August 13, 2021

Setting Aside Big Law Stereotypes

By: Jordan Shealy (Nova Southeastern University)


My first introduction to Kelley Kronenberg was at a networking event held during my 1L year of law school. During the summer of 2019, the firm invited NSU law students to a cocktail hour at their newly built Ft. Lauderdale office. I remember walking into the building and assuming that, just based on how expensive and sleek the building looked, everyone who worked here was probably a workaholic who never left the office before 9pm. However, it was early in my law school career and I craved the experience of working at a large firm, so I was there to find and impress whoever could give me a law school summer internship position. After meeting the other attorneys and hearing about all the different and diverse areas of law the firm practices, I wanted to work there regardless of what the hours may be.

One month into my Summer Associate Program, I quickly realized that this firm is not interested in working their employees into the ground. The culture and environment that Kelley Kronenberg fosters is one of mentorship, learning, encouraging and familial. Each Business Unit Leader invests in their associates, and there are no signs of an “ivory tower partner” in the building. Everyone has an open-door policy, and everyone is held to the same standard of care and respect, regardless of title.

My first unit assignment of my Summer Associate Program was the First Party Property unit and I worked for Jeff Wank. It was my responsibility to write the initial reports for the insurance claim files and create a narrative, from start to finish, to tell the story of the property damage. In these claim files, timing is almost everything, and Jeff and his associates worked with me to help me understand the importance of creating a comprehensive timeline to defend the case. Jeff is great at bringing people together and always reminds his team that it’s okay to play as hard as you work. The First Party Property team is a fun and easy group of people to work with, and when it comes time to getting serious, look out because they can’t be beat. Jeff’s leadership style reflects the ethos of Kelley Kronenberg, which throws out the stereotypical unapproachable and grouchy corner office law partner and replaces it with an available and open-minded Business Unit Leader.

My second unit assignment was with the General Liability unit and I worked for David Henry. I was able to attend a site inspection for a slip-and-fall case, attend depositions and write up the reports, and I worked on a Motion for Summary Judgment for a case involving a stabbing at an apartment complex. David is an extremely understanding Business Unit Leader and I was pleasantly surprised at how accommodating he was in handling associates leaving early for family emergencies, pausing the day to pick up a child from daycare or just stopping by his office to chat with him. I never imagined that at a firm of this size an employee could even consider asking to leave early to take care of their child, but David encourages everyone to put family first. My favorite part of working for David was being able to sit down with him and talk about the legal issues I was researching such as “notice of a violent propensity” and “control over the area in which a crime occurs”. David is an extremely dynamic thinker and every time we would discuss my research I would think, “One day, I’m going to think the way David thinks.”

My third unit assignment was in the Construction unit and I worked for Gary Brown and Lydia Harley. The Construction unit is extremely precise, and I learned the importance of paying attention to detail. Lydia also taught me very important practical skills that I won’t learn in law school such as how to keep track of your billing, how to maintain a rapport with opposing counsel, and the importance of clarifying and communicating work assignments with your Business Unit Leader. All these skills allow attorneys to be efficient while being precise to avoid doing an assignment quickly, but incorrectly.

I once read a quote that said:

“The first duty of a leader is to define reality.
The last is to say, ‘thank you’.
In between, the leader is a servant.”

Each time the clerks rotated through the program I was placed under the supervision of a Business Unit Leader who embodied this quote. I loved rotating through different units, it is an experience that I have never been offered by another firm. It is also an example of how invested the firm is in the development of its employees because the law clerks benefit much more from the rotations than the units do. Overall, I’m grateful for my experience and will not forget the lessons I learned during my Summer Associate Program for law students.

DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as a courtesy and is intended for the general information of the matters discussed above and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Neither Kelley Kronenberg, nor its individual attorneys, staff or educational program associates, are responsible for errors, omissions and/or typographical errors – always seek competent legal counsel.