Samantha Duke: Having a Career and Family are not Mutually Exclusive
07.18.19 | Permalink
Samantha Duke has always liked to be challenged, which is exactly what she likes about her practice that is focused on consumer and product defense and class actions. Growing up in Gainesville, Samantha says she was always a good student and was motivated to take on tough courses that were thought-provoking and challenging. Years later, Samantha says these are the same qualities she enjoys most about her law practice and work. “I like that each case is different, complicated and interesting,” she said. Samantha joined Rumberger eight years ago and began working with partner Doug Brown on consumer defense claims under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA).
“Consumer defense claims cases lend themselves to class action lawsuits,” explained Samantha. “These cases are typically economic injury cases based on an advertising claim or claim of defective product without injury. “Because the stakes are typically high in these cases, you get to explore creative, new and interesting defenses,” she said. “I like the opportunity to think through really tough and complex issues,” she continued. “I also like that I get to touch a lot of different areas of law. For example, I’ve been worked class actions for consumer protection issues, product liability, employment, civil rights, warranty and Telephone Consumer Protection Act cases. While the framework of the class action is the same, the underlying substantive issues are different and that makes my work a lot more fascinating,” she said.
In 2016, Samantha assisted in securing a denial of class certification in a multi-state putative class action venued in the Northern District of California.
Samantha thrives on the diversity of her work. “One week I’m doing legal research in the office and then the next I’m out of the office doing depositions, hearing or inspections. “It’s very different than my first job when I worked as a claims adjuster after graduating from college. She admitted that law school was always in mind.
When she is not working, Samantha is busy playing and spending time with her two daughters and husband. “With two girls under the age of five, we definitely spend a lot of time at Disney and at the pool during the summertime. Even a trip to Publix can be considered a field trip.” she laughed.
“It’s important to me that I show my daughters that you can be a mom and have a career you enjoy,” noted Samantha. “I want them to see that they have choices to do whatever they want,” she added. “It’s also good that they know they are not the only important thing in my life. I have a job and sometimes I have to travel. They are very well adjusted and handle that well because they have a great father who is able to be home and doesn’t need to work late or on the weekends,” she explained. “They actually get excited when I’m out of town because they’ll get to watch television shows during dinner,” she laughed.
Samantha’s husband teaches fifth grade, so in addition to him having a regular schedule, he is also home during the summer. “He likes that he’s able to do home improvements projects and take care of the house during the week so that the weekends are filled with fun.”
Before the girls were born, Samantha and her husband liked spending time outdoors hiking. “We really enjoy the mountains and visiting places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. On one hike, we climbed Yosemite Falls and the sign said it was a three mile trail. We figured we’d be done in an hour, but it was so steep, it took us six hours to get to the top and back. It was the most exhausted we’ve ever been,” she remembered. “While we won’t be doing any trails like that for a long time, I’m excited to take the girls with us to spend time exploring the trails in Utah and Yosemite.”
From the Classroom to the Courtroom, Fred Clarke Talks about His Journey into Law and His Many Interests Outside the Courtroom
06.28.19 | Permalink
Fred Clarke enjoys a diverse general practice that includes a wide variety of commercial litigation from bankruptcy and finance litigation to construction and automotive warranty work where he assists automotive manufacturers in warranty and Lemon Law matters, as well as against alleged product defects.
“Recently, I’ve been working with Scott Williams helping mine workers to protect benefits, healthcare, and pensions and position them for collective bargaining after bankruptcy, which has been both challenging and rewarding,” noted Fred.
Fred has gained trial experience early in his career and has already witnessed the importance of preparation. “I like working with different partners because I get exposure to a lot of cases and more opportunities to be in court. The trials I’ve worked on have been my favorite experiences so far. It takes a lot of preparation to be confident and ready for trial, but it is well worth it in the end,” he said.
Fred talked about his first trial experience where he was able to handle and prepare the case on his own with only minimal supervision from partner Jimmy Walsh. “It was a small matter for a client for whom we typically work on larger issues. It was helpful to work on a case with lower stakes and gain valuable experience and confidence for my next case which had much higher stakes,” he said. “Although it was a big commercial fraud construction case, I felt much calmer during my cross examination of their expert witness thanks to the formative skills I learned in my first, smaller case,” he explained.
“While we won both of those cases, sometimes a case does not go your way and it’s just as important to pay attention and identify the missed opportunities. That happened recently in an arbitration case that we knew was a long shot and did not go our way. Focusing on how we could have handled some things differently helps to be even better prepared next time,” he added.
