Frank Sheppard Works Hard, but Still Makes Time to Volunteer and Spend Time with His Family

03.17.17 | Permalink

For the past 10 years, Frank Sheppard has been at the helm of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell as the Managing Partner steering the firm and helping it to grow and continue to be successful. In addition to functioning as the firm’s CEO, Frank runs a thriving practice of his own focusing in the areas of professional liability, employment and commercial litigation. Frank talks about his life growing up in a legal family, his perspective on what makes RKC so unique and what he enjoys most about his work and his life.

Frank grew up spending quite a bit of time hanging around law firms in his home town of Pensacola. “My father was a lawyer and he would take me to the office on Saturday mornings before we went fishing together. He would work for a while and I would keep myself busy playing with the Dictaphone,” remembered Frank. “Then, later, when I was a teenager, I worked as a runner in the firm during summers. This was during a time long before email or even faxes, so anything of urgency was hand delivered. I had a daily route from the courthouse, to the larger firms, and to public records and banks. I learned about deeds and mortgages and I knew what a pleading looked like and that documents had to be clocked in at a certain time,” he continued.

“There were always law books around the house and I can still remember how they smelled. My younger brother used to sit on the Florida Statutes in order to reach the dinner table.

Frank worked for a federal judge in the Northern District of Florida during his last semester in law school who suggested Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell. “He pointed out that my father’s partner had worked for a large Tampa firm before moving back to Pensacola. My plan was to come to Orlando and work for a few years before heading back home. Instead, I got hooked on the firm, made good friends, met my wife, and here I am 30 years later,” he said.

Frank obviously enjoys his work and those he works with or he certainly would not have stayed with the firm for all these years. “We were handed a unique and great culture from the founding partners and we’ve done a really good job of preserving and passing it on from generation to generation,” Frank said. When Frank joined the firm things were very exciting at the time.

“We were doing sophisticated work and trying cases all over the country and having a great deal of success. The personalities of the founding partners were contagious—we worked hard, but had a ton of fun while doing it,” remembered Frank. “The enthusiasm and energy we had then continues on today. Even though the times have changed, and we have a larger and more diverse workforce, we share the common value of doing the best possible job we can for the clients and we all work very hard toward that common goal and towards maintaining the firm’s reputation.”

In addition to being influenced by the founding partners, Frank says his father’s work ethic and integrity made a deep impression on him. “My father was a man of consummate integrity. He was exceptionally honest. In addition, he was extremely smart and very hardworking. My dad never went to law school or college. He studied for the bar on his own and passed in a year when only about 37% passed,” said Frank.
Perhaps one of the reasons Frank works so hard is that he enjoys the work that he does. “I find the work I do as Managing Partner very rewarding, but I also find much satisfaction in working with my clients to help resolve business issues and enable their businesses to thrive,” said Frank. A professional liability lawyer has to understand the underlying business of the professional in order to represent the client and be successful. “I really enjoy learning about other people’s businesses and have found these types of cases to be so gratifying because I develop a personal and strong relationship with the client. They rely on me to understand their business and their expertise. I take that trust very seriously,” he explains.

“With professional liability defense, the professionals are not just defending their livelihood, but also their reputations,” said Frank. “As professionals, we identify ourselves as a doctor or lawyer or successful business person, or whatever. When you are attacked, it becomes very personal in nature. Many times, the professional’s self-esteem is at risk. It’s important to realize the personal significance of these cases in addition to the financial aspects.”

In his employment litigation practice, Frank represents employers in both the public and private sectors and has defended them in a wide variety of claims from harassment and wrongful termination to retaliation and violation of civil rights. He has defended employers against claims of discrimination based on gender, age, ethnicity, religion and disability.

“I find employment litigation extremely interesting and have spent a number of years building long-term relationships with the organizations and people I represent including a number of school boards and educational institutions. The issues raised are often about more than just money. The issues create precedent and affect how the business or organization will operate. It’s not just a case about one employee, but will be a determinant for how to conduct business and manage employees in the future,” noted Frank.

Frank has also been tapped as an expert to speak on employment issues and speaks about how to avoid employment claims. “Good policies and consistent enforcement of those policies is the key to avoiding employment claims,” he said. “I also recommend training on equal employment opportunity issues and the interactive process under the ADA.”

Franks favorite cases are those that challenge him mentally and involve complex issues, such as some of the first amendment cases he’s tried for public entities, but most importantly he said he enjoys learning about the client and doing a good job for them “I’m always personally invested in getting a good result,” Frank admitted.

In addition to working hard for his clients, Frank also serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Hospice of the Comforter. “My mom was a registered nurse and she worked as a volunteer with people who were dealing with terminal illness. After she passed away, I saw firsthand the difference they [Hospice] made in people’s lives and decided right away I wanted to be a part of it,” said Frank. “Over the years, my commitment has grown and I serve as the Chairman of the Board of the Foundation.” In addition, the organization is affiliated now with Florida Hospital so Frank is also on the Executive Board of the Florida Hospital Foundation.

Hospice of the Comforter is the only non-profit hospice serving Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. “The need for a non-profit, faith-based hospice in the community is so important and I’m proud to help them fulfill their mission and to serve the community,” he continued.

Like at work, Frank is happiest keeping busy in his free time and spending time with his family. Frank and his wife Lisa have a son graduating soon from the University of Virginia and McIntire School of Commerce, and a daughter who is in her first year at UVA. Like many parents, Frank and his wife have spent a lot of time on athletic fields cheering on their kids. His daughter ran cross country track and played soccer. Their son was a starting defensive back at Bishop Moore Catholic High School and played baseball and several other sports growing up. “We live a very active lifestyle,” said Frank. “I enjoy being outdoors. We like the water—sailing, fishing, boating and snorkeling and try to snow ski once every couple of years or so. Of course, in the fall, I like to watch FSU football,” he said. “In addition, my wife and I are very active in a number of community organizations, have a good group of friends and we truly enjoy having fun together.”

