Who was your mentor?

LaShawnda Jackson and J. Scott Kirk

Published in 2011 Florida Rising Stars Magazine

LaShawnda Jackson has Scott Kirk’s back. And he has hers. That’s how it’s been since she started practicing casualty defense at Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell 8 ½ years ago. Their different styles mesh well in the courtroom.

[Scott] has been practicing law since before I was born. … My very first trial with Scott, which was within the first year and a half that I’d been practicing with the firm, was a huge case dealing with a 16-year-old who’d been rendered a quadriplegic. Scott assigned me to do the cross-examination of all of the plaintiff’s experts. I said, “OK, where’s the deposition?” And he said, “Client … wouldn’t let us take their deposition.”  That threw me for a loop, because I’d always been taught: You go to their prior testimony … when you cross-examine them at trial. But Scott taught me some techniques—like how to ask them questions [that] either I know the answer’s going to be favorable to me, or I really don’t care what the answer is. One of the things he said after that [successful] trial … is: I’ve always got his back and he’s always got my back.

I’m probably the more strong-willed. He’s pretty much laid-back. He jokes with me sometimes—we have to play bad cop/good cop. I always thought I was a people-person … but what I’ve learned from him is how to relate to a jury. He picks the jury and he’s learning about these people, and he somehow takes what he’s learned and incorporates it into our case.

In that first trial … he made me feel like I had really been a part of the trial. He explained to the jury that it was my first trial, and if I made any mistakes—which I did—he got the jury to laugh about it. And then I saw him on his feet arguing together the points that I had made in cross-examination and the points that he had made—and I just said, “Wow, this guy is good.”

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