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Joseph C. Coates III focuses his practice on securities litigation, regulatory and class actions, and serves as the head of the West Palm Beach Securities Litigation Group. Joe has represented most of the major broker/dealers in all aspects of their business, including federal and state courts, regulatory matters, and arbitrations. His representation of clients includes appearances as appellate counsel in securities litigation cases in federal and state courts. Joe also focuses on shareholder derivative, corporate governance, and merger and acquisition litigation.


  • Securities fraud defense
  • Class actions
  • Securities arbitration
  • Complex commercial litigation
  • Shareholder derivative/ corporate governance



  • Obtained dismissal of securities fraud class actions for Fortune 500 Companies.
  • Defended broker-dealer firms in hundreds of arbitration proceedings.
  • Defeated class certification of putative nationwide class actions brought against national broker-dealers in the Middle District of Florida and Florida state courts.
  • Defended broker-dealers in federal and state court litigation.
  • Represented public companies and corporate directors in merger litigation and derivative actions.
  • Prosecuted a claim on behalf of a power company's cable television subsidiary in a breach of partnership and right of first refusal case.
  • Defeated a qui tam action in the Middle District of Florida against a national health care corporation.
  • Captain, U.S. Army. Served in the Army JAG Corps with 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during the Persian Gulf War

Recognition & Leadership

  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation; Litigation - Securities; Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy), 2011-2024
    • "Lawyer of the Year," Litigation - Securities, West Palm Beach, 2020 and 2022
  • Listed, Chambers USA Guide, 2007-2012, 2022-2024
  • Listed, South Florida Legal Guide, "Top Lawyer," 2020-2021
  • Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Florida Super Lawyers, 2013-2024
  • Listed, Thomson Reuters, "Stand-Out Lawyers," 2022-2023
  • Recognized, Palm Beach Illustrated, "Top Lawyers," 2018, 2021-2022 
  • Listed, The Legal 500 United States
    • Dispute Resolution - Securities Litigation - Defense, 2018-2019
    • Dispute resolution - International litigation, 2018-2018
    • Litigation - Securities - Shareholder Litigation, 2014-2016
  • Finalist, Daily Business Review, "Top Dealmaker of the Year - Corporate Finance Category," 2013
  • Rated, AV Preeminent® 5.0 out of 5.0

°AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell DistinguishedSM and Martindale-Hubbell NotableSM are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.

  • Appointed, Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Commissioner’s Advisory Council
  • Member, Palm Beach County Bar Association


  • J.D., with highest honors, Florida State University College of Law, 1988
    • Member, Law Review
    • Order of the Coif
  • B.S., cum laude, The Citadel, South Carolina, 1985
  • Florida
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida