Richard M. Blau - GrayRobinson, P.A.

Richard M. Blau

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2011
Phone: 813-273-5000

Richard is the chair of GrayRobinson's Alcohol Beverage and Food Department and presides over the firm's National Alcohol Industry Team. Richard and his colleagues focus on the rules, regulations, and business practices that govern the marketing, sale, and consumption of distilled spirits, wine, beer and other licensed beverages. Richard is also Coordinating Administrator for the International Alcohol Lawyer’s Alliance (IALA), a network of independent law firms and compliance professionals working cooperatively and collegially around the world to fulfill the legal and regulatory needs of the alcohol beverage industry. 

As a trial lawyer with over 20 years of experience, Richard has litigated jury and bench trials in state and federal courts. In the area of alcohol beverage regulation, he successfully litigated on behalf of manufacturers, setting important precedents for the industry in Geary Distributing Co. v. All Brand Importers, Inc. (imposing constitutional limits on the application of a state beer franchise law) and in Jim Taylor Corp. v. Guinness Import Co. (defining "brand extension" under Florida law).

Richard works with all three tiers of the alcohol beverage industry. He has represented international importers and domestic manufacturers, statewide wholesaler trade groups and regional distributors, and retailers (including multistate restaurant and hotel chains) across the United States. Richard and the firm's National Alcohol Industry Team service retail licensees in a variety of ways, including liquor, tobacco and lottery licensing; health and food service inspection compliance; responsible vendor and employee training; representation in administrative proceedings; and litigation/dispute resolution.

Richard also works closely with representatives of state and federal government, drafting administrative rules and proposed legislation – both on behalf of clients and at the request of regulators. For example, he prepared an administrative regulation and statutory amendment at the request of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, to codify the impact of a judicial decision that he successfully obtained on behalf of a client. He has testified before governmental bodies, such as the New York State Assembly, regarding alcohol laws and related issues. Richard counseled legislators of Hawaii on the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Granholm v. Heald and recently testified before legislative committees of both the Florida Senate and the House of Representatives regarding issues relating to the direct shipment of wine.

For over a decade, Richard annually has edited the nationwide Survey of Reported Judicial Decisions Addressing the 21st Amendment and Related Alcohol Laws for the American Bar Association and the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators. Since 1998, he also has authored the chapter "Beverage Alcohol Practice" for the annual Developments in Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice published by the American Bar Association. Other publications by Richard include a chapter titled "The Role of the Food and Beverage Attorney" for the anthology Best Practices for Alcohol Beverage, Food and Drug Law, which was published by Aspatore Books; an article co-authored with U.S. Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) titled "The Need for Fair Play: Repealing the Federal Baseball Antitrust Exemption," which was published by the Florida Law Review of the University of Florida's College of Law; a paper, "The Competency and Credibility of Children as Witnesses," which was delivered to the World Conference on Police Psychology at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia; and "Speedy Trial: Pre-accusation Delay, Post-accusation Delay, and the Speedy Trial Act of 1975," which was published in the Georgetown Law Journal. Articles related specifically to alcohol industry issues that Mr.Richard has authored are listed below.

A member of the Bars of Florida, New York and the District of Columbia, Richard devotes a substantial portion of his practice to trade regulation, litigation and dispute resolution involving the hospitality industry. He has industry-specific experience in the areas of administrative practice and regulatory compliance, advertising and promotional law, intellectual property rights, importation matters, supplier/distribution relations, and alcohol industry business practices. Richard's proficiency has been recognized by  Chambers and Partners (Richard is ranked "Band 1" for Food & Beverage Law), as well as listed repeatedly and currently in peer-ranking publications such as Super Lawyers and Florida Trend's "Legal Elite."

Richard has achieved the following peer-related accolades for his legal work:

  • Chambers and Partners – nationally ranked as "Band 1" for Food and Beverage Law
  • Best Lawyers in America – listed for Food and Beverage Law
  • Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory – awarded the highest rating (AV)
  • The American Law Institute – elected member
  • The Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys – elected member; member, Board of Directors (2014 - Present)
  • Super Lawyers – elected member

Additional Information

Background — Richard earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1979 from Brandeis University and his juris doctor in 1982 from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he served as associate editor for topics of the Georgetown Law Journal. Prior to joining GrayRobinson, he was a partner at Holland & Knight LLP, where he originated that firm's alcohol beverage law practice.
  • Feeding America Tampa Bay, Board of Directors, Chair, 2014
Professional Associations & Memberships
  • American Bar Association (Chair, ABA Committee on Beverage Alcohol Practice, 1996-present)
  • The Florida Bar (Chairman, Grievance Committee 13-A, 1990-1992)
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association
  • The American Law Institute (Elected Member, 1995-present)
  • The National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (Industry Member, 1989-present; Executive Committee Member, 2003-present)
  • The Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys (2001-present), Board of Directors
Articles & Publications
  • "Beverage Alcohol Practice" in Developments in Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice 2005-2006, ABA Publishing 2007
  • "The Role of the Food and Beverage Attorney," Best Practices for Alcohol Beverage, Food and Drug Law, 2006
  • "USDA Pulls Plug on Federal Funding For Florida's Citrus Canker Eradication Program," March 2006
  • "GOT MILK? For Students, and School Administrators," It's Not a Simple Question, March 2006
  • "U.S. Supreme Court Decides Direct Shipment of Wine Case," November 2005
  • "Binge Drinking on Campus: Be Aware of the Legal Restrictions on Coping With Excessive Alcohol Consumption," October 18, 2004
  • "California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Penalty Guideline Emergency Rule; Effective April 14, 2004," June 9, 2004
  • "The Supreme Court's Tobacco Ruling May Foretell Future of Beverage Alcohol Advertising Restrictions," October 22, 2001
  • "Why State Regulators Require Fingerprints, Personal Questionnaires, and Detailed Financial Information Before They Will Issue Alcohol Beverage License," March 23, 2001
  • "Increasing Beer Consumption Concerns Russian Government," February 26, 2001
  • "Debates Continue Over Liability for Deaths Caused by On-Campus 'Binge Drinking'," November 22, 2000
  • "President Clinton Signs Twenty-first Amendment Enforcement Act," November 22, 2000
  • "Wyoming Narrowly Rejects Efforts To Further Restrict Internet Sales Of Alcohol," November 22, 2000
  • "Georgia's New Direct Shipping Law Goes Into Effect," September 1, 2000
Brandeis UniversityBA 1979Georgetown University Law CenterJ.D. 1982

Case History

Geary Distributing Co. v. All Brand Importers, Inc. — This case set an important precedent for the alcohol beverage regulation industry by imposing constitutional limits on the application of a state beer franchise law.
Jim Taylor Corp. v. Guinness Import Co. — This case set an important precedent in the alcohol beverage regulation industry by defining "brand extension" under Florida law.

Office Location

401 East Jackson Street, Suite 2700
Tampa, FL 33602
United States

Practice Areas

Food and Beverage Law

Other Information

Gender: Male