Follow Along With Our Summer Clerks
Grace Kobitter, Stetson
The finish lineOn Monday, I was able to attend a mediation in the Tampa office with attorneys Carie Hall and Steve Berlin. When I interned at the federal courthouse in Tampa last summer, I was able to attend mediations with the Judge I was with, but this was my first mediation from the attorneys’ standpoint and not being able to flip-flop between the two rooms. It was a great experience and, as a psychology major, one of the things I was most intrigued by, was the strategy behind anticipating the other party’s moves and mindset. It truly is a developed skill to be able to be able to communicate through the mediator in order to meet your goal.
I spent the rest of the day on Monday, and majority of the days following, working on the mock trial. Eric and I had practices scheduled with our coaches and also practices for just the two of us to run through things we wanted to further work on and polish. I spent all the time I had in-between assignments editing, reviewing and practicing different drafts of each element of the trials I had in the works.
On Wednesday, I finalized and submitted an assignment to Joleen East regarding the evidentiary analysis and admissibility on specific documents created after a particular event in a case. This assignment was challenging and posed difficulties in merely classifying what the documents were for subsequent examination of what possible hearsay exceptions may apply. However, it was perfect timing that I was working on this while also preparing motions in limine for the mock trial. While this assignment called for application of the Florida Rules of Evidence and the mock trial utilized the Federal Rules, it helped get my brain thinking about various hearsay exceptions and whether they would apply to the mock trial evidence and exhibits.
By the end of the week, Eric and I had both trials fully drafted (and tweaked a few times), so we were able to run through the trial on each side on Friday to get a feel for how things were going to flow and moving from one point to the next. We met Sunday afternoon in the Orlando office to do this again in the real space where the mock trial would be. I was glad we were able to practice in the actual room so that we would be familiar with the set up and comfortable with where we would be moving during opening statements, closing arguments, etc. The lectern was in the middle of the boardroom, so I was thankful I had a chance to practice where I would be standing since the thought of having people sitting on all sides was a little awkward!
That night, I went to sleep reciting my closing argument in my head, so I woke up on Monday morning feeling almost as prepared as I was nervous. Eric and I put a lot of long hours into the mock trial, so we walked into the Orlando boardroom feeling confident that we were ready and would do our best. Overall, Eric, Phoenix, Paris, and I all did well. Everyone had thorough arguments for motions in limine, asserted objections, and asked crucial leading questions on cross-examination. Getting certain pieces of evidence admitted was difficult, and some of Chief Judge Rob Blank’s rulings really required us to rethink how we could prove the elements without a specific fact or exhibit—this was definitely true in the plaintiff’s case! But it had us think on our feet and learn to be flexible under pressure. I want to say thank you to my coach Meredith Fee, and to all of the attorneys who sat in on practices, listened multiple times to the same direct/cross examinations as I made edits, and answered any questions I had to ensure I felt ready.
Now that the mock trial has come to an end, there are only four days left of the summer and I can’t believe how fast 10 weeks have gone by. I still have some assignments to finish before my last day on Friday, so once I’m back in the Tampa office it’ll be back to the grind! RKC has surpassed every single one of my expectations with the practical skills training, mentoring, diverse assignments and so much more. It’s been an incredible opportunity and experience being Tampa’s summer associate.
Paris Baker, Barry University
It’s Finally Here! SAP Mock TrialThe Mock Trial is finally here. We have been preparing for this the entire summer. The last two weeks was sort of a blur because it was filled with practices, assignments, trials, luncheons, etc. But nevertheless, we all prevailed. Special shout out to Patrick Delaney, Lindy Keown, Sally Culley and the wonderful attorneys in Miami who also helped Phoenix and I prepare. We couldn’t have done it without you all. I arrived at the office around 8 am Monday, which gave Phoenix and I about an hour and a half to prepare for the morning session where we represented the Plaintiffs. I feel like time flew by, because before I knew it, it was 9:30 and we were in the Boardroom getting ready to begin. It started off with Grace and Phoenix battling with their Motions in Limine, then I was up next. I had to do the Plaintiff’s Opening but I was ready. I had been rehearsing all weekend for this moment. After that, we began direct examination of our witnesses, followed by cross examination of Grace and Eric’s witnesses. Honestly, there were some things that didn’t go our way the first trial and it initially had us in a slump. There was evidence being kept out, objections being sustained on their end and overruled on our end, but Phoenix and I were still able to overcome and finish strong. After the first session, Dan Gerber’s comments consisted of telling us to loosen up, have fun and give more passion. For me, I know my opening sounded sort of robotic and that was because I was so nervous. I memorized it and just didn’t want to stumble over my words.
We had lunch but I didn’t eat much because Phoenix and I were preparing for the side that we were more comfortable with, the defense. This time, it was my turn to argue the Motions in Limine and I was able to get one of them granted—both of the Plaintiffs motions were denied. So starting off, I did gain some confidence from that. The afternoon session was now underway. I even had some family stop by so that gave me some more energy as well. This time around, we were able to get some evidence in and even were winning some of our objections. The afternoon session flowed much better than the morning session. I’m sure it was because we had all gotten rid of our butterflies and our adrenaline was rushing really high. The afternoon session actually went by pretty fast, then it was my turn to end it all by giving the closing argument for the defense. Eric had used all of his time for his closing so there wasn’t a rebuttal. If anything, this is the thing that I was most prepared. Our theme was control, and I remember starting and the argument just flowing. Normally, I prepare my argument and just stick to what I practiced, but I was able to incorporate some examples, address opposing counsel’s argument and even walk around. I was really impressed with myself and I could tell that the people in the Boardroom were impressed as well. Our feedback at the end of the trial was short but effective. Dan Gerber emphasized the importance of passion and telling the story. David Shelton focused on knowing the legal arguments and evidentiary rules. Rob Blank echoed their sentiments and said that we were much better in the afternoon. After tallying up the scores, Grace won this year’s best advocate. GO GRACE! It was well deserved, and I was definitely able to pick up a few of her techniques since this was my first time doing something like this. I also have Trial Advocacy class in the fall so I will be more than prepared for that.
This summer at RKC has been one for the books. I was surrounded by very good people who I know had my best interests at heart. The summer was indeed busy, probably the busiest I’ve ever been but I appreciated every second of it. The workload and events made everything worth it. I know that being a part of RKC’s family would be a honor. I am very grateful that I was given an opportunity to work for this firm.
I also want to give a personal shout out and thanks to a few people who helped me tremendously this summer: Sally Culley for being an amazing mentor; Lindy Keown for likewise being a great mentor and being there whenever I needed help; Shenele Pettis-Bright for being there whenever I needed any assistance; LaShawnda Jackson, for showing me how to carry myself as both a lawyer and a black woman; and last but not least, Kaye Daugherty. With this being Kaye’s last program, I am especially grateful to her. She went above and beyond for each and every one of us from the beginning to make sure we had an eventful summer. Even with her retiring, she still asked for feedback and wanted to know what still could be done to make the Summer Associate Program better. Since I was in Orlando the entire time, I had the opportunity to experience her kind heart on a weekly basis and it never went unnoticed. The SAP would not be what it is today without Kaye, and I will forever be grateful for the time I spent with her. My last day is Friday and then that will be it. I will be off to finish my final year at Barry, and then on to passing the Bar. This summer has been like a dream to me, something that I never knew would mean so much. And I owe it all to everyone I have encountered this entire summer from partners, associates to secretaries and paralegals. Each and every one of you made it very special.
Thank you RKC, you will always be appreciated.
Eric Lyerly, Stetson
The Mock Trial is HereI mainly prepared for the Mock Trial during Week 9. Let me tell you, trial prep takes on a sense of urgency the week before (mock) trial. One of the most fun parts of mock trial prep is getting feedback from coaches and attorneys. Some told us one thing, some told us another. But it was a neat way to learn our attorneys’ trial personalities. I had some interesting assignments to work on between practice sessions: research on what constitutes a device under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; research on what types of attorney knowledge can be imputed to a client and others.
Also, I had some great lunches this week. I went to Nikki’s West with partner Craig Alexander. Nikki’s West is a famous meat-and-three in Birmingham. It is also Alabama’s version of the Soup Nazi. Ordering food there is incredibly high-pressure. For my last day, Fred Clarke, Rebecca Beers, and Lauren Snyder took me to lunch at Chet Fon Fon. We discussed the finer things of life at this French restaurant: Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, etc. Alas, my time in Birmingham could not last forever. At the end of the day, I packed up my stuff to head to Orlando for the Mock Trial.
And then came the Mock Trial . . . which was wild. Two trials. Two different sides. Grace and I began the trial as the Defense. I gave the Opening Statement. I found myself unusually nervous, but I overcame it. It’s eerie how invested we all became in our roles in the mock trial. It was a little like character acting. I, of course, was Heath Ledger. The first trial went by in a blur, and both sides did well.
The second trial seemed to go by equally as fast. Trial feels like boxing: you have to roll with the punches. Inevitably, testimony or evidence you thought was unobjectionable is ruled inadmissible. These moments change the tone of the case and alter carefully crafted trial strategy. I suppose what makes a good lawyer, to quote Rocky Balboa, is “how hard [they] can get hit and keep moving forward.” Overall, the mock trial was a fantastic experience.
That brings this summer to a close. It’s hard to believe that it is over. Rumberger has been a terrific place to work, and I’m so thankful for the relationships I’ve built here. It will be hard to return to law school after an experience like this.
Phoenix Barker, University of Miami
Well… the mock trial has finally passed. The last (almost) three weeks prepping for it have been insanely busy. Preparing for the mock trial, while also still completing a lot of substantive work, was a challenge to say the least. However, it definitely gave me a taste of what it is like for a real trial attorney. I was lucky enough to attend a live trial last week and watch partner Scott Sarason in action. Since I haven’t attended a civil trial before, I took notes on a lot of the techniques used by both sides.
I traveled to Orlando early Sunday morning and met my partner, Paris, at the office to practice for the remainder of the day. We practiced our openings, closings, direct examinations, and cross examinations. We also prepared for our motions in limine. Monday morning we did last minute touches and printed out all of the materials we needed. The moment we had been waiting for all summer had finally arrived.
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember a lot of what I said during the mock trial itself. It went by so quickly and it was unpredictable! In the first trial Paris and I were hit with some curveballs by “Chief Judge” partner Rob Blank, and were unable to admit a lot of evidence we had planned. In hindsight—which is always 20/20—it kept the mock trial less “mock,” and more realistic. I have been told many times over the course of the Summer Associate Program that anything can happen at trial, and now I can finally grasp what is really meant by that statement. Grace, Eric, and Paris all did a fantastic job and it was neat to see their unique personalities come to life. It was evident that we all put in a lot of work, but it was even more evident that attorneys and staff in every office took part in the mock trial to ensure it was a fun and successful experience for Paris, Eric, Grace, and me. I would like to especially thank all of my coaches over the last few weeks for your time and commitment to teaching Paris and I. It is appreciated more than you know!Now, back in Miami, I have had a chance to reflect on my entire experience at RKC this summer. I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. From attending hearings, workshops, seminars, mediations, and even a trial, I have been exposed to so many things that simply cannot be learned in the walls of a classroom. I am especially grateful to all of the Miami attorneys who have mentored me along the way. While I am sad that this is my last week as a Summer Associate at RKC, I am happy to have gained everything I have. Only one more year of law school to go!
