Firm News Feed Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800firmwise’s Cookin’ Counselors Spice Up Birmingham<p><em>RKC Participates in the 14th Annual Exceptional Foundation Chili Cook-Of</em>f<br /> <br /> <img src=" 18- Exceptional Foundation Chili Cookoff.jpg" hspace="2" vspace="2" align="left" alt="" border="3" width="300" height="225" />The smell of chili was in the air last weekend at Brookwood Village where Birmingham employers took part in a friendly competition for a great cause, the 14<sup>th</sup> Annual Exceptional Foundation Chili Cook-Off. Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell has been an active sponsor and participant in the annual event for the past several years, and while the team has won 3 trophies in the last 5 years, they didn&rsquo;t bring one home on Saturday. &nbsp;<br /> <br /> Special thanks to RKC&rsquo;s Cookin&rsquo; Counselors Scott Williams, Rebecca Beers, Fred Clarke and Leah Downer for their valiant effort!<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Everyone is really a winner,&rdquo; said Scott Williams. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a beautiful day to spend time with family, friends and clients while supporting a great organization,&rdquo; he continued.</p> <p>The Chili Cook-Off is The Exceptional Foundation&rsquo;s largest fundraiser of the year. Proceeds from this event are a significant source of funding for programs at The Exceptional Foundation where they strive to meet the social and recreational needs of individuals of all ages that are mentally challenged.</p> <p>Year after year, the event draws bigger crowds and more teams and this year was no exception. With more than 140 teams competing for the top spot, competition was hot! More than 12,000 attendees taste-tested the many recipes and voted for their favorite flavors.</p> <p>To learn more about The Exceptional Foundation, visit:</p>Beyond the Bio Blog07 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800 Sieb Smith Remains Calm in Any Storm<p><b><i>Nicole talks about how early challenges in her life shaped the lawyer she is today</i></b></p> <p>Nicole Sieb Smith, a partner in RKC&rsquo;s Tallahassee office, represents national and local businesses and institutions in diverse litigation matters with a focus on employment defense and commercial matters. An experienced litigator, Nicole has represented clients in state and federal courts at both the trial and appellate levels, as well as before administrative boards.</p> <p>In her practice, she is often faced with difficult situations with employee/employer relationships and conflicts that arise. &ldquo;If you cannot keep calm, these stressful, complex situations can get the best of you,&rdquo; said Nicole. &ldquo;I have a perspective that helps me stay grounded in the toughest situations and cases.&rdquo;</p> <img src=" Smith_1.jpg" hspace="3" vspace="0" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="250" height="353" /> <p>That perspective came after Nicole graduated from college when she was faced with many adversities and family tragedy. Nicole came away stronger and ready to face whatever comes her way. She talks about her journey and what she enjoys most about her life and work.</p> <p><b>Nicole remembers her college years very fondly. Armed with a scholarship and acceptance into a great school, Nicole left her home town of Miami to travel nearly 1500 miles north to Massachusetts to attend Smith College. </b>For a Miami native, the frigid temperatures were shocking at first. &ldquo;I did not realize the gear that I would need and it certainly solidified that I enjoy seasons, but not snow and ice,&rdquo; laughed Nicole.</p> <p>She studied abroad in her junior year at the London School of Economics and Political Science. &ldquo;It was a great experience. I traveled so much that year, stayed with friends in their homes and experienced places through their eyes,&rdquo;<br /> she remembered.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;<em><b>Nicole and her husband with daughter, Hannah</b></em></p> <p><b>Unfortunately, not long after that very happy experience, Nicole learned that life doesn&rsquo;t always go as planned. </b>&ldquo;I had planned on going to law school, but my life changed dramatically when I was faced with several obstacles that would force me to put my plans on hold for almost 10 years,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p>Shortly after her graduation, Nicole&rsquo;s mom died in an automobile accident. &ldquo;During a lawsuit surrounding my mom&rsquo;s death, I found it incredibly frustrating not understanding the complicated lingo and processes we faced. From that moment on, I knew I would have special understanding and sensitivity for those struggling through the litigation process,&rdquo; said Nicole.</p> <p>During that time, Nicole was very busy helping her dad with family matters and being a surrogate mother for her younger siblings when she herself was diagnosed with cancer. She fought her way through chemotherapy and radiation to come out cancer free. Unfortunately, a few years later, Nicole&rsquo;s father was diagnosed with cancer and passed away.