When asked why I became a lawyer, my truthful response has always been “I love the law.” However, I’m seldom asked “why”. Upon reflection, I gladly credit my commitment to the law to my parents, who instilled in me a fierce set of values, a strong personal work ethic, and the unwavering drive to help others. What better way to put these ideals to use than to be a lawyer.
This foundation placed me on the path to a solid education – a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Florida State University where I graduated with Honors, along with a deep-seeded family shared allegiance to the ‘Noles, and a law degree from Stetson University College of Law in 1987, where I graduated 2nd in my class. My interest in research and writing was sparked early in my law school career and continued to develop while a member and editor of Stetson’s Law Review.
Upon graduation, I practiced in the area of plaintiff’s personal injury law and, although I enjoyed the field, felt the need to explore other areas of practice. A large multi-practice law firm in Sarasota presented the perfect opportunity. While the exposure to a variety of different types of law was both enlightening and rewarding, I quickly learned that my desire to represent victims was my career calling.
Eleven years at a nationally recognized plaintiff’s personal injury firm in Orlando proved to be the ideal place to hone my skills. There, I was blessed with the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of victims seriously or fatally injured in a range of accidents – from vehicular crashes to products liability, all under the direction of a well-respected and talented senior attorney. This mentorship in the practice of law, as well as the ethics of law, has guided me through challenging cases and difficult choices in my career.
Upon my return to the Clearwater area, where I was raised, I continued to work in the area of personal injury, with a stronger emphasis on the appellate and motion practice part of the cases. This focus not only allowed me to further my career goal of assisting victims, but allowed me to do what I love – read and analyze the law.
An unexpected opportunity to practice Employee Rights law presented itself a few years ago. I could not have fashioned a more perfect practice area for myself. Employee Rights combines the ability to help workplace victims with the opportunity to engage in legally intensive analyses of the law, at primarily the federal court level. Recently, I was able to convince the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia that judgments entered against 2 of the firm’s clients were improper. Securing reversal of these judgments so that these clients could have their day in court was immensely rewarding. The fact that one of the decisions has clarified an issue in the law which will favorably affect employees throughout the country further fuels my motivation to right the wrongs of employees in the workplace.