Follow Along With Our Summer Clerks
Elise Haverman - Born for LitigationSummer of a lifetime. This summer I have been blessed to have been a part of such a fantastic program. I learned so much in 10 short weeks. I can’t believe it is over.
This last week has been full of goodbyes and see you laters. But mostly, the infamous Mock Trial finally happened. After landing in Miami on a red-eye from San Francisco, I ran home to switch my bags and take a power nap. By mid-day I was back at the Miami International Airport with my partner Jeremy, and mentor/coach Armando Hernandez. We were flying early to make it to dinner with the judges, Kaye, Eddie and Yoe. Unfortunately our flight was extremely delayed. We missed dinner and got in relatively late. However, Armando took us out to dinner at this local artisan restaurant where partner Greg Palmer joined us. We laughed and chatted for a while. I arrived back at the hotel nervous and anxious. I then ran through my stuff one more time and went to bed.
I woke up and it was game time. Jeremy and I were the defense side in the morning trial. I was excited to give my closing. The trial flew by and before I knew it both sides rested and it was time for closing. I delivered my first ever closing argument and it felt awesome. One trial down. One to go. After lunch, Jeremy and I flipped to the plaintiff’s side. I kicked it off with my opening. I was happy with how it went. When it came time for the direct of the defense expert, I sat and watched anxiously before getting up to cross him. All of a sudden the witness opened the door to the prior arson conviction that both sides stipulated to keeping out. I could not believe it. The judges, opposing counsel, and coaches’ jaws dropped to the ground. At that point, it was out. I got up to do my cross and saved that prior conviction as my finale. I asked a question regarding it, was objected, and then the objection was overruled! It was so fun, it felt like a Perry Mason moment. A game changer. I got the questions in. Jeremy and I incorporated what was said into his closing. Boy did he deliver. It was an amazing experience! The day ended with a mini happy hour in the Orlando office before heading to the airport to go home.
I arrived back in the office Tuesday making the Miami Office proud. I know now for sure that litigation is what I want to do. Thank you to RKC, my mentors, coaches, attorneys, and staff that made this summer once in a lifetime. I will miss this RKC family a lot. Thanks for the experience. I will never forget it!
Yoe Lopez - Final ThoughtsWhat a journey. Two weeks of practicing every day for the Mock Trial. Eddie arrived in Orlando on Sunday, and we performed a full run through of both cases (plaintiff and defense). After practice, our coaches Patrick Delaney and Joseph Regalado, took us out to dinner for a pre-trial meal. After one final rehearsal for myself when I returned home, I went to bed.
I arrived at the office to set up the next morning. I placed my trial folders in the “courtroom” and went to prep my witnesses. Before we began, I knew Eddie and I had done enough work to feel confident presenting both sides. Elise and Jeremy were the defense for the first case. In total, we each gave an opening statement, two direct examinations, two cross examinations, a motion for directed verdict, and a closing argument. It was an amazing experience! As expected, some of the witnesses gave us a hard time, and there was even a motion for mistrial based on some improper testimony. Overall, I think all of the participants had a great time. After both trials concluded, we received some great feedback from the judges, partners Scott Kirk, Dan Gerber, and Greg Palmer.
But the week didn’t end there. I received a few more assignments before I was able to call it a summer. I am proud to say I had work until the very end! I have had an amazing experience here at RKC. They have taught me not only the practical side of the law, but have also shown me what it is actually like to work in a litigation firm. The lessons I have learned here will no doubt aid me throughout the rest of my career. I want to thank everyone who has been part of my last ten weeks here. I wish everyone success in their careers and I hope to see you all soon.
Eddie Rodriguez - The Future Awaits!My final week. Monday was the day of the mock trial. My partner Yoe Lopez and I had prepared for weeks for this moment. Our judges were all senior partners with the firm: Dan Gerber from Orlando, Scott Kirk from Orlando, and Greg Palmer from Miami. In the morning, Yoe and I represented the plaintiff and then we switched roles in the afternoon. We faced off against Elise Haverman, the summer associate from the Miami office, and Jeremy Solorzano, a summer associate at another firm in Miami who volunteered to take part in the mock trial.
When the trial began, I was, as always, nervous. We had prepared for weeks but practice is never the same as the real thing. Our coaches, Dara Jebrock, Patrick Delany, Carie Hall, and Mike Forte had worked with us daily to prepare for the trial. In addition, other attorneys from the Tampa and Orlando offices sat in to provide their feedback as well. It was great to see the firm invest so much time and energy into helping us prepare. Joe Regalado from the Tampa office accompanied me to the Orlando office to provide in-person support on the day of the trial. Nonetheless, I was still nervous.
The trial was a blur. Before I knew it, the morning case had ended and we were breaking for lunch. We received brief feedback from our judges before lunch. As the day went on, I think all of us relaxed a little and had more fun with our roles. In the morning case, I was matched up against Elise for openings and closings. We went back and forth on our theories of the case and I got my butt kicked. Jeremy also did a fantastic job, especially considering he had never met 99% of the people there that day.
In the afternoon, Yoe and I represented the defendant. By this time, we were all a little more relaxed and added more theatrics and drama to the case. Our case was proceeding along fine until we accidentally opened the door to the single most damaging piece of evidence in the entire case! Elise and Jeremy, of course, did a great job of punishing us for our mistake. We had to think on our feet and do our best to rehabilitate our case and shift the focus from the damaging evidence onto favorable evidence. Yoe was in charge of the closing in this case and did a great job of countering Elise and Jeremy’s attacks. On closing, Jeremy also dragged our case through the newly introduced evidence. It was great to see what happens when evidence like that comes in unexpectedly and have to scramble to fix it.
