Firm News Feed Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0800firmwise Bond Edwards Participates in 25th Anniversary of Delta Days at the Florida State Capital<p><img src=" 02 19- Linda Edwards at Delta Days with Ron DeSantis.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="450" height="299" /><br /> <br /> Linda Bond Edwards joined more than 300 members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. from across the state to meet with legislators to address pending bills and issues impacting their communities during the sorority&rsquo;s 25<sup>th</sup> Anniversary of &ldquo;Delta Days&rdquo; at the Florida State Capital. During the event, they had the opportunity to meet and be photographed with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.</p> <p>To learn more about Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, visit: <a href=""></a></p>Beyond the Bio Blog03 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Women's History Month<img src=" History Month2019-no logo.jpg" alt="" width="300" vspace="0" hspace="0" height="147" border="0" align="left" /><em>Women&rsquo;s History Month commemorates and encourages the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. In honor of Women&rsquo;s History Month, Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell asked our women attorneys to share their personal stories to help inspire future generations.<br /> <br /> <br /> </em><img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="125" border="0" align="left" /> <p><em><strong>What example do you hope to set for young women?</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;To let them know that there is no job that they cannot do, no end they cannot achieve and no dream is too big.&quot;<br /> <br /> --LaShawnda Jackson, Partner, Orlando</em></p> <p><b><br /> </b><img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="125" border="" align="right" /></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em><strong>Name a woman that has inspired you and why?</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;My mom. She worked full-time, and still managed to dedicate so much time to me. She rose to the top in her profession in a short amount of time and surpassed many others who had been there years before, even though she only had a two-year college degree. Now that I&rsquo;m a mother, I finally understand the struggles that working mothers face.&quot;</em><br /> <em><br /> --Magali Sanders, Associate, Miami<br /> <br /> </em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="136" border="0" align="left" /> <p><em><strong>What inspired you to become a lawyer?&nbsp;</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;During a lawsuit surrounding my mom&rsquo;s death, I found it incredibly frustrating not understanding the complicated lingo and the confusing legal system that my family faced.&nbsp;From that moment, I knew I would have special understanding and sensitivity for those struggling through the litigation process.&nbsp;Later, I came to work for a family law firm as a legal assistant where a mentor encouraged me to become a lawyer myself.&nbsp;She paid for my LSAT and practically pushed me out the door because she believed I&rsquo;d make a good lawyer.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Nicole Smith, Partner, Tallahassee</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="150" border="0" align="right" /> <p style="text-align: right;"><em><strong>How has mentoring affected your career?</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;Despite what some law students may think, we alone do not have all the&nbsp;</em><em>answers. Mentoring has allowed me to connect with colleagues and learn from their experiences. Mentors have also kept me grounded, given me direction and energized me when I needed it the most.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Shenele Pettis Bright, Associate, Orlando</em></p> <p><em><strong><br /> <br /> </strong></em><img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="139" border="0" align="left" /><em><strong><br /> Name a woman that has inspired you and why?</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;The Suffragettes.&nbsp;It is mind boggling that women have only had the right to vote for 100 years in this country.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Meredith Jowers Lees, Partner, Birmingham</em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><b><br /> <br /> <br /> </b><img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="125" border="0" align="right" /><em><b><br /> <br /> What do you enjoy about the practice of law?&nbsp;</b></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;I enjoy taking on the role of advocate for my clients.&nbsp;I become personally invested in my clients&rsquo; issues which drives me to investigate thoroughly and work creatively to build solid cases on their behalf.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Meredith Fee, Associate, Tampa</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="150" border="0" align="left" /> <p><br /> <em><strong>What inspired you to become a lawyer?</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;My grandmother and mother inspired me to become a lawyer.&nbsp;They would refer to my twin sister and me as 'little lawyers.'&quot;<br /> <br /> --Monica Segura, Partner, Miami</em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><b><br /> <br /> <br /> </b><img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="125" border="0" align="right" /><br /> <em><strong>What example do you hope to set for young women?</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;I hope that they don&rsquo;t see limits for what they can become.&nbsp;Use your talents and treasure positively and for the greater good.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Linda Bond Edwards, Partner, Tallahassee</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="125" border="0" align="left" /> <p><br /> <em><strong>Name a woman that has inspired you and why?</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;Ruth Bader Ginsburg.&nbsp;I have read her books and watched her movie. She truly is an inspiration to female lawyers.&nbsp;She went from not being able to get a legal job to becoming a Supreme Court justice.&nbsp;Her story is truly inspiring.&quot;<br /> <br /> -Stacy Mateu, Associate, Miami</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="125" border="0" align="right" /> <p style="text-align: right;"><br /> <em><strong><br /> What example do you hope to set for young women?</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;You can have a family and still be successful.