Caroline Black Sikorske Celebrates 33-Year Firm Anniversary

Congratulations to Caroline Black Sikorske, who this week is celebrating her 33-year work anniversary with the firm. Caroline joined firm founder Stephen Sessums in 1989 as a partner after serving as an Assistant State Attorney for Hillsborough County.

Caroline is admitted to the prestigious International Academy of Family Lawyers, a worldwide association of practicing attorneys who are recognized by their peers as experienced and skilled family law specialists in their respective countries. She is a diplomate of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers, a select group of 100 top U.S. family lawyers who practice sophisticated and complex family law matters. Caroline was named to the list of Top 10 2021 Florida Super Lawyers, attorneys who received the highest points during the Super Lawyers nomination, research and review process. She has been included in The Best Lawyers in America© in family law since 2006. She is Florida Bar Board Certified in Marital and Family Law, is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and is Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent® Peer-Review rated.
Image of a smiling woman (Caroline Black Sikorske)

Firm Sponsors HCBA Bench Bar Conference

Sessums Black is proud to have been a platinum sponsor of the Hillsborough County Bar Association‘s 25th Annual HCBA Bench Bar Conference, which was October 13 at the JW Marriott Water Street. This year’s conference theme was “Game On: Teaming Up On the Legal Field.” The all-day event, luncheon, and evening Judicial Reception give attorneys, judges, and legal support staff the chance to attend an array of continuing legal education sessions on cutting-edge topics.

Here’s a nice photo of Managing Partner Alex Caballero at the event with attorney Scott Tozian and Judge Denise Pomponio. Alex is the President-Elect of the Hillsborough County Bar Association.

Image of three smiling people

Alex Caballero Appointed to 4-Year Term on 2nd DCA JNC

We are pleased to announce that Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed Sessums Black Managing Partner Alex Caballero to a four-year term on the Second District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission. This is a second term for Alex on the Second District Court of Appeal’s JNC; Gov. DeSantis appointed him in November 2019 to fill a vacancy on the commission for a term that ended July 1, 2022.

Prior to that, Alex served on the Judicial Nomination Commission for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, an appointment made by Gov. Rick Scott, and served as Chair from August 2017 to August 2018.

Alex is Florida Bar Board Certified in Marital and Family Law, is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is listed in The Best Lawyers of America, is named to the 2022 lists of Top 100 Florida and Top 50 Tampa Bay Super Lawyers, and is rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale Hubbell. He recently was sworn in as the 2022-2023 Hillsborough County Bar Association President-Elect and will serve as President during the 2023-2024 Bar year. Learn more about Alex here.

Congratulations, Alex, on this prestigious appointment!

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Alex Caballero Attends HCBA & YLD Board Retreat

Sessums Black Managing Partner Alex Caballero recently attended the Hillsborough County Bar Association‘s HCBA & YLD Board Retreat, an excellent leadership and networking opportunity for association officers and directors. Alex has been elected to serve as HCBA President-elect next year and as President for the 2023-2024 Bar year.

Here are some nice photos from the two-day retreat, courtesy of the HCBA. View more photos on Facebook.

Large group of smiling people Group of people seated at a table in a meeting Group of people posing outdoors

Document Specialist Tara Fallo Joins the Firm

We are pleased to announce that Tara Fallo has joined the firm as a Document Specialist. Tara’s diverse professional experience includes data analysis, career counseling, branding and social media, marketing, advertising sales, and more. She is proficient in Microsoft Office Suite, a variety of communications programs, and numerous graphic design and social media platforms. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Communications from SUNY Cortland in 2011. You can reach her at Tara@sessumsblack.com or (813) 251-9200 Ext. 134. Please help us welcome Tara to the Sessums Black team!

Image of Document Specialist Tara Fallow

Andrew Reder Interviewed About Board Certification

If you’re interested in learning more about The Florida Bar’s board certification process, watch this excellent video by Sessums Black Partner Andrew D. Reder and Eddie Stephens of Stephens & Stevens – Marital & Family Law. Andrew and Eddie are Florida Bar board certified in Marital & Family Law and discuss the process, the requirements, the exam, and more. Details about each of the certification areas are online at floridabar.org/about/cert.

Image of a smiling man (Andrew D. Reder)

Paralegal Sarah E. Black Joins Sessums Black

Please join us in welcoming paralegal Sarah E. Black to the Sessums Black team. Sarah has worked in the legal field for more than 20 years in a variety of areas and has nine years of experience working exclusively in marital and family law matters.  Her background includes legal research and drafting pleadings, motions and notices, affidavits, propose orders and final judgments. She also manages correspondence to judiciary, opposing counsel and clients as well as the discovery process and preparations for trial, mediation and hearings. Sarah earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2004 from The University of Tampa and her Juris Doctorate in 2014 from New England Law | Boston. She devotes 100 percent of her practice to marital and family law.
Image of a smiling woman (Sarah E. Black)

Jennifer Ficarrotta Appointed to BLSE

We are proud to announce that Florida Bar President Gary Lesser has appointed Jennifer Ficarrotta to serve as a member of the Board of Legal Specialization & Education, a 17-member standing committee of The Florida Bar. The BLSE administers the Bar’s board certification program, which identifies attorneys who have substantial experience and have demonstrated special knowledge, skills and proficiency in certified areas of practice and professionalism and ethics in the practice of law.

Jennifer is Florida Bar board certified in Marital & Family Law and served as a member of the Marital & Family Law Certification Committee from 2019 to 2022. She chaired the committee in 2020.

The BLSE oversees the work of all the certification committees. The committees are responsible for proposing criteria for earning and renewing certification, reviewing applications, developing and grading examinations, and recommending to the BLSE certification for attorneys who have met both the minimum standards imposed by the certification plan and the particular standards in the practice area. The BLSE also has oversight responsibility for the evaluation of all continuing legal education accreditation applications, and member compliance with the Continuing Legal Education Requirement and Basic Skills Course Requirement.

Congratulations, Jennifer, on this prestigious appointment!
Jennifer A. Ficarrotta

Alex Caballero is HCBA Delegate to Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference

Sessums Black Managing Partner Alexander Caballero is part of the Hillsborough County Bar Association‘s delegation to this weekend’s Florida Bar Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference in St. Pete. Florida’s local and specialty bar leaders gather yearly to network and share the latest best practices and management techniques. The focuses are bar service, bar leadership, and mentoring. This year, the conference Boot Camp theme features “Special Forces” general sessions, basic training sessions for new voluntary bar leaders, advanced skills sessions for seasoned voluntary bar leaders, and front-line sessions for voluntary bar staff.

Pictured L-R are Squadron 20 and 21 members representing the HCBA, The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division and Gunster: Daniel Rosenhiem, Sean Bevil, Anisha Patel, Alexis DeVeaux, John Kynes, Alex Caballero, Mark Miller, and Sara Peacock.
Image of attorneys posing while attending a conference.

Attorneys Named to 2022 List of ‘Florida Legal Elite’

Congratulations to the attorneys who have been named to the 2022 list of “Florida Legal Elite” through Florida Trend Magazine. Only 1.3 percent of active Florida Bar members practicing in Florida appear on the list. Florida Trend invited all in-state members of the Florida Bar to name attorneys whom they highly regard or would recommend to others. Now in its 18th year, Florida Legal Elite presents “the state’s top licensed and practicing attorneys selected by their peers.” We are very proud that Caroline Black Sikorske and Alexander Caballero are among the attorneys who have been included this year.

Sessums Black Supports Judge Wesley Tibbals

Sessums Black is proud to show our support for Judge Wesley Tibbals, who is campaigning to keep his seat as the Group 6 judge for the 13th Circuit Court. Judge Tibbals has more than 20 years of legal experience. He has served for seven years as a circuit court judge and has been the Associate Administrative Judge in the Family Law Division since 2017. He is a fourth-generation Florida native who holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Florida.

Judge Tibbals has served the citizens of Hillsborough County with integrity and professionalism since his 2015 appointment to the bench. He has received endorsements from many of our colleagues and Alex Caballero was proud to serve as a member of the campaign kickoff host committee. Please vote on August 23rd to Keep Judge Wesley Tibbals. Learn more at judgetibbals.com.

Jennifer Ficarrotta Nominated for 2022 Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Board Certification

We are exceptionally proud that Sessums Black Shareholder Jennifer Ficarrotta is among the nominees for the 2022 Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Board Certification. The Florida Supreme Court created the certification program as a means to assist consumers in identifying qualified legal specialists and to encourage lawyers to aspire to excellence and professionalism. Nominees for the award have been recognized by their colleagues for “excellence and creativity in advancing the public’s knowledge of and appreciation for legal board certification.”

In Jennifer’s congratulatory letter, Board of Legal Specialization & Education Chair Philip R. Augustine said, “We value the hard work, professionalism and dedication to excellence that are necessary to attain board certification. It is an honor to be further singled out as a leader among those Florida Bar members who are known as experts and specialists. Congratulations, and thank you for your service to the Board Certification program.”

