Beyond the Bio

Frank Sheppard Works Hard, but Still Makes Time to Volunteer and Spend Time with His Family

Frank Sheppard Works Hard, but Still Makes Time to Volunteer and Spend Time with His Family

For the past 10 years, Frank Sheppard has been at the helm of RumbergerKirk as the Managing Partner steering the firm and helping it to grow and continue to be successful. In addition to functioning as the firm’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 RK so unique and what he enjoys most about his work and his life.

Frank grew up spending quite a bit of time hanging around law firms in his home town of Pensacola. “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,” remembered Frank. “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,” he continued.

“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.

Frank worked for a federal judge in the Northern District of Florida during his last semester in law school who suggested RumbergerKirk. “He pointed out that my father’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,” he said.

Frank obviously enjoys his work and those he works with or he certainly would not have stayed with the firm for all these years. “We were handed a unique and great culture from the founding partners and we’ve done a really good job of preserving and passing it on from generation to generation,” Frank said. When Frank joined the firm things were very exciting at the time.

“We were doing sophisticated work and trying cases all over the country and having a great deal of success. The personalities of the founding partners were contagious—we worked hard, but had a ton of fun while doing it,” remembered Frank. “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’s reputation.”

In addition to being influenced by the founding partners, Frank says his father’s work ethic and integrity made a deep impression on him. “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,” said Frank.
Perhaps one of the reasons Frank works so hard is that he enjoys the work that he does. “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,” said Frank. A professional liability lawyer has to understand the underlying business of the professional in order to represent the client and be successful. “I really enjoy learning about other people’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,” he explains.

“With professional liability defense, the professionals are not just defending their livelihood, but also their reputations,” said Frank. “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’s self-esteem is at risk. It’s important to realize the personal significance of these cases in addition to the financial aspects.”

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.

“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. The issues raised are often about more than just money. The issues create precedent and affect how the business or organization will operate. It’s not just a case about one employee, but will be a determinant for how to conduct business and manage employees in the future,” noted Frank.

Frank has also been tapped as an expert to speak on employment issues and speaks about how to avoid employment claims. “Good policies and consistent enforcement of those policies is the key to avoiding employment claims,” he said. “I also recommend training on equal employment opportunity issues and the interactive process under the ADA.”

Franks favorite cases are those that challenge him mentally and involve complex issues, such as some of the first amendment cases he’s tried for public entities, but most importantly he said he enjoys learning about the client and doing a good job for them “I’m always personally invested in getting a good result,” Frank admitted.

In addition to working hard for his clients, Frank also serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Hospice of the Comforter. “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’s lives and decided right away I wanted to be a part of it,” said Frank. “Over the years, my commitment has grown and I serve as the Chairman of the Board of the Foundation.” In addition, the organization is affiliated now with Florida Hospital so Frank is also on the Executive Board of the Florida Hospital Foundation.

Hospice of the Comforter is the only non-profit hospice serving Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. “The need for a non-profit, faith-based hospice in the community is so important and I’m proud to help them fulfill their mission and to serve the community,” he continued.

Like at work, Frank is happiest keeping busy in his free time and spending time with his family. 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. “We live a very active lifestyle,” said Frank. “I enjoy being outdoors. We like the water—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,” he said. “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.”