</p> <p><b>At 28 years old, Nicole had survived through numerous family tragedies and struggles. She was working for a family law firm as a legal assistant where a mentor encouraged her to follow her dream.</b> &ldquo;There was a great female family lawyer there who believed in me. She told me I was smart and needed to go to law school,&rdquo; said Nicole. &ldquo;She paid for my LSAT and I was on my way.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Nicole says that while she was starting out a lot later than planned, she knew that she had gathered a lifetime of experiences that would make her a better lawyer. </b>&ldquo;The personal struggles I survived help me remain calm in any storm. Whatever comes my way, I know I can face the pressure,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p><b>Nicole appreciates that she&rsquo;s been able to build her practice and focus on the business of law at RKC. </b>&ldquo;I came to RKC from a very small boutique firm that had about 15 lawyers at its peak,&rdquo; said Nicole. &ldquo;When the two rainmaking partners decided they didn&rsquo;t want to sustain the practice, I saw many fine lawyers having to begin over again. I learned first-hand that someone won&rsquo;t always be there to give me a case.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>While Nicole first joined RKC in the Miami office where she worked in many areas of litigation, she was particularly drawn to her employment defense cases. </b>&ldquo;Employment law is fascinating because it&rsquo;s very statutory and rules driven, so I have a framework, but I&rsquo;m still working with human narratives and relationships. I work with my clients to understand these human stories and conflicts and apply the broader set of rules and statutes to each situation,&rdquo; she explained. Nicole represents employers in public and private sectors in cases involving claims of discrimination, harassment, whistle-blower violations, wrongful termination, retaliation and violation of civil rights.</p> <p>Over the past several years, Nicole has gained extensive experience representing clients defending website accessibility claims brought under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.</p> <p>&ldquo;RKC encouraged me to develop my practice independently, yet provided support through established attorneys in my practice areas. &ldquo;I saw a trend coming with inaccessibility claims and I was encouraged to research and grow that area,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Now, I&rsquo;ve handled dozens of these cases and become a thought leader in this area.&rdquo; Nicole is both an experienced speaker on the topic of website accessibility and assists her clients to identify the legal considerations involved in auditing and remediating web content and to retain appropriate consultants.</p> <p><b>Another great benefit of working at RKC is that its statewide presence enabled me to make a life-changing move to Tallahassee almost seamlessly.</b> &ldquo;I really enjoy the quality of the team I work with-from the lawyers to the paralegals and assistants. We are all very close and have a good, collegial relationship. So, when my husband and I made the decision to move to a smaller community to raise our daughter, Hannah, I was thrilled to be able to maintain my practice,&rdquo; explained Nicole. &ldquo;It also made a lot of sense as there is a lot of synergy in my practice area in Tallahassee. It&rsquo;s a very busy office and I was welcomed with open arms,&rdquo; she continued. &ldquo;And, because a lot of my practice is in federal court, I was able to maintain many of my cases from South Florida.&rdquo;</p> <p>This May will mark Nicole&rsquo;s first anniversary in Tallahassee. She couldn&rsquo;t be happier to have her husband&rsquo;s parents and her brother living in Tallahassee, also. &ldquo;We all converged together so that we can enjoy Hannah and spend time together,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s so important for us to all be close together and I&rsquo;m thankful Hannah has her family nearby to enjoy making special memories together.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img src=" Smith_2.JPEG" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="350" height="262" /></p>Beyond the Bio Blog20 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 the Love of our Troops<p><em><strong>RKC Ships Valentines and Essentials to Troops </strong></em><br /> <br /> Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell loves our military troops! In honor of Valentine&rsquo;s Day, we shipped 39 boxes to military men and women serving overseas in Africa, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Iceland last week. The packages were filled with valentines sharing messages of appreciation and support, personal care items, snacks, drinks and candy.</p> <img src=" Shipment_Lisa2.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="left" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="381" /> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m so thankful for the support of the firm and our staff who donate all of the supplies and shipping for the packages,&rdquo; said Lisa Griffin, Legal Assistant to Managing Partner Frank Sheppard, who has been coordinating these shipments every 2-3 months for the past nine years.