Phoenix Barker, University of MiamiThe past week was the first week of prep for the mock trial. Paris and I have practiced via zoom and on our own time. I must say, it is a lot of time and work on top of substantive assignments, but I am happy to be getting the experience. **Special shout out to all of my coaches and their feedback so far!** The case is interesting to say the least, but it is challenging to take on the role of both plaintiff and defendant. Instead of fully prepping for one side, I find I am always second-guessing myself and seeing a fact or an issue in a different light for the opposite side. Nonetheless, it keeps the process thought-provoking.
Aside from mock trial preparation, week eight was filled with many assignments. One of the tasks I completed was a motion to preclude the video testimony of a decedent from being introduced at trial for Mike Holt. The case was in the context of asbestos, and the decedent (former plaintiff) was never cross-examined by the defense. I also attended two hearings in a construction case with Albert Li, and completed research for the same case. Additionally, I completed various research projects for Josh Lerner, Monica Segura, and Robert Visca.
Friday after work, I had another practice with Suzanne Singer. At the practice, I worked on my cross-examinations for the mock trial. I am happy with the progress I’ve made, but I know I still have work to do. I spent a lot of my day on Sunday re-writing my opening, closing, and directs/crosses. I’m looking forward to fine-tuning my work over the next week and feeling more comfortable with the materials. Additionally, Scott Sarason will be in trial all week, which gives me the opportunity to go watch. It will be a great opportunity to learn oral advocacy skills in the wake of the mock trial.
Eric Lyerly, Stetson
Practice makes perfect
This week marked the formal beginning of mock trial preparation. On Monday, Grace and I began working on the plaintiff’s case for the mock trial. We will try both the plaintiff’s and defense’s cases for this product liability/wrongful death action. This case occurs in the fictional state of Lonestar and concerns a plane crash, financial impropriety, marital infidelity, and more. What a case! The theme ideas are endless.
Much of my week was consumed with mock trial prep. We had several more activities that fit nicely into our trial training such as an Associate College Luncheon on Objections and a seminar on court room tips. Yet, one of the high points of my week came on Wednesday. Birmingham partner Scott Williams took me to lunch at the Birmingham Art Museum of all places. It was a really nice venue with good food to boot.
The practice sessions each day were pretty rigorous. We had our coaches and various attorneys listen to our openings, closings, directs, and crosses on our different practice days. They then offered substantive feedback. They were probably more gracious about my performance than I deserved. It was an incredibly helpful exercise. It was encouraging to call on coaches with such a wealth of trial experience. One could tell from their feedback, that Rumberger’s attorneys know litigation.
On Friday, I picked up an assignment dealing with every law student’s favorite topic: choice of law. I have my work cut out for me with this one. Also, the Birmingham office was blessed with a presentation from associate Lauren Snyder (and Urban Cookhouse) on the liability of social media sites and other internet platforms for user content. Very interesting stuff. Next week will be filled with trial preparation also. Tune in to see if I am still alive.
Grace Kobitter, Stetson
Wait, it’s week 8!?
This week was a different kind of busy. On Monday, I shifted back and forth between the first drafts of my opening statement and closing argument, and completing the research memorandum I have been working on for Joleen East regarding the difference between gross and culpable negligence relating to the statutory protections afforded under workers compensation. At lunch, I was able to attend the Associate College Luncheon by David Marsey on Trial Objections and Strategies. This was perfect timing given the recent distribution of the mock trial problem. When I took trial advocacy last semester, objections were what I was the most uncomfortable with, so it was great to hear the tips and advice given at the luncheon.
On Tuesday, I made progress on my research assignments and drafting for the mock trial continued. I started to work on my direct examinations and even tweaked my opening/closing (again) before the first practice that evening. Then, on Wednesday morning, the summer associates had a seminar on Tips for Courtroom Success with Scott Kirk in the Orlando office. It was great to hear the advice he had, and he also told stories relating to the advice he was giving and how he’d seen it play out in trial before. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to hear real world practice tips and tricks from such experienced trial attorneys. Later that afternoon, I was able to finish the memorandum discussing the distinction between the negligence standards, and continued work on another memorandum relating to the same issue but focusing on the standard of proof. This one was definitely trickier given the vagueness in the statute and the murky case law.
On Thursday morning, I met Meredith Fee in the morning to drive to a deposition she had about an hour away. It was a quick drive, and a good thing too, because ultimately the deponent didn’t show. Meredith told me that it’s not atypical for troopers to either not show or to be late to their deposition since they may be called away for work-related duties when their deposition is supposed to take place. Although I didn’t get to see the deposition, it was an experience nonetheless that showed me things you don’t expect to happen do happen and how to handle them.
Friday, I got a second shot to attend, and see, a deposition this week with Joleen East. It was right downtown and the deponent did show, thankfully. I couldn’t even really compare the deposition I had seen with Tyler Derr previously with this one, given the vast differences between the cases, the parties and the suit. It was an entirely new experience. I was able to see how Joleen approached the deposition and the lines of questioning she pursued. I noticed how she followed up on answers and also circled back around to topics to ensure the deponent gave the same answer, both things that we had been instructed on doing during the deposition seminar. Back at the office, I was able to complete the second research memorandum assignment. This one was far more challenging than the other one, but I was able to talk to Joleen about it earlier in the week to make sure I was on the right track, and felt confident in the conclusions I came to.
Overall, this week flew by. I had mock trial practice at the end of three days this week, so each of those days I kept hoping time would slow down to give me more time to work on my assignments and prepare for practice. That, of course, made time go faster and when I looked at the clock it was already 5:00 pm. Practices have been going great so far; Eric and I are getting feedback from our coaches and the attorneys assisting with practices, which has been extremely helpful in crafting the final pieces for our trial. This weekend, I’m planning on reworking some of the things I worked on at practice this week for our practices next week. I can’t believe next weekend I’ll be getting ready to go to Orlando for the actual mock trial. How has week 8 come and gone?!
Paris Baker, Barry University
The Final Weeks
I seriously cannot believe how fast the summer went by. This past week was a blur. I say that because we were in between assignments and preparing for the mock trial. With it being our first week of practice, of course, we were a little rusty but we were able to work out the kinks toward the end of the week. Phoenix and I will be more than prepared for the trial. It will be fun seeing all of it come together. A special thanks goes out to our coaches Patrick Delaney, Lindy Keown, Sally Cully, Maggie Sanders and Suzanne Singer from Miami. We spent last week creating our opening and closing statement and direct/cross examinations for both trials. Now it is up to us to individually re-fine our work based on the feedback we’ve received from attorneys. This week should be even more exciting with practice because we will start condensing our script into an outline. It is exciting being able to complete assignments and prepare for the mock trial. It allows us to see how it really works in practice because not everything just stops because you have one trial—or at least I have been under the impression that it does not.
Other than mock trial, I was able to attend mediation with Steve Klein on an uninsured motorist case. It was in Tampa, so we drove down that morning and returned that evening. Unfortunately, the mediation was not as successful as we had hoped but I was able to get good experience because this was my first one. Overall, I am very grateful Steve invited me to join him.
I spent the majority of the week working on some research for Suzanne Hill and LaShawnda Jackson that consisted of case evaluations and a research memorandum. The cases are substantive so I have been able to find some great authority to support our position. Week 8 is finished, and who can believe that we only have two weeks left of the Summer Associate Program!
Paris Baker, Barry University
Assignments at an all-time high!This week was probably by far the busiest I have had in terms of assignments. I know I have probably said that on other blog posts but I am sure this week takes the cake.
Monday, I spent most of my time getting ready for the Case Brief Presentation at the attorney luncheon on Wednesday. I have previously met with Bud Kirk on several different occasions to make sure the cases I selected were beneficial to the firm. Other than that, I finished refining my Motion in Limine that I had for Chase Hattaway and wanted to finalize that and get it on his desk. He was out until Thursday, but I was able to spend some extra time proofreading it. That evening, I printed out my presentation so I could begin practicing and making sure I knew each case thoroughly.
Tuesday, Chase sent me an email about reviewing the Defendant’s Objection to a NPNP and to summarize the strength of the Defendant’s argument in a memorandum. It was very interesting because it dealt with an investigator and his findings. I was able to find direct case law from the Supreme Court that supported our position. It feels great when you are able to find case law that is spot on to the problem you are having. I also worked on the research memorandum that Steve Klein assigned me and worked on finishing that so that I could proofread it before turning it in. Later that afternoon, Bud called me into his office to look at my final drafts before the presentation. I expressed my gratitude toward this meeting because there were a few things that I did not do. Although I am always anxious when I meet with Bud, I am glad that he called me into his office.
Wednesday was the big day! The attorney luncheon was here and it was my turn to give a presentation. Wednesday morning, I spent proofreading Steve Klein’s paper so in the afternoon I could just turn it in. Around 10:30, I kept re-printing, proofreading my PowerPoint to make sure everything was spelled correctly, and that I addressed the right things. I went into the Boardroom early and was able to pull up my PowerPoint to get a run-through in. Later, before the luncheon started, I asked Kaye Daugherty to sit in while I practiced again so she could make sure my voice was loud enough in the boardroom. As the associates and partners filled the room, I began to get nervous. However, I remembered my conversation with my mom when she said once you start you would be fine, because you know the material and you have prepared. She was right. First, I am really tech savvy so my PowerPoint was very appealing to the eyes. To say the least, I knew I would get points for that portion. My first slide opened my presentation using the “curtain effect” and I heard a few attorneys sigh in relief as if it was something impressive. That was all I needed. Everyone was now tuned in and I began effortlessly. I will admit, instead of saying American Airlines, I started to say African American at one point but that’s okay, we all make some type of mistake. Other than that, I was ready for any questions by the partners and finished my PowerPoint with ease. I was previously told that the attorneys do not clap at the end of the presentation so it is sort of like this awkward sit down when you are finished. However, when I was at my last slide and thanked them for listening, I heard a room full of clapping going on. They had actually went against the normal and clapped for me. I was shocked, amazed, and grateful all in one. My jitters were officially gone and I could put them away until the Mock Trial. Later that evening I received an assignment from Brett Carey and Suzanne Hill. The list just keeps getting longer and longer.
Thursday, I sat in on a meeting with LaShawnda Jackson and her team regarding a client team’s cases. Sara Lewis is about to take the Bar so she will be out for a few, which led to me taking her spot on some assignments. It was great to be a part of a real team meeting and of course, the cases were interesting enough. Now for a moment of truthfulness. I turned in my research memorandum for Steve Klein that afternoon and he gave it back to me the next afternoon on Thursday. He said the first two pages had too many errors. I was taken back by it because I know I had proofread several times before turning it in. Rightfully so, I was embarrassed. Nevertheless, one thing about me is I learn from my mistakes and I try my hardest not to make the same mistake twice, especially with the same person. I went through the paper, corrected my mistakes and ended up re-writing the entire thing. Before I turned it back in, I printed it out about three-four times and went through it with a red pen as if I was a teacher grading a student. I had to slow myself down because although I had many assignments, I have to be efficient in each assignment that I turn in. I turned the paper back in with a note thanking Steve for giving me the opportunity to correct my mistakes and assured him that this would not happen again. I am sharing this portion to show that as Summer Associates, we make mistakes, but we also have the chance to correct them. I wanted to show the real program and a real person because I do not do everything right the first time around. Thursday evening, I attended the OCBA Young Lawyer and Law Clerk Reception with LaShawnda, Shenele Pettis Bright and Christian Tiblier. I was able to network with some attorneys, judges, and even saw a few classmates of mine. It was a great event.
