Firm News Feed May 2017 00:00:00 -0800firmwise Smith Answers the Call to Serve<p><em>Appointed to Hillsborough County Court, Jared reflects on his career and the impact Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell has had in developing his skills as a litigator and ultimately a judge.</em><b><br /> <br /> </b><em><b>A Strong Sense of Duty</b></em></p> <p><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="154" height="215" /><i>When Jared added his name to the list to be considered for a judicial appointment, it was not the first time he answered the call to serve his country.</i> After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Jared felt a strong desire to help in any way he could. &ldquo;I kept envisioning what our country would look like if good people weren&rsquo;t willing to serve,&rdquo; he remembered. Jared would go on to serve in the United States Air Force JAG for 4 years. &ldquo;I chose to temporarily sacrifice a civilian legal career in service to my nation,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>Much like the first time, the calling to serve as a judge came quite suddenly. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s almost like a light switch,&rdquo; said Jared. &ldquo;I saw the need for solid, quality judges and realized that I could fit that role. Once I realized that, I felt like a round peg in a square hole. It wasn&rsquo;t something I had always planned to do or thought about doing when I began 17 years ago, 10 years ago or even five years ago,&rdquo; he admitted.</p> <p><em><b>A Good Judge is a Good Litigator</b></em></p> <p><i>Working at Rumberger has sharpened my work efficiency and made me a great litigator which will ultimately help me to be a great judge,&rdquo; said Jared.</i></p> <p>Jared believes the best judges understand the process from beginning to end&mdash;from filing to trying the case. He credits the firm&rsquo;s commitment to excellence and mentoring for helping him to grow into an excellent litigator who can handle extremely complex cases and a full desk.</p> <p>&ldquo;I came in with some litigation experience, but I am a product of the firm&rsquo;s tradition of mentoring and developing excellent litigators,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>Jared&rsquo;s high level of diligence and dedication were nurtured at Rumberger. &ldquo;It takes a strong work ethic to manage high volume, complex cases,&rdquo; noted Jared. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s rare for any case at Rumberger to be non-moving, so there is a lot of scheduling and time management to keep everything on track, so I&rsquo;m used to a busy desk and putting in whatever time it takes to get the job done.&rdquo;</p> <p>Being able to handle a busy desk will translate well into handling a busy docket&mdash;a challenge the courts currently face.</p> <p>In addition, Jared&rsquo;s experience makes him well suited to serving as a judge. As a board-certified construction lawyer, he handles extremely complex areas of law, such as Florida construction lien law. In addition to his strong civil litigation experience, he also has significant background in criminal law and, through his legal assistance work with the Air Force, has hands on knowledge of other areas, such as wills and family law. &ldquo;My versatility and ability to learn and master different and complex areas of the law will be a helpful skill to utilize on the bench,&rdquo; noted Jared.</p> <p><b>A Focus on Professionalism and Civility</b></p> <p><i>Another great tool for Jared to draw on in his new role, is his commitment to treating every case as important and each person with respect.</i>&ldquo;I have always appreciated the firm&rsquo;s focus on cultivating excellence, respect, collegiality and cooperation, which has undoubtedly helped me become a better lawyer and will serve me in my role as a judge,&rdquo; he said. &nbsp;</p> <p>In addition, in his role as a military officer, Jared was expected to act as an officer whether in or out of the uniform. &ldquo;As a judge, I will treat the office with respect and honor, and will carry myself in a manner reflective of that respect whether inside or out of the courtroom,&rdquo; he added.</p> <p>Jared also expects to draw upon work he did for several years during and after law school with juvenile delinquents who were held in the closed units at the Topeka Juvenile Correctional Facility.&nbsp;&ldquo;This work shows that in addition to an understanding of the importance of justice which I gained as a prosecutor, I also have a balancing empathy for those who have been accused of and convicted of offenses,&rdquo; explained Jared.</p> <p><b>Rumberger Offered Many Opportunities for Growth</b></p> <p><i>&ldquo;Rumberger offered me the opportunity to set big goals for myself and attain them,&rdquo;</i><b> </b>said Jared. &ldquo;When I joined the firm, I never dreamed of where it would take me. I was given plenty of opportunity to stretch as a professional and the freedom to create and execute a plan to develop a construction practice. It was beyond anything I dreamed I could do and I appreciate the support from my mentors and everyone to push myself to accomplish more than I thought I could.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p>As Jared looks forward to his new role as a judge, he will draw upon his ability to learn and grow in new ways. Jared will be handling domestic violence, as well as county civil litigation including PIP and landlord/tenant actions. &ldquo;Much of the law will be new for me, so I know the learning curve will be steep.&nbsp;That said, considering how much I&rsquo;ve learned since stepping into Rumberger 10 years ago, I&rsquo;m hopeful I am ready for the challenge,&rdquo; said Jared.</p> <p>In addition to the learning and growth opportunity, Jared said he is most looking forward to having the opportunity to serve the people who come before his court.</p> <p>No stranger to serving, Jared and his wife of 19 years have four children, one whom they adopted three years ago. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve always felt blessed to have the family we do, and we wanted to be open to a child whose birth parents may be limited in their ability to care for and raise him or her.&nbsp; God has used the adoption process to grow both our hearts and our home.&nbsp; We couldn&rsquo;t be more blessed or thankful for our family.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog16 May 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 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 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 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