</p> <p>Lisa began this labor of love when her own son was serving in the U.S. Marines and told her that many in his troop were not receiving care packages or much mail from home. &ldquo;That broke my heart, so the Rumberger family stepped in and started donating supplies for not only my son&rsquo;s unit, but many others. It&rsquo;s been so fulfilling that we just haven&rsquo;t stopped,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p>In the last nine years, RKC has sent more than 1,000 care packages across the globe.<br /> <br /> Whether sent during holidays, or just because, the boxes always include comfort items and essential supplies that can be difficult or expensive to obtain such as razors, shaving gel, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and baby wipes, which are often used in place of a shower.</p> <img src=" Shipment Valentine2.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="250" height="187" /> <p>In addition to the essentials, the firm has sent a number of special shipments over the years. One shipment included baby powder for Marines to help keep their walking paths safely marked, another included coffee for helicopter pilots to help with their long days and nights and another included towels because they are considered a luxury item. There have been shipments with freezer pops, Oreo cookies and s&rsquo;mores, as well as dinner boxes as an alternative to MREs and movie night boxes to help combat boredom and homesickness.</p> <p>&ldquo;We hope the packages offer some joy and comfort to those men and women who are serving our country far from home and missing their loved ones this Valentine&rsquo;s Day,&rdquo; said Lisa.</p> <p>Special thanks to our friends from OrangeLegal and Milestone Reporting who helped pack the boxes and to Mateer Harbert for donating supplies for the project.&nbsp;<br /> <img src=" Packign2.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="161" /><br /> &nbsp;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog14 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 to Know Dick Caldwell Outside the Courtroom<p><i>In this final installment of a three-part series, Dick Caldwell talks about lessons learned in the military as a young man and the things he loves, his family, photography and music. </i></p> <p>Growing up in a small town in South Georgia, Dick Caldwell said it was easy to leave behind when he headed to the University of Florida for college. At the time, many Land-Grant Colleges required two years of ROTC training by male students. &ldquo;If you wanted, you could select advanced ROTC for your junior and senior years along with a 6-week summer camp, which was a modified basic training regimen. It was a real pain in the neck at the time, but I&rsquo;m glad I went through it because I came out an officer,&rdquo; he continued.</p> <p>When Dick graduated, he served in the 4<sup>th</sup> Armored Division Artillery, stationed near Nuremberg, Germany where he served as a captain, operations and training officer for the 2<sup>nd</sup> Battalion, 16<sup>th</sup> Artillery from 1965 until 1968 working on the Honest John rocket. &ldquo;It was really just luck that kept me there during the Vietnam build-up,&rdquo; he remembered.</p> <p><b>Dick and his first wife Jo Ann, whom he met during his senior year in college, were married in Germany.</b> &ldquo;It was a delightful place to be and we were able to rent an apartment in town for several months before we had to move into officer&rsquo;s quarters on the base,&rdquo; recalled Dick.</p> <p>&ldquo;We spent our honeymoon in Munich and when we returned a week later, many of the people I knew had gotten orders to go directly to Vietnam and were gone,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You just had to live with the idea that any day you could get orders and have to leave.<b> </b>People in the military live with the notion of doing whatever you&rsquo;re asked to do,&rdquo; he explained.</p> <p><b>Dick says he matured very quickly during that time because his military responsibilities increased rapidly.</b> &ldquo;The duty was difficult because we were short-handed most of the time and people were getting orders and being shipped out. I learned to be flexible and accept and adapt to the situation at hand. At just 22 years old, I was working with equipment worth millions of dollars and taking care of the soldiers under my command. I had to make sure my soldiers had adequate support and medical care as well as be ready to correct them if they did something wrong,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p><b>&ldquo;In the Army, I learned to be committed to doing what needed to be done and to take things seriously.</b> I&rsquo;m not sure I had learned that when I graduated from undergraduate school, but I certainly did during my time in service.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img src=" Caldwell military.jpg" hspace="8" vspace="0" align="left" alt="" border="" width="300" height="201" /><b>As a father and husband, Dick started thinking more seriously about what he needed to do to support the family and applied to law school while he was still in Germany.