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Candy Messersmith</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="133" border="0" align="left" /> <p><em><strong>Name a woman that has inspired you and why?</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;My mother. She excels in a male-dominated field and stands up to the men in her field. Not only does she excel in her professional life, but also in her personal life. After having children, she completed 3 marathons, a 100 mile bike race, and triathlons. Out of three siblings, when my grandmother was dying of cancer, she took care of my grandma, on top of everything else she was already juggling.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Kayla Platt Rady, Associate, Tallahassee</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="150" border="0" align="right" /> <p style="text-align: right;"><em><strong><br /> What example do you hope to set for young women?</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;Be your best self.&nbsp;That is what I teach my daughter.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Lena Mirilovic, Associate, Orlando</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="129" border="0" align="left" /> <p><br /> <em><strong>What example do you hope to set for young women?</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;I hope to set an example of fearlessness. 'Ever tried.&nbsp;Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.'&quot;<br /> <br /> --Lauren Snyder, Associate, Birmingham</em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="125" border="0" align="right" /><em><strong><br /> What do you enjoy about the practice of law?</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;I really like digging into a new case to figure out the background, claims and defenses, strengths and weaknesses, and client goals, and then map out a strategy for handling the case.&nbsp;As a litigator, there&rsquo;s nothing I enjoy more than setting foot in a courtroom, ready to argue for or against something that really matters to my client.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Sally Culley, Partner, Orlando</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="125" border="0" align="left" /> <p><em><strong>How has mentoring affected your career?</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;Many of my mentors have been women whom I have been able to speak with openly and honestly about decisions affecting my career and personal life. Each is strong, smart and great at what they do. They have not only encouraged and inspired me to seek opportunities that I may not have felt ready, but have also passed on valuable words of wisdom when I have failed. The mentorship I received during law school and as a law clerk ultimately led me to RKC, and I am grateful for the mentorship I have already received after recently joining RKC.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Joleen East, Associate, Tampa</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="139" border="0" align="right" /> <p style="text-align: right;"><em><strong>What example do you hope to set for young women?</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;I hope to set an example of someone who is dedicated to her career and her clients as well as to her community. I want to show that you can be successful in your career and also give back to your community through volunteering and advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Rebecca Beers, Partner, Birmingham</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="150" border="0" align="left" /> <p><strong><em>What inspired you to become a lawyer?</em></strong></p> <p><em>&quot;I have always loved to read, write, and argue, so becoming a lawyer seemed like the right career path for me. But what truly inspired me to practice law was the ability to be a zealous advocate. I loved that I would be able to help others by passionately and effectively communicating their position on a given issue.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Courtney Walmer, Associate, Orlando</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="139" border="0" align="right" /> <p style="text-align: right;"><br /> <em><strong>What do you enjoy about the practice of law?</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;Every day brings an opportunity to learn something new while I help clients find solutions to their problems.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Carie Hall, Partner, Tampa</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="150" border="0" align="left" /> <p><em><strong>What example do you hope to set for young women?</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;As the mother of two young girls, I think it is my job to show them the importance of work and the value in doing something that they enjoy for a living.&nbsp;I want them to see that their mother enjoys going to work every day because that is what I want for them to experience.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Samantha Duke, Associate, Orlando </em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="125" border="0" align="right" /> <p style="text-align: right;"><br /> <em><strong>Name a woman that has inspired you and why?</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;My grandmother.&nbsp;She was a Holocaust survivor.&nbsp;She taught me the importance of being strong, resilient and never letting anything get in the way of family.&quot;<br /> </em><br /> <em>--Dara Lindquist, Partner, Orlando</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="133" border="0" align="left" /> <p><em><strong>Name a woman that has inspired you and why?</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;Just one?! Two of the women that have inspired me the most are my grandmothers. They both had to leave their home country, at a young age, with children, and without knowing if they would return (they didn&rsquo;t). I&rsquo;m close to their age now, and I can&rsquo;t begin to imagine what that would feel like. They both provided me with unbelievable examples of resilience and faith. After moving to the U.S., they both successfully worked in different careers in an unfamiliar country in order to provide for their families. They have both inspired me to work hard and leave the world a better place than how I found it.&quot;<br /> --Leslie </em><em>Lagomasino Ba</em><em>um , Associate, Tallahassee</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="150" border="0" align="right" /> <p style="text-align: right;"><em><strong>How has mentoring affected your career?</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em>&quot;I still keep in touch with my mentor from 30 years ago.&nbsp;I recall just starting out as an attorney and having so many questions.&nbsp;Now, I have a genuine interest in helping my mentee be successful.&nbsp;I share my experience both professionally and personally. Young female attorneys are faced with the stress of trying to achieve professional growth in a male dominated legal field and also of personal and family development which can be difficult to balance.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Lan Kennedy-Davis, Partner, Orlando</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="125" border="0" align="left" /> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><strong>What do you enjoy about the practice of law?</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;Being able to help individuals or companies navigate their way through the legal morass and coming out the other side with the best possible results.&nbsp;&nbsp; I also love the challenge and the competition.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Suzanne Singer, Partner, Miami</em></p> <img src="" alt="" width="100" vspace="5" hspace="5" height="150" border="0" align="right" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: right;"><em><strong>How has mentoring affected your career?</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: right;">&quot;Mentoring has had a huge impact on my career so far.&nbsp;You do not pop out of law school as a talented lawyer.&nbsp;Instead, you are constantly learning from watching and listening to others.&quot;<br /> <br /> --Lindy Keown, Associate, Orlando</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><strong><br /> </strong></em><img src=", Lori 2016.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="left" alt="" border="0" width="100" height="130" /><em><strong><br /> Name a woman that has inspired you and why?</strong></em></p> <p><em>&quot;My mother was my example of courage, strength and giving. She encouraged me to believe I could do anything.&quot;<br /> <br /> -- Lori Caldwell, Partner, Orlando</em></p>Beyond the Bio Blog25 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Florida Diversity & Inclusion Picnic Matches Law Students with Mentors were happy to support Orange County Bar Association's 2019 Central Florida Diversity and Inclusion Picnic held at at Barry Law School on Saturday, March 16. For the 7th annual year, law students from across the state were matched with mentors in the hope of creating lasting connections. The picnic included presentations on subjects ranging from success to diversity in the legal profession.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <img src=" Diversity &amp; Inclusion Picnic-edited.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="400" height="232" /><br /> <br /> Special thanks to&nbsp;Dan Gerber, Sally Culley, Angela Sterley, Lena Mirilovic and Steve Klein (seated) for representing Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell at this important event!&nbsp;<br /> <br />Beyond the Bio Blog18 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800's Cookin' Counselors Serve up Chili for a Good Cause<img src=" 07 19-Chili Cook-off.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="534" /> <p>Whether fiery, hot, peppery or sweet, Birmingham businesses brought their best chili recipes out for a great cause at the 15<sup>th</sup> Annual Exceptional Foundation Chili Cook-Off last Saturday. Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell was one of 150 teams participating in the event. <br /> <br /> Special thanks to all of the Cookin&rsquo; Counselors for participating including Scott Williams, Rebecca Beers, Fred Clarke, and Leah Downer.</p> <p>&ldquo;While we didn&rsquo;t bring home a trophy this year, we had a wonderful time with friends supporting an important organization,&rdquo; said Scott Williams.</p> <p>The Exceptional Foundation enhances the quality of life for individuals of all ages with developmental challenges by providing social and recreational activities designed to promote healthy living, support social relationships, improve functional skills, and foster community involvement. <br /> <br /> To learn more about The Exceptional Foundation, visit:</p>Beyond the Bio Blog04 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Black History Month<img src="" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="350" height="409" /> <p>Each February, America honors and celebrates many unsung heroes, as well as the well-known heroes of black history. A Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, is credited for beginning Black History Month in 1925, which is also referred to as African American History Month. His hope was to raise awareness of contributions by African Americans to society with what was once a week-long event that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. During the nation&rsquo;s bicentennial in 1976, President Gerald Ford expanded the event to a month-long celebration, which every president since has proclaimed. President Ford encouraged Americans to &ldquo;seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p><b><i>Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell honors three of our attorneys who have contributed to making the firm a rich, innovative and diverse environment.</i></b> Partners Linda Bond Edwards (Tallahassee), LaShawnda Jackson (Orlando) and associate Shenele Pettis Bright (Orlando) share their life experiences and unique perspectives that have helped shape them into the successful attorneys they are today.</p> <p><b><i>Linda Bond Edwards grew up in a rural county near Memphis, Tennessee during the civil rights movement.</i></b> &ldquo;I have very vivid memories of the civil rights movement and it was truly an awesome experience as a young African American girl to grow up witnessing and experiencing everything that was happening,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;My father worked in Memphis, and on the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, I remember my grandmother crying as much for the death of Dr. King as she was for the safety of my father who had to go through all of the protests to get home.&rdquo;</p> <p>Linda says that the community in which she grew up was very active in fighting for civil rights. &ldquo;My family owned property since the 1880s. My grandparents moved to our county in the 1930s and family and other community members housed white northerners and Freedom Riders who were coming to the South. My aunt hosted a Freedom School in her home, so it was all very real and personal to me,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;I come from a very proud tradition of people who understand the struggle for citizenship, freedom and civil rights,&rdquo; she continued.</p> <p><b><i>Education was paramount in Linda&rsquo;s home.</i></b> While neither of her parents attended college, they raised eight children and taught them the importance of education.