Friday, I dove into Brett’s assignment and was able to find yet another case that was spot on for the issue I was researching. I was able to get this paper finished a few days early. I also started working on Suzanne’s research, which required a little more attention. For Chase’s review assignment about the objection, I finished his research, compiling our strongest arguments and turned that in to him on Friday as well. CFAWL had another luncheon and I attended that with Shenele and Courtney Walmer. Those luncheons are a great experience because it shows the involvement outside of the firm that goes into being a lawyer. Now for the heart of the Summer Associate Program, it was time for the distribution of the Mock Trial materials. My partner is Phoenix, and we will be representing the Defendants first and then the Plaintiffs in the afternoon. This is what we have been waiting on all summer long and it is finally here to start preparing.
Grace Kobitter, Stetson
Shuffleboard and submissions
I started the week out by attending a deposition with Tyler Derr on Monday morning. It was a construction case that had more defendants than I have seen in any case thus far. Luckily, Tyler provided me with background information and filled me in on what the focus would be in the deposition, so I was able to follow along through all of the complexities and terminology that was foreign to me. There were nine attorneys in attendance, five of which asked the deponent questions. It was great to have the opportunity to observe various lines of questioning and each attorney’s style. It was also more informal than I had anticipated. Afterwards, I was able to de-brief with Tyler and hear his thoughts on the deponent’s answers and what questions he would have asked since a lot of the responses seemed unhelpful or simply were “I don’t know.” That afternoon, I finished and submitted the three assignments Meredith Fee had given me last week pertaining to the Wrongful Death Act.
On Tuesday, we were able to leave the office a little early and head over to Shuffle Tampa to continue the celebration of paralegal’s week. I had only played table shuffleboard before, so this was all new to me. One of the workers there was very nice giving us a quick overview of the rules and proper terms of the equipment (tangs are the long sticks, biscuits are the discs you slide and the kitchen is the area where you shoot the biscuits from). He told us there was an in-house rule that whoever gets to 75 first wins, but he followed that by stating he’d never seen anyone get to 75—that didn’t change after the handful of games we played. Rebecca Arends was my partner and we will admit, shuffleboard is a lot harder than it looks! You have to hit the biscuit much softer than you think is needed, but too soft and it’s stuck in the “dead zone” in the middle. One strategy people used, was to just hit the other team’s biscuits off the board instead of trying to delicately land your own biscuit in the triangle. It was great to be able to spend time with everyone outside of the office and hear some of the funny stories everyone has. I’m grateful to get to be a part of such a friendly, out-going and welcoming office. The night winded down at The Hall with Rob Blank, Carie Hall, Meredith and Joleen East, a place with six restaurants inside that provided an array of options and delicious food. A wonderful, eventful day.
On Wednesday, I began research on an issue Tyler had assigned to me the day before regarding substitution of counsel. A rather straightforward procedural question that presented with a series of obstacles given the facts of the case, and definitely one of the more intricate research assignments I’ve received. I also reviewed the case file for an assignment I’d submitted a few weeks ago in order to begin drafting a cross-claim for indemnification against a defendant. Additionally, Wednesday morning, we received the results and scoresheets of the writing competition paper—congrats, Phoenix! I was able to review the judges’ comments and provide feedback for next year’s writing competition.
I spent majority of the day on Thursday researching the substitution of counsel assignment I received from Tyler. I started to go down a rabbit holes at one point, so I had to talk with Tyler at various times to ensure I was on the right track and getting closer to the answer neither of us was sure even existed. Later that day, I received a brief research assignment from Tyler regarding pleading factual inconsistencies. By Friday morning, I had found the answer and conclusions to both assignments and was able to submit them first thing!
Friday was the day I’d been waiting for all week (and all summer) because the much anticipated mock trial packet was distributed. The packet and rules were emailed out in the early afternoon and, once it hit my inbox, I immediately printed it out and began reading through it—an interesting case that is even a little spicy in places. Patrick Delaney held the meeting Friday afternoon regarding the rules of the competition and answered any questions anyone may already have. Afterwards
Phoenix Barker, University of Miami
Busy in—and out—of the officeWhat a crazy-hectic week! I think I had to drink about five cups of coffee per day, not including the morning and afternoon rounds of Cuban coffee (HUGE perk of working in Miami). This week was especially busy because I was simultaneously moving apartments and each day lasted much longer than usual – or at least felt like it! Every day after work, I would go to my old apartment and load up my car to haul over my things to my new place. My parents came on Thursday night and helped me get situated in my new apartment over the remainder of the weekend. I am relieved to be done moving and be able to focus on the upcoming mock trial.
At work, I worked on many assignments this week. One of my assignments was to help draft a motion to dismiss for Maggie Sanders. The dispute was in the context of a funeral service and cremation human remains. I’m not one for dead bodies, but the case was surely an interesting one. Another fun assignment I worked on was a motion to preclude the video testimony of a decedent in an asbestos case for Mike Holt. I also researched whether Florida recognizes a post-sale duty to warn in products liability cases for Scott Sarason, in addition to research assignments for Tammy Brito and Albert Li. On Thursday, the firm went to Sweet Caroline—a karaoke bar—for some after-work drinks and food. It was fun to unwind and hang out after a busy week.
Friday, I received the mock trial materials and I am looking forward to getting started with my co-counsel, Paris. We were able to start strategizing over the weekend. Next week starts our practices with our coaches, so we have to really be on our A-game with the mock trial coming up in just a few short weeks. It’ll be fun to put to use all of what we have learned in the SAP workshops. Another week under my belt at RKC, and I am thankful for all that I am learning.
Eric Lyerly, Stetson
The Mock Trial is upon usI’m starting to settle into my second new office of the summer. It is nice being home, although, I know downtown Birmingham about as well as I know downtown Orlando.
On Monday, Rebecca Beers and I went to the Jefferson County Courthouse to volunteer at the Civil Help Desk, a legal aid initiative. This was an incredibly rewarding experience. Rebecca and I (mainly Rebecca), offered real help to two individuals in need of fairly complex legal aid. One of them needed help in determining the status of their mortgage, and the other needed help with a probate problem. We were able to give them a better understanding of their legal issues, and just as importantly, we directed them to people/places where they could receive more assistance. It was a tremendous learning experience for me.
On Tuesday, I worked on my assignments: research on whether the outside business activities of a registered representative creates liability for a broker-dealer; research on what constitutes a “device” under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and a few others. The highlight of the day was lunch with partners Pete Tepley and Bert Spence. We went to a meat and three. Enough said.
Wednesday was another work day, but also included some play. After all, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” After work, Fred Clarke, Lauren Snyder, Rebecca Beers, and I went to the Birmingham Bar Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Celebration. The function was at Woolworth, a bar/venue in five-points, the posh area of downtown. Woolworth had some sort of crazy bowling alley, an oversized Pac-Man arcade game (it claimed to be the world’s largest), and other unique amenities. However, these things did not distract me from the food. This was a fun celebration, and it allowed us to meet numerous attorneys practicing in the area. I only hope Fred, Lauren, and Rebecca weren’t embarrassed to be seen with me.
Thursday and Friday were fairly quiet. Then again, the mock trial assignment was distributed Friday. We learned earlier in the week that Grace and I would be Team 1, the Stetson All-Pros. So after receiving the problem and peppering the competition director, Patrick Delaney, with questions via Zoom, Grace and I got busy working on our themes for the competition. Stay tuned to hear about our preparation.
Paris Baker, Barry University
Short but Productive Week!
This week was my first week without Eric, so I was nervous to see how it would turn out. But it went well just as expected. Monday, I was able to finalize my thoughts for attorney Brad Davis’ reply brief for a mortgage transfer case and I also looked further into Dan Gerber’s class action case law. Later in the afternoon, I participated in the Direct and Cross Examination with partner Charlie Mitchell. I did very well on Direct Examination but I know I have to work on using leading questions the entire time during Cross Examination. It was a challenge, but it was very exciting to participate in, and I actually enjoyed myself. I didn’t get to hear Phoenix, Grace, or Eric, but I am sure they did well also.
The rest of the week I was able to work on assignments. With the mock trial coming up, I wanted to be able to get as many assignments as I could from attorneys so that I could finish them up by the 12th, which is when the Mock Trial materials will be distributed.
Chase Hattaway assigned a research memo regarding when opposing counsel can contact former employees of the corporation being sued. It was relatively straightforward case law so I was able to get that back to him shortly. After that, he wanted me to draft a Motion in Limine concerning relevance and another creative topic: traveling. I spent a lot of time on this Tuesday because I was able to use my legal knowledge as well as my creativity. I had to think about what exactly will persuade the court to grant this request. After putting together my first draft, I was able to send it over to Shenele Pettis Bright and who proofread it for me and provided further comments. Once she returned her draft to me, I was able to edit mine so that it was excellent work product.
Steve Klein assigned a research memo as well regarding waiving strict liability through a release form. The issue is somewhat undecided in Florida and the opinion from other states varies. Therefore, I was able to extend my research outside of Florida and at times that can be exciting because you get to see what other states are saying. I am still drafting this since I have until next Wednesday to complete it.
Samantha Duke also assigned a research memorandum regarding 5th Amendment privilege and how it works in the civil setting. This topic was different, and interesting, making it the most difficult to narrow down case law. But those are the topics I love the most because it allows you to broaden your search to see what you can find.
Thursday, I spent my Fourth of July enjoying my favorite past time: basketball. The ESPN Wide World of Sports in Celebration were hosting the 5th grade girls and boys AAU Nationals. Since I couldn’t get down there during the work days, I wanted to go on my day off. Seeing all of those kids enjoy playing, and more importantly, having fun with their teammates brought back memories for me and also gave me a sense of joy that both my son and daughter will get to experience once day. (Yes, they have to play basketball since both of their parents played!) Overall, it was a very enjoyable 4th of July.
Lastly, Friday, I was able to work on my case summaries. I have been speaking with Bud Kirk for the last few weeks and I know how important the associate presentations are at the attorney luncheon. I have to present next Wednesday so I wanted to get my cases completed by Friday so that I could have the weekend and beginning of next week to prepare. I was able to spend Friday selecting the cases, analyzing, briefing, and creating a PowerPoint with all of the information. This took up my entire weekend and before I know it, my family and I were on the road to go to Savannah, Georgia for the weekend.
Eric Lyerly, Stetson
Sweet Home Alabama
My first week in Alabama was a success. On Monday, the Birmingham office had a welcome reception for me. A decadent spread of Chic-fil-A minis was laid out in my honor. I felt like the belle of the ball. A few attorneys requested that I come by their office later to receive assignments. I received a product liability assignment from partner Rebecca Beers, and I one concerning securities from partner Meredith Lees. Later that day, several attorneys took me to The Club in downtown Birmingham. The Club sits on a hill above Birmingham and overlooks the southern steel-town. I ordered a sandwich consisting of bacon, lettuce, fried green tomato, and pimento cheese. Am I back in the South, yet? After lunch, I had my direct and cross workshop with Charlie Mitchell from Orlando, which went swimmingly. I had to remind Charlie that I am just a law student and that I cannot help him out with his directs and crosses for his upcoming trials. Ha!
On Tuesday, I worked on some residual assignments from Orlando, including arguments for an appellate brief. On Wednesday, downtown was quiet. Many had taken off to extend their Independence Day. The stillness allowed me to plug away at my work. Thursday was July 4th! It was strange having a day off in the middle of the week. I celebrated by visiting a used book store with my family and acquiring more books for our library. I also grilled venison (deer) burgers in the evening. Did I mention I am back in the South?
Friday was surprisingly productive despite having July 4th tease us about the weekend. I worked on my Birmingham and Orlando assignments, and I picked up another assignment to boot: a contractual interpretation issue. My favorite! Tune in next week to hear about the teams and problem for the mock trial.
Phoenix Barker, University of Miami
I can’t believe we are past the halfway mark!