</b></p> <p>&ldquo;By the time I got out, I was accepted into law school and headed to Gainesville. I worked at Sears delivering orders that first summer and had a lot of part-time jobs throughout law school. I did anything to help pay the bills,&rdquo; he said. His wife worked as an elementary school teacher.</p> <p>Dick and Jo Ann were married until she passed away in 1997. They raised their two children, a daughter and son, and Dick now has 5 grandchildren.</p> <p><b>It can be said that Dick&rsquo;s willingness to work hard is a large part of his success. </b>&ldquo;You must do the best you can for your client. If you aren&rsquo;t giving your absolute best effort, than you aren&rsquo;t fulfilling your responsibility,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>Perhaps this grit and willingness to work hard comes from the military background or perhaps its innate within. Either way, that drive to outwork the other side is what Dick says wins cases. He spent a career building a practice and law firm with his partners Thom Rumberger and Bud Kirk (see part I and part II of this series).</p> <p><b>Dick married Gloria Matyszyk in 2004 and together they share their passion of photography, travel and the arts. </b>&ldquo;Photography has been a great hobby,&rdquo; said Dick. &ldquo;When we met, we were both interested in photography and have enhanced our interest since then.&rdquo;</p> <p>Over the years, Dick and Gloria kept getting better cameras and equipment and their work kept getting better, too.</p> <img src=" Caldwell-The Gathering.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="180" /> <p><b>Whether at a local park or overseas, Dick enjoys getting out to take photos.</b> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s gratifying to see different things and to try to memorialize them in a way that means something, at least to me. The creative process itself is enjoyable, particularly when a captured image really reflects the beauty of the subject, or at least captures the essence of it,&rdquo; he explained.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;The Gathering,&quot; shows birds feeding in a marshy area <br /> near Ft. Pierce, FL.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">&ldquo;The world of digital photography has given me a lot more artistic freedom.&nbsp; I don&rsquo;t have to invest in a dark room with equipment and chemicals. It&rsquo;s much quicker and easier. When we were using film, you&rsquo;d take a shot and that was a quarter, four shots, throw a dollar at it. With digital photography, I can take 100 shots and if I don&rsquo;t like 98 of them, I just delete them.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Their focus is outdoor wildlife and landscapes. </b>&ldquo;Gloria says, if it moves, we shoot. If it doesn&rsquo;t, we shoot,&rdquo; laughed Dick. &ldquo;We have a lot of fun and it&rsquo;s something we can do together. She&rsquo;s a better photographer than I am, and we actually sell some of our work, but more for enjoyment than anything else,&rdquo; he added. Their website, <a href=""></a>, is filled with beautiful photographs.</p> <img src=" Caldwell-Mormon Barns.jpg" hspace="8" vspace="0" align="left" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="162" /> <p><b>Dick and Gloria have been able to marry their love of photography with their love of travel.</b> They&rsquo;ve been to some amazing destinations&mdash;all seven continents, including Antarctica. At the time of this article, they had just returned from Yellowstone National Park. Dick spent time in March in South Florida with a professional photographer who took a group to Ft. Meyers to photograph birds in the Western Everglades. This photo is of &quot;Mormon Barns&quot;&nbsp;near Jackson WY, with the Grand Teton Mountain Range in the background.</p> <p>&ldquo;We travel wherever we get an opportunity. For instance, my daughter-in-law is from Australia, so we had a chance to go there and then last summer, I went to Switzerland for the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel annual meeting where I presented a paper,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;It was a marvelous opportunity to take pictures. It&rsquo;s a beautiful country.&rdquo;</p> <p>Dick talked about their trip to Antarctica, which was about nine years ago. &ldquo;We went with a National Geographic Expedition on a small ship. The large cruise ships go by, but there can only be about 100 people on land at a time, so they don&rsquo;t stop,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;We went on shore two times a day. It was just amazing and the weather was beautiful,&rdquo; he continued.</p> <p>The trip was in January, which is mid-summer and the temperature ranged from 30-35 degrees Fahrenheit. Thanks to sunshine and no humidity, Dick said he wasn&rsquo;t cold until he was back on the ship and moving.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;We took some incredible photographs of the penguins, seals and landscape. There is a lot of contrast between the glacier, which is white but has a lot of rough terrain, the water, which is dark and the blue sky,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p><b>It is not surprising that Dick would find learning how to adapt to various lighting conditions fun and interesting. </b>His curiosity and love of learning that serve him so well on his cases also serves him well in his chosen hobby.