Firm News Feed Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0800firmwise Monk Always Knew She Wanted to be a Lawyer<p>Lacee Monk always knew she wanted to become a lawyer. &ldquo;My mother was a teacher, and my father is a crane operator, so I didn&rsquo;t come from a long line of lawyers.&nbsp; I always just knew I wanted to be an attorney.&nbsp; As a kid I watched a lot of crime shows, like <i>Murder She Wrote</i> and <i>Law and Order.</i> I was fascinated with the profession,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <img src=" Monk and husband.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="266" /></p> <p><b>Lacee began her career in Daytona Beach as an Assistant State Attorney where she gained trial experience prosecuting numerous cases ranging from domestic battery to second-degree murder.&nbsp; </b>&ldquo;I had the opportunity to sit second chair on a second-degree murder trial while I was at the State Attorney&rsquo;s Office, and it is the most rewarding experience I have ever had as an attorney.&nbsp;&nbsp; Being able to try a case alongside of a veteran prosecutor was a great learning experience, but she also put a lot of trust in me and allowed me to contribute to the case.&nbsp; I delivered the opening statement and examined the medical examiner, the firearms expert, a detective, and a 911 operator, who gave crucial testimony about the timing of a disputed 911-call.&nbsp; It was a two-week jury trial with two defendants and the shooter was found guilty.&nbsp; The jury returned its verdict in only 39 minutes,&rdquo; she noted.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>After three years as a prosecutor, Lacee and her husband, also an attorney, headed</p> <div> <p>back to Miami where they had met and married during law school at the University of Miami.</p> <p><b>Soon after returning to Miami, Lacee joined Rumberger where she devotes most of her practice to construction defect litigation. &nbsp;</b>&ldquo;Construction defect work is different from anything else I&rsquo;ve ever done. There is a pre-suit process that encourages parties to resolve construction defect claims before initiating litigation.&nbsp; The cases are typically large and involve general contractors, subcontractors, engineers, architects, and developers.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>In addition to the process being different, Lacee said that she enjoys learning a new language that is required in construction defect litigation. </b>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not an architect or engineer, but I still have to get into the details of the defects,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve learned the differences between delaminated stucco and debonded stucco and that buildings have eyebrows,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;I was really surprised one day when I opened my email to find an email referring to an eyebrow inspection,&rdquo; she laughed.</p> <p><b>Recently, Lacee has been taking on a variety of work. </b>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve had the opportunity to do some personal injury defense and premises liability, as well as an employment case representing an educational institution,&rdquo; she noted. &ldquo;I like that Rumberger offers me the opportunity to do a variety of work.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>&ldquo;As a civil attorney, I find that I&rsquo;m using nearly every aspect of my law school education and find the work very intellectually stimulating and challenging,&rdquo; Lacee said. </b>&ldquo;There are so many considerations in each case, and I like that I&rsquo;m always learning something new.&nbsp; For instance in one case, I had a foreign Plaintiff, and I learned a great deal about the Belgium health care system in order to understand the claims that were being made,&rdquo; she explained. Lacee also enjoys researching different areas of the law and says she does a significant amount of research and writing.</p> <p><b>In addition to being intellectually stimulated by the work, Lacee also appreciates that Rumberger partners give associates a lot of autonomy to work on cases.</b> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s rewarding to see the result of your work from beginning to end and to have a positive result for the client,&rdquo; explained Lacee. &ldquo;In my first case that I saw to completion, the plaintiff made an initial demand of a $100,000. After her deposition, we resolved the case for only $8,000.&nbsp; It was a great result for our client.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Lacee was a member of the Dade Legal Aid Leadership Academy&rsquo;s third class where she focused on developing leadership skills and a commitment to pro bono service. </b>Her participation in the academy led her to apply to serve as a Guardian Ad Litem through Dade Legal Aid&rsquo;s Put Something Back Program.&nbsp; As a Guardian Ad Litem, Lacee served as a court-appointed advocate for a minor child and made a custody recommendation to the Court. &ldquo;I was surprised at the amount of weight the Judge gave to my opinion and how interested she was in my investigation,&rdquo; admitted Lacee. &ldquo;It was a very serious matter where the child&rsquo;s sister had died, and I felt a great responsibility to keep the child I was advocating for safe.&rdquo;</p> <div> <p><b>As a graduate of the University of Miami, Lacee is a huge Miami Hurricanes fan. </b>In fact, Lacee is a &ldquo;double &lsquo;Cane,&rdquo; who graduated with her B.B.A. in accounting in 2009 and her J.D. <i>magna cum laude </i>in 2012.