Week 6 was short, but that’s not to say it wasn’t busy! With the Fourth of July falling on Thursday, everyone had a lot of work to tie up before the holiday. And what started off as a slow week certainly did not end that way.
Monday and Tuesday I spent working on various projects. I researched consequential and incidental damages under Georgia contract law for Jacey Kaps and finished creating a “year in review” of product liability verdicts and settlements for Scott Sarason. On Wednesday, it was my turn to do the case brief presentation at the weekly attorney luncheon. I presented the Florida Supreme Court case of Gutierrez v. Vargas, 239 So.3d 615 (Fla. 2018). The case was about a pretrial order that limited each party to one expert per specialty. However, despite the court’s limitation, the trial court allowed the plaintiff to have four pathologists testify; two were treating physicians and the other two were experts. In its decision, the Florida Supreme Court decided the trial court was within its discretion when it allowed the plaintiffs to present the testimony of four pathologists. This decision was interesting, and it provides a bright line rule for attorneys to follow when assessing whether their witnesses will or will not violate a pretrial order limiting expert witnesses.
Before heading out for some fun on the Fourth, I spent a few hours in the morning finishing my research on consequential and incidental damages under Georgia law. On Friday, it was pretty quiet for RKC Miami; it was only Stacy Mateu and me on our side of the office. I was kept plenty busy though. I made edits on a healthcare article I have been working on with Suzanne Singer, completed some research on a pro se 1983 claim for Victor Sanabria and Steve Smith, researched an issue regarding expert testimony for Tammy Brito, researched past trial court orders issued in Miami-Dade in the insurance context for Maggie Sanders, and spent the evening writing case summaries for Monica Segura.
All in all, my week was packed but I learned a lot! I’m excited for week 7 because the mock trial problem is finally being distributed. I’m looking forward to getting started and for all of my upcoming practice sessions!
Grace Kobitter, Stetson
Red, white & busy!
Week six was a short week and boy did it fly by! On Monday, I turned in two assignments to Meredith Fee—one was a letter providing notice for claims of spoliation of evidence and indemnification, and the other was a compilation of detailed case briefs for an upcoming presentation. The case briefs related to personal injury and the developments that have occurred in Florida over the last year. It was interesting to read and learn how the case law for this area has changed, and the balance required between the courts and the legislature in altering the direction of a particular jurisprudence. I also had the direct and cross examination workshop on Monday. I had been drafting a little each day since we received the packet, editing and rearranging questions where I thought was necessary as I read through them. I was grateful to have taken the trial advocacy course at Stetson last semester, because it helped calm my nerves knowing how to structure different types of questions, as well as generally knowing what to expect when delivering them. I was nervous, as always, but overall, I felt confident in the information I was able to elicit and received great feedback from Charlie Mitchell from the Orlando office that I will refer to when working on the mock trial examinations.
On Tuesday, I worked on writing the last set of summaries for the liability assessment report Rob Blank was creating for the case relating to the scene inspection I went to two weeks ago. Helping document each step of the case has really been beneficial in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the issues and the potential liability, because I’ve become very familiar with who is involved, who witnessed what and who was helping where. Also on Tuesday, I was able to attend a lunch welcoming the Tampa office’s newest attorney, Rebecca Arends! It was a warm walk, but a great and relaxing time at Harpoon Harry’s (our second time there this summer!).
Wednesday flew by. Not only was it the day before the Fourth, but I was able to finalize and submit three assignments. I drafted two motions for protective orders for Tyler Derr on the case I had drafted a motion to compel for last week, and also completed my memorandum for Carie Hall regarding asserting a claim for contribution. It felt great to be able to check those to-do items off of my list and move on to the next; plus it was perfect timing being able to start fresh with new assignments right after the holiday. Then after lunch, there was a birthday celebration for Steve Berlin and Jeanine Jennus! A delicious ice cream cake with turquoise icing that ultimately stained everyone’s teeth that color, which was definitely a trending look. Ice cream is the one food I’ll likely forever be in denial that it is supposed to be off-limits to someone who’s lactose intolerant (like me). I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
It was nice to have a little breather during the week on Thursday to enjoy the holiday and rest. Yet, while I might have physically had the day off, that didn’t keep my brain from thinking about assignments and mentally planning what tasks I needed to do and when! I received an assignment on Tuesday from Meredith regarding research and drafting a few motions relating to the Wrongful Death Act. On Friday, I was able to do the research for this and even complete majority of the assignment. The Act was much more complex than I’d expected so I had to rely on the case law to guide me in my analysis. This weekend, I’ll be tying up any loose ends for research that I think I’ll still need to complete the other assignments and turn them in on Monday.
Eric Lyerly, Stetson
Last but not least
Things slowed down a bit in Week 5. We did not have any seminars or workshops. We were left mostly to our assignments, which kept us busy enough. This was my last week in Orlando before moving to Rumberger’s Birmingham Office for the next four weeks. So, my goal was to finish my outstanding (all senses of the word) assignments. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were devoted to this end. Some notable things on those days included: attending Rumberger’s multicultural food festival (just what I needed) and watching a video by Bud Kirk about picking a jury.
On Wednesday evening, Kaye Daugherty and several associates took Paris and me to Top Golf. I have not played much golf in my life, and I have not handled a golf club very often. But I still managed to grip it and rip it while at Top Golf. I used a combination of the women’s driver, the men’s driver, and the men’s nine-iron. The ball would often make a wonderful cracking sound as I smashed it with my club and sliced to the right missing all of the targets. I did manage, however, to score points. I even chipped a ball into one high value target, which put me in second place overall for the night. Alas, I was outdone by Brett Carey, my mentor, who felt that my schooling should continue onto the golf course.
On Thursday, it was more of the same. I was frantically trying to complete assignments. It’s always hard to get everything done before moving on. Perhaps this a metaphor about the complexity of human affairs and the tremendous difficulty of entering into a new season of one’s life. Or maybe it’s just a sign that my time management skills still need improvement. Who knows really? In the late afternoon, the Orlando office was gracious enough to hold a happy hour/toast in my honor. They serenaded me with “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” and for some weird reason “Thank U, Next” by Ariana Grande. I do not know what they were trying to say. (Obviously, I made that up). At the toast, and throughout my last week, everyone was incredibly gracious to and supportive of me. It certainly made it harder to want to leave come Friday. On Friday, I attempted to tie up loose ends. I went to lunch with Kaye Daugherty to discuss my time in Orlando, and I said farewell to the office.
In the late afternoon, I cranked up my car, turned on the radio, and heard a melodic guitar riff followed by a male vocalist say, “Turn it up.” He would go on to sing, “Big wheels keep on turning . . . Carry me home to see my kin . . . singing songs about the southland . . . I miss ole ‘bammy once again.” And with that, it was off to Birmingham, Alabama, my home state. Roll Tide.
Paris Baker, Barry University
So long Eric, until the Mock Trial
Five weeks completed already, time is going by extremely fast. This was Eric and mine’s last week together at the Orlando office. We have been working on a few assignments together so we made sure that we were on the same page moving into this last week, so he would be able to get a brand new fresh start at the Birmingham office.
On Monday, Sally Culley needed some research done regarding what is considered a short and plain statement, specifically looking at complaints that are outside the scope of short and plain statement. It took a while to find what I was looking for, but after sitting with Sally, I was able to figure out what search terms were needed then I was able to hit the ground running.
The highlight of Tuesday for me was the Multicultural Food Festival that we have at work. I was able to see the different places people are from, and I was able to try a lot of dishes that I hadn’t tried before. I think that is a really interesting way to get people’s cultures to come together because food is generally a special area in any culture. Seeing people take pride in preparing their dishes was a great experience. Maybe next year I hope to bring something special from St. Louis, but we will see.
On Wednesday, I worked on some punitive damages research for Dan Gerber who had mediation the following day. That evening, Eric and I, along with Kaye, Angela and several other attorneys went to Top Golf for about two hours. I am absolutely terrible at Top Golf so I always aimed for the first marker at the middle in the front. But because of that, I did rack up 12 points by getting 3 points each time I hit it. After that, I retired and just watched everyone else hit the ball across the field (I don’t golf so if I use incorrect terminology sorry). But the highlight of the evening was when Shenele Pettis Bright kept hitting on Eric’s turn by accident. She gave him a few points though so I know he didn’t mind. The food was amazing, and the weather was a little on the hot side but it wasn’t too bad because it was the evening. Overall, this day was the highlight of the week.
On Thursday, I worked on finishing a few assignments including a Motion to Dismiss or Alternative Motion for Summary judgment for Robert Barton. It wasn’t too lengthy and I was really revising my previously drafted Motion to Dismiss that I had written weeks earlier. But being able to produce substantive work is really beneficial to my writing skills and style. That evening, we had a happy hour for Eric where a few of us met in the Boardroom for an hour.
The majority of my day on Friday was dedicated to addressing a draft for a reply brief to affirm Summary Judgement for Brad Davis. It is a lengthy project but very interesting. The issue is centered on fraudulent transfers between father and son so to be able to provide insight on a reply brief gives me great satisfaction. Around lunch time, Patrick Delaney wanted me to draft a Motion asking for more time to file an answer which was pretty simple and straight forward. After that, I worked on my Direct and Cross Examination workshop that we have Monday afternoon. It doesn’t seem like five weeks have passed, but I am excited to be that much closer to the Mock Trial to show what I have been learning.
Phoenix Barker, University of Miami
I can’t believe my summer at RKC is already halfway over. I feel like it was just days ago I was at the Orlando office meeting Grace, Paris, and Eric and getting acquainted with the firm. It’s even crazier that my final year of law school is right around the corner. Week 5 began with proofreading the citations and table of authorities of an appellate brief for Josh Lerner, which I tied up early in the day. Josh and I went to lunch and he told me about the cases he is currently working on and gave me some great career advice. That afternoon, I picked up where I left off researching whether customers are entitled to receive a copy of a quality assurance recording for Scott Sarason.
Tuesday, I worked on editing an article I wrote for Steve Smith on the litigation privilege in Florida. This article I actually wrote a couple weeks ago, but was able to incorporate some of the changes suggested by Steve and provide him an updated copy. Lunch on Tuesday was the annual Multicultural food festival. I brought a corn casserole—one of my Thanksgiving favorites—for the lunch. I literally could not move afterwards. All of the food was delicious! *Special shout out to Mercy Martinez for coordinating it!* That afternoon, I continued researching workplace violence in healthcare settings and slowly—but surely—updating my draft for Suzanne Singer.
On Wednesday morning, I attended a hearing with Maggie Sanders in front of Judge Michael Hanzman. The motion dealt with an issue regarding the assignment of benefits of an insurance policy for improvements made to a home. I have never been to a hearing before so it was fun to go watch and Maggie did a fantastic job. Back at the office, I first finished up my research on quality assurance recordings for Scott Sarason and then spent the rest of my afternoon drafting the article on workplace violence for Suzanne.
Come Thursday, I was researching product liability cases over the last year for Scott. In addition to continuing to work on my article for Suzanne, I prepared for my upcoming workshop on Direct and Cross Examinations. Additionally, I updated the trucking litigation checklists I have been working on for Jacey Kaps, an ongoing project he has assigned me. By Friday morning, I finished editing the article I was writing for Suzanne and we went out for lunch to American Harvest. The food was delicious and I received a lot of great advice. I was happy to finalize my first draft and am looking forward to her feedback.