</p> <p>&ldquo;You have to learn to adapt to lighting conditions and what you&rsquo;re shooting,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been to several programs and workshops and considering the light conditions is one thing they always focus on,&rdquo; noted Dick.</p> <p>Dick and Gloria are planning their next big trip for Iceland. &ldquo;We had talked about going for about five years before we finally made it two years ago. It was just wonderful. We enjoyed it so much, we&rsquo;re trying to get back there next summer.</p> <p><b>One of Dick&rsquo;s favorite places to photograph is the beach. He says he has loved the beach ever since he was old enough to remember</b>. &ldquo;My grandparents lived near the beach in the Panhandle, so we&rsquo;d vacation there every year. Of course, I&rsquo;d never want to go home. I have very pleasant memories of those times and the beach has always been a constant source of enjoyment for me,&rdquo; he recalled.</p> <p>One of the things he likes about the beach, other than just walking on it, is all of the wildlife that surrounds it. &ldquo;There are birds, manatees and dolphins. There is always something going on.&rdquo;</p> <p>It makes sense that Dick would be attracted to Tampa and jumped at the opportunity to open RKC&rsquo;s Tampa office in the early 1990s. While he spent many years in south Tampa, he has found his way to Treasure Island and now lives just two blocks from the beach.</p> <p><b>Dick claims to have zero musical talent, but his love of many kinds of music has led him to serve on the boards of the Florida Orchestra and the St. Pete Opera.</b> &ldquo;These organizations really do make an important contribution to the community,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>As an example, he talked about the St. Pete Opera&rsquo;s school outreach program. This year, the opera performed &ldquo;Pinocchio&rdquo; for third graders. It was adapted for children and tells a familiar story in a new and unexpected way and exposes them to the music.</p> <p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s this opera star in LA who was born and raised in St. Pete. Here she is a star 15 years later, so you never know the impact of something like this,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;</p> <img src="" hspace="8" vspace="0" align="left" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="200" />Just like the impact of three lawyers who decided to create a different kind of firm. Each leaving his mark in a different way and creating a legacy they never dreamed, touching countless lives along the way.Beyond the Bio Blog25 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 Caldwell Shares his Perspective on Building a Successful Practice and Changes that have Transformed the Practice of Law<em>In this second of a three-part series, Dick Caldwell talks about what it takes to build a solid reputation and win in court. He also considers the vast changes that have occurred over the almost five decades he has practiced law.<br /> <br /> </em><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="200" /><br /> <em>Bud Kirk, Dick Caldwell and Thom Rumberger<br /> </em><br /> <strong>Many of the cases that Dick Caldwell worked on throughout his career were tough.</strong> The cases often involved catastrophic accidents where the injuries of survivors were severe and the jury was made up of people who knew the victims. <br /> <br /> Dick talks about some of the key lessons he learned from one such trial early in his career that involved a huge crash at an intersection in Tallahassee where the cars caught fire. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;There were four deaths including one man&rsquo;s wife, two kids and a young husband and father. The 23-year-old woman who survived was left unrecognizable from her injuries. This case was terrifying because the plaintiffs were so very sympathetic. We thought that if things went against us, we could set the national record at that time for tort verdicts,&rdquo; he remembered. &ldquo;This case involved a high speed crash that had catastrophic results for plaintiffs who were totally innocent, but we contended that it was not a product liability situation,&rdquo; he noted. <br /> <br /> <strong>&ldquo;One of the keys to winning a tough trial like this is being prepared for every witness, every statement opposing experts make and outworking the other side,&rdquo; said Dick.</strong> &ldquo;We successfully tried that case in five weeks and upheld the verdict for GM all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. I learned so much technical knowledge from working with experts and dealing with a major case. By using the team concept, we kept everyone from having a nervous breakdown from overwork, but at the same time got the job done. It was such a valuable experience,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> <strong>&ldquo;As a lawyer, it is your responsibility to give your absolute best effort for your client,&rdquo; </strong><strong>said Dick.