&nbsp;&ldquo;We all knew from the time we were small that we would go to college. It was just what we were taught,&rdquo; she laughed. &ldquo;Of the eight children in my family, six have degrees from college.&rdquo; The other two attended, but although they didn&rsquo;t graduate, they found other paths to success. &ldquo;We were very blessed to grow up in a home where education was valued.&rdquo;</p> <p><b><i>Linda did not follow the typical path for her education. While most were encouraged to go into teaching or academia, she focused instead on business.</i></b> &ldquo;I always can tell how old people are when I tell them my first job was working as a manufacturing supervisor in a Sylvania plant that manufactured flash bulbs<a href="file:///C:/Users/Stefanie/Documents/Macfarlane%20Communications/RKC/BTB/02%2019-%20African%20American%20History%20Month_Final.DOCX#_edn1" name="_ednref1" title="">[i]</a>,&rdquo; laughed Linda.</p> <p>That job was her entre to corporate American because Sylvania was a part of GTE where she spent more than 10 years building a successful career in human resources. She later followed her heart and left her extremely successful career to go back to school to study law. Using her experience as a corporate director of human resources, Linda has built a strong practice representing both private and public employers in labor and employment matters for more than 20 years.</p> <p><b><i>Giving back is important to Linda.</i></b>&nbsp;While serving as president of the Tallahassee Women Lawyers, Linda developed a program to help at risk middle school girls uncover the possibilities their lives may hold.&nbsp;African-American Women lawyers would meet with the girls and mentor them about the legal profession and talk to them about the opportunities available. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s important to reach kids at that age when they begin to consider what they might want to do,&rdquo; said Linda.</p> <p><b><i>Getting together for the holidays is of utmost importance. </i></b>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a time for a Hawaiian vacation,&rdquo; she laughed. &ldquo;My parents&rsquo; home has been the meeting place for Christmas dinner for most of my life.&nbsp;There can be as many as 40 people gathered which includes sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, cousins, neighbors and friends.&nbsp;The family all comes together mainly for Christmas, but a few of us may get together for Thanksgiving.&nbsp;Because my siblings live in several states, (Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee) the Thanksgiving mix will vary. Like traditional holiday menus, turkey and dressing are at the heart of the meal along with southern favorites of greens and macaroni and cheese.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Growing up on a farm, we always had fresh vegetables in the summer and would freeze and can vegetables to have them all year long. In the fall, we would have fresh pork and beef, so the only things we purchased were staples like flour and sugar,&rdquo; Linda noted. &ldquo;Of course, things have changed so much since then. Over Christmas, I was shredding cheese for the macaroni and asked my eight-year-old niece what was her favorite kind. I couldn&rsquo;t help laughing when she told me &lsquo;feta&rsquo;! because I was well into adulthood before I had feta cheese.&rdquo;</p> <p><b><i>The more we are exposed to different experiences and cultures, the stronger we become.</i></b> &ldquo;At the heart of celebrations like African American History Month is an opportunity to help people recognize that it has taken all of us to make our country a great place to live,&rdquo; said Linda. &ldquo;The racial divide in our country is so troubling and unnecessary.&nbsp;The negative stereotypes of African Americans don&rsquo;t represent who we are or what we have and will contribute. &ldquo;By celebrating the contributions of those who have done positive and great things, the more we are likely to appreciate all of the contributions made across racial and ethnic lines.&rdquo;</p> <p><b><i>LaShawnda Jackson, who grew up outside of Titusville in Mims, Florida, said that is was precisely Black History Month that led her to learn more about African Americans who have made history, but aren&rsquo;t necessarily in the history books. </i></b></p> <p>&ldquo;I participated in an after-school program where there was a trivia competition for Black History Month. While I was preparing and practicing for that, I discovered some of the great things people have done that I&rsquo;d never heard about&mdash;from the woman who invented the ironing board (Sarah Boone) to the man who invented the stop light (Garrett Morgan) and more. I was really proud of my heritage and excited to learn about the people who have had an impact,&rdquo; she explained. An excitement that LaShawnda says continues today.&nbsp;</p> <p>Another important moment for LaShawnda came when a teacher took her to NASA to meet three African American female scientists, one of whom was an astronaut. &ldquo;It was like watching history in the making to see these women talk about what they overcame to do what they loved. And while I wasn&rsquo;t inspired to become a scientist, I was inspired to do anything I wanted, just like they did,&rdquo; she explained.</p> <p><b><i>Now, LaShawnda finds herself inspiring young adults to work hard and never give up.</i></b> &ldquo;I always say, &lsquo;no pain, no gain.&rsquo; Sometimes you go through things to get you where you need to be. The journey isn&rsquo;t always easy, but it is worth it,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p>No stranger to barriers and obstacles, LaShawnda was just three years old when her father was shot and killed by her biological mother. After her mother&rsquo;s arrest, LaShawnda was raised by her father&rsquo;s sister, whom she calls mom. &ldquo;I saw so many people on the wrong side of the law. I wanted to be on the right side of the law. My biological mother was 19 years old when I was born and I was her fourth child. I was not going to do that.&rdquo;</p> <p>Equipped with that motivation, and the desire to make her father proud, LaShawnda worked hard to succeed in school which led her to earning 13 academic scholarships to attend the University of Florida, where she also competed on the Track &amp; Field Team.&nbsp;After graduating, she continued on to law school at the University of Florida, and has built a successful practice over the past 17 years defending companies against product defect, premises liability, and motor vehicle accident claims.