In the end, Yoe was awarded Best Advocate. He did a great job throughout the trial, especially on the final closing of the day. I know he put a lot of time and effort into preparing and the award was well-deserved. I also wanted to give a big shout out to everyone who made the mock trial possible, especially our coaches, Dara, Patrick, Carie, and Mike, Lindy Keown, who put the entire event together, our witnesses, Tony Greco, Avi Solomon, Kevin Gowen, and David Meltzer, Joe Regalado for driving all the way to Orlando just to accompany me, our judges, and the staff who helped set up breakfast, lunch, and the Happy Hour. Afterwards, the judges provided us with specific constructive feedback. Everyone congratulated all of us on a job well done. In the end we all won because the firm held a Happy Hour to celebrate the end of the trial! It was great to meet Jeremy and Elise in person. All us summer associates got along really well and we were able to talk about our experiences this summer.
The mock trial was intense but it was also fun and a really great learning experience. We only had 4 witnesses total yet it was eye-opening to see just how much work and preparation is required for trial. In the end, I really feel I have grown as a future litigator and had more opportunities to get to know the attorneys at the firm better.
This is my last week. My time here at RKC will end this Friday at a Happy Hour with the Tampa office. I’ll be sad to end my time here but thankful for the chance to learn so much and meet so many great people. I had a wonderful experience this summer and I look forward to returning to my final year of school and applying all the skills and knowledge I gained through my work here this summer. Bring on 3L year!
Eddie Rodriguez - The Final CountdownAnother week of mock trial practice! This is the final week before the mock trial. Yoe and I have put a lot of work into preparing and I think our case is really coming together. It’s been great to work with another summer associate and learn from our coaches together. I was out sick Monday but Tuesday we practiced our direct examinations, Wednesday we practiced our openings and closings, Thursday we’re practicing our cross examinations, and Friday is our final day of prep before the trial on Monday. I’ve learned so much. I’ve gotten to see just how much work goes into preparing a trial, even a small one like this. Next week is my last week and hopefully I’ll have good news from the trial to share!
Yoe Lopez - Time Well SpentWe are half way through mock trial preparation. It is exciting to work on the mock trial while maintaining the standard workload. A challenge that I have no doubt occurs when a real case goes to trial. Having to try a case on both sides has really made me appreciate predicting the other sides’ arguments. This experience has really exposed the importance of time management skills.
This week I also prepared a few motions in limine for partner Candy Messersmith. I have been working on this case all summer and it would be interesting to see how the judge will rule on these motions. In addition, I submitted my final draft to partner Sally Culley on an internal memo regarding extrinsic fraud for a motion to dismiss. I received some great advice and feedback regarding an assignment where there is not a clear answer to your research question.
I was also able to attend a corporate representative deposition preparation with associate Cristina Cambo. Before the deposition began, we received a phone call from opposing counsel who wanted to discuss a possible agreement. It was a great experience taking part in the negotiations of a settlement. I was also invited to join a few of the associates and managing partner Frank Sheppard, for the Orange County Bar Association and Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida’s Judicial Candidate luncheon. The forum was a fantastic opportunity to hear from all the judicial candidates running for both circuit and county court judgeship.
Elise Haverman - Practice Like A ChampionPractice, Practice, Practice! This week was a full week of Mock Trial preparation. They say practice makes perfect, and I’m learning just how important trial preparation really is. Every day of practice is a different part of the trial. My partner and I work really well together. He is dedicated and easy to work with. He makes it a much smoother process. I have been lucky that so many different associates and partners have come to practices in order to help Team Miami bring home the win! Everyone has different styles and ideas that are extremely helpful. It’s hard to pick which style is right for me. That is the part of the trial prep that I struggle with the most. Full speed on the gas ahead because it is only a week away.
Besides Mock Trial preparation, I’ve been staying busy. This past week I have been able to do various research projects ranging from joint defense doctrine issues for partner Stephen Talpins, to ERISA accidental death policy implications for partner Josh Lerner.
Thursday was a full day. In the morning I attended the objections and court room success seminar with partner Scott Kirk via video conference. It was really interesting to listen to Scott’s stories and trial philosophy. Afterwards, I attended two different depositions back to back with my mentor, Armando Hernandez. He was defending the deposition of the corporate representative and an employee of one of our clients. It was the first time I watched someone defend a deposition. That was important because I was able to observe and learn when it is appropriate to object and to speak. In addition to those events, I also presented at the attorney’s luncheon on Thursday on two different cases. One case was a Florida case and the other was a district court case out of Delaware where the court issued a massive ruling of punitive damages for destruction of electronically stored information in discovery.
On Friday, I attended my first mediation with partner Suzanne Singer. The plaintiff’s attorney was not prepared at all. It was apparent every time the mediator came back into our room. The mediation adjourned after about three hours. I have actually never attended a mediation before so that was a pretty cool experience. Despite Suzanne’s excellent lawyering, it was a bit anti-climactic because we were unable to settle at that time. I look forward to the next mediation!
Two more weeks to go and one week until the trial! It is going to be a lot of fun.
Elise Haverman - Lessons LearnedMock trial preparation has begun! The summer has been building up to the release of the trial problem. On Monday, I met with my coaches, Vickie San Pedro and Armando Hernandez, along with my partner, Jeremy Soloranzo. We did a video conference with Eddie and Yoe to learn the rules of the mock trial. I am looking forward to representing the Miami Office and trying to bring home the win!