&nbsp; Lacee has served on the law school&rsquo;s Young Alumni Committee for the last two years and frequently attends UM athletic events.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>While some people dread their regular exercise, Lacee embraces it.</b> &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve done CrossFit in the past, and I recently started doing Orangetheory, which includes a lot more running. I really enjoy that it is structured, and the instructors pack in as much as they can in a one hour class,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;Even though I&rsquo;m busy, I can get in and out and don&rsquo;t have to worry about planning what I&rsquo;m going to do while I&rsquo;m there,&rdquo; she continued.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Being married to another lawyer has its advantages notes Lacee.</b></p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s nice being able to talk about our days and bounce legal arguments off one another&rdquo; she explained.&nbsp; My husband&rsquo;s career started in appellate work and mine in trial work, so we learn a lot from one another.&nbsp; We&rsquo;re a great team.&rdquo;&nbsp; When Lacee isn&rsquo;t working or spending time&nbsp;with family, she&rsquo;s hanging out with her Yorkie, Benny.<br /> <br /> <img src=" Monk dog.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="200" /></p> </div> </div>Beyond the Bio Blog14 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Guido and his Fellow YMCA Young Professionals Help in the Community<p>RKC attorney <a href=";A=9390&amp;format=xml">Justin Guido</a> chairs the &ldquo;Hands-On Community Events Committee&rdquo; for the YMCA Young Professionals. In his role, he works with the YMCA of South Florida to organize and assist with community service projects.</p> <p>For instance, earlier this month, the group assisted at the YMCA Allapattah Family Center for YMCA&rsquo;s Healthy Kids Day. The event promoted healthy living for children and featured entertaining activities and exhibits including Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, a fruit kabob stand, the Miami State Attorney&rsquo;s office and a free exercise class.</p> <p>&ldquo;I enjoy working directly with members of the South Florida community to make a positive impact on their lives,&rdquo; said Justin. &ldquo;I also enjoy the comradery formed with my peers in the YMCA Young Professionals as a result of the teamwork and our shared passion for bettering our community,&rdquo; he added.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img src=" Healthy Kids_edited.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="385" height="263" /><em><br /> <br /> </em></p> <p><em>YMCA Young Professionals of South Florida, including RKC's Justin Guido Help out at Healthy Kids Day in April.</em></p>Beyond the Bio Blog19 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Sends Spring Cheer to Troops Overseas shipped 48 packages to eight different units of service people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and South Korea to spread spring cheer to men and women serving our country overseas.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img src=" Shipment 03.17b.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="250" /><br /> <br /> The packages were filled with spring items, including Peeps, specially packaged coffee with cream and sugar in spring containers and candy. Along with a huge variety of snacks, there also were coffee pods and Sports Illustrated Magazines to send along to the units that asked for them. The most requested item was flavored drink drops &ndash; every box had at least one.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Every time the firm does another shipment, which there have been more than 30 since beginning in 2009, we send plenty of necessary hygiene items including bags with deodorant, hand sanitizer, lotion and foot powder and plenty of socks,&rdquo; noted Lisa Griffin, a legal assistant from the firm&rsquo;s Orlando office who inspired the program and has led the coordination of the shipments over the years. <br />Beyond the Bio Blog30 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Sheppard Works Hard, but Still Makes Time to Volunteer and Spend Time with His Family<p>For the past 10 years, Frank Sheppard has been at the helm of Rumberger, Kirk &amp; 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&rsquo;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.</p> <p><strong>Frank grew up spending quite a bit of time hanging around law firms in his home town of Pensacola. </strong>&ldquo;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,&rdquo; remembered Frank. &ldquo;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,&rdquo; he continued.</p> <p>&ldquo;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.</p> <p><strong>Frank worked for a federal judge in the Northern District of Florida during his last semester in law school who suggested Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell. &ldquo;</strong>He pointed out that my father&rsquo;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,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>Frank obviously enjoys his work and those he works with or he certainly would not have stayed with the firm for all these years. &ldquo;We were handed a unique and great culture from the founding partners and we&rsquo;ve done a really good job of preserving and passing it on from generation to generation,&rdquo; Frank said. When Frank joined the firm things were very exciting at the time.