Firm News Feed Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800firmwise Ships Holiday Packages to Overseas Military Troops for the 8th Consecutive Year<p><i>80 boxes were shipped to active units deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Island of Diego Garcia, United Arab Emirates, Israel and U.S.S. Shilo in the Pacific.</i></p> <p><br /> <img src=" PackagesOrlando.JPG" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="350" height="262" />&nbsp; <br /> <em>Packing up donated items for the troops</em><br /> <img src=" Packages Tallahassee1.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="150" /></p> <div><br /> You know how socks have a bad rap as a Christmas gift? Well, guess what? That is one of&nbsp;the #1 wish list items our troops overseas look forward to when opening up care packages from RKC. They also love the wet wipes, razors and shower gel. And the&nbsp;coffee. All things they cannot easily get while serving our country very far from home during this very special time of year.</div> <p><br /> On Thursday, December 7, employees in the Orlando office took their lunch break to fill 80 boxes destined for <br /> active military units in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Island of Diego Garcia, United Arab Emirates, Israel and U.S.S. Shilo in the Pacific. Each box is filled with donated items such as:</p> <ul> <li>Daily necessities such as socks, toothpaste, razors, shower gel, shaving cream, wet wipes (often used in place of a shower), lip balm, deodorant and campers toilet paper;</li> <li>Handheld or small games/card games, etc., magazines and books;</li> <li>Holiday decorations (small light sets, small decorations, Santa hats, etc.);</li> <li>Individually wrapped snacks including beef jerky, cookies, chips, nuts, trail mix, pudding, Jello, fruit cups, crackers, drink mixes, coffee, hot chocolate and spiced cider.</li> </ul> <p>RKC&rsquo;s Lisa Griffin, a legal assistant in the Orlando office, began this effort in 2009 and the program has grown into an ongoing effort. Employees donate items and packages are mailed typically for Valentine&rsquo;s Day, 4<sup>th</sup> of July, Halloween and Christmas.</p> <p><strong>RKC&rsquo;s Tallahassee office shipped 5 boxes for a canine unit that works with military bomb&nbsp;</strong><strong>dogs</strong>.&nbsp;<img src=" Packages Tallahassee2.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="150" />Those boxes included treats and supplies for both soldiers and dogs.&nbsp; <br /> In addition to the Tallahassee office, the Tampa office shipped out an additional 5 boxes and Miami is shipping 8-10 boxes later this week.</p> <p><img src=" Unit.png" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="355" /><br /> <br /> &ldquo;This is truly a team effort,&rdquo; said Lisa. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just wonderful to see everyone come together to make this happen, especially this time of year when troops really miss their families,&rdquo; she continued.</p> <p>Two RKC vendors helped pack the boxes including Orange Legal and Milestone&nbsp;Reporting.&nbsp;Also, Mateer Harbert contributed a significant amount of goodies for us to pack and send.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Recipe for Success: Dick Caldwell Talks about the Early Days of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell<p><em>When Dick Caldwell, one of Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell&rsquo;s founding partners, began his storied law career in 1971, the landscape of trial law was vastly different than it is today. For more than 40 years, he has defended many of the nation&rsquo;s largest manufacturers in complex products liability cases. In addition to product liability, he has grown his practice to include commercial litigation, insurance and professional liability. In this first of a three-part series, Dick talks about building the firm and his practice.</em><br /> <br /> After graduating from the University of Florida School of Law, Dick began his law career at a prestigious firm in Orlando. &ldquo;I liked the firm because I knew Bud Kirk from law school where he was an assistant professor and we had gotten to know each other,&rdquo; remembered Dick. &ldquo;Bud had joined the firm along with another mutual acquaintance.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Like most beginning lawyers, Dick began working on smaller cases at first and then bigger cases with a partner that would include legal research, some arguments and depositions.</b> &ldquo;The firm focused primarily on insurance defense work and subrogation in which the insurance company pays the vehicle owner involved in the crash and then sues the driver at fault to get their money back,&rdquo; explained Dick. &ldquo;These cases were immensely frustrating because the opposing driver typically had minimal or no insurance and often, no fixed address. But, it was dynamite experience for a young trial lawyer,&rdquo; he noted.