That afternoon, the entire office went to happy hour at Blackbird Ordinary to bid farewell to David Emas. While I am sad to see David go, and my side of the office is sure to be much quieter, it was nice that everyone came together to celebrate his time at RKC and the next steps in his legal career (which I’m sure will be bright). After that, I went straight to the airport to head to Baha Mar—a resort in the Bahamas—with my boyfriend. The weather was beautiful! I had a great weekend relaxing, but I’m excited to be back for another week at RKC.
Grace Kobitter, Stetson
Time flies when you’re having fun (and learning a lot!)
And just like that, week five has come and gone. On Monday, I received a handful of new assignments to complete, some of which were timely research tasks that I immediately got started on. The first one was a procedural question from Rob Blank regarding what is considered sufficient notice for service of a notice of subpoena duces tecum to a non-party. A straight forward question, but I really had to search through the case law for a situation similar to the one I was presented with in order to find a court who had addressed this issue previously. My love for civil procedure definitely shined through and helped me find a few on point opinions.
I wrote in a previous blog post that I have to break assignments down into smaller pieces and then just start chipping away at the various projects, otherwise the “boulder” (that is my to-do list in its entirety) becomes overwhelming. On Tuesday, this was what I focused on doing. I was able to chip away at a few large assignments by getting some of the heavy lifting done in the research department on each. Primarily, I was able to make significant progress on an assignment for Carie Hall pertaining to when a claim for contribution can be asserted. This was another procedural question that I researched with nerdy enthusiasm. Tuesday was also the Multicultural Luncheon which was an awesome and delicious break in the day. Everyone in the office is a wonderful cook!
Wednesday was probably the busiest, and most exciting, day of the week. It started with the submission of a motion to compel response for Tyler Derr. I received the assignment on Monday and had drafted the majority of the motion on Tuesday, so on Wednesday I came into the office with fresh eyes to proofread and then turned it in. Around 8:30 am, I received an email from Abby Roberts, an attorney in the Miami office, who had a deposition via Zoom in the Tampa office that morning. I was able to sit in and help her present the deponent with an exhibit— this was the first deposition I had sat in on, so I was nervous to only be in the physical room with the deponent and the court reporter. It was interesting to see how technology allows attorneys to appear from other cities and locations. Abby was videoconferencing in from Miami, which is about five hours away, and the other attorney had called in from a nearby city. I say that technology is great and wonderful in allowing this option with the caveat of that is when it works of course! The beginning of the deposition was a battle with the technology to get it to cooperate and allow both the Zoom and standard telephone call to go through. Luckily we were able to out-smart it, and the rest was smooth sailing. I watched Abby on the screen and observed how she handled the technology obstacle and her line of questioning with the deponent, both of which were patiently, friendly, and straightforward.
After the deposition, I went back to my office and finished drafting a summary of the scene inspection I had gone to last week with Rob Blank. Once I turned that in, I was about to continue the research I had been working on earlier in the week for Carie when Meredith Fee came and asked me if I wanted to come to the hearing she was about to have. Of course I said yes! The Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court is downtown, so we decided to walk. We got a little turned around on the way—unintentionally taking the scenic route you could say—so we definitely got our steps in for the day. Nevertheless, we arrived with plenty of time to check-in, cool down, and review the motions. Once we were called back to the hearing room and setting up inside in front of the judge, I watched Meredith sort her documents and notes appropriately and could tell she had spent the requisite time preparing. Opposing counsel had a half-inch binder with him, it was tabbed and likely contained all that was necessary, but I thought it looked very professional and organized that Meredith had, what seemed to me, like any documentation that the judge might ask for ready to go. The hearing was for a motion to compel and to set the case for trial—we were successful on both and Meredith let me draft the proposed Orders for each. By the time we walked back to the office we were both hot and ready to take our heels off. Turns out, the temperature was so high that day that a heat advisory warning was out! That explains it.
On Thursday and Friday, I focused on continuing the work that I had prioritized on Tuesday. The materials for the Direct/Cross Examination workshop also came out late Wednesday afternoon, so I was able to read through that packet and begin strategizing and creating an outline for the line of questioning I anticipated presenting. The deposition was pretty entertaining considering the plaintiff’s demeanor and the frequent unbelievable comments and responses he gave. This will definitely be a fun cross! After returning from the hearing on Wednesday, I also had a chance to meet with Tyler to receive feedback on the motion to compel I had drafted, and also receive two motions for protective orders to draft for him. All of his assignments have been from the same case thus far, so I’ve been able to slowly start piecing together the bigger picture of the case for myself, which I have found helpful, as opposed to merely being filled in and reading through the case file. Also on Friday, I was able to sit in on a telephone conference with Rob and paralegal Susan McClugage to hear the initial expert opinion of the scene inspection that I had attended last with Rob last Wednesday. It was interesting to hear the opinions and perspectives of the experts, and I was grateful that Rob let me come to the inspection with him so that I could visually picture the area in my mind that the experts were referencing.
It’s hard to believe that this week marks the end of June and all that’s left is July! I have had immense exposure to different assignments, various issues, and interesting cases already and this was only week five! Every day is something new, and I’m looking forward to what next week brings.
Phoenix Barker, University of Miami
How has it already been a month?!
I can’t believe it is already Week four! My week started off fast-paced. I started by finishing the SAP writing competition motion, while working simultaneously on a few other projects. Associate David Acosta asked me to research the “one expert per specialty” rule pursuant to a pretrial order. Partner Jacey Kaps had tasked me with researching objections to a CME and whether a plaintiff could require an independent medical examiner to provide proof of medical malpractice insurance. In the afternoon, I attended the opening/closing argument seminar lead by partner Rob Blank. I spent my entire evening working on my motion for the writing competition.
On Tuesday morning, I attended the Direct and Cross Examination seminar lead by partner Scott Sarason. This was a different experience than my last few seminars, as the others I have attended via video conference. I really liked Scott’s interactive approach and his use of real-life cases and video examples to keep his presentation interesting. I’m excited to do the workshop next week! The rest of the day I spent working on a couple ongoing projects: the scope of Florida’s wrongful death statute and recoverable damages when there is a surviving spouse (for partners Steve Smith and Mike Holt); continued working on creating ‘checklists’ to utilize in defense trucking litigation (for Jacey Kaps); and researched untimely objections to notices of non-party subpoenas (for Mike Holt).
On Wednesday I left the office a little earlier than usual to get to the airport and head to the Tampa office. What everyone fears occurred: my flight was delayed three hours. However, I was able to get some more prep work done for the closing argument workshop that was taking place the next morning. When I finally landed in Tampa, I went straight to Grace’s apartment and we stayed up for a few more hours to continue talking about the case we were arguing the next morning. Thursday morning, Grace and I got to the office around 7:00 am to print our arguments and practice. In what felt like five minutes, 9:30 am hit and it was time to do the closing argument workshop. I must admit it was nerve-wrecking doing a closing argument in front of a room full of experienced trial attorneys (plus my mentor, associate Maggie Sanders via video conference).
Eric, Paris, and Grace all did such a great job—I was extremely impressed with their oral advocacy! I loved seeing everyone again since our orientation a few weeks back in Orlando, and hearing about what everyone had been working on. The workshop was extremely helpful. I received SO much feedback that I hope to incorporate into my closing argument for the mock trial. After the workshop, the firm took all the Summer Associates to a restaurant called Columbia for lunch. After a delicious meal, I went straight to the airport to travel back to the 305.
Friday, I spent playing catch-up after being gone for a day. I sat in on the beginning of a plaintiff’s deposition for one of Scott Sarason’s current product liability cases. In the afternoon, I talked with partner Suzanne Singer about an upcoming article she is authoring discussing workplace violence in hospitals that she wants my help with. To wrap up my week, I worked on reviewing/proofing an appellate brief for partner Josh Lerner. Over the weekend, I spent a much needed day at the beach and used some of my free time on Sunday catching up on assignments I hadn’t finished after traveling to Tampa. I’m learning a lot and I’m looking forward to the rest of my summer at RKC—and especially the mock trial (which is right around the corner)!!
Paris Baker, Barry University
Oh, the places you’ll go!
Week four in the Summer Associate program was the busiest I have been in a very, very long time. Monday, finally our writing competition paper was due. I know that all four of us were still finalizing it on Monday. Personally, I know I printed it out about four times then proofread it with a red pen until I couldn’t find any errors. The firm is big on submitting work that has been proofread. My mentor, Lindy Keown, taught me a trick which is to read the document backwards line by line. It is time consuming, but yet very efficient. So it is definitely a method I will be adding to my work ethic. We also participated in the Opening Statement and Closing Argument Seminar held by Rob Blank down in Tampa via Zoom. It was very informational and allows for our creativity. We will be giving our closing arguments. I represented the plaintiff in the case so I had to go first. The turnaround time for our workshop is Thursday so I had to get started right away.
Tuesday, I was able to tag along with Partner Sally Culley (also my mentor) to accompany her to an oral argument she had in the 4th DCA in West Palm Beach. She was appellee and it was extremely fun to watch her argue. We were fourth on the docket so I actually was able to witness three other arguments by lawyers. It was a really great experience. On our way back, I logged in via zoom to the Direct and Cross Seminar, which was likewise just as informational as the other seminars.
Wednesday, Eric presented his case summaries at the Orlando Attorney Luncheon. I was able to listen and learn from him since I will be presenting in two weeks. He did an awesome job. I was able to finally get some assignments out of the way. I finished a small research I had for Frank Sheppard and was able to get an assignment out of the way or Sally as well.
Thursday, Eric and I headed to Tampa with Kaye Daugherty and Angela Sterley to meet Phoenix and Grace for the Closing Argument workshop. Although I was extremely nervous, especially since I went first, it turned out really great. I was able to get feedback from attorneys, my peers, and even those in administration like Kaye and Angela. It was also great to watch Eric, Phoenix and Grace adjust to the criticism I was given, I think it showed their ability to change on the go. After that, we had lunch at the Columbia restaurant in Ybor city where the bread was absolutely amazing. They give you sort of a small loaf individually and I love bread. I am the type of person who likes to eat all of the bread and ask for more, so this was perfect for me. After that, we headed back to Orlando, barely missing traffic.
Friday, after a very long and busy week, I was happy to be able to sit at my desk and just complete assignments. I had a small meeting with associate Robert Barton who allowed me to draft a Motion to dismiss for an insurance case; met with associate Samantha Duke regarding punitive damages for a strict liability case; and turned in some work for partner LaShawnda Jackson. I also worked on the reply brief that Of Counsel Brad Davis assigned both Eric and me. We are one week away from July and that much closer to the mock trial.
Eric Lyerly, Stetson
Out of the frying pan into the fire
Week 4 was wild. It was my busiest week so far. On Monday, our Motion for the Writing Competition was due. One could feel the furious energy of the Summer Associates as we each worked to finish our motion by the end of the day. Nestled between Monday’s lunch hours was a seminar on Opening and Closing statements with Tampa partner Rob Blank. And you guessed it, we were tasked with performing a closing statement later in the week. On Monday evening, Rumberger’s first writing competition was a wrap. Hopefully we were good guinea pigs for this Frankenstein-ish experiment.
On Tuesday, we had time to catch our breath, especially Paris and me. President Trump came to Orlando to announce his reelection bid, and we were permitted to leave early to avoid traffic caused by his rally—a President’s (Half-) Day, if you will. From home, I conferenced into the Direct and Cross Examination seminar with Miami Partner Scott Sarason. I laughed, I cried—mainly because he spliced My Cousin Vinny scenes into his presentation.
