The banker who finds herself running a 108-lawyer firm – The Florida Bar

The banker who finds herself running a 108-lawyer firm – The Florida Bar
Home Journal & News The banker who finds herself running a 108-lawyer firm March 1, 2008 Jan Pudlow Senior Editor Regular News The banker who finds herself running a 108-lawyer firm ‘What I have learned is what a fantastic, fabulous experience it is’ Senior Editor When Alex Sink is asked what most surprises her about her job as Florida’s chief financial officer, the former bank president answers: “I find myself as the managing partner of a 108-person law firm.

” And she wants members of The Florida Bar to know: “We are hiring.” Now she knows something of what her husband, Bill mc bride, experienced as managing partner at Holland & Knight in Tampa, and now a partner at Barnett, Bolt, Kirkwood, Long & mc bride. Looking out at The Florida Bar Board of Governors gathered in Tallahassee February 1, Sink said: “I would like to see around the table, how many of you have ever served in the government?” As hands shot up, she said, “Many, many. What I have learned is what a fantastic, fabulous experience it is.” Turning to her left, she introduced one of her young attorneys, Ben Diamond, who had been practicing law with her husband right after graduating from law school. “When I came up to Tallahassee, Bill said, ‘We are going to convince Ben to give up his lucrative career at my law firm to come spend some time in state government.’ And we need more fantastic, young, bright good lawyers like Ben Diamond in state government service,” Sink said. “We’re desperate. You all know the economics. I have a general counsel, Dan Sumner, who is widely regarded here in Tallahassee as one of the most brilliant attorneys, especially in insurance law. He’s spent 30 years as a state lawyer. And the top salary in my department is about $130,000 a year, barely enough — or if enough — to raise a family. “But I think we do have an opportunity to encourage more young lawyers coming out of law school, or who have had two or three years of experience, to come here to Tallahassee and get some fabulous exposure across the board to the kinds of complicated issues and cases we get involved in. That’s my plug. “If you can think of people, let them know, because we are hiring. I do want to thank all of you who said you have been in government service for taking that little chunk of time out of your career to serve the citizens, but also to build your resume, which I hope you have leveraged into a lucrative law practice.” Sink offered a peek into her multi-faceted job taking over the 12-division Department of Financial Services a year ago, after serving as president of Florida’s largest bank, Bank of America. Her seven years as bank president, managing more than $40 billion in customer deposits while supervising more than 9,000 employees in 800 branches, prepared her well for her current job overseeing nearly 3,000 employees and an annual budget of $300 million in the Department of Financial Services. But there are special challenges to this upper echelon job in state government. “I smile oftentimes and say if I could come up here and run the business of my department, I’d be fine. When you layer on top of that the political environment and dealing with the legislature and having to bow before the legislature to pass my budget, absolutely it is a daily chess game that we play. It does add an extra level of stress. But we have accomplished a lot of great work, just in our first year in office, and I look forward to the next three years.” Among her roles in safeguarding the state’s money and assets, she said, is “running the business of the state, all the accounting, the back-end auditing, the cash management.. . . We are fiscal watchdogs for the way your money is spent in Tallahassee.” She tells this roomful of Bar leaders: “You had $20 billion in your checking account last night.” Secondly, Sink said, her job involves education and advocacy. “We get almost half a million calls a year from Floridians who are having issues or problems with insurance or financial matters, and we help advocate on their behalf, and have the Office of the Consumer Advocate in the umbrella.” Besides serving as state fire marshal, Sink manages all workers’ comp issues. “I am responsible for the workers’ comp laws and in helping workers who have been injured on the job get the services they deserve,” Sink said. “When I spoke about enforcement, I actually carry a badge around with me. That’s a scary thing!” she said with a grin. “But I have 250 sworn law-enforcement officers working under my jurisdiction. We work very closely with the U.S. attorneys and the state attorneys in prosecution of particularly insurance fraud.” Back at the office, Diamond, a 29-year-old 2004 University of Florida law graduate, said he grabbed the opportunity to serve as Sink’s special counsel. “You have a lot of pressures in private practice to your clients and to your firm. Really, your main responsibility in public service is to figure out the right policy and try to help policymakers make the right decision,” Diamond said. “You are serving the people. It feels good. The rewards of public service are pretty great.” Search News Archives Sections Disciplinary Actions News and Notes On the Move In Memoriam Letters Errata Announcements Attorneys Exchange Classified Ads News in Photos Columns The Mindful Lawyer: Heart-opening practices Columns | Feb 23, 2021 Substitute teaching improves lawyering Columns | Feb 10, 2021 The Mindful Lawyer: Zooming Out in 2021 Columns | Jan 25, 2021 Can I use the document my client gave me? Columns | Jan 13, 2021
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