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;We were doing sophisticated work and trying cases all over the country and having a great deal of success.</strong> The personalities of the founding partners were contagious&mdash;we worked hard, but had a ton of fun while doing it,&rdquo; remembered Frank. &ldquo;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&rsquo;s reputation.&rdquo;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="460" vspace="0" border="0" align="absmiddle" hspace="0" height="345" /></p> <p><strong>In addition to being influenced by the founding partners, Frank says his father&rsquo;s work ethic and integrity made a deep impression on him. </strong>&ldquo;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,&rdquo; said Frank. <br /> Perhaps one of the reasons Frank works so hard is that he enjoys the work that he does. &ldquo;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,&rdquo; said Frank. A professional liability lawyer has to understand the underlying business of the professional in order to represent the client and be successful. &ldquo;I really enjoy learning about other people&rsquo;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,&rdquo; he explains.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;With professional liability defense, the professionals are not just defending their livelihood, but also their reputations,&rdquo; said Frank</strong>. &ldquo;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&rsquo;s self-esteem is at risk. It&rsquo;s important to realize the personal significance of these cases in addition to the financial aspects.&rdquo;</p> <p>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.</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="460" vspace="0" border="0" align="absmiddle" hspace="0" height="613" /></p> <p><strong>&ldquo;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. </strong>The issues raised are often about more than just money. The issues create precedent and affect how the business or organization will operate. It&rsquo;s not just a case about one employee, but will be a determinant for how to conduct business and manage employees in the future,&rdquo; noted Frank.</p> <p>Frank has also been tapped as an expert to speak on employment issues and speaks about how to avoid employment claims. &ldquo;Good policies and consistent enforcement of those policies is the key to avoiding employment claims,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I also recommend training on equal employment opportunity issues and the interactive process under the ADA.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Franks favorite cases are those that challenge him mentally and involve complex issues</strong>, such as some of the first amendment cases he&rsquo;s tried for public entities, but most importantly he said he enjoys learning about the client and doing a good job for them &ldquo;I&rsquo;m always personally invested in getting a good result,&rdquo; Frank admitted.</p> <p><strong>In addition to working hard for his clients, Frank also serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Hospice of the Comforter. </strong>&ldquo;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&rsquo;s lives and decided right away I wanted to be a part of it,&rdquo; said Frank. &ldquo;Over the years, my commitment has grown and I serve as the Chairman of the Board of the Foundation.&rdquo; In addition, the organization is affiliated now with Florida Hospital so Frank is also on the Executive Board of the Florida Hospital Foundation.</p> <p>Hospice of the Comforter is the only non-profit hospice serving Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. &ldquo;The need for a non-profit, faith-based hospice in the community is so important and I&rsquo;m proud to help them fulfill their mission and to serve the community,&rdquo; he continued.</p> <p><strong>Like at work, Frank is happiest keeping busy in his free time and spending time with his family. </strong>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. &ldquo;We live a very active lifestyle,&rdquo; said Frank. &ldquo;I enjoy being outdoors. We like the water&mdash;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,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;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.&rdquo;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog17 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800’s Cookin’ Counselors Cook Up Some Serious Chili to RKC&rsquo;s Birmingham Chili Cook-off Team&mdash;Scott Williams, Rebecca Beers, Fred Clarke, and Leah Downer&mdash;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&mdash;more than it has ever raised in previous years. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We have a great recipe from Scott Williams,&rdquo; said Rebecca Beers. &ldquo;In addition to ground beef, we use a smoked, spicy sausage that gives the chili that extra something,&rdquo; said Rebecca. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s an Alabama-made product that is a local favorite,&rdquo; she added. <br /> <br /> It must be something special because Scott Williams has entered the contest 12 of the 13 times it&rsquo;s been held and has brought home five trophies including a first place, 2 second place and 2 third place trophies.