On Wednesday, we had another Orlando Attorney’s Luncheon. The speaker was articulate, dynamic, and well-prepared; incidentally, the speaker was me! I presented three case summaries on recent District Court of Appeal opinions: issue, facts, holding kind of thing. No one is better prepared to brief a case than a law student. So, I was surprisingly at ease during my presentation. The cases I commented on were interesting enough to elicit questions, which I took as a good sign. It should be noted that we did not have Four Rivers BBQ for lunch (someone was trying to sabotage me), but I managed.
Pro Tip: If any one reading this ever has to do a case presentation, do not wait around for applause once you are finished. The attorney’s do not clap. Never mind that it resolves the “melody” of the presentation and signals its completion, you’ll hear more crickets then claps. The only way to make it not awkward is to sit down.
Out of the frying pan into the fire. On Thursday, Paris and I were shipped to Tampa to meet Grace and Phoenix for the Closing Statement workshop. Each of use gave a closing statement to a room full of partners and associates. I felt pretty confident in my closing. I had an interesting theme at least. I will say, though, the attorneys did not mince words. They spent about thirty minutes after each of our arguments reviewing what we could have done to be more effective. All in all, it was a nice experience, made even better by our lunch at Columbia Restaurant afterword.
Friday was comparatively tame. I worked to catch up on assignments from the week. Next week is my last in Orlando. So, be sure to tune in to see how it goes.
Grace Kobitter, Stetson
Field trips and traditions
Week four didn’t slow down a bit! Monday afternoon, I had my deposition workshop that had been postponed from week three. I had my outline ready to go and even sat in my office practicing the order of topics I wanted to cover beforehand. I haven’t observed a deposition yet, so my only exposure to the process was the seminar we had; that, on top of almost all of the Tampa office attorneys watching, made me super nervous! Luckily, once I got started, I was able to zone in and only focus on the chatty deponent, played by Steve Berlin, and the challenging opposing counsel, played by Joleen East. At the end, I received a ton of great feedback that I never would have known or thought of when I was initially prepping. I wish the summer was long enough that we had a second shot at some of the workshops!
On Friday, I was given an assignment to research whether a superseding criminal act can absolve another actor’s negligence and, on the following Tuesday, I was able to sit in on a telephone interview with individuals involved in the case. I was on the client counseling team for the Dispute Resolution Board at Stetson, so it was interesting to see how the conversations I prepped for in competition happen in real life. They are very different to say the least! The next morning, I finalized a summary of the interview before hitting the road with Rob Blank to visit the accident site where we were on the scene with an expert. We were on a very narrow and curvy road, so we wore bright orange reflective vests to alert cars. I think the reflection magnified the sun’s rays because I got some (much needed) sun! This experience was extremely helpful for the memorandum I was working on in relation to the case, to be able to see the road and visualize exactly what happened. We were also able to interview other individuals who were involved in the case and piece together what they said with the information we received in Tuesday’s interview.
On Wednesday night, Phoenix, the Miami office’s summer associate, flew into Tampa for the closing argument workshop. We were paired up against each other and prepared together that night. The next morning we met the Orlando summer associates at the Tampa office. It was great to have all four of us in the same place for a workshop and not have to do it via Zoom. Everyone was nervous for their closing, but we had all worked hard and prepared for these arguments. Afterwards, we were treated to lunch at Columbia—a 10+ year Rumberger tradition!
I was able to complete a few assignments on Friday that I had been finalizing all week. It was great to finally check some more items off of my assignment list. Next week, I have a handful of assignments due, so I was glad to be able to finish what was in progress in order to start next week with a fresh to-do list. I can’t believe next week is already the halfway point of the summer! Time is flying by.
Eric Lyerly, Stetson
Darryl, I hope you don’t read this!
This week was chock-full of activity. On Monday, we went back to school, or rather to Rumberger’s Associate College. The Associate College presents associates with an opportunity to continue their legal education and develop essential skills for the practice of law. This session’s topic was “Second Chairing at Trial.” Partners Rob Blank and Carie Hall explained how to perform the role of second chair. This was good, because at my previous college, we were only taught how to be first (Roll Tide). But seriously, it was interesting to hear the value that a second chair brings to a case, and I was happy to add Associate College to my Curriculum Vitae.
On Wednesday, Rumberger hosted a seminar and luncheon for the summer associates and FAMU law students. Partner Darryl Gavin and associate Shenele Pettis Bright gave a presentation on how to take a deposition. Thankfully, there was enough food—more than enough, actually, as we had our pick between Jason’s Deli and a Mexican Style Buffet. Rumberger knows its way to a law student’s heart. After the presentation, we were given materials to prepare us for the Deposition workshop to take place later in the week. From these, we drafted questions to develop testimony for a hypothetical insurance case.
Throughout the week, I continued to work on assignments both old and new. I completed a Motion for Summary Judgment and several interesting research memos—including one on the mystifying subject of attorney-client privilege. On Friday, we were given the unenviable task of deposing the Master, Darryl Gavin, the partner who gave the deposition presentation. I admit, I was nervous when it came my turn. But I asked some good questions, and took a decent, if not amateurish, deposition. I think I even saw Darryl shudder a little as I nailed him down to some important testimony. I hope he is not reading this! It was a fun, useful exercise that helped us to see an important part of the case-building process.
Saturday evening was the climax of the week. Paris and I, along with our significant others, were invited to dinner with Partners Frank Sheppard, Chase Hattaway, Sally Culley and their spouses. Spoiler alert: I was the ninth wheel since my wife was out of town. It was nice to enjoy one another’s company in a non-office setting. You tend to see a different side of people, and that was special. Rumberger treated us lowly summer associates like guests of honor. That wrapped up our third week at Rumberger.
Grace Kobitter, Stetson
Take me out to the ball game
At the beginning of week three, I was able to finish and submit an assignment I’d been working on regarding the various avenues of potential liability for a lessor in a lease, and what the best method of response will be to a claim under the doctrine of respondeat superior. I then began working on another assignment and, soon after, a handful of new assignments were added to my list! I’m glad to have a diverse workload that provides exposure to not only various types of documents and pleadings, but all sorts of challenging and tedious issues. It keeps things interesting, and my mind fresh!
On Wednesday, I attended the seminar on Deposition Basics via Zoom with two other Tampa office attorneys. I haven’t been able to observe a deposition yet, so it was a great presentation that revealed some of the mystery behind what goes on in a deposition. Afterwards, I immediately began reading through the materials so that I could have a thorough understanding of the issue and create a game plan for my questions. The Tampa office holds their own deposition workshop, so mine was scheduled separately from the other summer associates, but it was then rescheduled to Monday—stay tuned to next week’s post to see how it goes!
We were able to leave the office a little early and head down to Tropicana Field on Thursday for a Rays baseball game! The summer associate from last summer, Jessica, was even able to come, and she and I won the championship bean bag toss game! Despite our winning luck, it didn’t pass on to the Rays who lost. Regardless of the loss and Tropicana’s flickering power in the dome during the game (apparently a bird’s nest fell somewhere it clearly shouldn’t have!), it was a fun evening and a great time!
I spent the day on Friday working on my assignments and trying to make a dent in the list I have going. Next week is going to be packed with seminars, workshops, and deadlines, so I wanted to make as much progress as possible! This week has been a busy whirlwind, and I’m looking forward to submitting a few of my assignments next week and checking them off the list!
Phoenix Barker, University of Miami
Subject: Week 3—Check!
I am positive that each week I will be saying the same thing: the past week was busier than the last! I started out my third week at RKC attending a team meeting lead by partner Jacey Kaps to update everyone on the status of all of the trucking litigation cases the firm handles. While I admit I was a bit lost when each case was discussed, it introduced me to the fast paced nature of litigation and how important it is to stay in the loop—as a team. During lunch on Monday, I tuned into Second Chairing at Trial, a topic for the Associate College Luncheon. I enjoyed listening to the presentation and important points made by the two attorneys that presented—partners Rob Blank & Carie Hall.
On Tuesday, I was able to get out of the office and attend a deposition of an expert witness in Fort Lauderdale with associate Victor Sanabria. This was the second deposition I attended on the same case, except the last deposition was of a fact witness. It was fun to observe and see the case coming together, step-by-step. The deposition was taken to tee the witness up for a motion to strike him as an expert at trial. By the end of the week, however, the case was settled. I must admit I was a bit bummed because it would have been interesting to see the case argued in court. After work on Tuesday, we all headed down to Splitsville in Sunset Place for a night of bowling. While it is safe to say that bowling is not my forte, it was fun to wind down over food and drinks with all of the attorneys. After the game ended, all of the associates and I walked over to a bar for a drink to close out the night. Shout out to Mercy Martinez for setting it all up! Needless to say, I slept well that night!
On Wednesday, I attended the How to Take a Deposition Seminar by partner Darryl Gavin and associate Shenele Pettis Bright. He gave us a great outline for us to follow along and ask questions as needed. The rest of my day—and the rest of the week—I spent working on various assignments for partners Bob Fitzsimmons, Steve Smith, and Jacey Kaps. I was happy to finish a couple of them, but some are works in progress. I started my Friday preparing for and taking my first deposition for an insurance case. I’ll admit, I was a bit intimidated with all of the people who were watching from Orlando, but that is something I will quickly get over once I am more confident, and have a few more practice depos under my belt. Nonetheless, it was great getting feedback from a variety of people. Associate Maggie Sanders was with me in the conference room and gave me feedback as well. I will say this: Darryl Gavin did not go easy on me! (For which I am glad). I’m excited to keep working and improving.
On Saturday, I took a break and went down to Ocean Reef for the day. It was nice to relax and get out of Miami for the weekend. On Sunday, I worked on an article that Steve Smith assigned me to write discussing the litigation privilege in Florida. I also worked on my writing competition assignment for the Summer Associate Program, and I’m excited to turn it in and have it finished. The learning curve is high and I couldn’t be more thankful to be learning from such great attorneys. I have gotten a lot of really great advice and I’ve appreciated the time people have taken to explain things I have yet to experience or understand.
Next week I’ll be traveling to the Tampa office for the opening/closing workshop. I’m looking forward to meeting the Tampa office and to the rest of my summer.
Paris Baker, Barry University
Into the Heart of the SA-Program
Now that I have finished three weeks of the Summer Associate Program, I feel a lot more confident in the areas I am learning. I have had a wide variety of assignments and balancing that with seminars, workshops, and small in-office meetings on a daily basis have been extremely beneficial.
On Monday, Eric and I had a meeting with of counsel Brad Davis about writing a reply brief to an appeal. It’s a mortgage case and is very interesting. After that, we attended the Associate College Luncheon where the attorneys in the Tampa office were presenting on being Second Chair. It was a little long, but it was very informative and necessary to say the least. After that, I had a chance to finish up the work from the previous week, and looking forward to getting some new assignments this week.
On Tuesday, I was able to turn in my research for associate Robert Barton, and was instructed to go ahead and move forward with drafting the Motion to Dismiss due the following week. All on my own? Yes, same thing I was thinking, but after I became so familiar with the case law just by researching, drafting the Motion to Dismiss was the easier/fun part. But just because I said it was EASIER doesn’t mean it was easy. It was still complex, but was more interesting than the research. I think drafting motions allows for your creativity in the beginning portion. I also met with partner LaShawnda Jackson and turned in my deposition summary that she will be sending to the client. I must’ve proofread it five times just to make sure it was perfect, especially since I know it would potentially go from LaShawnda’s hand to the clients. The rest of the day, I continued to work on the writing assignment and other assignments I’ve had.
On Wednesday, we had a lunch seminar on depositions that was given by partner Darryl Gavin and associate Shenele Pettis Bright, with a few side comments here and there from “The” Bud Kirk himself. Some FAMU students were in attendance as well so it was a nice amount of people. We went over both the formality and strategy of taking a depositions. I think some wires were crossed because we had two full catered meals to choose from: Sandwiches or Fajitas. I chose my entrée (Fajitas) from one side and dessert from the other (of course deli places have the best cookies). Gotta love options! J After the seminar, we were given our deposition material packet, and of course I got started right away.
