Richard M. Blau - Attorney at Law

401 East Jackson Street
Suite 2700
Post Office Box 3324 (33601-3324)
Tampa, Florida 33602

P 813-273-5000
F 813-273-5145
D 813-273-5128

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Richard Blau is the chair of GrayRobinson's Alcohol Beverage & Food Department and presides over the firm's Food Law Team. Richard and his colleagues focus on the rules, regulations, and business practices that govern the production and processing, importation, marketing, distribution, sale, and consumption of food products as well as beverages, including distilled spirits, wine, beer, and other licensed beverages.

Richard works with all levels of the food industry. He has represented international importers and domestic manufacturers, statewide wholesaler trade groups and regional distributors, and retailers (including multistate restaurant and grocery store chains) across the United States.

As a trial lawyer with over twenty years of experience, Richard has litigated jury and bench trials in state and federal courts. In the area of Alcohol Beverage regulation, Richard successfully litigated on behalf of manufacturers, setting important precedents for the industry in Geary Distributing Company v. All Brand Importers, Inc., (imposing constitutional limits on the application of a state beer franchise law) and in Jim Taylor Corporation v. Guinness Import Company (defining "brand extension" under Florida law). In the area of food law, Richard recently represented Hormel Foods Corporation in Kuenzig v. Kraft Foods, Inc. and Hormel Food Corporation (successful defense against a misleading labeling case brought in federal court by a plaintiff seeking class action status).

In the area of food regulation, Richard and the Food Law Team represent clients before federal departments and agencies such as the US Department of Agriculture (e.g., successfully handling a voluntary recall of over 24 million pounds of adulterated meat without incurring an administrative penalty), the US Food & Drug Administration (e.g., protecting the rights of a livestock medicated feed producer to market its products), and US Customs and Border Protection (securing the release of Customs-quarantined food shipments for importers). They also work with suppliers and national retailers on marketing and advertising campaigns for regulated food products such as dairy and alcohol.

At the state level, Richard's experience includes assisting food producers and distributors on a broad range of regulatory compliance matters. Examples include conformance with product-specific marketing orders, negotiating the vagaries of distribution and trucking laws, and assuring proper record-keeping in accordance with all regulatory requirements.  Richard also has participated in numerous proactive food law initiatives, such as marketing produce to state and local school systems, as well as addressing the legality of labeling food products with respect to GMO content.

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 entitled "The Role of the Food and Beverage Attorney," for the anthology Best Practices for Alcohol Beverage, Food and Drug Law (2006).

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 - Nationally 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; and
  • Super Lawyers - Elected member.

Additional Information About Richard M. Blau

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Richard is a member of The Florida Bar, The District of Columbia Bar, The New York Bar, the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, and the American Association for Justice. He recently concluded six years of service as the Chairman of the American Bar Association's Committee on Beverage Alcohol Practice, and is a member of the Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys. He also is an Industry Member of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA) as well as the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA), and lectures on Twenty-First Amendment issues before regulators at annual meetings of both organizations.

Richard is admitted to practice law in the following courts: United States Supreme Court; United States Court of International Trade; United States Courts of Appeals for the Eleventh and Federal Circuits; United States District Courts for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida; United States Court of Military Appeals; the Florida Supreme Court; The New York Court of Appeals; and The District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Additionally, he is an elected member of the American Law Institute.

Richard earned his B.A. in 1979 from Brandeis University and his J.D. 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, Richard was a partner at Holland & Knight LLP, where he originated that firm's Alcohol Beverage law practice.

  • Brandeis University, B.A. (1979)
  • Georgetown Law Center, J.D. (1982) 
  • Florida (The Florida Supreme Court)
  • District of Columbia (The District of Columbia Court of Appeals)
  • New York (The New York Court of Appeals)
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of International Trade
  • United States Courts of Appeals for the Eleventh and Federal Circuits
  • United States Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida
  • United States Court of Military Appeals
Professional Associations & Memberships
  • American Bar Association
    • Committee on Beverage Alcohol Practice Chair, 1996-present
  • Uniform Law Commission Drafting Committee
    • American Bar Association Advisor, 2020
  • 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
  • Craft Beverage Lawyers Guild, Founding Member
  • Chambers USA, Band 1 (National), Food & Beverages: Alcohol, 2008-2016
  • Best Lawyers in America (National), 2011-2017
  • Florida Super Lawyers, 2006-2016
  • Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite,” 2006-2010
  •  Feeding America Tampa Bay, Board of Directors, Chair, 2014
Awards & Recognitions
  • AV Preeminent™ rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Chambers USA
    • National, Food & Beverages: Alcohol, 2008-2020
    • National, Cannabis Law, 2019-2020
  • Best Lawyers in America, 2011-2020
  • Florida Super Lawyers, 2006-2020
  • Florida Trend, Legal Elite, 2006-2010
  • Daily Business Review, Top Florida Cannabis Attorney, 2019
  • Tampa Top Rated Lawyer, Alcohol Beverage, 2013
  • National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA)
    • Hall of Fame, 2019
Articles & Publications
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  • Ingenuity in Action.®

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