Jennifer is among only 275 lawyers statewide who have earned Florida Bar board certification in Marital & Family Law. Caroline Black Sikorske, Alex Caballero, and Andrew D. Reder also are board-certified by The Florida Bar in Marital & Family Law, and founding partner Stephen Sessums was among the first attorneys in Florida to earn Marital & Family Law board certification in 1983.
Jennifer A. Ficarrotta

Firm Celebrates National Upsy Daisy Day

Here’s a nice photo of the Sessums Black team celebrating National Upsy Daisy Day by coordinating a donation drive to benefit local charities. Each year on June 8, National Upsy Daisy Day is set aside to encourage positivity. It serves as a reminder that every day is a gift and if we remember that as we rise each morning, it will help us carry a good attitude throughout the day, whatever the day may bring us. All of us at Sessums Black are grateful and thankful for everything that we have. Hopefully, our donations will brighten someone else’s day.
Image of Sessums Black firm members participating in donation drive.

Alex Caballero is Sworn in as HCBA President-Elect

Congratulations to the newly elected Hillsborough County Bar Association Officers and Directors for the 2022-2023 Bar year. We are exceptionally proud of Sessums Black Managing Partner Alex Caballero, who will serve as President-elect next year and as the HCBA President for the 2023-2024 bar year. Here are some nice photos from the June 2 swearing-in by 13th Circuit Chief Judge Ron Ficarrotta.

The Hillsborough County Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary bar associations in Florida with a membership of close to 4,000 attorneys, judges, and legal professionals. Thank you to all of the board members who volunteer to serve in leadership roles for the association!

Andrew D. Reder Earns Florida Bar Board Certification in Marital & Family Law

Congratulations to Sessums Black Partner Andrew D. Reder on achieving Florida Bar Board Certification in Marital & Family Law! Andrew is among only 275 lawyers statewide who have earned this prestigious designation. Board certification is The Florida Bar’s highest level of evaluation of the competency and experience of attorneys, and recognizes an attorney’s specialized knowledge, skills, proficiency, and professionalism and ethics in practice.

The standards to become a board-certified specialist in Marital & Family Law are very stringent:

  • Practice of law for at least five years
  • Substantial involvement in the specialty of marital and family law — 50% or more — during the five years immediately preceding application
  • Handling at least 25 contested marital and family law cases in the five years immediately preceding application, with at least seven trials
  • 75 hours of approved marital and family law certification continuing legal education in the five years immediately preceding application
  • Peer review
  • A written examination
We are very proud that attorneys Caroline Black Sikorske, Alexander Caballero, and Jennifer Ficarrotta also are board certified by The Florida Bar in Marital & Family Law.
Andrew D. Reder Earns Florida Bar Board Certification in Marital & Family Law

Attorneys Attend AAML 44th Annual Institute

Sessums Black attorneys Alexander Caballero and Andrew D. Reder recently attended the 44th Annual Institute hosted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) Florida Chapter. The Institute is the premier continuing education opportunity for family law practitioners in Florida.

Alex was among the national and statewide presenters who are among the top in their fields for advanced education for family law attorneys. He and The Honorable Judge Steven Fahlgren of the 4th Judicial Circuit presented an interactive session, “Trauma-Informed Parenting Plans: Why Are They Needed, What Is Required, and Evolving Case Law Regarding Prospective Plans.”

Thank you to our friends and colleagues at the AAML for putting together another amazing Institute!
Alex Caballero and Andrew D. Reder

Attorneys Attend HCBA Foundation Law & Liberty Dinner

Here is a wonderful photo from the Hillsborough County Bar Association Foundation’s recent Law & Liberty Dinner. Stephen Sessums, Jennifer Ficarrotta, Andrew D. Reder, Samantha Koko, and Alexander Caballero (not pictured) represented the firm. Sessums Black was a proud sponsor of this annual event that has helped the Foundation provide local legal-related charities with more than $1 million in support and grants since 2005.

The Foundation’s mission is to promote projects and programs that encourage assistance to the poor, disabled, and disadvantaged in our community who need legal assistance and access to the legal system. Caroline Black Sikorske is the current President of the HCBA Foundation.
2022 Law & Liberty Dinner

Paul Kanjorski Celebrates Four-Year Work Anniversary

Congratulations to Sessums Black firm administrator Paul Kanjorski, who recently celebrated his four-year anniversary of working with the firm. Paul helps keep us on track with a wealth of knowledge and expertise from his 20-plus years of experience managing financial, bookkeeping, administrative and human resource functions in various corporate settings, including law firms and other professional services. His forward-thinking integration of technology into the firm’s professional practice was key to our success at pivoting to a virtual and hybrid practice during COVID and allow us to serve our clients without disruption.

