Who was your mentor?

LaShawnda Jackson and J. Scott Kirk

Published in 2011 Florida Rising Stars — June 2011

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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