Carter N. McDowell

Area of Focus: Land Development & Government Relations
"[He] is incredibly effective in understanding sophisticated regulatory systems."
- Chambers USA source
Carter N. McDowell
A former city manager as well as a planning and building director, Carter draws on his government experience when advising clients spanning from Florida to Connecticut. Carter has extensive experience with mixed-use waterfront developments, including marinas and hospitality projects.

Carter is the lawyer developers hire when their projects intersect with government. Whether it is a public-private partnership, acquiring and redeveloping property, or building a seaside resort, Carter guides his clients through every aspect of working with all levels of government.
Q & A
Why should a client hire you as opposed to another lawyer in your practice area?
Before becoming an attorney, I worked in government. My roles included both city manager and planning and building director. I also have a master’s degree in planning. Based upon my experience in government and the projects I’ve handled in private practice, I have a much broader technical background, understanding, and depth of experience than most. I know how government works because I’ve done it from the other side. I’ve worked on many large, complicated mixed-used developments, including waterfront projects and vertical developments that are particularly complex. I know how they work - where the problems are, and where there are opportunities. I am also very experienced at leading the multi-disciplinary consultant teams required to undertake these complicated projects.
How do you view your client relationships?

I view my relationships in a long-term context. I not only represent clients before governmental bodies, but I help them explore and analyze alternatives and solutions they may not have considered for their projects. I value long-term relationships and have worked with some of my clients for more than 20 years on an array of projects stretching from Connecticut to Key West.

Are there any new trends affecting your developer clients?
Constantly. The development world is an ever-changing environment, so helping clients stay abreast of the changes is an important part of what we do. The emergence of the Public Private Partnership model has presented new and significant opportunities that we are helping clients leverage. Sea level rise and sustainability related changes also require vigilance and adaptability. We are helping our clients navigate these emerging issues.
  • University of Miami, J.D., University of Miami Law Review, cum laude, 1986
    University of Florida, M.A., Urban and Regional Planning, Phi Beta Kappa, 1979
    Harvard University, B.A., cum laude, 1975
  • American Institute of Certified Planners
    American Planning Association
    Builders Association of South Florida
    2011 - Present
    Dade County Bar Association
    Innovating Commerce Serving Communities (ICSC)
    Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce
    Pillar Member
    South Miami-Dade Watershed Taskforce
    University of Florida
    Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Advisory Council
    Urban Land Institute (ULI)
  • Florida
  • Band 2, Chambers USA, Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use, 2006 - present

    The Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year - Land Use and Zoning Law, 2020 - present 

    Martindale-Hubbell™, Top Rated Lawyer in Land Use & Zoning, 2013

    The Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law, Land Use & Zoning Law, 2005 - present

    Daily Business Review, Top Dealmakers of the Year - Hotels, 2013

    Florida Super Lawyers, 2006 - 2019

    South Florida Legal Guide, Top Lawyers, 2014 - present

    Legal 500, Real Estate - Land Use & Zoning, 2007, 2009, 2011

    Builders Association of South Florida, Associate of the Year, 2007

    Builders Association of South Florida, Presidents Award, 2005

    Florida Trend's Legal Elite, 2005

    AV® Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell