Brent Hartman’s Competitive Nature and Strategic Thinking Led Him From the Basketball Court to the Court of Law

05.11.16 | Permalink

Brent Hartman, an associate in RKC’s Orlando office, grew up in Gainesville, Florida where it is fairly difficult not to become a sports fan. From the time he was very young, Brent dreamed of working in sports. By high school, he was well on his way to his goal. He worked as a manager of his high school basketball team and then as manager for the University of Maryland men’s basketball team. “I chose my college based in part on the quality of the basketball team and the opportunity for me to be a manager,” admitted Brent. After college, Brent headed to Tulane University as a graduate assistant coach.


Brent as Coach for Tulane Basketball Team

While working at Tulane, Brent began to question his willingness to continually relocate and move in order to advance his career. “In coaching any sports team, you have to be willing to move all the time,” explained Brent. “One of my coaching mentors moved across three or four time zones in about as many years. Another coach moved from Indiana to New Orleans, from New Orleans to Chicago, then to Hawaii, and now he’s in Missouri, all within a decade. I was beginning to think about having a family and I realized that I wanted to be able to live in one place and have more stability in my life,” he explained.

Brent’s competitive nature and strategic mindset translated exceptionally well into law. “In coaching, you have to analyze the other team and figure out their strengths and weaknesses and compare them to your own team,” said Brent. “In law, it’s a similar situation. We have to figure out how to best achieve the clients’ goals. In the end, I’m still looking for a way to get a victory and determining the best strategy to do so,” he continued.

After two years at Tulane University, Brent headed back to his home state where he attended law school and found his way to his new team, Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell. “When I interviewed with Rumberger, I was drawn to the collegial, team-oriented atmosphere,” noted Brent. “Everyone is on the same team with the same unified goal. And, just like the best teams, everyone has different roles to fulfill. Everyone works hard to fulfill their individual roles, but also like the best teams, we must communicate and work well together. Teams don’t always start with the same idea on how to reach the end goal, but by keeping communication open and working together to develop a common plan and strategy, we get the best possible results for our clients.”

“Working as a summer associate at RKC, I was able to get a true representation of what it’s like to be a litigation attorney,” said Brent. “The workshops and mock trial help you learn specific skills and lessons that involve managing a case and a litigator’s daily work. Summer associates also have the opportunity to attend hearings, depositions, mediations and any proceeding where we might have prepared research or drafted motions and legal briefs,” he continued. “I received a good picture of the firm culture. As I helped other attorneys prepare for trial, I saw how they worked together with paralegals, assistants, and other attorneys. Everyone pulled on the same side of the rope and attacked each case together.”

Working primarily for automotive manufacturers has led Brent to discover new interests. “I didn’t grow up a car fanatic, but working in the automotive industry has piqued my interest,” he admits. “I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much about cars and trucks that I’ve even been able perform some maintenance on my own car—something I never would have been brave enough to do before. And, by doing that, it helps me develop a better understanding of vehicles and the individual components so that I can better represent my clients,” he added.

In addition to finding the work challenging and interesting, Brent says the auto manufacturers are great clients because they have a deep understanding of their products and vehicles. “I really like the people I work with, which can be just as important as liking the actual work,” said Brent.

Brent works mostly with Charlie Mitchell and Steve Klein, both partners in the Orlando office. “I’ve been able to learn so much from their experience and knowledge about the clients, products and law,” said Brent. “Charlie has an amazing attention to detail and can pick up on the smallest things that can potentially turn a case. He spots things almost everyone else would miss. Steve has been a fantastic mentor to me and has really helped me develop as an attorney. And, they are both great writers, and have helped me become a better writer, as well.”

Brent gained valuable insight and lessons after working on his first trial. “It was very helpful to see the final stage in a case because now when managing other cases, I can see how important it is to take steps early on to ensure we are in the best position when we go to trial,” explained Brent. “It’s truly a long process and requires so much work throughout the case to ensure proper preparation.”

“I also gained valuable experience working with Jimmy Walsh, a partner in the Birmingham office. He’s probably tried more cases than he can even remember. I learned so much from him that I would not have figured out on my own, particularly this early in my career,” noted Brent.

Whenever Brent is not working, he’s spending time with his wife and young children. “We have a four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter who keep my wife and me fairly busy. I enjoy watching their relationship grow and develop as siblings. She loves to follow big brother around, and whenever we’re at a park and she’s on a slide or other equipment, he’ll brag about her and watch over her,” said Brent. “We spend most of our time outdoors at swimming lessons, in parks, and playing backyard sports,” he continued.


Brent and his children at play.

While the kids are a little young yet for most organized sports, Brent definitely spends time kicking the soccer ball around and playing basketball on the driveway. “I encourage them to explore different sports and activities. Once they find a sport they really like, I hope to help coach them and their team,” said Brent. “I truly hope they develop a love of sports and competition as I have because there are so many valuable lessons to learn from playing sports and being on a team.” 

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