</strong> &ldquo;It is your job to go the extra mile and work within the realm of ethics, good manners and common sense. People who are a success do that,&rdquo; noted Dick. &ldquo;That entails a lot of midnight oil, at least it did for me. But no matter what it takes, you owe that to the client,&rdquo; he continued. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m convinced that we win cases because we outwork the other side. I might not be the most brilliant lawyer out there, but I&rsquo;ll be darned if I&rsquo;ll let someone outwork me.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> <strong>Giving the best effort doesn&rsquo;t mean that the firm overworks its attorneys. </strong>&ldquo;We are not a sweat shop,&rdquo; said Dick. &ldquo;We work hard and we have built a reputation that we require dedication to get the job done on behalf of our clients, but we also attract clients who take the long view-- what is needed now, in six months and a year from now?&rdquo; explained Dick. &ldquo;And we work as a team to get the results for our clients.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> <strong>Dick recalled another significant case where he learned the value of building a good case and presenting facts in a respectful manner to win over a jury&mdash;even one that personally knows the plaintiff.</strong> &ldquo;This case was in Aroostook County at the very northern tip of Maine, right across the border from Quebec, Ontario. It was a very small community and we had a jury, most of whom knew the plaintiff,&rdquo; recalled Dick. &ldquo;It was catastrophic accident where the plaintiff was left a quadriplegic. The plaintiff was innocent&mdash;really was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We laid out the facts, treated everyone with respect and hammered on the facts and the law. Seeing a jury return a defense verdict against someone they knew, really strengthened my conviction that juries, for the most part, try to be impartial and weigh the facts of the case,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> <strong>Great attorneys enjoy the nuances of their cases and are fascinated by learning.</strong> &ldquo;Every case is different, and I enjoy digging into the facts of the case, the different personalities and issues at hand,&rdquo; said Dick. &ldquo;I also like to figure out the arguments, position, discovery, depositions&mdash;it&rsquo;s never dull. I tell new attorneys that boredom is not an occupational hazard of this job,&rdquo; he laughed. <br /> <br /> <strong>Dick admits that juggling personal and professional responsibilities was the hardest part of his job.</strong> &ldquo;It takes an enormous effort to prepare these cases. You have to learn what you&rsquo;re doing and apply that knowledge. You have to get the case prepared, retain experts, and take depositions of the other side&rsquo;s experts and so on. A lot of the people you are talking to are scattered all over the country. As you get ready for trial, it just takes over your life. This is tough on family relationships,&rdquo; explains Dick. &ldquo;There were long periods of time that I would be gone&mdash;a month, six weeks on the other side of the country. It was tough and looking back I wish I&rsquo;d handled some things differently.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> <strong>There is a lot more focus on balance these days and Dick believes that today&rsquo;s attorneys do a better job of balancing personal and professional lives.</strong> &ldquo;There is so much more focus on maintaining balance and people are smarter about how to handle it,&rdquo; said Dick. &ldquo;There have been so many advances in technology and other factors that have changed the way in which we work that also helps.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> <strong>For instance, Dick points to the use of technology and computers to streamline research and free up resources. </strong>If we were in trial and needed research, we&rsquo;d have to borrow a law library or call back to the office to research a point of law and fax cases back and forth. We&rsquo;re much more efficient now. When I was starting out, I could spent 8-10 hours on research whereas today you can spend an hour researching case law and still make it home at a reasonable hour,&rdquo; said Dick. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;In addition to helping lawyers themselves be more efficient, technology has also had a big impact on law firms and freeing up resources that can be put to better use,&rdquo; explained Dick. &ldquo;For instance, 20 years ago, you had one secretary for every lawyer, but now lawyers are able to do so much more on their own, and more quickly, so that assistants are freed up to do other things and assist more than one attorney at a time,&rdquo; said Dick. <br /> <br /> Dick noted that technology is such an eminent part of practicing law that the Florida Supreme Court decreed that lawyers have at least a couple of hours of technology for Continued Legal Education. <br /> <br /> <strong>In addition to the advancements in technology, Dick has witnessed a number of other changes in the