Besides the excitement of Mock Trial, I still had a lot of work to do! On Monday, I wrote a Motion to Strike Late Discovery and Motion for Protective Order for partner Suzanne Singer. This is a case we’ve been working on since the beginning of the summer has been full of surprises. However, I am so happy that Suzanne has allowed me to work with her throughout the entire process. The rest of Monday consisted of research for partner Josh Lerner on a complex commercial litigation case. It was very difficult, unlike any research I have every taken on before. Nevertheless, it was pretty awesome to see Josh at work for the deposition in that case on Thursday. That deposition lasted all day and got pretty heated. Josh, however, did an excellent job dealing with the experienced Corporate Representative who was prepared well by the opposing counsel.
Wednesday, I attended a motion calendar hearing with associate Robert Visca. The Plaintiff’s counsel was late so we ended up being the last number called. This was the first time I experienced the importance of being prompt and timely for a motion calendar. The importance is simple; if you or your opposing is late you will be waiting around for 2 hours. This wastes the client’s time and your time. Better to always be early!
The best part of the week was the Direct/Cross Examination seminar with partner Bob Fitzsimmons. It was a nice change of pace to have a partner from the Miami office do the seminar and workshop this week. Bob is very experienced and has a unique style to his questioning. He told us how important it is to just be the director of movie while questioning a witness. Such as, on direct, making the witness the star and asking open-ended questions. As opposed to on cross, you are the star when trying to pin down an opposing witness. Friday was the workshop that was associated with the seminar. Associate Justin Guido played a tough witness on Cross and Direct. I made a bunch of mistakes but Bob and Justin were able to tell me exactly what I did wrong and how to improve it. It was extremely valuable and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Yoe Lopez - And so it begins...It is the time we have all been waiting for- the distribution of the mock trial packet. I learned that I will be paired up with Eddie for both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s case. I am extremely excited to start working on the mock trial and for practices to begin next week. My schedule will be quite hectic the next two weeks, as I will be practicing with my coaches, associates Dara Jebrock and Patrick Delaney every day.
This week, I also had the pleasure of presenting the case review during the attorney’s lunch. It was my first presentation in front of a conference room full of attorneys. I had attended two of the last attorney’s lunches where not as many attorneys were present as there were this week’s. I wonder why? After presenting my two cases, I received good feedback from one of the firm’s founders, Bud Kirk. Bud is a great trial attorney with a ton of experience and offered me some practical advice regarding public speaking.
I also took part in the direct and cross examination seminar led by partner Bob Fitzsimmons from the Miami office. He gave a presentation on how to give an effective direct and cross, as well as tips we should follow during our workshop. All the summer associates sat in on each other’s direct and cross, so we could learn from what everyone did right and wrong. Additionally, I was able to attend the YLS reception for summer clerks at the Orlando History Center. It was a great event with members of the judiciary, law clerks, and attorneys from firms all over Orlando.
Eddie Rodriguez - Time Flies!Week 7. I can’t believe how fast time flies! This was (another) busy week. On Monday, we received our mock trial problem. The facts are very interesting and the case appears to be almost exactly 50/50 in terms of how it could play out. Between now and the mock trial on August 8, I’ll be working on my half of the work for the mock trial as well as keeping up with my normal workload! On Tuesday, I attended a seminar given by partner Bob Fitzsimmons from the Miami office on the subject of direct and cross examinations. This seminar (just like all of the others) was extremely informative. To me, direct and cross examine is probably the second most stressful part of a trial besides opening/closing arguments.
On Thursday, I spent the day attending a deposition taken by partner Jared Smith. The deposition was very interesting and, at times, got a little heated. But ultimately, Jared was able to get the testimony he needed and I learned a lot simply by observing. I also got the chance to compare his style with that of the other attorneys I’ve gotten the opportunity to go to depositions with. Afterwards, Jared and I stopped for some delicious Thai food and discussed the deposition and general deposition strategy. It was great to have the chance to pick his brain and learn.
Friday, I practiced direct and cross examinations with Bob Fitzsimmons and the other summer associates. For all of us, this was a great learning experience. Direct and cross exam are not areas typically taught in law school and it was great to have the chance to practice and receive practical feedback and advice.
Elise Haverman - Nuts and BoltsWestlaw and I became best friends this week. This week was research-heavy, but nonetheless educational. I did research projects for various partners and associates. Research is always interesting because I have an opportunity to read and learn a different issue.
On Tuesday, I had the privilege of going out to lunch with partner Monica Segura. Like me, Monica attended UM Law and was SBA President. We bonded at lunch over food, life at UM Law, her time as President, and traveling. Monica is brilliant and fun! I very much enjoyed our lunch at Perricones.
On Wednesday, I attended a motion with associate Robert Visca at Miami-Dade County Courthouse. Robert was waiting his turn for motion calendar when the parties in front of him got berated by the judge. They improperly set the motion for motion calendar when it needed to be special set, needless to say, the judge was unhappy. But when it was Robert's turn, he performed really well to win his motion.
The big event of the week was the Closing Statement workshop on Tuesday. I was so nervous! I've never given a closing before so I spent a lot of time over the weekend and Monday preparing for it. Even though I had to give the closing over video conference, it was an invaluable experience. There were a ton of attorneys in the Tampa conference room watching. Also, I got to watch Yoe and Eddie. Then we all shared critiques with one another. These nuts & bolts workshops re-affirm the reason I went to law school.
