A young Harley Riedel joined veteran Don
Stichter’s Tampa firm on July 1, 1974. Three
days later, in the quiet office closed for the July
4 holiday, they both snuck in to work—to each
other’s surprise. Their shared ideals have lasted
37 years. Stichter, now 81, taught Riedel (at left)
the value of professionalism, hard work and
common sense. Riedel talks about practicing
bankruptcy law with Stichter at Stichter, Riedel,
Blain & Prosser.
You really don’t know very much coming
We had a complete general practice—which
out of law school. You learn by example—
and [Don] was my example. My grandfather
was a lawyer in the state of Iowa for 50
years and retired down here … and moved
onto a street where there was a young
lawyer named Don Stichter. Don had four
children, and in this little cul-de-sac, they
would charge my grandfather a 10-cent toll
to pass by. My father unfortunately died
when I was 16, and my grandfather … asked
[Don] to handle the probate. Then I went
to law school. I interviewed with a lot of the
really fine bigger firms here and got job
offers. Everyone else would go to a really
nice restaurant. … Don would invite me over
to his house and we’d sit in the beanbag
chair—same house—and we could have a
very informal chat. I decided to go with Don.
you can’t do anymore, I don’t think, in very
many parts of the country.
Don’s always been frugal. [His] first
partner … bought something for Don
HARLEY RIEDEL AND DON STICHTER
WHO WAS YOUR MENTOR? AS TOLD TO ADRIENNE SCHOFHAUSER
to put on his desk one day that said
You know, I don’t think he sleeps.
“Interiors by Goodwill Industries.”
With four kids, he would always leave the
office so he could have dinner with the kids,
and in those days—’ 74, precomputer—you
couldn’t really work at home. He would
almost always come back at night, after
the kids were in bed.
Riedel, left, and Stichter put a premium on hard work.
6 SUPERLAWYERS.COM ATTORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LAW YERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WI TH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 26.
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
[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 BRIEFS CONTINUED ON PAGE 8
LASHAWNDA JACKSON AND J. SCOTT KIRK
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.”