Marilyn Holifield is a partner in Holland & Knight's Miami office. She is a general litigation practitioner, with a specific emphasis representing corporate clients in trade secret and covenant-not-to-compete, employment and business litigation, including matters related to breach of fiduciary duty and corporate governance. Ms. Holifield has significant experience representing corporate clients as lead counsel in jury and non-jury trials, arbitrations and administrative proceedings.

Ms. Holifield's practice focuses on covenant-not-to-compete and trade secret litigation, where she has successfully obtained injunctions and substantial settlements enforcing covenants. In her employment litigation practice, she has represented a number of high-profile individuals.

Ms. Holifield has received numerous accolades related to her law practice, professionalism and civic engagement. She was named by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of America's top employment lawyers. The Miami-Dade County Bar Association honored Ms. Holifield with its highest award, the Judge David Dyer Award for Professionalism.  

Within the firm, Ms. Holifield serves on the Steering Committee for the firm's Diversity and Inclusion Engagement Initiative to strengthen partnerships with clients and businesses that share Holland & Knight's values of diversity and inclusion. She also has served on the Directors Committee. In 2000, she was the recipient of the firm's Chesterfield Smith Award, the highest honor bestowed by the firm to lawyers who demonstrate a deep commitment to equal justice, public service and excellent client service.

Outside of the firm, Ms. Holifield serves on the Executive Committees of the Harvard Board of Overseers and Board of Managers of Swarthmore College, and she serves on the University of Miami Board of Trustees. She has served as a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association (ABA), Executive Council of Florida Bar Labor and Employment Section and Executive Committee of the Harvard Alumni Association. Ms. Holifield also served two terms as chairperson of the ABA Conference of Minority Partners in Majority/Corporate Law Firms.

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

Before joining the firm, 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 also 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.

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


  • Harvard Law School, J.D.
  • Swarthmore College, B.A., Economics; Concentration in Black Studies
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Florida
  • New York
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • 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
  • 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, 2019-2020
  • University of Miami, Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, 2004-2010, 2014-2020
  • 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
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Litigation - Labor and Employment, Employment Law - Management, Labor Law - Management, 2006-2024; Commercial Litigation, 2010-2024
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, 2006-2023
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated
  • Top Lawyer, South Florida Legal Guide, Corporate & Business Litigation, 2012-2021
  • Florida Trailblazer, Daily Business Review, 2020
  • Knight Arts Champion, Knight Foundation, 2021
  • 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
  • South Florida Most Influential Business Women, South Florida Business Journal, 2014
  • 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-Rated Lawyers in Intellectual Property Law, Martindale-Hubbell, 2014
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Miami Litigation - Labor & Employment Lawyer of the Year, 2013
  • National Bar Association's Gertrude E. Rush Award, 2012
  • Tourism Pioneer Awards, Black Hospitality Initiative of Greater Miami, 2012
  • Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Jurisprudence Award, 2011
  • President's Commission on White House Fellowships, Miami Regional Panelist, 2013

Speaking Engagements