Yoe Lopez - Importance of ResearchAfter a relaxing weekend, I got back to work. On Monday, I began researching extrinsic fraud for a motion to dismiss for partner Sally Culley. It is always interesting to receive assignments on topics that I have never studied in law school. I often find myself starting with brief background research to familiarize myself with the topics. I also had the opportunity to attend the Associate Luncheon, where partner Michael Holt from the Miami office gave a very useful presentation on “Effective Billing Practices.”
On Tuesday, I arrived in Tampa to give my closing argument for the workshop. Partner Rob Blank had organized for all the attorneys from the Tampa office to sit in and observe. It was an amazing experience to present an argument in front of a conference room full of trial attorneys. I received some excellent feedback and critiques on my presentation. Eddie and I were then taken to lunch, as is tradition, to the original Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.
The rest of the week was spent researching statutes and case law to update two firm notebooks. First, I updated the product liability notebook for all the states we practice in. The firm recently retained cases from two new states that had not been researched before. Based on the work I had done last week, I was tasked with finding all the rules and regulations for the two new states. I also worked on updating our Florida Bad Faith statute and case law notebook. Partner Lori Caldwell was sure to emphasize the importance of these notebooks, as she occasionally makes copies of them for clients.
Eddie Rodriguez - What a Busy WeekAnother week down! This was a pretty busy week. On Monday, I attended a seminar given by partner Michael Holt from the Miami office on Effective Billing Practices. This presentation is part of the RKC Associate College program that gives presentation and learning seminars to the firm’s associates. It’s great that partners take the time to teach the associates real-world practical knowledge. This presentation was particularly helpful to me because the biggest change for me this summer has been billing. It’s been a big adjustment learning to keep track of my time and how to properly catalogue my time to ensure the bills get paid. No one wants to work for free!
On Tuesday, the summer associates had our opening and closing statements workshop in front of the entire Tampa office. This experience was really great. The attorneys gave us all really detailed and substantive feedback. I had a great time even though I caused 2-3 mistrials! Afterwards, the attorneys took Yoe Lopez, the Orlando summer associate, and I out to the Columbia Restaurant here in Tampa for some delicious Latin cuisine.
The rest of my week was spent working on various projects. On Friday, I attended five different depositions with associate Sara Whitehead from the Tampa office. She’s a newer associate at the firm and it was really great getting to go with her and watch her handle the depositions. The depositions varied from a 70+ year old man with a thick accent down to a 13 year old boy. Surprisingly, the hardest deposition was the 13-year old. After every deposition, Sara would discuss them with me and try to identify areas she wanted to develop more. Not a lot of new associates can say they’ve handled five depositions, much less five in one day!
Yoe Lopez - Out of the Office and into the AtticThis week began by attending a deposition in Melbourne that partner Steve Klein was defending. It was interesting to see the difference between taking a deposition and defending one. On the way back to the office, Steve discussed how important preparing a witness for a deposition was, along with techniques plaintiff attorneys use in an effort to retrieve the answers they desire.
I was also able to sit in on the beginning of a mediation with partner Doug Brown. I got to hear both sides give their opening statements and then the mediator’s remarks before they separated. Additionally, I was lucky enough to get invited to an inspection site by Tim Bench regarding a construction case. From what I was told by many of the associates, not many attorneys get that opportunity. It was quite a change to get into jeans and a polo shirt, climb into an attic, take pictures, and discuss various scenarios with a plumbing expert.
As soon as I returned to the office, I was met with various research assignments. I got to research damages for emotional distress and loss of consortium claims for a Motion to Dismiss. I was also assigned to work on a product liability notebook which includes all the rules and regulations of every state that we receive cases from. In addition, I had to complete a deposition summary while it was still fresh on my mind.
In the midst of all of this, we received our opening statement/closing argument workshop materials. This week’s seminar was held by partner Rob Blank from the Tampa office. I will be traveling to Tampa to give my closing argument next Tuesday. The week ended with some of the Orlando office associates and partners taking me to my first Orlando City Soccer game. It was great to see how the firm interacts outside the office and was a good start to the weekend.
Elise Haverman - Jam-Packed WeekHalfway through this amazing program, unbelievable! This week was short but jam-packed. Monday was America’s birthday and my favorite holiday! The majority of Tuesday was spent writing and editing an opposition motion and memorandum of law for a plaintiff’s motion to strike affirmative defenses. Armando Hernandez gave me excellent feedback and critiques for these types of motions and motion writing practice in general. It was pretty fun writing the motion and rebutting all of the plaintiff’s arguments.
On Wednesday, I attended and took notes for Suzanne Singer at her deposition of the Plaintiff in an employment discrimination case. The plaintiff was unwilling to answer questions and got very intense. The deposition was continued because of Plaintiff’s lengthy and off-topic answers. It was aggravating but I was extremely impressed with how Suzanne handled it. In addition to a day-long deposition, Partner Josh Lerner took me to lunch at Sushi Maki! I really enjoyed getting to know my office “next-door neighbor” outside of the office. We talked about my goals, aspirations, why Josh went into law, sports, and our taste in television shows. I was happy to finally get lunch with Josh; he is a great attorney and person.
The Opening and Closing Statement Seminar led by Rob Blank was Thursday morning. He told us about the problem we would be doing next week for the workshop. The problem is a real case that is going to trial in August. Rob also gave us tips and tricks to preparing and giving these types of statements at trial. Rob was very instructive and educational in teaching us how to persuade a jury to find in our clients favor. I am pretty nervous about the workshop next week because I have never given a closing statement before. However, I am also excited to put together a great closing statement!