</p> <p><b>One of the biggest differences in the landscape of trial law is that it was much easier to go to trial when Dick was starting out as an attorney than it is today. </b>&ldquo;We were probably doing a jury trial every month in those days,&rdquo; remembered Dick. &ldquo;The cases often involved small insurance carriers and they had a lot less reluctance to take a smaller case to trial. The stakes have gone up enormously. Back then, losing $4,000-$5,000 would be considered a disaster , where today&rsquo;s cases have far more at stake. Today, even what seems like a small case can result in a serious catastrophe for the client,&rdquo; explained Dick.</p> <p><b>Seven years after starting out, Dick had the opportunity to create a new firm with Thom Rumberger and Bud Kirk. </b>&ldquo;Most of my cases were with Thom on automotive product liability and it became evident that the old firm was going to break apart,&rdquo; explained Dick. &ldquo;Thom and Bud had grown close over the years and it just worked out that the three of us would be able to start our own firm. We were able to attract some quality people to come along with us. We even rented out space from the old firm, so the transition was very smooth,&rdquo; he remembered.</p> <p>Dick admitted that branching out with Thom and Bud was hard work and very scary at the time. In his mid-30&rsquo;s, he had a new house, wife, four-year-old son and eleven-year-old daughter to support, but he also admitted that he was full of confidence.</p> <p><b>&ldquo;I just knew that the type of work we would be able to do was a step ahead of what we had been doing, and there was no reason that it shouldn&rsquo;t be a success,&rdquo;</b> he said. &ldquo;We emphasized the team concept from the beginning. Nobody is more important than anyone else. We are a team, work as a team and win or lose as a team. Whether you are a partner, associate, legal assistant, or runner, we all go off to trial together. If we don&rsquo;t all work together, we won&rsquo;t be successful,&rdquo; explained Dick. &ldquo;Our team was doing this ad hoc at the old firm, but we knew that we wanted it to be our vision for how things would work in the new firm.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell was formed on October 2, 1978 on the basis of respect for one another where everyone is available to help when needed.</b> Dick shared the following story at the firm&rsquo;s recent celebration of its 39<sup>th</sup> birthday:</p> <p>&ldquo;We were trying a case in San Diego and we had this runner&mdash;a nice young man. The case involved a huge volume of material that he was hauling from the hotel to the courtroom and back again. I could tell he was feeling a bit agitated and put upon. I pulled him aside and told him, &lsquo;we&rsquo;re in this together. We may be the greatest trial attorneys in the world, but without that file you deliver, we can&rsquo;t do anything in the courtroom. If the paralegal can&rsquo;t come up with the document we need or worse, someone fails to type it, we&rsquo;re handicapped. We all are in this together to make the finished product.&rsquo; I think he felt better and more appreciated after that,&rdquo; recalled Dick.</p> <p><b>Over the past four decades, the firm has grown from just a few attorneys occupying a single suite on one floor to a mid-sized firm with 85 trial attorneys in five offices throughout Florida and in Birmingham, Alabama. </b></p> <p>&ldquo;When we started out, we were in a tiny suite of offices that we were able to take over from the old firm. It wasn&rsquo;t quite big enough for all of us,&rdquo; laughed Dick. &ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t have to negotiate a lease and we were able to move in quickly. We hired our first associate and didn&rsquo;t have an office for him, so he worked in the conference room. Despite being on top of each other, we managed to stay there for about a year. At one point, Thom sent out a memo that said &lsquo;cooperate, or I&rsquo;ll have you murdered.&rsquo; That gave everyone a laugh and it really punctured the tension.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> <img src=" caldwell3.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="387" height="345" /><br /> Dick Caldwell (sitting) and Bud Kirk setting up the first RKC office in Oct., 1978<br /> <br /> <b>Moving into bigger space gave everyone a little more elbow room, but only for a little while. </b>&ldquo;We had so much space when we first moved, but it didn&rsquo;t take long to fill it out,&rdquo; Dick said. &ldquo;Our next move from Lake Eola to Pine Street is legend in itself. We had two floors, but we were scrambling to hire lawyers to fill the space because we were succeeding beyond our wildest dreams and cases were coming in almost faster than we could process them,&rdquo; he added.</p> <p><b>Dick noted that it was a challenge to manage a rapidly growing practice, but eventually they hired enough attorneys to handle the work and become more strategic in their growth.