“She’s not the stereotypical lawyer”

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By TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS, The Times-Union

Ann Bittinger is the type of person who makes it hard to tell lawyer jokes.

When the former Jacksonville resident graduated from law school in Kansas, she knew one thing she was looking for in a job: “I wanted to do something I could feel good about.”

That desire, serendipitously, led her to practice health care law, a decision that has resulted in her snagging a spot on Florida Trend magazine’s list of “Up and Coming Legal Elite,” (one of two in Jacksonville, the other being Adrian Rust of Rogers Tower), as well as chairing the Jacksonville Bar Association’s Health Law Section and being invited to speak at industry training conferences.

When Bittinger graduated from the University of Kansas law school after having served as law review editor, she had a multitude of options. Her main concern, though, was wanting “to go to a firm that had good lawyers.”

The one she settled on handled legal matters related to sports and health care, and Bittinger focused on the latter.

Although she’s a Nebraska native, seven years of winter were enough for Bittinger to consider moving back to Jacksonville, where her husband was from. An offer to serve as in-house counsel to the Nemours Foundation sealed the deal, and Bittinger returned to work at the organization that funds the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., as well as four major children’s specialty centers in Wilmington, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Pensacola.

Last year, seeing a dearth of health care attorneys in private practice, she decided to strike out on her own, opening up The Bittinger Law Firm.

“It’s a new challenge,” she said. “Now I have different clients bring me different challenges, different problems. Part of it, too, is the challenge of running my own business.”

Bittinger is now one of only three board-certified health care attorneys in the area, helping doctors deal with issues like patient privacy and complying with laws regulating how doctors run their practices.

Specializing in a niche field that doesn’t have a lot of competition, The Bittinger Law Firm is steadily growing, its eponymous owner said, and has already outgrown one office.

The future, she said, should bring more growth, as well as more professional satisfaction.

“I help keep the city healthy,” she said. “I can feel good about what I do.”

timothy.gibbonsjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4103