TAMPA, Fla. — Taking a major step forward in a steadily advancing legal career, Rebbecca A. Goodall was recently named an attorney with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, the firm where she worked full-time as both a legal assistant and paralegal as she put herself through law school, cared for a daughter with type 1 diabetes and gave birth to two children.
Goodall, now 30, was first inspired to become a lawyer at a very young age, watching TV courtroom dramas with her parents while growing up in Virginia. By the time she graduated high school, she knew she wanted to work as an attorney and so decided to move to Florida to attend the University of Tampa. The birth of her daughter, Adrianna, delayed her entrance into law school, but years of studying for the LSAT and persistent communication with the Stetson University College of Law earned her entrance to the school.
“I just wouldn’t give up,” Goodall says. “I knew that if I wanted the life I had always envisioned for myself, I needed to go to law school. It took years, but I finally did it.”
At the same time as she worked toward attending law school, Goodall launched her legal career, joining Shumaker as a legal assistant in 2011 and then being named a paralegal in 2012. She focused primarily on bankruptcy law, but has also gotten the chance to experience the adrenaline rush that comes from civil litigation. She also seized the opportunity to work in areas that correlated to classes she was taking at Stetson, attending evidentiary hearings and trials while studying trial advocacy and working with her supervising attorney to prepare ethics material for an American Bankruptcy Institute panel while studying for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.
While working at Shumaker and attending Stetson, Goodall also faced a major personal challenge, when Adrianna was diagnosed at age 4 with type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. During this period Goodall also gave birth to two sons: Mason, now 2, and Justice, 1.
Since graduating from law school last December, Goodall has made it a major priority to advocate on behalf of funding for diabetes research and to help educate schools and other parents about the special needs of children with diabetes. This March, Goodall traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the American Diabetes Association’s Call to Congress, a three-day event created to encourage Congress to continue funding for diabetes research and prevention. She and Adrianna met with staff members from the offices of Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Sen. Bill Nelson and Sen. Marco Rubio, telling Adrianna’s story and describing the impact type 1 diabetes has on their family and on millions of other American families.
Since returning from D.C., Goodall has undergone training in how to become an effective advocate for children with diabetes in local schools.
“There are a lot of myths about diabetes and a real lack of information,” Goodall says. “I’m developing skills to help parents and children understand their rights and to work with school nurses to make sure schools are safe for children with diabetes. Even as a parent of a child with diabetes, for example, I didn’t know that my daughter has the right to delay taking a test if her blood glucose levels are off. Many schools just don't know.”
Goodall credits her husband, Tim, for supporting her education and career by staying home to raise the couple’s children. Tim has recently gone back to work as a surgical technician in an eye surgery center.
To keep track of her countless competing priorities, Goodall created a detailed chronological Word document that helped her stay organized and keep moving forward, one semester at a time. Even now that she’s landed a position as an attorney, she’s not slowing down. She hopes to work her way up to partner one day.
About Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP is a full-service business law firm with more than 240 lawyers, 60 paralegals and 495 employees in five offices: Toledo and Columbus, Ohio; Tampa and Sarasota, Florida; and Charlotte, North Carolina. In each of its markets, Shumaker is the premier provider of quality legal services to individuals, small businesses, health care providers, nonprofits and Fortune 500 and international corporations.