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> <img width="219" vspace="0" hspace="0" height="274" border="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" src="" /><br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a great event and we enjoy raising money for a wonderful organization,&rdquo; said Scott. <br /> <br /> 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. <br /> <br /> 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&rsquo;ll have a recipe that can&rsquo;t be beat. It&rsquo;s no wonder the event continues to break records year after year. <br />Beyond the Bio Blog14 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Closer Look at Bud Kirk Outside the Courtroom<p><strong>When Bud Kirk graduated from Seminole High School in Sanford Florida, it wasn&rsquo;t a Seminole, feathers or tomahawk that adorned his class ring,</strong> but instead the symbol of the town&rsquo;s most profitable crop, celery. The high school&rsquo;s sports teams were named the Celery Feds until the late 1950s when the crop lost favor among the Sanford residents who no longer relied upon it for their livelihood.</p> <p>It is hard to imagine that Bud didn&rsquo;t always want to become an attorney considering his courtroom success, but he said that he was initially drawn to mathematics and science. Both Bud and his younger brother Scott&mdash;also a partner in RKC&rsquo;s Orlando office, attended Stetson University for their undergraduate studies. Bud headed north to the University of Florida for his law degree while Scott stayed at Stetson for law school.</p> <p>Bud shared that his father, who was a talented speaker and successful businessman, had always wanted to be a lawyer. Growing up in a poor family from Birmingham, Alabama, college was out of reach for him. &ldquo;My father definitely lived vicariously through us.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Married to his wife for 50 years, Bud said that it takes work to make a marriage last.</strong> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s certainly a lot easier now than it was at other times,&rdquo; he noted. They adopted and raised a son and daughter who are now grown. &ldquo;Our daughter lives almost 5 hours away in what is known as the &ldquo;Gnat Belt&rdquo; in Georgia. The town even has an annual festival in the middle of gnat season called &ldquo;Gnat Days&rdquo; where they have cake sales, 5k runs and tennis tournaments,&rdquo; Bud explained. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a wonderful little town between Thomasville and Albany. We enjoy going to visit her and our grandson, who has been the greatest gift to us all,&rdquo; he said.</p> <table width="200" border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1"> <tbody> <tr> <td><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="220" height="293" /><br /> Bud and his wife Nancy<br /> &nbsp;</td> <td><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="220" height="293" /><br /> Bud and his grandson<br /> &nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="220" height="293" /><br /> View from the mountain house<br /> &nbsp;</td> <td><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="220" height="293" /><br /> North Carolina cabin<br /> &nbsp;</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Now that the kids are grown, Bud and his wife sold their family home and bought something smaller. &ldquo;We had a good time looking at houses together,&rdquo; he added.&nbsp; Bud and his wife also enjoy spending time in North Carolina where they bought a cabin that recently went through some renovations. &ldquo;My wife has never asked for much,&rdquo; said Bud. &ldquo;She wasn&rsquo;t a jewelry person or anything like that. What she wanted was a cabin,&rdquo; he laughed. Renovating the cabin was a horrible experience, but now that it&rsquo;s finished, she spends all summer there and Bud travels up for weekends.</p> <p><strong>While he says he spends time hunting, Bud says he&rsquo;s not very good at it.</strong> He finds the challenges in the courtroom far more invigorating than chasing animals in the woods. And, while working hard is important and a key to Bud&rsquo;s success, he makes time for reading and giving back to causes in which he believes.</p> <p>As an avid reader, Bud started an Internet Book Club with a versatile membership of lawyers, a fashion editor, an author and others he met through his work and travels. &ldquo;We were able to keep it going for 5-6 years. We had the most interesting emails going back and forth about the books we read. They were just exceptional writers and thinkers and all of the discussions and arguments were excellent,&rdquo; he remembered.</p> <p><strong>The importance of giving back to the legal community</strong>.&nbsp; In 2015,&nbsp; Bud was recognized for reaching out to firms and asking for contributions for the Paul C. Perkins Bar Association scholarships. He was responsible for more than 50 percent of the funds raised. The association consists of lawyers and law students that support its goals of addressing the issues affecting the African American community.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;It was the easiest thing I&rsquo;ve ever done,&rdquo; he admitted.</strong> &ldquo;I just spent an afternoon at the University Club calling people and asking for donations for the scholarships. Everyone else sent out emails, but I believe that talking to people is more effective,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;I believe in the association and what it does for its members and the legal community.</p> <p>Bud has served on the University Club Board of Directors since 2007. The University Club supports education through scholarships for local colleges and universities and has donated more than $1.5 million in scholarship funds to the University of Central Florida, Valencia State College, FAMU College of Law, Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College and Seminole State College.