Friday was a whirlwind. I spent a good portion of the day making edits and last minute revisions to the Motion for Summary Judgment for Suzanne Singer. Suzanne and I have been working extremely hard on the motion. I think it turned out great. I’m so happy Suzanne has given me the opportunity to work on something so substantive. It has been an excellent learning experience. I really enjoy working with Suzanne, she is very empowering.
Five weeks down, Five to go! I hope to continue learning and growing on the home-stretch on this program.
Eddie Rodriguez - My Case Helped Clinch ItWeek 5! This was a busy week (as usual). Most of my week was spent helping with research for an upcoming hearing in a big case. I helped partner Rob Blank and Carie Hall with research and preparing arguments for the hearing. The issue that had come up in our case was very specific and it was a real challenge to find good case law. Eventually, deep in the bowels of Westlaw, I found what I thought was the perfect case. After I submitted my research, Rob and Carie plugged it directly into their arguments for the hearing. This was pretty terrifying for me. In addition, the client even came out for the hearing. When the day of the hearing came, I went along too. I would now see if the fruits of all my labor would embarrass the firm in front of a major client and the court.
At the hearing, the judge seemed to initially side with the opposing side. I felt a feeling of dread as I thought of days of research going to waste. But Rob, stealing victory from the jaws of defeat, was able to steer the judge back to the issues. When we finally got the key issue, Rob took out the case I had found, laid it out in front of the judge, and skillfully made our argument. I was sweating bullets at this point (and not just because the heat index was at 105 that day!). The judge read through the case and listened to Rob’s arguments. Then opposing counsel made his counterarguments. To my complete shock, the judge ruled in our favor and completely agreed with our position. I couldn’t believe it. It’s one thing to find the right cases on the computer in the safety of my office and a whole other thing to have a judge agree with you. After that, the judge agreed with all of our positions. The client was happy and Rob and Carie were happy. It’s really awesome to have your actual work and research actually used in real cases. I’m really thankful that the firm and the attorneys here trust me enough to to help with real matters.
On Thursday, Rob gave a seminar on opening and closing arguments to the summer associates. He talked to us about how to prepare and conduct arguments and gave us real-world tips based on his years of experience. Next week, we have to give closing arguments in front of the attorneys at the Tampa office. I’m sure I’ll be nervous but I should learn a lot!
Yoe Lopez - A Very Full WeekOn Monday, I attended the deposition seminar led by partner Darryl Gavin. We went over deposition types, logistics, and strategies. Later that day, I met with associate Chase Hattaway to discuss some opportunities to see a hearing and deposition. On the way back to my office, I was stopped by associate Cristina Cambo regarding a research project on U.S. Virgin Island law.
On Tuesday, I worked on an emergency motion for an evidentiary hearing that was due before the end of the day. It was a great learning experience having to research and draft a motion for partner Larry Roth. I witnessed first-hand how attorneys within the same firm have different styles and requirements for motions.
The next two days were spent between research assignments and out of the office. I attended a hearing with partner Dan Gerber on a motion to remove a case from a particular trial docket. On that same case, I was able to watch another defendant argue his motion for summary judgment. It was exciting to see a lot of what I had learned in the motion practice seminar. Additionally, I was able to tag along to a plaintiff’s deposition with partner LaShawnda Jackson the day before my workshop. I definitely captured what it was like to become firm with a witness when they weren’t answering a question.
The busy week concluded with me taking a short plaintiff deposition on a denied insurance claim. I received some great feedback from the plaintiff played by Darryl and opposing council played by Cristina. It is amazing the variety of work I am assigned and am able to take part in. I cannot wait for next week, after a nice Fourth of July weekend!
Elise Haverman - A Week of VarietyTime flies when you are having fun! This week I was a busy bee! Monday started out with the Deposition Seminar with partner Darryl Gavin. Shortly after, I travelled to a hearing in Broward with Caitlin Trowbridge on a motion to dismiss against a pro se litigant’s fourth amended complaint. To no surprise, Caitlin did an amazing job. The case got dismissed. It was interesting to watch the judge interact with the pro se litigant and observe how much leeway they are given.
I got to do a lot of motion and pleading writing for multiple attorneys. First, I wrote a motion for leave to file a summary judgment for partner Suzanne Singer. Second, I had to research and write a motion to transfer and consolidate a case from small claims court to circuit court for associate Robert Visca. That was surprisingly tricky. Third, I answered a complaint for associate Allan Rotlewicz. Finally, I started a memorandum of law in opposition for a motion to strike our client’s affirmative defenses for associate Armando Hernandez. Needless to say, I got a wide-variety of hands-on writing experience this week.
Throughout the past two weeks, I’ve been working with partner Michael Holt on an article he is trying to publish in The Florida Bar Journal. It has been fun bouncing ideas off of one another, editing, and seeing those ideas get put onto paper. I’m excited to see the final product very soon.
Wednesday, I sat through a deposition unlike any I’ve experienced. It was a construction case with at least fifteen other lawyers in the room and more on telephone conference. I learned that large depositions are normal for construction cases due to all the sub-contractors and their counsels. Partner Bob Fitzsimmons, with the help of associate Lacee Monk, deposed the general contractor. It was clear of Bob’s vast experience due to the level of questioning, brevity, and ability to interact with the deponent. I took notes on how he conducted himself to use in my Deposition workshop on Friday. Every single attorney in that room had follow up questions so it was an excellent deposition to watch and learn from.
Thursday, I presented at my first attorney’s luncheon. One of my cases was on the retroactivity of Fla. Stat. § held that 90.72 and Daubert expert testimony. The 4th DCA held that it was. In the second case, the 2nd DCA held that a trial does not need to consider Kozel factors when dismissing a case without prejudice. Whereas, when a court dismisses with prejudice, they must consider those factors.