<br /> </b><img src=" Years.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="350" height="236" /><br /> Dick Caldwell (right) and Thom Rumberger (center) working on a case in the early years. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We realized early that we could either remain a product liability boutique firm or expand into other areas&mdash;which really was the only choice for us. We first looked to commercial litigation and intentionally developed that area. Since then, we moved into professional malpractice, insurance coverage, employment and financial services, to name only a few areas of focus,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;Even as we celebrate our 39<sup>th</sup> birthday, we continue to look ahead at where we want to be in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years from now,&rdquo; said Dick.</p> <p><b>Remarkably, all of this growth for the firm has not taken away from its initial vision and culture and at its heart, the firm still remains a family. </b>&ldquo;Growing the firm, but remaining a family is tough, and believe me, it&rsquo;s a matter of concern to all of us,&rdquo; said Dick. &ldquo;Miami was our first expansion and we wondered if we&rsquo;d be able take our culture to an office in another part of the state where the community is so different. Would they be able to handle their practices and do what they need in their own community, yet remain a part of Rumberger?&rdquo;</p> <p><b>The key for making it work is goodwill on the part of all concerned to have common goals. </b>&ldquo;As long as the new branch, or existing firm, whichever it might be, has the common goal to work together, and both sides see a distinct benefit, then it works out,&rdquo; noted Dick. &ldquo;There certainly were bumps along the road and people and things that didn&rsquo;t work, but overall, we&rsquo;ve been good at identifying the right fit and the right opportunities,&rdquo; he added.</p> <p><b>When asked about his biggest accomplishments, Dick said he is quite proud of starting the Tampa office.</b> &ldquo;We always had cases in Tampa, but we weren&rsquo;t able to develop any kind of volume without being there. In the early 1990&rsquo;s, we had a small office in Tallahassee and one in Miami, so it seemed like a good time to look at Tampa,&rdquo; he recalled. &ldquo;I always liked Tampa and felt there was a lot of business there that we could handle better than anybody else. It turned out I was right! When I look back, it&rsquo;s been a nice area of growth for the firm, the lawyers we&rsquo;ve hired in Tampa and for me personally,&rdquo; said Dick.</p> <p><b>Identifying the right fit is imperative for the firm in hiring attorneys and staff. </b>&ldquo;Throughout the years, we&rsquo;ve continued to place teamwork and respect for individuals at the center of what we do. In addition, we look to maintain the highest professional capabilities and insist on turning out the highest quality of work product possible,&rdquo; explained Dick.&ldquo;Our attorneys are willing to put in the effort to benefit the client and do so in a professional manner, which in turn benefits the firm. When we look to recruit an individual or open up a new office, we look for people that share this outlook.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>After all of these years, the firm must be doing something right.</b> &ldquo;Each month we receive an email with everyone&rsquo;s birthdays and anniversaries,&rdquo; said Dick. &ldquo;Every month, I see people here 28, 24, 29, 17 years. All I can think is, &lsquo;Wow! We must be doing something right that we are able to attract and hold on to so many good, productive people who have made their career with us!&rsquo;&rdquo;</p> <p><b>&ldquo;While it had been tough at times and not always easy, it&rsquo;s certainly been very gratifying to be a part of the long term success of this firm,&rdquo; said Dick</b>. &ldquo;We knew early on that we would have a different approach and had every hope it would turn out. We believed it would be successful, but had no idea how successful. Looking back, I&rsquo;m convinced it was the right decision.&rdquo;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog04 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 to Know Chase Hattaway<p><b>Chase Hattaway, an associate in the Orlando office, decided to become an attorney after participating in a job shadowing program in high school.</b> &ldquo;I followed a few different attorneys as well as a probation officer, for three days. That experience solidified my decision, so I majored in Political Science at the University of Central Florida knowing I wanted to go to law school,&rdquo; he said. After graduating from UCF, Chase headed west to Stetson University School of Law.</p> <p><b>&ldquo;There was a big emphasis on oral advocacy and trials in law school,&rdquo; said Chase. &ldquo;Since I&rsquo;ve been practicing law, I&rsquo;ve learned that oral advocacy is a little different than what I expected.