Attorney at Law Magazine Jacksonville Publisher Tom Brady sat down with Kansas Gooden to discuss her career and mentors that encouraged her.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney?
Gooden: After playing nationally competitive junior and collegiate golf, I was preparing for LPGA Qualifying School. It had always been my dream to play on the LPGA. Right before I was to turn professional, I woke up one morning and decided to go to law school. I had never considered the career before that day. I shocked my entire family! I took the LSAT shortly thereafter. I believed it would be a more stable career and I would not live my life out of a suitcase. I had always enjoyed academics, argument and analysis.
AALM: How would you describe your practice? What is your main area of law? What drew you to that practice?
Gooden: I practice primarily in the area of appellate law and am a board certified appellate attorney. I handle state and federal appeals and extraordinary writs in civil cases throughout the state. I also litigate in trial courts, often as co-counsel for trial lawyers anticipating an appeal. This area of practice allows me to use those skills that drew me to the practice of law. I love the legal research, strategy and writing involved.
AALM: Do you have any mentors or professors that encourage you?
Gooden: Amy Ronner was an accomplished appellate attorney before becoming a professor. I took several of her classes in law school. She taught me how to think like a lawyer. She encouraged me to become an appellate attorney and guided me through the process. She has remained a trusted career adviser and friend. Jane Anderson, a shareholder at my firm, is the lawyer that hired me. She taught me the nuance of legal writing. She supported my career development and encouraged me to follow my own path.
AALM: What drew you to your current firm? How would you describe the culture there?
Gooden: Even though the firm is over 60 years old, Boyd & Jenerette has a modern approach. The culture is collegial and employs a team approach to deliver superior client service. It is supportive of young attorneys trying to develop their careers. The firm supported and provided me the resources to develop an appellate department. There are also many women lawyers in leadership positions.
AALM: What case most defined or redefined your practice?
Gooden: The case that defined my practice was my first appeal – Allstate Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Lewis, 14 So. 3d 1230 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009). Before this case, I only handled insurance coverage and bad faith litigation. Our team was able to overturn the trial court’s order granting a new trial, reinstate the defense verdict and receive an award of attorney’s fees. The case centered on whether the compulsory medical examiner provided new opinions which were not previously disclosed. This case established and confirmed my love for appellate practice. While there have been many appeals since and some more important in the overall scope of the law, this appeal will always hold a special place in my career and my heart.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
Gooden: I am an avid golf fan. I often watch and attend tournaments. I think the week of the Masters should be a legal holiday! I also love to read, cook and bake. When I am not reading light novels, I am studying my extensive cookbook collection for ideas and techniques that I put into practice most weekends. Bon appetit!