Terrific Times in Tampa

by Andrew Co
Week 2
“Pre-gaming” with Paige and Ashley

Week two started off fast with finalizing my first few assignments of the summer. All associates and summer associates across the firm watched a lunch seminar about opening statements and closing arguments from Rob Blank from the Tampa office. Lunch was catered by Chipotle, which is one of my favorites! At the end of the seminar, Rob gave each of us our assignments for our workshop in Tampa on Friday. I had the week to prepare to represent the defendant and provide a closing argument to Rob and the team.

On Tuesday, I finished my first formal memo for Associate Erin Weinstock which was an interesting research project for a construction defect case. I received another assignment from Associate Jessica Gross to draft an answer on an insurance case, and I am also working with Erin on a research assignment for a few civil procedure questions related to aviation law which is a new exciting challenge for me! Legal research is a skill that takes a lot of time to improve, and this was a perfect chance to do some sleuthing around in a new practice area.

We had a great weekly attorney meeting featuring a presentation from Erin and Partner Mike Holt about potential changes coming to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The conversation turned into a productive discussion around different rules and how the firm’s practices may be affected depending on how the rules are implemented starting next year. Shortly after the meeting, Ashley and I traveled for the airport to fly to Tampa for the Opening and Closing Workshop!

Once we landed and checked into our hotel (fortunately right across the street from the Tampa office), Ashley and I ate dinner with Paige, the Birmingham summer associate. We went to a delicious Mexican restaurant and it was great catching up with her. We discussed our experiences working in our new offices, talked about what kind of assignments we have been tasked with, and shared our nerves before the workshop the following day. I spent the evening reformatting my outline and practicing my closing argument.

Friday morning kicked off introductions with the Tampa attorneys and team members before transitioning into our opening statements and closing arguments. Erica from the Orlando office started with representing the plaintiff and gave a great opening statement. Everyone was nervous, and Erica was so prepared it made me even more nervous. After we went around the room with feedback and notes, we went rapid fire with every summer associate presenting, followed by feedback. Throughout the morning I felt more and more comfortable, and I can confidently say my oral advocacy skills would not have been as good if I went first. I went fourth, and felt like I did a pretty good job. I did a lot of my own research on proper structure and presentation style, and I leaned into my personal tone of being more casual and conversational. I felt happy about my performance, but then Madison came in and really hit it out of the park. She moved the lectern, queued up a PowerPoint, and really utilized all the space in the room on her way to a great closing argument. It was fun seeing everyone’s style and approach to their presentations, and it was a terrific experience as a whole.

After our openings and closings, Marisa Eubanks, director of marketing, introduced us to the attorneys and staff in Tampa, including pointing out amazing photos by Dick Caldwell, one of the founding partners of the firm! We ended the trip with a phenomenal lunch at Columbia restaurant with all the attorneys from the local office. I was so full by the time my entrée came because we had too many delicious tapas appetizers. Week two flew by and I am certain it will only speed up from here!

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