</p> <p>Through the Junior League of Greater Orlando&rsquo;s MAGIC (Mentoring Adolescent Girls to Inspire Change) program, LaShawnda mentors young girls detained in the local juvenile detention center who await sentencing or admission into a treatment program. &ldquo;In talking with the girls about my job, or telling them my story, I remind them that we all come from different places, but to take advantage of the opportunities you do have. &nbsp;I tell them to stay inspired and have a plan. I had to sacrifice time and long hours of studying, but it was worth the sacrifice,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s also important to surround yourself with good people and aim for your dreams.&rdquo;</p> <p><b><i>Surrounded by a large, loving family, LaShawnda is the youngest of six. One of their family traditions is to all gather at mom&rsquo;s house the night before Thanksgiving to help get everything ready.</i></b> &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t do mashed potatoes, but everything is potluck, so some of the sides vary. We only get mom&rsquo;s dressing twice a year. It&rsquo;s different from stuffing and takes her forever to prepare. Even now at the age of 74, she&rsquo;ll go to bed at 1:00 a.m. and get up at 5:00 a.m., just to be sure it&rsquo;s good,&rdquo; LaShawnda laughed. &ldquo;We eat a lot of soul food at our gatherings&mdash;collard and mustard greens, yellow/dirty rice, corn bread, barbecue chicken, potato salad and Souse.&rdquo;</p> <p><b><i>Coming from South Carolina, LaShawnda&rsquo;s family participates in camp meetings each October at Shady Grove Methodist Campground.</i></b> This particular camp meeting was organized by former slaves after the Civil War in 1870. Families gather at the grounds where they stay in &ldquo;tents,&rdquo; which are often wooden cabins with tin roofs.</p> <p>&ldquo;To me, it&rsquo;s always a big family reunion,&rdquo; said LaShawnda. &ldquo;We go and see old family friends and elders. Each cabin is inhabited by a family and food often plays a major role. Everyone wants to see who has the best food. As you can imagine, it&rsquo;s soul food all day&mdash;fried chicken, corn bread, collard greens, cakes of all kinds, sweet potatoes, sweet potato pies and more. Everyone welcomes you and feeds you. It&rsquo;s such a fascinating experience,&rdquo; LaShawnda explained.</p> <p><b><i>Another family tradition is the Family Fish Fry</i></b>. Typically held outdoors and very informal, LaShawnda says her grandparents would fry the fish over a fire outside and serve it with grits. &ldquo;People just come by with plates and wait to be served,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p><b><i>As the President of the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association, LaShawnda admits that attracting black students to the profession of law is a challenge.</i> </b>&ldquo;We lost big when the state changed affirmative action and minority-based scholarships. I was one of the last recipients of Florida&rsquo;s Minorities Participating in Legal Education (MPLE) scholarship to increase minority and black lawyers,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That is why mentoring students and making sure we are providing them the access and exposure to the opportunities that exist is of the utmost importance.&rdquo;</p> <p>LaShawnda participates in the Street Law program that Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell hosts in partnership with Allstate Insurance Company each year as an example. Students get an overview of relevant legal topics and insight into careers in the legal field. Following interactive workshops, students explore careers available in the legal profession and interact with local professionals at a job fair. Judges, attorneys, court reporters, interpreters, insurance adjusters, process servers, paralegals, as well as administrative professionals such as human resources and marketing attend. &ldquo;I like participating in programs like Street Law because I can show kids what opportunities for their futures are available to them,&rdquo; said LaShawnda.</p> <p><b><i>For as long as she can remember, Shenele Pettis Bright says she wanted to be a lawyer. </i></b>Both of Shenele&rsquo;s parents were involved with the law. Her mother worked as a probation officer before Shenele was born and her father was the first African American president of The Florida Bar.&ldquo;I was always surrounded by the law,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a picture of me in Kindergarten on &lsquo;Career Day&rsquo; dressed as a lawyer,&rdquo; she laughed. &ldquo;I always knew I wanted to help people and becoming a lawyer was one of the best ways to do so,&rdquo; she added.</p> <p>Growing up in Plantation, Florida, Shenele and her younger sister were raised to be active in the community. &ldquo;We were always donating and participating in service projects.&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;At the time I didn&rsquo;t always see the importance of my parents&rsquo; lessons on giving back, but now I am so grateful for the foundation they set for us at a young age. They set a standard for my younger sister and taught us to always be mentors and bring others along on our journey. They&rsquo;ve always worked really hard to pave the way for themselves and the next generation,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p><b><i>Shenele noted that Black History Month is a great time to celebrate the accomplishments of so many African Americans, but also to keep focused on future progress.</i></b> &ldquo;Some people are really surprised about the racial divide in our country right now, but it&rsquo;s just a good example of why we can&rsquo;t be complacent and why we need this celebration each year,&rdquo; said Shenele. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve accomplished so much, but there&rsquo;s still so much more to do,&rdquo; she added.</p> <p>Inspired by the recent movie, &ldquo;Hidden Figures,&rdquo; Shenele and her family are using African American History Month to uncover many of the &ldquo;hidden figures&rdquo; we don&rsquo;t often hear about. &ldquo;We hear about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, and they are so important to our history, but there are so many others who have had an impact that goes unnoticed,&rdquo; she explained. Upon occasion, the family will share via group text something they learned about some of these lesser known heroes. She said they recently were talking about John Morton-Finney, a soldier who earned 11 degrees and practiced law until he was 106, making him the longest practicing attorney in the United States.&nbsp;&ldquo;It&rsquo;s important to me to take time to learn about new people each year,&rdquo; she explained.&nbsp;</p> <p><b><i>While Shenele notes that there are many worthy African American heroes, she most admires her parents for setting the stage for her and her sister to live successful lives.