The finale of the week was Friday’s Deposition Workshop. I spent a lot of time prepping questions, an outline, getting tips from my mentor, and other attorneys in the office. When Friday morning came, I was ready to go! I deposed Darryl Gavin, in a mock water leak case as the plaintiff. I got through all of my main areas of inquiry and stayed the course even with objections and tough answers. Darryl gave me excellent feedback and good constructive criticism to take with me on my first real deposition. I really enjoyed the deposition. I’m so lucky to have an opportunity to do practical exercises and workshops here at RKC. This makes me so excited for the Mock Trial!
Eddie Rodriguez - Take Me Out to the ...HearingI’ve officially been here four weeks now. I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by. This week was a busy one. On Monday, I attended a seminar on taking depositions given by partner Darryl Gavin. He taught us summer associates how to take depositions and gave us practical advice on the best way to get the testimony we needed out of a deponent. The seminar was preparation for Friday, when we would take a mock deposition based on a case Darryl had actually litigated.
On Tuesday, I drove to Bartow to attend a discovery hearing with Mike Forte, a partner in the Tampa office. I got to sit next to Mike at the hearing and watch as he and the plaintiff’s attorney argued their discovery motions before the judge. The motions concerned research I had actually done for the case! It was awesome getting to see that the research and work I’ve been doing in the office has actually been used by the firm and helped attorneys in their cases.
While I got to do a lot of great work and learn a lot this week, the highlight of the week was easily Thursday. The Tampa office took me, Meredith Fee, the previous summer associate in the Tampa office, and Josh, the previous summer associate from the Orlando office, out to a Rays baseball game! For Meredith and Josh it was a nice break from all of the Bar studying they’re doing before they start with the firm. For me, it was a great chance to interact with everyone from the office outside of work and meet the new attorneys that will be joining the firm. It was great to see everyone relaxing and having fun together!
The rest of my week was spent handling various other assignments while still preparing for the mock deposition on Friday. I had never taken a deposition before and it is not a skill taught in most law school classes, so I didn’t know what to expect. When Friday came, I took the deposition, received direct feedback from Darryl, and got to observe my fellow summer associates. Receiving real, personal feedback from an experienced litigator is the exact type of hands-on learning that I chose this firm for. The firm really seems to invest time, effort, and resources into training its summer associates so they can hit the ground running as real attorneys after law school.
Eddie Rodriguez - Week Three -Depos and ArbitrationsThree weeks down! This week was a whirlwind. On Monday, I attended a deposition and a witness interview in Orlando with Carie Hall. It was really great to get out and see what attorneys “really do.” The deposition, in particular, was so instructive. I got to talk to Carie about the tactical and strategic considerations that go into a deposition. Afterwards, we met with a witness in a different case who we expect will be deposed soon. I watched and learned as Carie guided the witness through what to expect and interviewed him to learn what exactly he witnessed. After the interview, Carie asked me my thoughts regarding the witness. It was great to be involved in the process of building a case from the beginning.
The rest of the week was spent preparing for Friday. That day, Jared Smith asked me to help him with an arbitration in a construction case. The work I did for him in that case was unlike any work I’ve done for anyone else. Instead of focusing on products and premises liability, examining theories of negligence, and scratching my head trying to interpret Florida Civil Procedure Rules, I was combing through construction contracts and deciphering indemnity clauses. It’s amazing what a breadth of work is available at the firm.
When Friday finally came, I got to attend the arbitration (or as Jared put it, I “second chaired” my first arbitration!). I had never been to an arbitration before so this was all new to me. An arbitration is like a bench trial where instead of a courtroom, you argue in a plush office and instead of a judge there is a neutral, licensed arbitrator who renders a decision in the case. It is much more informal than a trial as well. This informality and lack of a jury results in it being much less of a factual, emotional case and much more of a legal case. As I sat taking notes, Jared and over eight other attorneys debated back and forth regarding the finer points of law. It was fascinating. Ultimately I think each party involved made compelling cases and I can’t wait to see how it turned out. It was a great learning experience and I can’t believe I was taken along after only my second week here!
Yoe Lopez - Week Three - Depos, Hearings and Motions in LimineI attended my first deposition this week with associate Chase Hattaway. He deposed two non-party witnesses in a casualty case. It was great experience to take part in a deposition before our seminar. On the way back to the office, we discussed various deposition procedures and strategies.
I also prepared my first motion this week. Partner Candy Messersmith gave me a research assignment, and then asked me to write a motion in limine. I was able to go through an abundance of discovery, including depositions, interrogatories, and production requests.
Wednesday afternoon, associate Brett Carey invited me to a hearing in Ft. Lauderdale. We left early Thursday morning for an afternoon hearing. The drive was a great opportunity to discuss the case and my experience so far at RKC. We arrived at the courthouse, only to find out the parties had come to an agreement right before the hearing. After a brief stop to grab a coffee, we turned around and headed home.
On Friday, I was invited to lunch by managing partner Frank Sheppard. We discussed all of my assignments and how I was enjoying my time at RKC. Similar to me, Frank attended Florida State University College of Law and studied abroad in Oxford, so there was a lot to talk about. He also mentioned I would be getting out of the office for another deposition next week. I can’t wait!
Elise Haverman - Week Three - DeposThis week was jam-packed with work and Cuban coffee! I kept myself very busy with respect to juggling different types of assignments. I spent the majority of my day on Monday doing witness deposition summaries for my mentor, Armando Hernandez. Although deposition summaries are not the most challenging assignment, it was extremely important for the big picture of that case. While reading through and summarizing, I had to pick out testimony that would be beneficial for trial or settlement purposes. It just goes to show you how little tasks play such a significant role.