Seeing the impact of his work and helping clients is what Fred enjoys most about being a lawyer and what led him to leave the classroom to pursue law. “I really like having measureable feedback, which is especially true in trial. In law, you’re always working toward a goal and advancing cases, which I have found more satisfying than when I was teaching composition at the University of Southern Mississippi where my impact was not as obvious or measureable,” he explained.
Fred also loves to write, which is what led him to get his master’s degree in English after graduating from college with a degree in political science and a minor in French. “I wrote a lot of poetry in my master’s program and was published in a couple of anthologies. I went to a writer’s retreat in the rural part of the Loire Valley in France and spent four weeks writing at a 1,000 year-old abbey,” he shared. “While teaching after my master’s program, I was not writing as much as I wanted, so that was another reason to pursue law. I write much more now than I did then, though I would like to find some time to write more fiction,” he admitted.
Growing up the eldest in a large blended family, it’s not surprising that Fred ended up becoming a lawyer. “I am the oldest of 11 siblings, including half, step, adopted and foster siblings,” he explained. “I was always the mediator in the family between different branches and siblings. I also was always the responsible one who everyone came to for advice. I’m a natural advisor and problem solver,” he continued. “My mom remarried when my sister and I were teenagers and we had three step brothers around the same age. I’m not really sure how she and my stepdad survived being surrounded by teenagers,” he laughed.
Fred spent many of his summers growing up with his dad and extended family in Missouri. “We spent a lot of time in the Ozarks. There are a lot of lakes surrounded by low mountains and foothills so we naturally spent a lot of time fishing and camping,” he said. “Branson is about an hour away and there are a lot of fun things to do there—Silver Dollar City, Whitewater theme park. The town my dad lived in, Marionville, is an old town built around a small downtown with a library, park, soda fountain and a Five and Dime. It was a really good place to spend summers and I still like to get back to visit each summer, though sometimes we don’t make it back until fall. I really enjoy hanging out at the lake and just being away from everything. It’s very rural and open. You don’t always have a cell signal and there really aren’t a lot of places like that where you can just relax, spend time with your family and spot bald eagles.”
When he’s not working, Fred and his wife of 12 years are busy with their two sons. Their oldest is going into second grade and the youngest turns two in August. Fred says he loves raising kids and has a lot of fun with the boys. “My oldest likes trying lots of different sports. He’s taken taekwondo, soccer, and is swimming, now,” he said.
Fred admits to being a “foodie” and likes to make complicated recipes on the weekends. “My oldest son likes to assist, which is really fun. We like to experiment a lot with different things. A couple of weeks ago, we made bolognese sauce all day from scratch. It takes about 6-8 hours to make. First, there’s three different kinds of meat that you cook slowly and add dairy until it’s absorbed. There are a lot of steps, so we only make it once in a while. We also have a special chili recipe. We make our own chili powder by drying and toasting chilies and grinding them into paste. I’ve helped Scott Williams with the Exceptional Foundation Chili Cook Off for the last 3 years, though we haven’t placed since my first year when we were 2nd runner up. I really enjoy grilling when the football season cools down, too,” Fred shared.
His interest in food extends out of the kitchen, also. When traveling, Fred seeks out unique restaurants and said he’d like to earn his first sommelier certification. “When I was in college, I taught pairing at a couple of restaurants and an introduction to wine. My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Napa and I’ve just always had an interest in wines.”
A man of many interests, Fred is right at home in his practice where he is able to work on a wide variety of cases helping clients resolve their issues.
2nd Annual International Food Festival Celebrates Our Diversity and Many Cultures
06.26.19 | PermalinkEach office of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell came together for lunch on Wednesday, June 26 to share and celebrate the many diverse cultures and backgrounds that make RKC so unique. While the menus varied, the camaraderie and family atmosphere were evident whether in Birmingham, Orlando, Miami, Tallahassee, or Tampa. This new and tasty tradition has quickly become a favorite among our RKC family.
07.18.19 Samantha Duke: Having a Career and Family are not Mutually Exclusive Read Article >>
06.28.19 From the Classroom to the Courtroom, Fred Clarke Talks about His Journey into Law and His Many Interests Outside the Courtroom Read Article >>
06.26.19 2nd Annual International Food Festival Celebrates Our Diversity and Many Cultures Read Article >>
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