In what part of town do you live?
How long have you lived in the area?
I was born and raised in Miami. We’ve been in Palmetto Bay for eight years.
Did you always think you would stay here?
I guess so. I went to college in Maryland and then came back. I didn’t love cold weather. I liked warm weather.
What keeps you busy during the week?
It’s the usual things that people with families do… I take care of my kids, try to find some time to stay healthy, and keep myself entertained. And, I work at Royal Caribbean.
How long have you worked with Royal Caribbean?
This May will be 14 years.
What kind of things do you do there?
I’m in-house counsel for Royal Caribbean. You know Mike Winkleman and Danny Grammes? I’m the counterbalance to them.
Yes, we’ve interviewed both. (They are maritime attorneys representing passengers.) They mentioned they had a good relationship with the counsel on the other side, so this interview comes full circle. What’s the relationship like from your side?
I know them professionally and my wife went to high school with Mike at Gulliver. Depending on your point of view, someone’s a Jedi and someone’s a Sith. I need to be able to communicate with them and speak to them. Everything can’t be resolved with a fight. It doesn’t work that way. You see people over and over again, because the local maritime bar community is very small. There are times you have to fight, but if you can reach a reasonable resolution, that’s a more effective way of doing things. You can’t punch everybody in the face.
Is the majority of your work injury cases?
I work on other things, but the majority is personal injury.
Danny spoke of jurisdiction being a challenge they often must overcome. How is that handled from your side?
Jurisdiction is more for them. Royal Caribbean is headquartered here. So, people come here to try to get their piece of the pie.
What do you enjoy about working as in house counsel?
I enjoy the people I work with the most. I work with good people. We’ve been together for a long time. It’s a big company. In a way, it’s like Miami. Miami is a big bureaucratic, overpopulated, mess of a place. But when you find your local spot, it’s great. You love it. That’s how I feel.
Was there a reason you went into maritime law?
No. When I got out of law school, I started at the state attorney’s office and was there for about five years. I started my career doing criminal work. A friend of mine knew I was looking to leave and her ex-husband’s firm was looking for somebody with trial experience. I interviewed and got the job and pretty much stayed on this side of the maritime world since.
Were you ever on the other side?
For about two years, I was out on my own doing criminal defense and a little bit of personal injury, but then Royal Caribbean created its own in-house litigation department. At the time I thought this is an opportunity I can’t pass up. You can always go back out on your own, but to get the opportunity to go in-house on the ground floor – that doesn’t come around that often. I’ve been happy with the decision ever since.
Do you enjoy going to trial?
I did. I don’t enjoy it anymore. I’m very lucky, working in house, my job is to try to get the cases resolved. I’ll litigate the case up to a certain point, but if it’s going to go to trial, I’ll farm it out at that point. We don’t have the amount of employees and support staff that you need to try a case. By litigating most cases in house, you’re keeping costs down and you’re relying on experience. Most cases don’t need to go to court.
What else do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love cooking. It’s probably my number one passion. And, spending time with my family. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of star wars stuff. I’m a big star wars fan. And, I’m a soccer fan. I wish I had more time to follow soccer, with kids that’s difficult.
You’ve been coming by the drive through regularly. Would you share about that experience?
My youngest daughter, Avery, will be five and a half soon. She doesn’t eat vegetables except for whatever you put in the Rainbow Smoothie. She loves it. So that’s our way of getting her to eat vegetables. It started when you guys were at the Pinecrest Market pre COVID. We were happy when we heard you guys opened back up. The drive through is near my mother-in-law’s house. It’s always fun seeing you and everyone there. And, you have great stuff.
What do you get when you come by?
My wife loves the Turmeric Concentrate. I saw her fill her cup with it today and mix it with almond milk. We really love the guacamole. We haven’t done the bagels recently, because we come later in the day – past bagels. My wife says next time we go, we have to get the yogurt. And – we love the Rainbow Smoothies.
What other places do you enjoy going?
We’ve been cooking a lot at home since the pandemic started. But, our favorite restaurant in town would be Bombay Darbar, the Indian restaurant in Coconut Grove. Locally, we’ve been doing a lot of Ana Capri lately.
What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
I feel like with social media there’s no good secrets anymore. Somebody finds something that you love and next thing you know, it’s on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook and it’s packed.
What for you is a worthy splurge?
Spending money on good meat to throw on the barbecue. I’ll go to Babes, or Johnny Jones meats on Kendall.
What community groups are important to you that you might like to promote or share?
My father-in-law passed away from ALS. There’s an organization in Palm Beach, Clinics Can Help, and they collect used medical equipment when somebody passes away from ALS and make sure that it gets to somebody else in need.
What question would you like to ask us?
(RG) When are you going to have growlers of beer for sale?
(A+W) We are already supplying local breweries with fruit. Next step is figuring out the best approach to have kegs and growler fills. We are looking either at a brewery license where we do co-brewing or a package license, where we just sell beer. Hopefully we will get there soon!
What challenge, advice, or question would you like to pose to the community?
Take Metro Rail. It is a great resource that nobody uses in Miami.
Any last thoughts?
The big picture of life is to slow down and do the things that you enjoy.