Paul recently was elected Treasurer of the Suncoast Chapter Association of Legal Administrators for a two-year term. This is Paul’s fifth term on the board of directors, following four years as Chair for Meetings and Education. During his time with the board, the Suncoast Chapter has twice won the national ALA Presidents’ Award of Excellence, and Paul was named Member of the Year in 2018. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History & Political Science from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Paul Kanjorski

Attorneys Attend HCBA Marital and Family Law Judicial Appreciation Luncheon

Here’s a nice photo of Sessums Black attorneys Andrew D. Reder and Sterling Lovelady with 13th Circuit Family Law Judge Greg Green at last week’s Marital and Family Law Judicial Appreciation Luncheon. Our firm is proud to have been a Platinum Sponsor for this annual Hillsborough County Bar Association event to show appreciation to our family law judges, judicial assistants, and bailiffs.

Sessums Black Attorneys at HCBA Luncheon

Paul Kanjorski Elected Treasurer of Suncoast Chapter Association of Legal Administrators

We are pleased to announce that Sessums Black Firm Administrator Paul Kanjorski recently was elected Treasurer of the Suncoast Chapter Association of Legal Administrators for a two-year term. This is Paul’s fifth term on the board of directors, following four years as Chair for Meetings and Education. During Paul’s time with the board, the Suncoast Chapter has twice won the national ALA Presidents’ Award of Excellence, and Paul was named Member of the Year in 2018.

The ALA’s mission is to promote and enhance the competence and professionalism of legal administrators and all members of the legal management team, improve the quality of management in law firms and other legal service organizations, and represent professional legal management and managers to the legal industry and the community at large.

Congratulations to Paul and the rest of the newly elected officers of the Suncoast Chapter, ALA.

Paul Kanjorski

Andrew D. Reder Maintains AV “Preeminent®” Peer Review Rating

Andrew D. Reder is among the Sessums Black attorneys who have earned and maintained a Martindale-Hubbell AV “Preeminent®” Peer Review Rating—the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. Approximately 10 percent of attorneys have earned the rating, which is given to attorneys who are ranked by their peers at the highest level of professional excellence for legal expertise, communication skills and ethical standards.

Andrew joined the firm in 2015 after serving as a successful prosecutor for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County. His practice is exclusively devoted to marital and family law.

Learn more about Martindale-Hubbell ratings at martindale.com/ratings-and-reviews.

Andrew D. Reder Maintains AV “Preeminent®” Peer Review Rating

Sessums Black Sponsors Clearwater Bar Oyster Roast

We were proud to be a law firm sponsor for the March 26 Clearwater Bar Oyster Roast, the Clearwater Bar Association‘s signature event. Here are some great photos from the party, which included networking, music, food and more. Thank you to everyone who supported this wonderful legal community tradition!

Clearwater Bar Association 2022 Oyster Roast

Attorneys Participate in HCBA 5K River Run and Judicial Luncheon

Here are some great photos from today’s Hillsborough County Bar Association 5K River Run and Judicial Luncheon:

• Sessums Black Managing Partner Alex Caballero with Judge Miriam Valkenburg and attorney Elba Martin.
• Alex, attorney Syed Ahmed, his son Aiden, and attorney Steve Sessums.
• Alex and Syed, who finished first in his age group; Alex finished second.
• Photos from the race.

Thank you to the HCBA and all who participated in the events!

HCBA 2022 Pro Bono River Run

Sessums Black Sponsors HCBA Pro Bono River Run and Judicial Food Festival

Our firm is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor for the Hillsborough County Bar Association‘s 13th Annual 5K Pro Bono River Run and 18th Annual Judicial Food Festival, which take place on March 26 along Tampa’s River Walk and on the grounds of the Stetson Law Tampa Campus. Good luck to Sessums Black attorneys Stephen Sessums and Alex Caballero, who will be competing in the run.

The goals of the race are pledging and performance of pro bono service from runners and walkers, who also encourage others to support their participation by pledging their own pro bono hours. Since the run’s inception, participants have performed almost 18,000 hours of pro bono service assisting the indigent in our community.  (📷 Credit HCBA)
HCBA River Run

Law & Liberty Dinner Sponsorship

Sessums Black is a proud sponsor of the Hillsborough County Bar Association Foundation’s May 12 Law & Liberty Dinner, an annual event that has helped the Foundation provide local legal-related charities with more than $1 million in support and grants since 2005. This year’s featured speaker is world champion quarterback, broadcaster, and entrepreneur Joe Theismann.

We’re pleased that we can continue to support the Foundation’s mission to promote projects and programs that encourage assistance to the poor, disabled, and disadvantaged in our community who need legal assistance and access to the legal system. For more information, contact Foundation Executive Director Darlene Kelly at (813) 221-7774 or Kelly@hillsbarfoundation.com.