On Wednesday, I attended my first deposition of the summer with Justin Guido. That was unlike any deposition I’ve ever attended. Justin took the plaintiff’s deposition, who only spoke Spanish. We had a translator to help bridge the language barrier. The problem was, however, that the plaintiff was Cuban, whereas, the translator was Venezuelan. Both speak Spanish but the dialects and certain words have different meanings. I was intrigued by it. This was good preparation for the Deposition Seminar and Workshop next week.
Thursday night was the “Summer Associate Bowling Night” at Spiltsville. I had such a wonderful time socializing and bowling with the attorneys who attended. It was filled with laughs, gutter balls, a few strikes, and good food! Unfortunately, I lost a bet to Robert Visca, when he beat me by just a few points. Although I lost, I look forward to having a lunch with Robert next week to pick his mind about the firm culture, being a litigator, and what he loves most about working here.
Lastly, on Friday, I attended the “Federal Court Observer Program” at the Federal Courthouse in Downtown, Miami. The event started early with breakfast and networking. All of the summer associates from the Miami firms and federal Southern District law student clerks were in attendance. Next, we moved into Judge Paul Huck’s court room, for a few panel discussions. The first panel was the “Young Guns” discussing the transition from law student to lawyer. The second panel was a couple of partners at various firms discussing “How to Keep Partners Happy.” The final panel was “A View from the Bench” featuring three judges, two federal and one state. Overall, I gained a lot of insight into the profession and it made me extremely happy and excited to be a part of it.
It’s only been three weeks and I’ve learned so much. I look forward to expanding my legal and profession knowledge throughout the rest of the summer.
Eddie Rodrigquez - Week Two - MotionsFor my second week, the most challenging event was the Motion Practice Workshop, part of the firm’s summer program. On Tuesday, the other summer associates and I watched a seminar given by partner Dan Gerber from the Orlando office. The seminar showed us how to conduct ourselves during hearings, something most of us have never done.
After the seminar, we were assigned a hypothetical case and tasked with preparing motions arguments for Friday. I prepared for the hearing throughout the week. Finally, Friday came and it was my turn. Dan acted as our judge and Brett Carey, an associate from the Orlando office, argued against us as opposing counsel. After the hearing, Dan and Brett gave me constructive feedback and helped me understand how state court hearings work. Before this event, all of my experience had been in federal court, which is very different.
It’s pretty awesome that the firm’s partners are able to take time out of their busy schedules to help mentor and teach the summer associates. This emphasis on practical learning and real-world experience is exactly why I chose RKC. Next week I’m attending my first deposition!
Yoe Lopez - Week Two - Motion WorkshopWeek two consisted of working on various assignments and arguing a motion. When I arrived Monday morning, I was called in to Dan Gerber’s office regarding a research assignment on Georgia’s work product law. After turning in my Memo, I got to work on the assignments I had from the week before as well as those being given to me during the week. I had the opportunity to research a variety of topics, from product liability issues to insurance coverage and bad faith. This week really taught me how to prioritize and balance my time between my work load and several planned events.
During the week, I was able to attend the RKC Associate College Luncheon where David Shelton gave a presentation on effective communication. A group of associates also took me to the Orange County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Luncheon. They had a panel of judicial assistants from both circuit and county courts speak on how to keep your judge happy and new technology.
Elise, Eddie, and I had our first seminar on Motion Practice led by Dan Gerber. We were given our packets and had to argue a motion to compel arbitration against my mentor, Brett Carey. It was a great experience to prepare and argue a motion for both sides. I was able to obtain a lot of great advice from Lindy Keown and Chase Hattaway about the preparation and execution of a motion hearing.
In the midst of all the research and writing, I attended a CLE presentation on the Reptile Theory of Trial Strategy. It is a very effective method plaintiff attorneys are using at trial to sway the jury in their favor. I am excited to see what the rest of the summer has to offer. I have been exposed to many different areas of the law and it has only been two weeks.
Elise Haverman - Week Two - Arguing MotionsThis week has been extremely busy! I really love my time here. Everyone is extremely nice, welcoming, and helpful. This week I had a lot of work assigned to me. I had to figure out how to balance and prioritize each assignment. Nevertheless, I still had some time to mingle, network, and attend hearings. Monday, I attended a Motion to Dismiss for Fraud with Allan Rotlewicz in West Palm Beach. It was a long drive to and from, but it was interesting to see the Judge intrigued and interested in a Motion that is extremely hard to win.
In addition to that, I wrote a Memorandum for Suzanne Singer for a case down in Key West. In the end, the Memo came out great, and Suzanne asked me to write my first Motion for Summary Judgment on that topic. I went through a lot of depositions, pleadings, and photos to accurately depict the undisputed fact. It was challenging but great experience and practice for my legal writing and research.
On Wednesday, my mentor, Armando Hernandez, took me to a Coral Gables Bar Association CLE Luncheon on the Daubert Standard. Other than getting to sit at the table with two Miami-Dade Circuit Court judges and the president of the Bar Association, the luncheon was at Morton’s Steakhouse. The presentation was interesting, the networking was great, but the food was excellent. I had a great time!
This week also consisted of my first seminar and workshop led by Dan Gerber, from the Orlando Office, on Motion Practice. Friday, I argued a mock motion in front of Dan against associate Brett Carey. Both of them gave me really positive feedback. I thoroughly enjoyed arguing that motion. Practice arguments, like that, always re-affirm my desire to become a successful litigation attorney. Overall it was a great week and I’m looking forward to rest of the summer.