</p> <p>A member since 1973, Bud said he wasn&rsquo;t as active in the earlier years because he just wasn&rsquo;t in town much. But, over the last decade, travel has slowed and Bud has had more time to devote to the Club. &ldquo;We all really like each other,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a great group of people who are all so different, but enjoy each other&rsquo;s company,&rdquo; he continued.</p> <p>In addition to his service to the University Club, Bud served on the Board of Directors for WMFE, Orlando&rsquo;s public radio station for nine years. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m an NPR junkie,&rdquo; he confessed. &ldquo;The journalists at NPR are some of the best I can imagine, and I&rsquo;ve had the honor of meeting some of the most interesting people including Robin Young, Robert Siegel and David Isay, founder of StoryCorps.&rdquo;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog08 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Jebrock Talks About Building Her Construction Practice<p><strong>When Dara Jebrock, a partner in RKC&rsquo;s Orlando office, began practicing law, she never imagined she would focus her practice on construction defect cases. </strong>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.</p> <p>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. &ldquo;While I didn&rsquo;t have a game plan or practice area in mind, I was drawn to the challenge of law school,&rdquo; advised Dara.</p> <p><strong>Dara fell in love with litigation while working as a law clerk at an insurance defense firm.</strong> Dara said she knew she wanted to be a litigator because she enjoyed every aspect of it&mdash; from writing and researching cases to being present and participating in court. &ldquo;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.&rdquo; 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. &ldquo;Luckily, I worked on a wide variety of cases so I was forming a clear picture of what I liked and didn&rsquo;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&rsquo;t actively looking to move, but a friend of mine worked at RKC and told me about an opportunity here.&ldquo;</p> <p><strong>She already knew she wanted to be in commercial litigation when she joined the RKC team.</strong> &ldquo;I never expected to enjoy construction cases as much as I do.&rdquo; Construction defect cases are complicated and expert driven. &ldquo;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. &ldquo;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&rsquo;s being alleged and research the particular issue.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Now Board Certified in Construction Law, Dara looks back to her beginnings in a challenging practice area</strong>. &ldquo;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&rsquo;ve definitely overcome those challenges as I have gotten to know the attorneys in this practice area and have built a reputation.&rdquo; Having built her practice in this area, Dara advised that she is now treated as an equal. &ldquo;In a practice area traditionally made up of male attorneys, I&rsquo;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.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Because she enjoy learning about new things, Dara loves to travel and explore different places.</strong> Recently she traveled to St. Thomas where she explored the ocean while driving an underwater motor scooter. &ldquo;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.&rdquo;</p> <p>Dara has also traveled extensively to Europe. &ldquo;My favorite city is Paris, but I&rsquo;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.&rdquo;</p> <p><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="460" height="307" /></p> <p><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="460" height="345" /></p>Beyond the Bio Blog08 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Begey Talks About Great Mentors, Good Clients and Family<p><i>In his nearly 20 years of working at Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell, Michael Begey, a partner in RKC&rsquo;s Orlando office, cherishes the opportunities he&rsquo;s had to work with all three founding partners. Attributing his success to great mentors, good clients and a supportive family, Michael talks about his journey and how he unwinds when spending time with his family. &nbsp;</i></p> <p><b>A Pittsburgh native, Michael&rsquo;s family moved to Orlando when he was 13 years old.</b> After attending the University of Central Florida, he and his then girlfriend headed to Pittsburg where he attended law school. &ldquo;We married my final year in law school and while my wife enjoyed the cold for a few years, she was ready to come back to Florida when I finished school,&rdquo; said Michael.</p> <p>Upon returning to the state, Michael began sending resumes to firms in Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa. &ldquo;I had several interviews including one with Skip Eubanks. I was very interested in the automotive product liability work RKC was doing,&rdquo; Michael noted.</p> <p><b>&ldquo;From day one the firm&rsquo;s partners allowed me the opportunity to grow and learn. I wasn&rsquo;t sitting around doing research projects. Instead, I was working with clients and on cases right away,&rdquo; said Michael.