</b> We are essentially oral advocates for our clients all of the time, not just during trial. We are advocating for our clients in hearings, mediation and even when speaking with opposing counsel,&rdquo; explained Chase.</p> <p><b>Chase practices in employment, casualty litigation and construction defect and enjoys the variety his work provides. </b>&ldquo;With employment and construction defect cases, there tends to be more research and writing involved, while the casualty cases require more depositions and hearings,&rdquo; said Chase. &ldquo;I really enjoy both aspects of my work and am glad to have cases that involve both.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Chase admits that investigating a case can be the most challenging and tedious part of a case, but it is also the part that can uncover a hidden fact that wins the case. </b>&ldquo;There are many different layers to investigation from looking through medical records to locating key witnesses. Thorough investigation requires a lot of page turning and reviewing to find that little hidden fact, but the payoff is worth it in the end,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Of course, it&rsquo;s very rewarding to win, especially as a competitive person, but even more rewarding is getting a good result for the client.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Focusing on the details is the biggest lesson Chase has learned from his mentors, Frank Sheppard, Managing Partner, and Jacey Kaps, a partner in RKC&rsquo;s Miami office. </b>&ldquo;Being prepared helps you handle the unexpected during trial,&rdquo; explained Chase. &ldquo;Once you go through a trial, it&rsquo;s easier for an associate to see how all of the pieces fit together and how important it is to be thorough in depositions and discovery,&rdquo; he explained.</p> <p><b>While Chase grew up and attended school in Central Florida, he has spent a lot of time outside of the state exploring national parks.</b> &ldquo;Growing up, my family would take one big trip each summer to visit a different national park,&rdquo; explained Chase. &ldquo;We went everywhere&nbsp;<img src=" Hattaway_Alaska.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="297" />from the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone, which is my favorite. It&rsquo;s such a different world than what I&rsquo;m used to here in Florida. There are geysers, mountains, and so many different animals you can&rsquo;t see elsewhere. It&rsquo;s really pretty.&rdquo;</p> <p>Chase&rsquo;s most recent trip was to Alaska with his wife.&nbsp; The couple recently embarked on an entirely different kind of adventure, however, when their son was born.&nbsp; Chase hopes to continue his family&rsquo;s tradition of big summer trips to the nation&rsquo;s treasured parks with his family.&nbsp;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog30 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Joins in the Effort to Make Strides Against Breast Cancer<p>Team RKC laced up&nbsp;<img src=" Strides 2017-1.jpg" hspace="3" vspace="0" align="left" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="315" />their walking shoes to make a stand against breast cancer and participate in the American Cancer Society&rsquo;s &ldquo;Making Strides Against Breast Cancer&rdquo; on Saturday, October 28. Thanks to generous donations, the firm raised more than $1200 that will go toward research, treatment and other assistance for those battling breast cancer.</p> <p>A special thanks to Allyson Bisland who organized the event on behalf of the firm along with all of our walkers including Frank Sheppard, Joe&nbsp;Mul&eacute;, Kaye Daugherty,&nbsp;Iris Melgar&nbsp;and our families and friends who joined us.<br /> <br /> <img src=" Strides 2017-2.png" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="150" height="215" /><img src=" Strides 2017-3.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="150" height="141" /></p>Beyond the Bio Blog30 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Cares: Firm Donates Food, Supplies and Money to Hurricane Victims<p><strong><i>100 Care Packages were Hand-delivered to St. Croix Along with Monetary Donations to the American Red Cross</i></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <img src=" Maria.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="355" /> <p><b>Earlier this month, Jazmin Bermudez, a secretary in RKC&rsquo;s Miami office, checked three huge rolling duffel bags filled with food and supplies onto her flight to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to help families in need.</b> She was carrying food such as powder evaporated milk, baby food, beans, rice, water purifier packets, mosquito bracelets, diapers, clothing and other needed supplies.</p> <p><b>Watching three major storms devastate the region within three weeks&rsquo; time, Jazmin knew she had to do something.