Jared Smith Answers the Call to Serve

05.16.17 | Permalink

Appointed to Hillsborough County Court, Jared reflects on his career and the impact Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell has had in developing his skills as a litigator and ultimately a judge.

A Strong Sense of Duty

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. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Jared felt a strong desire to help in any way he could. “I kept envisioning what our country would look like if good people weren’t willing to serve,” he remembered. Jared would go on to serve in the United States Air Force JAG for 4 years. “I chose to temporarily sacrifice a civilian legal career in service to my nation,” he said.

Much like the first time, the calling to serve as a judge came quite suddenly. “It’s almost like a light switch,” said Jared. “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’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,” he admitted.

A Good Judge is a Good Litigator

Working at Rumberger has sharpened my work efficiency and made me a great litigator which will ultimately help me to be a great judge,” said Jared.

Jared believes the best judges understand the process from beginning to end—from filing to trying the case. He credits the firm’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.

“I came in with some litigation experience, but I am a product of the firm’s tradition of mentoring and developing excellent litigators,” he said.

Jared’s high level of diligence and dedication were nurtured at Rumberger. “It takes a strong work ethic to manage high volume, complex cases,” noted Jared. “It’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’m used to a busy desk and putting in whatever time it takes to get the job done.”

Being able to handle a busy desk will translate well into handling a busy docket—a challenge the courts currently face.

In addition, Jared’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. “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,” noted Jared.

A Focus on Professionalism and Civility

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 have always appreciated the firm’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,” he said.  

In addition, in his role as a military officer, Jared was expected to act as an officer whether in or out of the uniform. “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,” he added.

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. “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,” explained Jared.

Rumberger Offered Many Opportunities for Growth

“Rumberger offered me the opportunity to set big goals for myself and attain them,” said Jared. “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.” 

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. “Much of the law will be new for me, so I know the learning curve will be steep. That said, considering how much I’ve learned since stepping into Rumberger 10 years ago, I’m hopeful I am ready for the challenge,” said Jared.

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.

No stranger to serving, Jared and his wife of 19 years have four children, one whom they adopted three years ago. “We’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.  God has used the adoption process to grow both our hearts and our home.  We couldn’t be more blessed or thankful for our family.” 

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