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Chief Judge Mark Klingensmith, a respected figure in the legal system and the Chief Appellate Judge of the Sixth District Court of Appeal in Florida, offers an invaluable insight into his career transition from a trial lawyer to a revered judge. His unique story and day-to-day experiences provide a rare glimpse into the life of an appellate judge.

The Journey from Trial Lawyer to Appellate Judge

Chief Judge Mark Klingensmith had always dreamt of becoming a lawyer. His career journey saw him serve as a board-certified trial lawyer for 25 years at a firm specializing in medical malpractice defense. Litigation’s constant learning and intellectual stimulation fueled his passion for the law.

However, the turning point in his career came when he received a call to action from a friend, prompting him to make the courageous decision to transition from private practice to the bench. This transition presented a new set of challenges and rewards, further enhancing his dedication to public service.

The Role and Responsibilities of a Judge

Being a judge carries immense responsibility and offers gratifying intellectual challenges. The role is much more than simply presiding over a courtroom; it includes handling numerous cases per week and performing meticulous behind-the-scenes work. A judge’s impact on the lives of those who come before them is significant and often transformative.

The Challenges of Being an Appellate Judge

As an appellate judge, Chief Judge Klingensmith faces unique challenges. One is ensuring that decisions are consistent with the existing body of law. This involves careful use of language to avoid unintended implications and consequences. An appellate judge’s role is also highly collaborative, often requiring meticulous teamwork to make the right decisions.

Appreciation for a Judge’s Role

Chief Judge Klingensmith emphasizes the importance of understanding lawyers’ lives and making law practice more accessible. His unique perspective on the litigation process and the analytical skills necessary for his job provide a fascinating glimpse into the life of a judge. His remarkable commitment to public service and his unwavering dedication to justice inspire aspiring legal professionals.

Chief Judge Mark Klingensmith’s journey from a trial lawyer to an appellate judge exemplifies dedication, lifelong learning, and public service. It underscores the significance of understanding the legal system and the vital role judges play in it. Whether you’re an aspiring legal professional or simply interested in the legal system, Chief Judge Klingensmith’s journey provides valuable insights and lessons.

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Steve Riley

Certified Practice Advisor & Attorney

Steve Riley has coached attorneys for more than 20 years. His one-on-one coaching focuses on a limited number of top producing attorneys committed to taking their practices to new levels of excellence, profit, and personal success. He also presents at group coaching workshops around the country for individual law firms, state bar associations, and other legal organizations.

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