Kimberly Held Israel is the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association’s 2020-21 representative to the Florida Association for Women Lawyers.
Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer? The path to law started early for me. I wanted to be a lawyer from a young age, probably around 8 or so. My father, Eddie Held, was a highly regarded attorney in Jacksonville and I spent summers and school breaks working for his law firm before I graduated from high school. When I was a child, I used to write pretend lawyer letters.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice of law? I graduated with a degree in psychology and a minor in communications and both have proven to be valuable in the practice of law. I spent my college years studying aspects of human behavior as well as effective methods of communication. Being able to communicate effectively and persuasively, both verbally and in writing, is critical in the practice of law, whether in communications with my clients, my opponents or the court. Being able to recognize and identify certain behaviors and personality traits also is extremely helpful, especially in a litigation-based practice.
How did you decide your practice area? And why have you chosen that? I started in litigation and have enjoyed it throughout my career. In 2004, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to start a firm with my father, and we practiced together before he became ill and passed away. I learned from him before I even became a lawyer and then had the joy to work with him in commercial litigation and bankruptcy matters. When I started practicing in those areas, I realized how much I enjoyed those aspects of the law.
What has been the biggest change in your practice area since you passed the Bar? The pace of the practice has changed dramatically. Cellphones were still relatively new and emails weren’t routinely used for the daily practice. Faxes were still the primary means of “speedy” communications. Today, people expect immediate responses, no matter the circumstances.
What do you think will be the next biggest change in your area of law? The areas I practice in are so broad that it is hard to identify particular changes that may be coming. But in the area of mortgage litigation in particular, the courts continue to navigate issues surrounding that practice. With the pandemic having resulted in moratoria being imposed and cases being put on extended holds, next year may prove to bring even more change as foreclosure and eviction actions resume.
What’s your advice for new lawyers? Take deep breaths often. Recognize that there is still a lot to learn and don’t put pressure on yourself to know all and be all. Take time away from work to do things that you enjoy, and try to see the positives in each and every situation, even when it feels impossible. There is a valuable lesson to be learned in every success, but also every failure.