</b> &ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t wait. Coming from St. Croix, I knew relief for those families would be slow,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I wanted to do what I could to help. I knew that St. Croix had sent much of its own supplies to our sister island, St. Thomas, in the wake of Hurricane Irma and were not prepared when devastated by Hurricane Maria and then Hurricane Nate.&rdquo; Before Hurricane Maria, St. Croix served as a hub of relief for St. Thomas and the other U.S. and British Virgin Islands.</p> <p><b>Jazmin turned to her colleagues at RKC who donated supplies and money for the trip.</b> &ldquo;They were amazing and donated everything I asked for and more,&rdquo; said Jazmin. In total, she was able to collect enough supplies to help 100 families and 130 cases of water, which are to be shipped separately later this month once the port is confirmed as opened.</p> <img src=" Maria2.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="left" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="355" /> <p><b>While the trip was twice delayed, Jazmin said it was well worth seeing the appreciation on the faces of those she delivered care packages to.</b> &ldquo;Most of the families were people I didn&rsquo;t know because I wanted to support people who aren&rsquo;t receiving supplies from family on the mainland and were waiting for assistance from relief agencies and the government,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;People were so happy to see a resident come back to help. It was both gratifying and overwhelming.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;I really couldn&rsquo;t believe my eyes as the plane landed,&rdquo; recalled Jazmin. &ldquo;I could barely recognize anything. There were open houses that had lost their roofs and debris everywhere,&rdquo; she said. After delivering supplies, Jazmin spent time helping to clean up debris in elderly neighborhoods, as well as help clear roads that were keeping people from reaching distribution sites.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s hard to believe that they will have to endure at least another couple of months before 70 percent of the power is restored,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;A lot of the workers are in St. Thomas since they were hit first. I feel terrible for them,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p>Jazmin moved to Miami in 2010 and works at RKC along with her sister. She has brother living in California and two younger sisters living in St. Croix. Not originally from the island, Jazmin&rsquo;s mother went to help after Hurricane Hugo in 1989, fell in love with the island and stayed. She&rsquo;s a nurse at the only hospital on the island. Jazmin&rsquo;s father, along with his family are from St. Croix.</p> <p><b>In addition to collecting for this project, RKC held a donation drive with the American Red Cross to assist those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. </b></p> <img src=" Maria3.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="355" /> <p>&ldquo;The people in our firm are so generous,&rdquo; said Jazmin. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m still receiving supplies and definitely plan to do something else to help. I&rsquo;m looking into an organization that coordinates aid for students and hope to do something for them,&rdquo; she said.&nbsp;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog19 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0800, Camera, Action: RKC Ships Movies to Troops Serving in Africa & Afghanistan<p><img src=" Boxes2-9.21.17.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="300" /><br /> <br /> Ten days after Hurricane Irma came barreling through Florida, RKC staff packed up 39 boxes filled with movies and treats, personal hygiene items, socks, snacks, coffee and drink mixes. There were 10 &ldquo;movie&rdquo; boxes filled with a variety of movies, popcorn and candy to offer some entertainment for troops serving far from home in Africa and Afghanistan.</p> <p>The other boxes were filled with items that deployed troops have trouble getting such as shaving gear, deodorant, wet wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and socks.</p> <p>&ldquo;I thought the generosity of our staff was amazing considering we are all still recovering from a hurricane.&nbsp;I couldn&rsquo;t promote the shipment like I usually do,&rdquo; said Lisa Griffin, legal assistant from RKC&rsquo;s Orlando office who inspired the program and has led the coordination of the shipments over the past eight years. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve sent movie boxes several times over the years and they are so very appreciated by the troops,&rdquo; she continued. &ldquo;Not even a hurricane could keep us from sending these special boxes to the men and women who have committed to serving our country.