On Thursday, since I had already previously written my deposition outline the night before, I was able to meet with Shenele and my mentor associate Lindy Keown, just to give me a few pointers and see if my outline flowed like I intended. I was able to do a few dry runs alone to make sure that it was near 20 minutes and not too short or too long. I was also able to work on some research that Managing Partner Frank Sheppard assigned me. Before I know it, Thursday’s workday was ending and we were one day away from the weekend and completing another week at RKC.
It's now Friday, and I am finishing up my blog post for the end of the week. I just finished deposing Darryl and it was the best time ever. I may be over-exaggerating it a bit, considering I just finished the deposition about 2 minutes ago so my adrenaline is still pretty high. You all are getting a real-time post here. Oh, and not to mention, I ordered an iced caramel macchiato this morning and I don’t even drink coffee. A part of me feels like Sonic the Hedgehog, the amount of energy I have right now is crazy high. I now understand why the Starbucks line is always long. If this is what being a lawyer feels like, then I may have found my competitive edge after playing basketball all these years after all.
Darryl was an entertaining witness. He would say “I don’t know” often and give me the run around in his answers, making me work twice as hard. I thought I would be stuck to the Q&A on my outline, but I re-typed the outline about 15 times so I knew my questions, follow-up questions and even the follow-follow up questions too like the back of my hand. I was able to engage in conversation with him and get him tied up in his own web of discrepancies. There were certain points where I couldn’t get him to answer how I wanted and I was screaming on the inside because I would ask him the same question seven different ways, and he still wouldn’t budge. After 20 minutes, I think, I finished and let out a deep sigh and smiled because I was looking forward to the feedback. I was more excited about finishing so that he could advise me on how to get tough answers out of a witness rather than just being excited about being finished. Of all the things, even though I have yet to try them all, I think a deposition may be the most interesting to me. Or maybe Darryl just made a great witness. Either way, I look forward to continuing to add to my arsenal to get locked and loaded for the Mock Trial. Here’s to Week Three at RKC.
Disclaimer: Sorry for the long post, I mentioned I never drink coffee. :D
Paris Baker, Barry University
Assignments, Assignments, and More Assignments!
This week was nothing short of busy. I had many assignments including a Deposition Summary, research memorandum on Assignment of Benefits, statute compliance of Accountant-Client privilege in Texas and still worked on a good portion of the writing assignment as well.
On Tuesday, we had our first Motion Practice Seminar with partner Dan Gerber where he discussed how to handle oral arguments in the court room, chambers, or on the phone. We were given a packet with information regarding our Motion to Compel to Arbitrate for Friday morning. We had to be able to prepare for both the Plaintiff and the Defense side of the argument. I was paired up with Eric, and Grace and Phoenix battled each other. As the moving party, I went first and I felt so nervous as if I was speaking in front of millions, like I was running for president. Eric went after me and he was just as nervous as I was for some reason. Dan’s first comments were for us to relax and make it an argument. The second time around we did much better. When Dan asked me how I felt after the arguments, I told him it looked like he was staring into my soul with his piercing eyes. I mean literally, he was about two feet away from me with the most serious face I’d ever seen. If I can practice and win him over, then I know I will be able to do good further down the line. As far as my nervousness, I was able to have a brief meeting with him regarding tips that he likes to do when arguing in front of the judge.
On Wednesday, we attended our first Attorneys Luncheon. Partner Sally Culley discussed courtroom practices that she learned from a workshop that she went to with a few judges in Orlando. Then Partner LaShawnda Jackson gave us some information regarding the Daubert hearing that has been reinstated by Florida. On Thursday, Eric and I were able to accompany associate Patrick Delaney on a status hearing where we got the case dismissed. After that, we had our first meeting with Dan Gerber regarding a class action that we are assisting with. On Friday, I was able to go to the CFAWL Luncheon with LaShawnda and experience the association for women lawyers. It was extremely insightful. This week went by extremely fast, probably due to the amount of work and events involved. Nonetheless, I enjoyed every minute of it and look forward to the remaining weeks.
Grace Kobitter, Stetson
Hitting the ground running!
Week two started with the Tampa office’s weekly attorney meeting that I was able to sit in on Monday morning. I was able to hear the attorneys and paralegals discuss their schedules, as well as upcoming deadlines on their calendars. Afterwards, I went back to my office and finished up a few assignments that I had started the previous week. After turning those in, I continued working on my list of assignments hoping to check off a couple more by the middle of the week!
On Tuesday, the summer associates had the first seminar of the summer on Motion Practice. I conferenced into the Orlando office via Zoom, and it was great to see everyone’s face after nearly a week! Partner Dan Gerber discussed the purpose of hearings, as well as the structure and organization of how a hearing typically is conducted. He compared the practice of motions in state and federal court, and talked about the different approaches judges may have in regard to asking questions, specifically whether it was a hot or cold bench. We were instructed that we would be doing a Motion to Compel Arbitration on Friday for the workshop, and that we would be arguing for both the plaintiff and the defendant. Upon hearing this, and later after I had begun to work on preparing my motion, I was very grateful that I had taken trial advocacy at Stetson last semester. In that class, I was able to give a similar motion, so I was glad that I had at least some exposure to the exercise to calm my growing nerves!
Each day, in the morning and usually after lunch, I reviewed my assignment sheet and the deadlines of each, and wrote down the assignments that I wanted to focus on to ensure I was prioritizing appropriately. This really helped make sure that I had a plan for accomplishing everything. Sometimes when I look at all that needs to be done, or the “boulder” of work in its entirety, it can be overwhelming; therefore, I’ve learned that if I make notes of things that I want to complete and just start chipping away at the boulder, I’m able to finish everything with a lot less stress and in a much more efficient manner! Also, everyone has been extremely kind and welcoming. Attorneys and staff are always willing to stop what they’re doing and offer help and advice. I’m beyond grateful for that since I am still learning the ropes and know how busy everyone is with their own assignments and to-do lists!
Friday morning began with motion prep for the workshop. I had already drafted and finalized my argument for each side, but I wanted to practice in my office to make sure that I hit all of the points I had laid out! Phoenix and I argued against each other first, both appearing via Zoom, and it went really well for our first workshop. We were given feedback after each argument, and definitely did better on the second one given that we were less nervous and had one completed. Overall, we both did great! I’m looking forward to next week’s seminar and workshop on how to take a deposition! After the workshop, I continued to work on a memorandum analyzing the dangerous instrumentality doctrine to determine the potential liability of an anticipated defendant. The assignment has been very thought-provoking and tedious due to the specific terminology nuances of the application, but I’ve found case law that is right on point and that always excites me!
My first full week was extremely busy, but I loved every second! I’m definitely someone who would rather have a packed schedule than not simply because the structure of the work helps me stay organized, and due to all that I’m able to learn and gain exposure to. I’m looking forward to what week three has in store!
Phoenix Barker, University of Miami
To Do and Not to Do
The past week has been great, yet it was substantially busier than week one! It is beginning to become abundantly clear to me why it is critical to stay on top of your workload. It seems like everyone—partners and associates alike—has to juggle a large caseload at any given moment, and not miss important deadlines with clients and the court. My week started off continuing to work on a memorandum assessing an opposing party’s compliance with the federal rules of civil procedure for partner Mike Holt. That was an interesting project, and I was glad to tie it up by mid-week. I also researched and wrote the legal standard portion for a response to a plaintiff’s motion to amend a complaint to add punitive damages in a product liability case. This was my first time working on an actual document to be filed with the court.
On Tuesday, Grace, Paris, Eric, and I attended our first seminar on motion practice taught by partner Dan Gerber. Dan gave us the “to-dos” and “not-to-dos” of motion practice in both state and federal court. Dan’s advice was helpful in preparation for our motion workshop that we had on Friday. Grace and I were paired up to argue against each other, and then swap sides. We were assigned to argue on a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to an arbitration clause in an employment agreement. The issue—which was entirely hypothetical—was whether actions taken by an employee arose out of his employment, so as to require the legal action against his employer to be decided in binding arbitration.
On Wednesday morning, I got to the office a little earlier than usual to attend a mediation with partner Josh Lerner. I enjoyed sitting in and seeing how mediation typically goes. I had a warped expectation that both parties would be conversing in the same room. (I blame TV for making me think that). I found it interesting how the mediator “floats” between two rooms to ease both sides to “meet in the middle” and reach an agreement. This particular mediation was a settlement negotiation for a breach of contract dispute. It was quite interesting to see how much the parties moved from their original positions.
By Friday morning, Grace and I were prepped for our motion practice workshop; we argued both sides and received immediate feedback afterwards from Dan. I enjoyed doing this because it gave Grace and me an opportunity to learn by doing. I am a “hands-on” type of learner, so I am excited for all the seminars and workshops to come! In my (slim) free time, I was able to get some work done on the Summer Associate Writing Competition assigned to us by partner Steve Klein. As I am sure, Week 3 will only be busier, so I was glad to get some of mine completed before the weekend started. Next week we are going bowling on Tuesday, and I am looking forward to getting to know more of the firm outside of the office! So far, I am loving the fast-paced environment of the firm. Deadlines, upcoming motions, etc., all keep work exciting! Plus—as an added bonus—the learning curve is high!
Eric Lyerly, Stetson University College of Law
Busy and then some
Week two at Rumberger was busy: the assignments picked up significantly (I received 10). And none of them are quite the same. By the work load alone, one can tell that the attorneys put a lot of faith in the Summer Associates. What is more, the assignments are meaningful. For example, I was tasked with drafting a Motion for Summary Judgment—my first dispositive motion. Also, Paris and I are working on a profoundly important civil rights case. Add to this the Motion Seminar and Workshops, and you have a recipe for an outstanding week of work and training.
On Tuesday, we had our Motions Seminar with partner Dan Gerber. The session hearkened back to the early days of our legal education, such as Research and Writing I and II, where most of us drafted and/or argued a motion. However, this seminar, while undeniably cerebral, was also highly practical. It focused on form as much as substance. Indeed, there is something different about receiving Motions coaching from an attorney who does it for a living. At the end of the session, Dan wished us luck at the Motion workshop on Friday, the companion to the seminar where we apply what we learned.
On Wednesday, Orlando had its Attorney Luncheon, a bi-weekly lunch-and-learn with two components. First, an associate does a case presentation on three recent litigation-relevant cases. They contextualize the cases, discuss their holdings, and opine about their implications. Next, a partner discusses an area of practice and offers experiential insights into it. Both the presentations and the lunch were great. I am not sure which gets the nod. I mean, we did have Four Rivers BBQ. As a southerner, I am enormously tough on BBQ, but this was good stuff! Incidentally, I am giving the case presentations at the next attorney luncheon. So, check back in a few weeks to see how it went. Also, if admin is reading this, please consider supplying a meal as noteworthy as Four Rivers––I need all the help I can get.
On Thursday, we went to a hearing at the Orange County Courthouse with associate Patrick Delaney. The elevators in the courthouse are weird. They do not have buttons; they are preprogrammed to shuttle passengers to a certain floor. I felt like I was at the Ministry of Magic. Later, Patrick prevailed in his matter before the judge. That also felt like magic. It was heartening to see a Rumberger attorney have courtroom success. Also, it made me excited to attend other hearings, depositions, etc.