Elise Haverman - Week One - OrientationWeek one came and went fast! Monday and Tuesday consisted of training and orientation via video conference with the Tampa and Orlando Summer Associates. I was blown away by my office with a gorgeous view of the Miami River and Marlins Park. Conveniently, my office is only a few footsteps away from the coffee station. On Monday, Armando Hernandez, took me to lunch at my favorite restaurant in Brickell, Perricones! We chatted about the firm culture, what to expect during my time here, and the Mock Trial.
The following day, I attended my first hearing of the summer. I attended Allan Rotlewicz’s Motion for New Trial at the Broward Courthouse. One of my favorite things in a court room is to observe how Judges interact with the Attorneys. This Judge was hilarious and always had a smile on his face. Following the hearing, Allan and I stopped by a delicious hole-in-the-wall coffee shop for a quick Mocha to go before heading back to the office.
I was given my first case assignment from Robert Visca. I found a statute critical to help the client try the case in a proper venue pursuant to forum-selection clause in a contract. Thursday was my first attorney’s lunch. I am excited to present cases towards the end of the summer at those lunches! On Friday, I attended my first hearing on a Motion for Summary Judgment in the Miami-Dade Courthouse. Attorney Justin Guido did a phenomenal job. The Judge was impressed when Justin brought in an older final order, from that Judge that was on-point with his position.
This week I spent a lot of time working with Jacey Kaps on Cyber Law. It is an up and coming area of law. I have quickly learned the importance of Cyber Insurance. I am excited to continue to learn and work on this project with Jacey throughout the summer. It is has been a refreshing and fast week getting to know everyone in the office, attending hearings, and learning new areas of the law.
Yoe Lopez - Week One - OrientationThis was my first week as a summer associate for RKC in the Orlando office. The first couple of days were spent in orientation and training. Before we got started on Monday, I met my mentors Brett Carey and Chase Hattaway. They welcomed me and offered some advice while heading to the conference room. We had a great presentation by partner Damien Orato highlighting the technicalities and importance of billing and filling out our daily time sheets. It was my first experience recording all of the work I had done on a daily basis, down to “ .1” of an hour. I was also able to meet Eddie Rodriguez, the summer associate for the Tampa office. I look forward to discussing with him how our work compares and differs between the two offices.
On Monday, after training, we had a welcome bowling night. It was nice to meet some of the attorneys outside of the office and get to know more of the associates. During our computer training on Tuesday, I experienced my fist influx of emails starting to pour in for research assignments. It didn't take long before I got to work. My first assignment was to summarize breach of warranty claims in other states. It was interesting that my first issue was to research outside of our jurisdiction. During the week, I received assignments ranging from procedural service of process topics to insurance liability claims. I was also able to participate in the attorney's lunch case review, where an associate and a partner gave a summary of any new case law that may affect the firms practice.
On Friday, I attended the Morning at the Federal Courthouse event hosted by the Federal Bar Association’s Orlando Chapter. We had the opportunity to meet Magistrate Judge David A. Baker as he discussed the role of a magistrate judge as well as a few do’s and don’ts for young attorneys planning to practice in the Middle District of Florida. We also attended a presentation from a Legal Writing Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, Luke Everett, on improving the style and substance of our writing. The event concluded with the group sitting in on a civil hearing for cross motions for summary judgment. My afternoon was spent at the state courthouse where various circuit court judges spoke on their respective criminal, civil, family, and juvenile dockets. Altogether, it was a very stimulating and informative day.
Sunday, the world was shocked to hear about the tragedy that occurred in Orlando. My thoughts and prayers are with the individuals that were present during the shooting as well as their families.
Eddie Rodriguez - Week One - OrientationMy first week! On Monday and Tuesday I was at the Orlando office for training and orientation so my first full day in the Tampa office was Tuesday. My very first assignment was from Carie Hall and boy was it a wild one. The case involved more issues than I could ever have imagined one case having! It was a great opportunity for me to learn about a variety of issues in both state and federal law. I’m quickly learning how one “simple” case involving what seems like one area of law can actually have dozens of complex issues involving multiple jurisdictions and conflicting case law. I’m really getting to see that there is never an easy answer in law!
On my first full day, the attorneys in the Tampa office took me out to lunch. It was great to get out of the office with everyone and get to know them a little better. They also told me about their yearly summer associate tradition: going to a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game! My first week has been great and I can’t wait to keep learning more from all of the wonderful attorneys here.
Welcome 2016 Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell Summer Associates!
We are so pleased to have you working with us for the next ten weeks. Our goal is to expose you to virtually every aspect of being a trial attorney. Our program is designed so that you will be attending presentations that will cover everything from handling written discovery, preparing and taking expert testimony to opening and closing statements. You will then participate in practical workshops and apply the knowledge you just gained. All the while, you will be handling billable client work and getting to know your RKC colleagues.
Then the most exciting part of the program takes place – the Mock Trial. You will be placed into teams and given a case packet that contains the fact pattern, exhibits, deposition transcripts and more. Each team will prepare its case under the guidance of RKC attorney coaches, and then you will present to a panel of judges comprised of RKC partners. Each team will participate in two trials, once as plaintiff counsel and the second as defense. You will be applying everything you learned in the workshops. Be prepared to give opening and closing statements, argue motions in limine and question witnesses.
So get ready for a whole lot of experience in a ten week period. We hope you have a remarkable summer with RKC!