landscape of trial law over his career. One of the biggest changes is how much harder it is to take a case to trial. </strong><br /> <br /> The risk of taking cases to trial has increased dramatically over the years, and this has of course been recognized by clients. &ldquo;For example, there was this warranty case in Alabama against BMW. The customer was unhappy with the paint job. A young attorney handled the case and the jury came back with a $2 million verdict. It made it to the U.S. Supreme Court and was ultimately reversed, but that was a long effort and a lot of money over a $2,000 paint job,&rdquo; explained Dick. &ldquo;That type of situation has made business very reluctant to take a case to trial. Runaway verdicts have become more common. Every week there is another $150 million verdict and very few businesses can handle those results,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;A lot of cases I&rsquo;ve tried over the years would probably not see the light of day at present&mdash;and we won a lot of those cases,&rdquo; noted Dick. <br /> <br /> <br /> Dick says that today&rsquo;s lawyers aren&rsquo;t able to get the experience he was able to by trying so many cases. &ldquo;You learn from the experience&mdash;having a witness say something you don&rsquo;t expect or picking a jury,&rdquo; said Dick. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s so much tougher to get hands-on trial experience.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> <strong>Another big change in the landscape of law is that there are more lawyers than ever before. </strong> <br /> Dick noted that when he first started working in Orlando in late 1971, the entire bar association was around 400 lawyers&mdash;and very few of those were trial lawyers. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Chances were great that you knew the lawyers on the other side. You knew what kind of lawyers they were. There was a collegiality among attorneys. If you needed a couple of extra days on something, you could call and it wouldn&rsquo;t be a big deal. Today, there are so many more lawyers that we often don&rsquo;t know the other side and we&rsquo;ve lost the collegiality that there was before,&rdquo; said Dick. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s much more defensive and more formal than when I first started practicing.&rdquo;<br /> <strong><br /> Dick notes that clients have become more sophisticated today.</strong> &ldquo;One part of that is that as my practice evolved and grew, I started dealing more with general counsel of major organizations. That in itself has been quite a change, but overall, whether large or small, I feel that clients are more ready to handle the complexities of the legal system today. In order to serve them, you need to be just as savvy as they are,&rdquo; he noted. <br /> <br /> <strong>When talking with new lawyers, Dick says that communication is really the key to success.</strong> &ldquo;I tell them that there is going to be a lot of stuff you won&rsquo;t know a thing about and not to let that discourage them. That happens to everyone. Just don&rsquo;t be afraid to ask questions,&rdquo; he continued. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;I also like to point out that they have to put in the time to understand the cases, understand the adversary and know what we need to do to get this to a successful completion. That can take some time, particularly for young attorneys. Don&rsquo;t be afraid to approach partners and ask what to do. Don&rsquo;t be afraid to approach the client, either,&rdquo; he advises. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s also important to learn from disappointments and not get discouraged. You will lose cases and hearings, and there will be depositions that don&rsquo;t turn out the way you want. Learn from these things and you will be successful.&rdquo;<br /> <em><br type="_moz" /> </em>Beyond the Bio Blog19 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 from the Troops<p>Over the holidays, the firm received thank you notes and photos from the troops who received Christmas packages in mid-December.<br /> <br /> <img src=" you-Taylor1.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="225" /></p> <p>Brian Bernstein serves in Kuwait as a part of Operation Inherent Resolve. He's with the 187 Fighter Wing from Montgomery Alabama, an F-16 unit that provides close air support to troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria. He sent in this photo along with the following note:<br /> <br /> <img src=" Thank you-Brian Bernstein.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="624" height="239" /></p> <p>&quot;I received your care packages in the mail a few days ago. I shared them with my other troops over here and they are so much appreciated. Lots of great things in those packages that everyone is enjoying. I served in Afghanistan a few years ago and you also sent us packages there as well. We appreciate your gifts and support of us while we are away from home during the holidays.&quot;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog08 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 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