</i></b> &ldquo;They raised us with a sense of community and responsibility that is extremely admirable and that I hope to continue to exhibit and instill in my future children one day,&rdquo; she shared.</p> <p>During law school at the University of Florida, Shenele participated in a juvenile law clinic. She wanted to continue working with the program and assisting those who were disadvantaged. &ldquo;I could have easily been born into different circumstances,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;A lot of children in these programs just need one person to look out for them and believe in them,&rdquo; she added.</p> <p>That experience led her to participate as a Guardian Ad-Litem with the Orange County Bar Association in which she represents children placed in the care of the State following removal due to physical or substance abuse. She also volunteers with the Key Initiative Committee with Ronald McDonald House Charities. The committee of young professionals raises funds to support the families served by the organization and helps build awareness for its mission.</p> <p>Recently joining the Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell family, Shenele said she was impressed that the firm not only hires great attorneys, but makes it part of its mission to make those attorneys even better. &ldquo;I was so impressed by the focus on mentoring, the Associate College and the summer associate program,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;The longevity of the attorneys here is also impressive. It&rsquo;s obvious that people come here and want to stay. That says a lot about the culture here,&rdquo; she continued</p> <p><b>A large part of the firm&rsquo;s culture is the emphasis on diversity and inclusion</b>. &ldquo;Our clients receive the highest quality service from legal teams that are representative of the increasingly diverse marketplace,&rdquo; added Linda, a member of the firm&rsquo;s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s our job to look for ways to both continue recognizing diversity as a strength, and finding ways to ensure diversity and inclusion within the firm.</p> <div><br clear="all" /> <hr align="left" size="1" width="33%" /> <div id="edn1"> <p><a href="file:///C:/Users/Stefanie/Documents/Macfarlane%20Communications/RKC/BTB/02%2019-%20African%20American%20History%20Month_Final.DOCX#_ednref1" name="_edn1" title="">[i]</a> Once the most popular source of light for photographers, flashbulbs produced light as a result of the combustion of material in an oxygen-rich atmosphere contained within a glass envelope or bulb. Source:</p> </div> </div>Beyond the Bio Blog22 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800, Kirk & Caldwell Serves up the Winning Chili Recipe<p>At the 23<sup>rd</sup> Annual Tallahassee Bar Association and Legal Aid Foundation Chili Cook-off, Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell&rsquo;s Tallahassee office beat out 11 other teams for the People&rsquo;s Choice Award for Best Chili. <br /> <img src=" Cookoff 3.JPG" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="350" height="232" /><br /> <br /> <img src=" Coofkoff 1.JPG" hspace="5" vspace="05" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="132" />The winning recipe was created by Russell Edwards, firm partner Linda Edward&rsquo;s husband. The tasty recipe included special secret ingredients, one of which is black angus ground steak.<br /> <p>Competing at the event for the past seven years, the team is no stranger to awards, but this is the first time the firm has taken the top prize for best chili, although Russell claims we should have won in prior years. In years past, the firm has twice received the 5-Alarm Award honoring chili packed with heat and won the award for &ldquo;Most Magnificent Margarita&rdquo; last year.</p> <p>Congratulations to all who played a role in the event including Richard Greenberg, Kayla Platt Rady, Nathaniel Johnson, Carlie Duquette, Leonard Dietzen (and his wife, Beth, who created the team banner), David Marsey, Leslie Lagomasino Baum, Jack Weiss, Linda Bond Edwards and her husband Russell Edwards.<br /> <img src=" Cookoff 2.JPG" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="350" height="232" /></p> </p>Beyond the Bio Blog18 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 High School Students Get a Glimpse into the Legal Field<em><strong>Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell Hosted an Educational Law Program in Partnership with Allstate Insurance Company and Street Law, Inc.<br /> <br /> </strong></em><img src=" Law 1-small.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="325" height="243" />Students from Freedom High School in Orlando participated in a three-day educational law program presented by The Law Offices of Robert J. Smith (in-house counsel for Allstate Insurance Company) and Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell (RKC) from January 9 &ndash; 11, 2019. The Corporate Legal Diversity Pipeline Program, a joint effort of Street Law, Inc. and the Association of Corporate Counsel, provides students with an overview of relevant legal topics and insight into careers in the legal field.<em> </em> <p>On Wednesday and Thursday, attorneys and staff from Allstate and RKC presented seminars at Freedom High School regarding contracts and advertising law and how they relate to the students&rsquo; daily lives. Friday&rsquo;s program, at the offices of RKC, provided students with a more in-depth look at both contracts and advertising law. The event included interactive workshops such as a mock mediation on a contract dispute and a role-playing scenario in which the students were asked to act as attorneys consulting clients regarding proposed advertisements.</p> <img src=" Law-Judges.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="left" alt="" border="0" width="250" height="187" /> <p>Following the workshops, students explored careers available in the legal profession and interacted with local professionals at a job fair. Judges of the Ninth Judicial Circuit attended, along with attorneys and other professionals related to the legal industry, such as court reporters, interpreters, insurance adjusters, process servers, and paralegals.&nbsp;Individuals in administrative fields, including human resources and marketing, also presented at the job fair.</p> <p>&nbsp;&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a wonderful opportunity for students to interact with legal and related professionals and spark their interest in careers they might not have known exist,&rdquo; said Orlando Partner Lori Caldwell, the attorney coordinator of the program at the firm for the past six years.</p> <img src=" Law Collage 1.