</b>&nbsp;&ldquo;In addition to being able to learn from these very skilled trial lawyers, they had grace and mercy when I made mistakes, but expected me to learn quickly from them and not make the same mistake twice. They accepted apologies and helped me to become a better lawyer. If you mess up, it can usually be fixed, but being concerned and learning from those mistakes is extremely important,&rdquo; he continued.</p> <p>Another aspect Michael has always enjoyed about working at RKC is the open door policy and casual nature of the firm. &ldquo;You can easily bounce questions and ideas off of other attorneys and partners. It&rsquo;s not formal in that regard at all,&rdquo; he said. The firm&rsquo;s partners are all accessible and open to go to lunch with associates. Where else do you work with a senior founding partner? I see Bud Kirk every day and have personally found him to be a really great mentor. It&rsquo;s been a pleasure to work with him over the years,&rdquo; said Michael.</p> <p><b>Being successful and sticking with the firm over the length of his career has really come down to finding the work interesting and challenging and liking both his fellow attorneys and clients. </b>&ldquo;I like the work I do and who I do it with,&rdquo; Michael said. &ldquo;With product liability, every case is different, but you do see a pattern. For instance, consider that two air bag cases involve extremely different plaintiffs and claims, but the research and product knowledge translates. I&nbsp; remember when I was first starting out, I&rsquo;d see the senior attorneys just know how to approach a situation, something that might have taken me six hours to figure out, they already knew just from having so much experience. Now, the tables have turned and after 18-19 years of working these cases, I am able to share my experience with the associates,&rdquo; explained Michael.</p> <p>While Michael considers himself primarily a products liability litigator, he also has works in commercial litigation. &ldquo;With commercial litigation, there is a big variance in the cases I see from business disputes, contracts, competition clauses, etc. Because these cases can vary so much, I often find myself looking at things from a new perspective and doing a lot of research.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>&ldquo;Being in the courtroom is a lot of fun, but we don&rsquo;t get to trial very much,&rdquo; admitted Michael.</b>&ldquo;Cases just don&rsquo;t get there because they typically resolve before trial<i>.&rdquo; </i>He remembers going to trial with founding partner Dick Caldwell. &ldquo;He is just so completely organized and prepares beyond belief,&rdquo; said Michael. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s both extremely deliberate and very easy going,&rdquo; continued Michael. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve also been to trial with Bud Kirk who is also a brilliant lawyer. He invokes a lot of emotion during his trials. I&rsquo;ve learned so much from each of them.&rdquo;</p> <p>While Michael did not have the opportunity to go to trial with Thom, he did have the opportunity to work in some capacity with him. &ldquo;He was just such an intimidating force. He had a presence about him and everyone around him just focused on what he had to say and learned from him, from senior level partners to associates,&rdquo; remembered Michael.</p> <p><b>&ldquo;The key to getting new business and building lasting relationships with clients is to do good work,&rdquo; said Michael. </b>&ldquo;In product liability, especially automotive, the manufacturers talk to each other. If you show you can handle tough cases and are responsive, word will spread,&rdquo; he continued. &ldquo;I practice with a sense of urgency and try to get back to clients on the same day. Also, in order to connect with clients, you have to pick up the phone and talk with them and meet with them face-to-face whenever possible,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><b>New associates are wise to learn this important lesson of being responsive and communicating with clients, colleagues and partners. </b>&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t be afraid to have face-to-face and phone conversations with people. That is the best way to get to know people and connect with them,&rdquo; Michael advised. &ldquo;In addition, associates should listen and learn from those who have experience,&rdquo; he continued.</p> <p><b>Because Michael works with clients from Japan, Korea, California, and everywhere in between, he travels often and says he could not have been successful in his career without the support of his family. </b>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s definitely not easy,&rdquo; admitted Michael. &ldquo;When my oldest was six weeks old, I went off to trial for four months. And, while I&rsquo;ve been to a lot of great places like New York and St. Thomas, I&rsquo;m not going to extend my stay and sight see. I might grab a nice meal or hit the beach if there is down time, but truly the goal of traveling is always to get back home,&rdquo; he continued.</p> <p><b>Michael works hard to stay connected with his busy and active family.</b> &ldquo;Whenever I can, I make the weekend family time. For every trip, I write each child and my wife a note, so I have these books going back years,&rdquo; Michael said.</p> <p>When he&rsquo;s not traveling for business, Michael spends time with his 14-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter and watches them participate in their activities. &ldquo;My daughter dances and performs in musical theater. She&rsquo;s very art-oriented and my son is very active in his Junior ROTC program at school,&rdquo; said Michael. &ldquo;We also ride bikes and travel as a family. We go on cruises with the kids and they enjoy skiing at Park City in Utah.