On Friday, we had our Motions Workshop with Dan Gerber. Earlier in the week, Dan provided us with materials from which to argue. Paris and I each had 7 ½ minutes to argue our case, and then we flipped and argued from the other side—which is always tough. Afterword, “Judge Dan” offered thoughtful commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of our arguments. Overall, we both argued well, and we both felt that this was a valuable exercise. Now to work on the many assignments I have collected. See you next week.
Phoenix Barker, University of Miami
My first week at RKC flew by!
My first week at Rumberger was exciting! On Tuesday and Wednesday I was in the Orlando office for training and orientation. We covered everything from billable hours to research. After our first day, the other Summer Associates and I were treated to a fun experience at an escape room in Downtown Orlando. I am happy to say that the “Rumburglars” (our team name) broke the record for the fastest time escaping the room with seventeen minutes left on the clock! It was great to get out of the office with some of the attorneys and staff to unwind after a long day of training.
After a very productive day and a half, I was eager to get started. Once I was situated back in the Miami office, things began to pick up and I attended my first Attorney’s Luncheon in the boardroom. I enjoyed listening to the case brief presentation. To me, this was a great way to stay informed on current case decisions all while spending quality time with colleagues. By the end of Thursday, I was busy researching issues regarding compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and expert disclosures. To understand the issues I had been tasked with evaluating, I spent a considerable amount of time looking through the case file to understand the issues that caused the lawsuit to arise. Aside from researching procedural compliance, I began to look into creating a checklist to be used in the defense of trucking accident litigation. As I am sure I will learn very quickly, a necessary skill in practice is organization. I will never forget the one takeaway of litigation that my 1L Civil Procedure Professor drilled into my memory—Prepare for trial! Looking back, I know exactly what he meant now. As the litigation process develops in a case, it is important to make sure everything has been accounted for; this is where checklists come in handy!
On Friday, I went to lunch with a couple of associates—Maggie Sanders and Stacy Mateu. It was great getting to know them outside the office and I am excited to become more familiar with everyone as my summer at RKC progresses. By Friday afternoon, I wrapped up my first week by attending the deposition of a fact witness for an upcoming case with associate Victor Sanabria. While I’ve read about and completed some “practice” depositions in my time at UM Law, listening and watching it for a real case (as opposed to a hypothetical case) was much more informative and I’m excited to learn more at our upcoming seminar!
Week one exceeded my expectations and I am looking forward to a great summer at Rumberger’s Miami office!
Eric Lyerly, Stetson
The First Week
It was the best of times; it was . . . well, the best of times. My first week at Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell was a blast. The summer associates from RKC’s various offices spent the first two days in training—rigorous training. The first day of training prepared us for one of the more technical aspects of practice: timekeeping. Associate Brett Carey, one of my mentors for the summer, led a timekeeping seminar and delineated protocols and best practices. After this, partner Sally Culley hosted a Research and Writing seminar for us. With all due respect to the seminars, receiving a work assignment from the Managing Partner was perhaps the highlight of the day.
At this point, it was becoming manifest that RKC’s Summer Associate Program was unique. This proved itself even more true as the day came to an end and an Escape Room experience became imminent. In the late afternoon, a group of roughly twelve associates and partners found themselves in the study of Professor James Moriarty—the arch nemesis of the great Sherlock Holmes and “the Napoleon of Crime.” Within the hour, the nefarious Moriarty planned to unleash a lethal biological weapon on the world unless “The Rumburglars” could find the antidote. I hoped being a fan of Sherlock Holmes (my dog is named after one of its characters) would come in handy. Indeed, as soon as the countdown began, it seemed like the ordeal was over. We completed several puzzles and ultimately secured the antidote in record time, thwarting Moriarty’s nefarious scheme in an insignificant 42 minutes and 53 seconds. Needless to say, we felt accomplished. And I took our success as a sign that Rumberger is a special firm and that I could expect similar successes over the summer. We concluded the day with dinner and drinks at a quaint Irish Pub.
The second day was equally as exciting as the first. After a few training sessions, I received a second assignment from associate Patrick Delaney. Incidentally, this assignment and the one I received earlier in the week were both Motions to Compel discovery. I was incredibly excited to receive these assignment since discovery consumes a considerable part of a litigation attorney’s time. I proceeded to work on my assignments throughout the day
Everyone who is anyone knows about Rumberger’s matchless Summer Associate Mock Trial. However, on Thursday, partner Steve Klein explained that, for the first time, summer associates will compete in a writing competition. He explained that it would be a new hallmark of the program. Admittedly, I shuddered when I first heard the words writing competition, but after hearing it explained, I felt excited to participate in it—and grateful that Rumberger puts this kind of time and energy into its program. Truly, there is no other program like this. In the afternoon, I received a third assignment from my other mentor, partner Chase Hattaway. I was asked to perform verdict research to ascertain the value of a case for one of our clients. This was a surprisingly stimulating research project, and I received insights into how to appraise a case’s worth. On Friday, the first full day without training, I worked on my assignments—completing at least a first draft for all of them. I found my first week enormously fulfilling. Week 2 is up next!
Grace Kobitter, Stetson
And we’re off!
I can’t believe it’s already time for my summer at RKC! The first week was a short, 4-day week that flew by! Late Monday afternoon, I drove to Orlando and checked in at the Grand Bohemian in preparation for orientation the following two days. That night, I met Phoenix Barker, the summer associate in the Miami office, who was also staying at the hotel, and we chatted over dinner about our excitement for all to come this summer and what to expect.
The next day began with a delicious breakfast with the attorneys and staff in the Orlando office, which was followed with a packed schedule of orientation activities! After the seminars and workshops finished for the day, the summer associates walked with a group of attorneys over to the Great Escape Experience, where we were not only able to break out, but also set a record for a group of our size with over 17 minutes remaining! It was everyone’s first time doing an escape room too! Afterwards, we went next door to the Irish Pub and had great dinner while rehashing some of the day’s events.
Wednesday was a half day of orientation where we finished our training on the computer, learned about the firm’s Westlaw usage, and watched EEO/HIPAA videos. After lunch, sadly it was time for all of the summer associates to head back to their respective offices. When I arrived at the Tampa office, I was shown to my office and was reintroduced to the attorneys and staff. I was told no one would have any assignments for me until tomorrow so I should get settled in and ready to work!
On Thursday morning, I received my first official assignment—to research whether an order to remand a case back to state court could be appealed, if it was remanded on the grounds the attorneys anticipated it would be. Shortly after receiving this assignment, I was given a list of other assignments that needed to be completed; luckily all had various deadlines! I liked having multiple assignments because I found strictly researching one issue would sometimes lead me down a rabbit hole, and I needed to switch to another topic for a few hours to keep my brain fresh and let my subconscious mull over what I’d been reading. Having numerous assignments also allowed me to get an early start on learning to manage my time and prioritize what needed attention first in order to stay on top of my work and ahead of the deadlines! Also, I called into the Orlando office to learn the details of the Writing Assignment the summer associates were given during orientation. This is the first year the program has included a writing competition such as this, so the guidelines were given so we knew what was expected of us writing this motion and memorandum! The attorneys also took me out to lunch to welcome me, and it was great to be able to get to know everyone outside of the office setting.
On Friday, I continued to work on the assignments I’d started the day before, and was lucky with another lunch out with the attorneys and the firm’s COO, Joe Mule—I was told back to back lunches were rare, so I made sure to savor them! Overall, my first week was jam-packed with excitement, from orientation in Orlando to being given my first assignments in Tampa, and I can’t wait to see how the summer unfolds and what week two will bring!
Paris Baker, Barry University
It’s Finally Here!The last few months for me have been extremely intense. I was juggling finishing my second semester of my 2L year, and focused on bringing my daughter into this world on April 12th, just to get back to school and finish finals. After finishing my last final, I was able to get about a two week break to mentally prepare for my new journey at Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell. As those two weeks passed, I created a goal list for myself, and one of those things was to be more sociable. I often get caught with my head buried in my work that I sometimes forget to enjoy those around me. Before I knew it, May 28th was here and I was arriving at the office at 8:15 prior to the Meet & Greet Breakfast! As I arrived, I met the other Summer Associates Eric, Grace and Phoenix. I immediately found myself at ease. It was as if I belonged at RKC because I didn’t feel like I needed to force conversation, it just flowed so easily. We discussed the normal: finals, internships, and introductory background information about one another. Then we headed to the conference room where all of the staff and attorneys were there to greet us. We had a nice breakfast and enjoyed speaking with multiple people. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t remember every single person’s name who shook my hand, but each introduction was very genuine so I was extremely appreciative of that.
After the breakfast, we started the normal new hire paperwork followed by a time-keeping seminar, research and writing seminar and a computer training seminar. At the end of the day, we walked to The Escape Room with a few other attorneys and managed to escape in 41 minutes, beating the old record for the size of our group! None of us had been to The Escape Room before, so as newbies, we felt pretty good about breaking a record. It was really fun to see all of us use our different intellectual abilities to figure out puzzles and clues. After that, we had dinner at an Irish pub then that was it, I officially finished my first day at RKC!
The second day, we had a half of day of training and were given the writing assignment for the competition assigned by partner Steve Klein. Then that was it, Kaye sent us off to our respective offices. I walked into my office feeling new and accomplished. It was time to really get down to work. I met with my mentors partner Sally Culley and associate Lindy Keown and let them know I was available to work. In the meantime, I put my head down and got started on the writing assignment. Thursday was my birthday and when I walked to my office, on the door was a ‘Happy Birthday’ sign and holder on my desk. That morning was filled with everyone stopping by wishing me happy birthday as they passed my office. It made me feel really welcomed and had started at the perfect time. For lunch, I was able to attend the Paul C. Perkins Scholarship Luncheon as a guest. Last year I was a recipient of the award. It was great being able to see it from a spectator view with the other attorneys. After returning to the office, we had a small cake celebration for the May birthdays. Although this day was just as hectic as the first day, or even more for me, I was able to get an assignment from Sally regarding protective orders. I got started on that and was able to finish it on Friday. Before I got swamped with assignments, I’ve been getting a head start on digging in to the writing assignment. What can I say, a long lifetime as a basketball player always keeps me in competitive mode which requires preparation and dedication. Filling out my desk calendar, I was able to see at a month’s glance all of the great things Kaye has planned for us this summer. I am extremely grateful, nonetheless excited, to be a Summer Associate with RKC and I cannot wait to see how the rest of these nine weeks will go.
Welcome Paris, Eric, Phoenix and Grace!
RKC Summer Associates from left to right: Eric Lyerly, Paris Baker, Grace Kobitter and Phoenix Barker
Welcome Paris, Eric, Phoenix and Grace! We are so excited to have you as part of our 2019 Summer Associate Program. Paris joins us from Barry Law School and will be working in our Orlando office. Eric Lyerly joins us from Stetson University College of Law and will be in our Orlando office for the first half of the summer and Birmingham for the second half. Phoenix Barker attends the University of Miami School of Law and will be working in the Miami office. Grace Kobitter joins us from Stetson University College of Law and will be working in the Tampa office.We have a full summer planned for each of you.
For the next ten weeks, you will participate in a series of seminars (many followed by workshops) – all taught by our experienced trial attorneys and designed to hone your professional and practical skills. These exercises will also prepare you to put your best foot forward during the highlight activity of the summer, RKC’s Mock Trial. If you have your sights set on being a litigator, then you are in the right program! We have added a writing “competition” to the schedule this summer as well. There will be plenty of research and writing projects, and you will be observing depositions and hearings and other events. You will be working side-by-side with RKC partners and associates on real client work.
So get ready to roll up your sleeves, because it is going to be a fantastic summer!
Your friends at RKC