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="left" alt="" border="0" width="450" height="167" /> <p><strong><u><br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> About the Partners:</u></strong><u> </u></p> <img src=" Law-Group.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="left" alt="" border="0" width="200" height="259" /> <p><em><strong>Street Law, Inc. </strong></em>is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which strives to educate students and communities worldwide about law, democracy and human rights.&nbsp;It seeks to empower individuals to actively contribute to society through its various programs, including its Corporate Legal Diversity Pipeline Program.</p> <p><em><strong>The Law Offices of Robert J. Smith</strong></em> is Allstate&rsquo;s Florida staff counsel, representing Allstate, its associated companies, and their insureds in legal matters covered under their policies.<br /> <br /> Special thanks to everyone who participated to make this a great day for the students!&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell Staff: </strong><a href=";t=3&amp;A=663">Lori Caldwell,</a> <a href=";t=3&amp;A=705">Sally Culley</a>,&nbsp;<a href=";t=3&amp;A=690">LaShawnda Jackson</a>,&nbsp;<a href=";t=3&amp;A=3819">Brett Carey</a>,&nbsp;Kristen Olson,&nbsp;Lora Trowell,&nbsp;Angela Sterley, Marisa Eubanks,&nbsp;Avi Solomon,&nbsp;Christine Quintana,&nbsp;Cathy Ophoff,&nbsp;Laurie Mesa,&nbsp;Debbie Hrytzay,&nbsp;Nancy Jordahl,&nbsp;Stephen Feran,&nbsp;Brittney Bogan,&nbsp;Margo Slater,&nbsp;Jaimi O&rsquo;Shea,&nbsp;Charlotte Hook,&nbsp;Shellie Medford,&nbsp;Tyrone Harvey,&nbsp;Eva Moeller,&nbsp;Carol Burns,&nbsp;Teddy Rodgers,&nbsp;Robert Roman and&nbsp;Rita Ritner.</p> <p><strong>Allstate Staff Counsel Office: </strong>Maria Vazquez,&nbsp;Linda Saltsgaver,&nbsp;Gabriela Meulens,&nbsp;Michelle Tanyhill,&nbsp;Olu Aduloju,&nbsp;Amanda Wright,&nbsp;Laura Saint Clair,&nbsp;Maura Burgreen,&nbsp;Lindsay Delgado,&nbsp;Ted Stephan,&nbsp;Lindsey Parnell and&nbsp;Angel Lamarre.</p> <p><strong>Allstate Insurance Company:</strong> Ryan Conway and Michele Kucinski,&nbsp;Insurance Adjusters<br /> <br /> <strong>Orange Legal:</strong> Court Reporters Diane Roberts and Lyssa Urban<br /> <br /> <strong>U.N.T.I: </strong>Michele Bermel, Interpreter<br /> <br /> <strong>Orange County Ninth Judicial Circuit Judges:</strong> Judge Faye Allen, Judge Eric DuBois,&nbsp;Judge Robert Egan,&nbsp;Judge Gisela Laurent,&nbsp;Judge Donald Myers,&nbsp;Judge Elizabeth Starr and&nbsp;Judge Diana Tennis<br /> <br /> <img src=" Law Collage 2.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="left" alt="" border="0" width="450" height="194" /> &nbsp;</p> <p><br /> &nbsp;<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> &nbsp;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog11 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800, Redemption and Overcoming Challenges are Three of the Overriding Themes in a New Novel by Paul Lipton<img src=" These Five Breaths.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="275" height="425" /> <p><a href=";t=3&amp;A=7196">Paul Lipton</a>, RKC&rsquo;s Director of Professionalism, Career and Skill Development, has written his second book,<em> In These Five Breaths</em>. In the novel, a good man, devoted husband and father faces the end of his life after a tragic car accident. As his pulse slows, so does time. Each breath takes on a life of its own and takes us back through years of the challenges in his and other family and friends' lives. Paul talks about his inspiration for the novel and his hope for people who read it.</p> <p>&quot;After losing a dear friend and my wife going through a serious illness and surgery which she came through well, I sat down about two weeks later and began writing,&rdquo; he explained.</p> <p>&ldquo;While I was writing the book, the word that kept coming into my mind was courage. Life requires courage. We&rsquo;re all faced with challenges of one sort or another&mdash;physical, emotional, business, family. To live a full and complete life, we must have the courage to overcome the obstacles we face,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It was very emotional to write the book and it takes the reader through their own journey through the times of their life.&nbsp;I hope that it helps people face their obstacles and live life to its fullest. In the end, we each&nbsp;have to come to terms with our choices and their consequences.&rdquo;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog19 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 Joy Across the Globe: Rumberger, Kirk, & Caldwell Shipped 74 Packages to U.S. Military Troops Serving Overseas<em>The holiday care packages contain personal hygiene items along with snacks and treats for hundreds of men and women serving in Korea, the Middle East and other remote locations.</em><br /> <br /> <img src=" 18-Troop Shipment 0041.JPG" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="400" />For the last ten years, Rumberger, Kirk &amp; Caldwell has been sending shipments overseas to men and women serving in the most remote locations ensuring that personnel stationed around the world will enjoy good wishes during the holiday season. The packages contain everyday items often taken for granted&mdash;toothpaste, shaving cream and razors, wet wipes, socks, coffee and flavored drink mixes. <br /> <br /> What began in 2008 as a shipment for legal assistant Lisa Griffin&rsquo;s son, has grown into an ongoing program where the firm ships 40-80 boxes that reach hundreds of service men and women every 3-4 months. To date, the firm has sent an estimated 1500 packages overseas! Lisa is the heart of the program. She sends reminders for staff to donate supplies, collects and organizes the supplies, manages the requests for packages and coordinates the shipment. <br /> <br /> Although Lisa&rsquo;s son is no longer deployed, she keeps this program going because it is so important to her that the men and&nbsp;<img src=" 18- Troop Shipment 006.JPG" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="250" height="187" />women working for us know that we care. &ldquo;When they get one of these boxes, they know that people they don&rsquo;t even know care about what they are doing and care about our freedom,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And, it truly makes their day!&rdquo; <div><br /> &ldquo;What&rsquo;s most amazing is the support of this great law firm,&rdquo; said Lisa after finishing up the lastest shipment on Thursday, December 13. &ldquo;Everyone is so generous of their time, money and spirt to keep the program going. This takes a team to pull this off and I&rsquo;m very thankful for the support we receive from our team, our partners, and our vendors,&rdquo; she added.