</p> <p>&ldquo;My wife and I try to travel, just the two of us, once a year. We take very active, adventurous trips. My favorite vacation was to Iceland. We hiked on glaciers, saw volcanos and just really enjoyed the country. It was summertime and the highs were 59-61 degrees Fahrenheit,&rdquo; said Michael.&nbsp;</p> <p>Michael and his wife recently celebrated their 20<sup>th</sup> wedding anniversary by taking a relaxing vacation to a Sandals resort instead of their typical adventurous trip.</p>Beyond the Bio Blog08 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Hosts Job Shadow Hosts Job Shadow.pdf&format=xml&p=4149Originally Published in, <em>Facts &amp; Findings: The Paralegal Magazine</em>, March/April 2017Beyond the Bio Blog20 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Hosts Job Shadow.pdf&format=xml&p=4149Founding Partner Bud Kirk Reflects on Yesterday and Moving Toward Tomorrow<h3><em>Bud Kirk shares insights on some of the changes he&rsquo;s witnessed in his storied career and his drive to continue moving forward.</em></h3> <p><strong>&ldquo;When I began my career, the trials were much smaller than they are today,&rdquo; </strong>noted Bud Kirk, a founding partner at Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell. In the beginning of his career, Bud worked with an insurance defense firm before finding his way into real estate work. &ldquo;Disney had come to town and real estate was booming,&rdquo; remembers Bud. Like all booms, there was a bust. During the recession, the number of malpractice cases against attorneys grew and Bud found himself working on those cases and began building his reputation as a &ldquo;lawyers&rsquo; lawyer.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;By 1981, I made my name as a trial attorney when the firm took over a case in Daytona Beach where there was a fire that destroyed a building,&rdquo; said Bud. &ldquo;We spent six weeks defending the company that installed the roof and were able to get a witness, who happened to be in the federal witness protection program, to testify that he gave the money to the two men who set fire to the building,&rdquo; explained Bud. &ldquo;After that case, GM asked me to try my first case for them and it was then that I became an accomplished trial lawyer,&rdquo; said Bud.</p> <p><strong>Bud says there was nothing he couldn&rsquo;t try, so the cases got bigger and harder and he got better.</strong> &ldquo;In 2004, I was spending a lot of time in Tampa and I received a call from Florida Trend. I admit, I was pretty excited about the call thinking I&rsquo;d made the &lsquo;Best Lawyers&rsquo; list, but instead they were calling about an article about lawyers who get the hardest cases. The reporter told me I was on everyone&rsquo;s list,&rdquo; laughed Bud. The product liability defense cases Bud took on were no laughing matter, though. His high profile cases involved plaintiffs seeking recovery of millions of dollars involving catastrophic and life changing and/or life ending accidents.</p> <p><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="460" height="298" /></p> <p><strong>It is much harder now to get the opportunity to go to trial. </strong>&ldquo;Trial attorneys are never afraid to take a case to trial, but it can be harder to find clients willing to support a trial due to the enormous costs and [potential] bad publicity companies can sometimes endure,&rdquo; he continued. As a result, there is a rise in litigators, who unlike trial attorneys, write papers, go to hearings and settle every case.</p> <p><strong>With fewer cases going to trial and more money on the line when they do, there is a lot at stake, giving rise to the popularity of mock trials.</strong> &ldquo;We do a lot more mock trials these days,&rdquo; admitted Bud. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re able to divide focus groups into 3-4 groups of six and then my partner and I each take a side and present the case, like the opening statements, etc. I tend to take the plaintiff&rsquo;s side and focus on everything bad about our case while making sure it&rsquo;s fairly presented, while my partner gives the defense side. We watch and listen to the focus groups deliberate. The companies predict the chances of winning or losing and we get ideas on how to better present the case,&rdquo; explained Bud.</p> <p><strong>Another big difference between trials at the beginning of Bud&rsquo;s career and today is the advent of technology.</strong> &ldquo;Still today, I prefer using boards to help walk juries through and understand complex evidence. For example, with a board, I can blow up a picture and have a witness go over and circle the marks that were made in an accident on the road or something,&rdquo; explained Bud. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s amazing the number of very sophisticated and expensive demonstrative aids these days, but every lawyer has to work with what they&rsquo;re most comfortable.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;When I began working with the automotive industry, the budget for defending the company&rsquo;s product was unlimited</strong>,&rdquo; noted Bud. &ldquo;When I first started representing GM, there was a VP of Engineering who was a staunch believer in fighting every case.