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Rumberger’s Cookin’ Counselors Cook Up Some Serious Chili

03.14.17 | Permalink

Congratulations to RKC’s Birmingham Chili Cook-off Team—Scott Williams, Rebecca Beers, Fred Clarke, and Leah Downer—for being awarded third place at the 13th Annual Exceptional Foundation Chili Cook Off. Competition was fierce this year with 120 teams cooking for a top spot. The event continues to grow each year and attracted 12,000 attendees and raised an estimated $350,000—more than it has ever raised in previous years.

“We have a great recipe from Scott Williams,” said Rebecca Beers. “In addition to ground beef, we use a smoked, spicy sausage that gives the chili that extra something,” said Rebecca. “It’s an Alabama-made product that is a local favorite,” she added.

It must be something special because Scott Williams has entered the contest 12 of the 13 times it’s been held and has brought home five trophies including a first place, 2 second place and 2 third place trophies. 

“It’s a great event and we enjoy raising money for a wonderful organization,” said Scott.

The Exceptional Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides social and recreational activities for individuals with special needs. Daily programs include field trip outings, competitive sports teams and various social events. The overall daily goals of The Exceptional Foundation are to enhance the lives of its participants through a variety of activities and to provide a community for the mentally challenged population and their families.

Just like any great chili recipe, all of the right ingredients make this event an annual favorite in Birmingham. Start with a great cause, add in a caring community of sponsors and participants, delicious chili to taste, live music and great weather and you’ll have a recipe that can’t be beat. It’s no wonder the event continues to break records year after year.

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Dara Jebrock Talks About Building Her Construction Practice

03.08.17 | Permalink

When Dara Jebrock, a partner in RKC’s Orlando office, began practicing law, she never imagined she would focus her practice on construction defect cases. Dara talks about her path that led her to work in construction law seven years ago, how things have changed over the years and her passion for her work and her travels.

When Dara entered college, she envisioned a career in government and majored in political science. Dara had been interested in government and history since high school and even served as president of student body. After working on some campaigns, she decided to change directions. “While I didn’t have a game plan or practice area in mind, I was drawn to the challenge of law school,” advised Dara.

Dara fell in love with litigation while working as a law clerk at an insurance defense firm. Dara said she knew she wanted to be a litigator because she enjoyed every aspect of it— from writing and researching cases to being present and participating in court. “After graduating from law school, I was hired at an insurance defense firm in Miami. Although I was working very long hours, from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., I truly enjoyed the work. I felt mentally stimulated and challenged all of the time.” Dara described that coming out of law school, the first and second year attorneys were given a lot of responsibilities and were always learning how to strategize, communicate with opposing counsel, working with clients and figuring out how to be a lawyer. “Luckily, I worked on a wide variety of cases so I was forming a clear picture of what I liked and didn’t like. After two and a half years of working really hard, I still enjoyed the work I was doing, but I also knew I was starting to burn out. I wasn’t actively looking to move, but a friend of mine worked at RKC and told me about an opportunity here.“

She already knew she wanted to be in commercial litigation when she joined the RKC team. “I never expected to enjoy construction cases as much as I do.” Construction defect cases are complicated and expert driven. “While we often deal with the similar legal issues, the cases are all different because the alleged defects are different for each property, said Dara. “These cases typically involve a lot of parties, attorneys, hearings, etc. I am always learning from others and I find the cases and constant opportunity to learn fascinating. The learning curve is really big because when working with experts on these cases, I have to have them teach me about proper construction methods and engineering. I also spend a lot of time in the field to see what’s being alleged and research the particular issue.”

Now Board Certified in Construction Law, Dara looks back to her beginnings in a challenging practice area. “I had to work hard to become conversant and earn the trust of the clients and opposing counsel that I can handle these large cases properly. Experts would come in wearing jeans and construction boots and wonder about the woman talking about stucco. I’ve definitely overcome those challenges as I have gotten to know the attorneys in this practice area and have built a reputation.” Having built her practice in this area, Dara advised that she is now treated as an equal. “In a practice area traditionally made up of male attorneys, I’ve noticed there are more women at the table than there were seven years ago. In addition, you also see entire juries made up of professional women, so the practice is diversifying both at the table and behind the jury box.”

Because she enjoy learning about new things, Dara loves to travel and explore different places. Recently she traveled to St. Thomas where she explored the ocean while driving an underwater motor scooter. “The BOSS (Breathing Observation Submersible Scooter) Underwater Adventure puts you down in the water wearing an oversized helmet that allows you to breathe normally and offers unobstructed views of the tropical reefs and colorful fish while you scoot around. The whole time I was under water, I kept trying to figure out how the machine works.”

Dara has also traveled extensively to Europe. “My favorite city is Paris, but I’ve also visited Milan, Florence, Rome and Venice. I usually take one big trip each year and squeeze in smaller trips around Miami or visiting friends in New York City whenever I can. And, because I work hard, I find the best way to decompress is by doing Pilates and yoga at least three times a week.”

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Recent Updates

03.17.17  Frank Sheppard Works Hard, but Still Makes Time to Volunteer and Spend Time with His Family  Read Article >>

03.14.17  Rumberger’s Cookin’ Counselors Cook Up Some Serious Chili  Read Article >>

03.08.17  Dara Jebrock Talks About Building Her Construction Practice  Read Article >>

03.08.17  Michael Begey Talks About Great Mentors, Good Clients and Family  Read Article >>

03.08.17  A Closer Look at Bud Kirk Outside the Courtroom  Read Article >>

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