate.”
West is working with O’Mara on his
current high-profile case: defending
George Zimmerman, accused of
shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon
Martin as he walked through a gated
community in Sanford.
O’Mara says he comes by his composure
genetically. He credits his dad, a New York
City firefighter and battalion chief, with his
ability to look opponents in the eye and not
“At 20, he was shot down over Germany,
spent 10 months as a POW, came home,
got married, raised five kids and walked
into fires for 32 years,” says O’Mara. “Sort
of makes a big gator pale in comparison.”
O’Mara is puzzled that some of his
fellow attorneys seem to think drama
equals good representation.