Cecelia Bonifay

Cecelia Bonifay

Akerman LLP

Recognized since 2006

Orlando, Florida

Practice Areas

Environmental Law

Land Use and Zoning Law

Real Estate Law

Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2021 - Land Use and Zoning Law Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2020 - Environmental Law Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2017 - Land Use and Zoning Law Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2014 - Land Use and Zoning Law
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Cecelia Bonifay, chair of Akerman’s Land Use and Development Practice, helps developers navigate the governmental approval process for their real estate projects. With a strong background in urban planning and development approvals for large-scale projects, she has represented DDR, FedEx, Kitson & Partners, Mattamy Homes, and Pineloch Management, among others in the development of commercial, residential, and industrial projects. Clients benefit from her keen analysis of a wide range of land use, zoning, sustainable development, and environmental matters. She performs due diligence for development projects in Florida and across the United States.

Collaborating with the firm’s land use development and planning professionals, Cecelia assists clients in permitting and structuring economic incentives packages. Having worked in a variety of posts in Florida government agencies, Cecelia understands the approval process from both sides of the table. Her professional accolades include recognition in Chambers USA and The Legal 500 as a leading lawyer in land use and zoning.

Cecelia has devoted more than 25 years to the community. She has held several leadership positions at the Urban Land Institute, including co-chair of the Climate Change, Land Use, and Energy Committee, immediate past chair of its Florida Statewide Summit, a current member of its 2017 Executive Planning Committee, and chair of its Central Florida District Council. She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Kelley A. Bergstrom Real Estate Center at the University of Florida and secretary treasurer of the Orlando Economic Development Commission. She also serves as the president emeritus of the Crealde School of Art and as a board member of United Arts of Central Florida.


  • 420 South Orange Avenue, Suite 1200
    Orlando, FL 32801

Bar Admissions

  • Florida, The Florida Bar


  • Bergstrom Center For Real Estate Studies, University of Florida - Advisory Board Member
  • Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) of Orlando - Past President
  • Crealde School of Art - Board of Directors; Past President, Past Secretary
  • International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) - Member
  • Leadership Lake and Orange Counties - Graduate
  • Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs Advisory Council - Member
  • Orlando Economic Development Commission, Board of Directors, Secretary/Treasurer; Finance & Audit Committee, Chair; Strategic Planning Committee, Chair; Business Development Committee - Former Co-Chair
  • United Arts of Central Florida - Board Member
  • Urban Land Institute (ULI), Central Florida District Council - Board Member, Past Chair; ULI Florida Summit, Chair
  • Urban Land Institute (ULI), Climate Change, Land Use, and Energy (CLUE) Committee - Co-Chair

Akerman LLP
Los Angeles, California

170 The Best Lawyers in America® awards

64 Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America awards

Best Law Firms Badge
Full Firm Profile

Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2021 - Land Use and Zoning Law Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2020 - Environmental Law Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2017 - Land Use and Zoning Law Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2014 - Land Use and Zoning Law

Named "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers® for:

  • Land Use and Zoning Law, Orlando (2021)
  • Environmental Law, Orlando (2020)
  • Land Use and Zoning Law, Orlando (2017)
  • Land Use and Zoning Law, Orlando (2014)

Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022 for work in:

  • Environmental Law
  • Land Use and Zoning Law
  • Real Estate Law

Special Focus

  • Land Use


  • Florida Real Estate Journal 2004, Recognized as a "Top Woman in Commercial Real Estate"
  • Real Estate Florida 2008, Recognized as "Woman of Influence"
  • Super Lawyers Magazine 2007, 2009-2016, Listed in Florida for Real Estate and Land Use/Zoning
  • The Legal 500 2008-2009, 2012-2016, Recommended for Real Estate & Construction - Land Use/Zoning
  • Chambers USA 2008-2016, Ranked in Florida for Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use

Published Work and Lectures

  • Cecelia is a frequent speaker on the topics of land use and growth management, development incentives, green energy and climate change, and green building and LEED certification.
  • Akerman's Guide to Doing Business in Florida: A Legal Guide for Out-of-State and Foreign Businesses, Author, "Easements" and "Land Use and Zoning," 2016
  • Akerman and ACC of Central Florida Legal Roundup: Recent Developments and Practice Applications, Presenter, "What's New in Real Estate," June 2012

Representative Experience

  • Representation of various master planned community developers in land use and entitlements issues associated with the development of mixed-use projects throughout Central Florida.
  • Representation of developers, investors, and buyers in conducting due diligence on individual properties, as well as portfolios of properties in advance of purchase, sales, and development throughout Florida.
  • Representation of developers in all aspects of land use and entitlements including zoning, comprehensive plan amendments, site plan approvals, platting, special exceptions and economic development and incentives programs for the development of real estate throughout the state of Florida.

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