Marilyn Holifield is a partner in Holland & Knight's Miami office. She practices in the general litigation area, with a specific emphasis on representing corporate clients. Her practice includes employment, business litigation, corporate governance, trade secrets, covenants-not-to-compete, class action and intellectual property litigation. Ms. Holifield represents corporate clients as lead counsel in jury and non-jury trials, arbitrations and administrative proceedings.

Ms. Holifield practices employment law with a focus on covenants not to compete litigation and was named by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of America's top employment lawyers. Ms. Holifield was also named one of South Florida’s 25 most successful and prominent black business women by Network Miami magazine.

For five years, Ms. Holifield was an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York City, where she was responsible for litigating class action employment and prison reform lawsuits before federal trial and appellate courts in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Illinois and New York. She was the General Counsel for the New York State Division for Youth and a law clerk for Judge Paul H. Roney of the United States (former) Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

When Ms. Holifield was named the 2000 Chesterfield Smith Lawyer, she received the outstanding lawyer of the year award, the highest honor the firm awards to a lawyer.

Ms. Holifield has served on the Directors Committee of Holland & Knight and the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College. She has also served as a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, Executive Council of Florida Bar Labor and Employment Section and Harvard Alumni Association Executive Committee.

She has given continuing legal education lectures on alternative dispute resolution, employment law, trial practice, defamation law and corporate governance for the American Bar Association Litigation Section, The Florida Bar, National Bar Association, Caribbean Commercial Law Workshop and the American Law Institute.

The federal district judges of the Southern District of Florida selected Ms. Holifield to serve on the magistrate selection panel that pre-screened candidates for magistrate positions. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio appointed Ms. Holifield to the federal Judicial Nominating Commission for the Southern District of Florida. She has also served on the Ad Hoc Rules and Procedure Committee for the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida.

Ms. Holifield served two terms as chairperson of the ABA Conference of Minority Partners in Majority/Corporate Law Firms and as a member of the ABA Commission on Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession. The Governor of Florida appointed Ms. Holifield as a co-chair of the 1994 Summit of the Americas, which included historic meetings of the Heads of State of 34 countries in this hemisphere.


  • Harvard Law School, J.D.
  • Swarthmore College, B.A., Economics
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Florida
  • New York
Court Admissions
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • Harvard University Board of Overseers, Executive Committee, June 2020-present
  • Harvard University Board of Overseers, 2018-present
  • Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for the Southern District of Florida, 2013-2017  
  • Swarthmore College, Board of Managers, 1994-1997, 2012-2024
  • Swarthmore College, Board of Managers, Executive Committee, 2019-present
  • University of Miami, Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, 2004-2010, 2014-2019
  • Selection panel member for White House Fellows finalists, southern region, 2013
  • Harvard Alumni Association, Honorary Chair, Ad Hoc Committee on Public Service; Committee for the Happy Observance of Commencement
  • Harvard Law School, Honorary Committee of Celebration 60
  • Harvard Club of Miami, At-Large Director
  • American Law Institute
  • Pérez Art Museum Miami, Board of Trustees, 2014-2016
  • University of Miami Hospital, Former Member of Board of Governors
  • American Bar Association
  • National Bar Association
Honors & Awards
  • Florida Trailblazer, Daily Business Review, 2020
  • David W. Dyer Professionalism Award, Dade County Bar Association, 2019
  • Living Legend Honoree, Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association, 2019
  • President's Award, Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association, 2019
  • Silver Medallion Humanitarian Award, MCCJ, 2017
  • Featured as "The Achiever" in Dec. 2015 issue of Miami Today
  • History Miami Legal Legends Award, 2015
  • South Florida Legal Guide, Distinguished Attorney, 2015
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Litigation - Labor and Employment, Employment Law - Management, Labor Law - Management, 2006-2021; Commercial Litigation, 2010-2021
  • South Florida Most Influential Business Women, South Florida Business Journal, 2014
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Miami Litigation - Labor & Employment Lawyer of the Year, 2013
  • Chambers USA - America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Labor & Employment, 2008-2010
  • Florida Legal Elite, Florida Trend magazine
  • Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) Award, 2014
  • Top Lawyer, South Florida Legal Guide, Corporate & Business Litigation, 2012-2021
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, 2006-2020
  • Top-Rated Lawyers in Intellectual Property Law, Martindale-Hubbell, 2014
  • Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Jurisprudence Award, 2011
  • National Bar Association's Gertrude E. Rush Award, 2012
  • Tourism Pioneer Awards, Black Hospitality Initiative of Greater Miami, 2012
  • President's Commission on White House Fellowships, Miami Regional Panelist, 2013
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated

Speaking Engagements