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog22 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Alexander Recognized for Dedicated Service to ADLA<p><br /> Craig Alexander was recognized at the <a href="">Alabama Defense Lawyers Association (ADLA) </a>annual meeting for his service on the ADLA Board of Directors for the past two years. While presenting the award, the outgoing ADLA president also recognized Craig&rsquo;s contributions as a member of the ADLA&rsquo;s Amicus Committee, where he continues to serve. Congratulations, Craig!</p>Beyond the Bio Blog31 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0800 Ships Care Packages to Sailors aboard the U.S.S. Fitzgerald<p><em><strong>Packages include words of encouragement and hope for the sailors recovering from tragedy</strong></em><br /> <br /> RKC shipped 14&nbsp;boxes of personal hygiene items,&nbsp;socks&nbsp;and snacks&nbsp;to the&nbsp;sailors&nbsp;aboard&nbsp;the U.S. Navy destroyer, USS Fitzgerald.</p> <p><img src=" Griffin_Fitzgerald Shipment 0717.JPG" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="300" />Sailors&nbsp;aboard the ship are working toward recovery after a Philippine container ship collided with the U.S. Navy destroyer in June. The&nbsp;sailors&nbsp;are dealing with the shock and grief of losing&nbsp;seven&nbsp;shipmates. The accident destroyed a berthing area and sailors had about 60 seconds to vacate their berthing.&nbsp; Many of the sailors were asleep and awoke to the sea water rushing into their racks.&nbsp; They vacated their racks with only the clothes they had on and lost all their personal belongings to the sea.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;I had a chance encounter over the 4<sup>th</sup>&nbsp;of July holiday with a&nbsp;sailor&nbsp;friend who had served on the USS Eisenhower,&rdquo; said Lisa Griffin, RKC legal assistant and coordinator of the firm&rsquo;s troop shipment program. &ldquo;After telling me how thankful she and her shipmates were for the care packages we sent last year and how&nbsp;[the packages]&nbsp;made their seven months on the ship much, much easier, she told me about the&nbsp;sailors&nbsp;on the USS Fitzgerald,&rdquo; Lisa explained.</p> <p>After learning about these sailors, Lisa coordinated an emergency troop shipment to help them.&ldquo;I think they need to know we are thinking about them,&rdquo; she said. &quot;Our Tampa office, led by paralegal Susan McClugage, also participated and had some help from the SeaCadets. The young members collected items and wrote personal letters to include in the boxes.&quot;<br /> <br /> The boxes were prepared and mailed on July 12 and should be received by the sailors&nbsp;in a couple of weeks.</p>Beyond the Bio Blog17 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0800 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 Jackson Lends Expertise to the Litigation Management College<p>The Litigation Management College, organized by the Federation of Defense &amp; Corporate Counsel, is a week-long intense and immersive workshop designed to develop and hone critical skills for claims handling professionals, third party administrators, and self-insured corporate litigation managers working in the insurance industry or in litigation matters from all across the country.</p> <p>LaShawnda Jackson is on the LMC faculty and participated in the workshop from June 4-8, 2017. The focus of the curriculum was a hands-on case study and fact pattern based on a real life Chicago building fire that resulted in seven deaths, personal injuries and property damages.</p> <p>The claims professionals are divided into four groups that represents four defendants. With the assistance of assigned &quot;defense counsel,&quot; each group works the &quot;case&quot; through trial. They start with identifying coverage issues, retaining counsel to assist with the investigation and preparing litigation plans and budgets.&nbsp; There is a simulation on seeking settlement authority and a mock mediation. Periodically, the claims professionals are provided with new information that requires updated analysis, evaluations and requests for settlement authority. Meanwhile the groups are constantly in negotiations in attempt to avoid trial. At the end of the program, defense counsel provide closing statements based on each group's analysis and position.&nbsp; The groups are then presented with the actual jury verdict rendered in the case to compare to their evaluations/assessments.</p> <p>LaShawnda assisted the group that represented the architect company that designed renovations to the 12th floor where the fire started.&nbsp; She assisted with case analysis and evaluations from the initial assignment of the claim through litigation, settlement negotiations and a jury verdict.</p> <p>&ldquo;I really enjoyed the opportunity to participate in this intense case study,&rdquo; said LaShawnda. &ldquo;It was very rewarding to help the professionals learn and grow.&rdquo;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog09 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0800