&nbsp; <div><br /> <img src=" 18- Troop Shipment Colalge.jpg" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="475" height="116" /></div> </div> <div>&nbsp;</div>Beyond the Bio Blog13 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 Deeper: Steve Smith Talks about the Evolution of Trials and his Outdoor Trails<p><i>A partner in RKC&rsquo;s Miami office, Steve Smith is a Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial attorney who specializes in </i><i>defending mass tort exposure cases as well as complex claims arising from commercial and professional relationships. When he&rsquo;s not working, Steve spends his time outdoors hiking and travelling. He talks about the evolution of his trial practice and his outdoor adventures. </i></p> <img src=" Volcanic NP2.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="225" /> <p><b>With more than 40 years of experience as a trial attorney, it might be surprising to learn that Steve spent his first year of college studying engineering and mathematics. </b>While nobody in his family had been a lawyer, an aptitude test pointed him in that direction.&ldquo;I found my calling because, although I like science and mathematics, I missed reading and writing.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>&ldquo;Being in trial practice was the last thing I thought I&rsquo;d do,&rdquo; continued Steve. </b>&ldquo;I clerked for an insurance defense practice and appreciated the team approach to litigation. Civil litigation and tort practice can be both interesting and challenging,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;My engineering background is very helpful with expert work.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Getting Board Certified as a civil trial lawyer remains one of Steve&rsquo;s most rewarding accomplishments. </b>&ldquo;I was in the first group of trial attorneys to get Florida Bar certified,&rdquo; remembered Steve. &ldquo;You need a minimum of 15 trials to be certified and I reached that milestone by the time I was 32 years old.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>These days, there are not as many opportunities to go to trial and Steve talks about some of the reasons why.</b> &ldquo;Costs are a big factor, but another is uncertainty. The population has grown and become more diverse. In today&rsquo;s world, sources of information, particularly electronic media have multiplied. Fewer jurors read the same media and publications. &nbsp;There&rsquo;s a greater risk the jury can come back with an unanticipated result,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>Despite having fewer trials than in the past, Steve finds the work fun and challenging. &ldquo;In mass tort cases, we strive to make the complex simple,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p><b>The biggest changes Steve has witnessed over his career have really occurred in the last 20 years due to the massive changes in technology over that time. &nbsp;</b>The way people process information has changed. &ldquo;Demonstrative aids are significant in trials, and there is more emphasis on audio/video presentations. People read less and have shorter attention spans. Reading paragraphs of text runs the risk of losing juror attention,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You need to get to the point quickly and present information with graphics or visually,&rdquo; he added.</p> <p>The use of email and digital documents has resulted in a greater volume of evidence to sort through. &ldquo;The files are much bigger, and there is so much more to get your mind around,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;&ldquo;Despite these significant changes in how information is synthesized and presented, the basics of law are still the same,&rdquo; noted Steve. &ldquo;Structurally and procedurally, you still make arguments, examine witnesses. The difference isn&rsquo;t necessarily what you do, but how you do it.&rdquo;</p> <p><b>Steve joined RKC in 1983 and said it was pure serendipity. </b>&ldquo;I raced sailboats back then and a mutual friend connected me with Rumberger. I only looked for one job in 40 years and that was the first one,&rdquo; he laughed.</p> <p><b>Steve likes mentoring new lawyers. &nbsp;</b>&ldquo;The main limitation to young lawyer development is their initiative and imagination. The more time they put into their practice, the more success they will have. It works out well for a firm like ours because we focus on mentoring and developing talented new lawyers. Young attorneys who aren&rsquo;t offered the opportunity to grow are not shy about finding a different firm,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;I also encourage new attorneys to be active in in the community, church or temple. Network with other professionals other than lawyers so you gain a perspective about the general economy and the work people do to feed their families,&rdquo; he added.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>In his free time, Steve likes to stay active swimming and biking. </b>&ldquo;I ran 10k races for many years until my doctor told me to dial it back to save my knees,&rdquo; said Steve. &ldquo;I still do some trail running,&rdquo; he explained. &nbsp;</p> <p><img src=" Volcanic NP.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="left" alt="" border="0" width="225" height="168" /><b>Last July, Steve took a trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California with his college friends and spent five days hiking.</b> As the fifteenth national park, and one of the oldest, the park boasts numerous volcanoes, steaming fumaroles, meadows filled with wildflowers and clear mountain lakes. The sharp, peaked land is the result of past volcanic eruptions and hot water continues to flow and sculpt the landscape. It is nestled three hours northeast of Sacramento.</p> <p>&ldquo;I hadn&rsquo;t taken a &ldquo;guys trip&rdquo; in many years and it turned out to be great fun. We hiked a different trail each day and the scenery was beautiful. It looked like moonscape,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d definitely like to do that again.&rdquo;</p> <img src="" hspace="5" vspace="5" align="right" alt="" border="0" width="300" height="225" /> <p>Steve and his wife also enjoy traveling together and spending time with their three children when they can. &ldquo;My wife was a NICU nurse and retired a few years ago. We&rsquo;ve taken some really interesting trips together including one to India right after she retired.&rdquo;</p> <p>Despite his adventures, Steve still places his work on the top of his favorite things to do. &ldquo;I feel fortunate to be able to continue working in an area I find interesting and challenging for so many years,&rdquo; he admitted.&nbsp;</p>Beyond the Bio Blog15 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800