&rdquo; Bud explained that the loss of market share and changing markets required the company to change the way it ran on all levels including the legal department. &ldquo;We started seeing more budgets and flat fees, so we adapted and changed the way we practiced to meet our clients&rsquo; needs,&rdquo; said Bud. And, while Bud still represents a wide variety of domestic and foreign manufacturers of passenger cars and trucks as well as manufacturers of aviation and heavy equipment, Bud&rsquo;s commercial litigation practice has grown in size and scope.</p> <p><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="460" height="329" /></p> <p><strong>Bud&rsquo;s strong understanding of business issues began early in his career. In a way, he has come full circle. </strong>In the beginning of his career, he worked on a wide variety of commercial litigation matters, including real estate developers. As a young lawyer, he earned the reputation of the &lsquo;king of non-recurring legal issues.&rsquo; &ldquo;If it was something nobody else handled, I would take it on, learn it and do it,&rdquo; remembered Bud. &ldquo;I enjoy the opportunity to grow and learn,&rdquo; he continued. Once Bud began concentrating on product liability with emphasis in the automotive industry, he says he still continued to defend professionals in legal and accounting fields. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve always worked malpractice cases, which cover a wide range of fields and business issues and that&rsquo;s helped me develop a very broad background,&rdquo; noted Bud.</p> <p><strong>A significant portion of Bud&rsquo;s practice today is devoted to the representation of clients in commercial litigation matters</strong>, representing claims of contract breach, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and professional malfeasance in the fields of law, accounting, real estate and communications. One relatively recent case that stands out as particularly rewarding was his work with Doug Brown, a partner in the Orlando office, where they worked with a real estate developer who sold memberships in a series of high end golf communities on the west coast of Florida.</p> <p>&ldquo;With most golf memberships, the developer does not return and cancel memberships until the club reaches maximum memberships, which never really happens,&rdquo; said Bud. For this particular developer, who Bud noted was just an exceptionally decent person, he returned members&rsquo; money from 1993-2008 if they decided to cancel because the developer did not want to have unhappy members. &ldquo;Unfortunately, when the market crashed in 2008, a flood of members tried to cancel memberships, which just wasn&rsquo;t feasible for the company,&rdquo; explained Bud. The Florida Attorney General sued the developer under an Unfair and Deceptive Trade Act claim. Bud and Doug were able to aggressively defend the case to the point that the Florida Attorney General dismissed its deception claims and proceeded on an abstract unfairness theory that was soon settled for an insubstantial amount. &ldquo;Doug is a fearless attorney who isn&rsquo;t afraid to go to trial with any case. I really enjoyed working with him on that case,&rdquo; said Bud.</p> <p><strong>Working with a team of incredibly talented lawyers is Bud&rsquo;s favorite part of coming to work every day.</strong> &ldquo;I have had the amazing opportunity to continually get into contests against the finest lawyers in the United States with millions of dollars at stake in every case. Having the opportunity to match wits, strategy, preparation, and talent against these people where there is a clear winner and loser every time is a thrill,&rdquo; explained Bud.</p> <p><strong>When first starting the firm, the founding partners weren&rsquo;t trying to build an institution.</strong> &ldquo;We thought we&rsquo;d be a firm of twelve [lawyers] or so and it would eventually blow up and we would all go separate ways,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We had a big, big moment in the late 80s when our younger partners didn&rsquo;t have ownership in the firm and realized that if any of the five major partners left, the firm would be destroyed,&rdquo; he remembered. &ldquo;It was very tense for a while, but in the end, we restructured the firm to allow more ownership and stakeholder opportunities which ultimately gave the firm a better chance to continue to grow.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>The firm enjoys a deep-seated trust among its attorneys and staff which is an important factor in maintaining the firm&rsquo;s collegial and hardworking culture</strong>. &ldquo;One of the reasons for this high level of trust is that there is longevity here,&rdquo; said Bud. &ldquo;Our human resources manager has been working here since day one and she is an integral part of cultivating our culture. My first secretary from the first day I practiced law just retired after working with the firm all these years and my second secretary is still here,&rdquo; he noted. Many of the attorneys have worked at Rumberger for their entire careers, with several partners who started out as summer clerks.</p> <p><strong>In addition to having longevity with staff and attorneys, the firm also enjoys a loyalty and long-standing partnerships with its clients. </strong>&ldquo;For example, I&rsquo;ve worked with some of the same clients since the mid-70s,&rdquo; said Bud. He credits Frank Sheppard&rsquo;s leadership as managing partner for helping to foster the firm&rsquo;s culture, nurturing trust, focus on doing what&rsquo;s right and being client-focused. &ldquo;We work hard, but we enjoy the work and the camaraderie we find in each other.&rdquo;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog08 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0800