HCBA Logo

Welcome to Jacqueline Urra

We are pleased to announce that Jacqueline Urra has joined Sessums Black as an Administrative Assistant and Scheduler. Jacqueline started working with us in 2006 and recently rejoined the firm. She is a Tampa native who holds an associate degree from Hillsborough Community College and is bilingual in Spanish. She has been a Legal and Administrative Assistant for more than 20 years and has experience in criminal and Family Law. You can contact her at Jacqueline@sessumsblack.com or 813-251-9200, extension 131. Please join us in welcoming Jacqueline back to the Sessums Black team!
Jacqueline Urra

Attorneys Maintain Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Ratings

Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® is the organization’s highest peer rating standard, given to attorneys who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards by their peers. The designation is a reflection of an attorney’s skill, experience, integrity, and overall professional excellence. We are extremely proud that Sessums Black attorneys Stephen Sessums, Caroline Black Sikorske, Alexander Caballero, Jennifer Ficarrotta, and Andrew D. Reder have achieved and maintained this prestigious rating. Learn more at martindale.com/ratings-and-reviews.

Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent®

Firm Hosts Valentine’s Party

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here are some fun photos from our “Havana Nights” Valentine’s party last week at the historic Cuban Club in Ybor City. The annual party is a special firm tradition that gives us the opportunity to let our Bay-area legal community friends and colleagues know how much we value their relationships. We didn’t host the party in 2021 due to Covid, and it was great to be able to have an in-person event this year. Thank you to our families and to everyone who joined us at the event.

📷 credit: Joe Photo Tampa

Sessums Black Attorneys

Firm Rebrands as Sessum Black

On February 10, we announced to friends and colleagues that our firm is rebranding as Sessums Black Family Law.

Stephen Sessums started the firm in 1982 with the goal of building a first-class, client-centered law firm specializing in marital and family law and founded on the principles of teamwork, efficiency, respect and excellence. The name change reflects the continuity and longevity of the firm—now in its 40th year in business—and honors its first two partners, Steve and Caroline Black Sikorske.

Sessums Black Logo

Caroline Black Sikorske Attends Bob Clark Luncheon

Here’s a nice photo of Caroline Black Sikorske at the Columbia restaurant on February 4 for a networking luncheon with local business leaders. Bob Clark, president of Tampa Steel, has coordinated the luncheons for many years. Great company; great food; great networking opportunity—thank you, Bob, for hosting.
Caroline Black Sikorske at Bob Clark Luncheon

Partners Attend HCBA Luncheon

Sessums Black Partners Alexander Caballero and Andrew D. Reder attended the January 27 Hillsborough County Bar Association Marital and Family Law Section Luncheon, a CLE event featuring Judge Wesley D. Tibbals and Judge G. Gregory Green. Alex is a former Section Chair and Andrew is on track to chair the Section in 2023-2024. Thank you, Alex and Andrew, for representing the firm and for your involvement in the legal community.

Partners Attend HCBA Luncheon

Sterling Lovelady Attends Compass Realty Event at RJ Stadium

Here are some nice photos of Sessums Black attorney Sterling Lovelady with realtor Eric Dungy on January 26 at Raymond James Stadium. Eric Dungy and Jon Fincher of Compass, the official luxury realtors® of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hosted an Executive Dinner and networking event for family law professionals. Dungy and Fincher are in the Compass sports and entertainment division, specializing in Tampa and neighboring markets. Dungy is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Buccaneers Head Coach Tony Dungy.
Sterling Lovelady at Raymond James Stadium 2 Sterling Lovelady at Raymond James Stadium 1

Caroline Black Sikorske Named to TAMPA Magazines’ 2022 Tampa Top Lawyers List

Congratulations to the 192 Tampa Bay attorneys in 79 practice areas who are included in TAMPA Magazines’ 2022 Tampa Top Lawyers list. More than 8,000 attorneys in Hillsborough and Southern Pasco counties were asked to nominate fellow attorneys who demonstrate excellence in their fields of practice. We are extremely honored that Sessums Black Shareholder Caroline Black Sikorske is among the attorneys who are named to this year’s Top Lawyers list in family law. Learn more at tampamagazines.com/top-lawyers-list.

Caroline Black Sikorske named to TAMPA Magazines' 2022 Top Lawyers List

 

Sessums Black Attorneys Attend AAML Retreat

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) Florida Chapter held its 2021 chapter retreat at Amelia Island Dec. 2 – 5. Sessums Black Shareholder Caroline Black Sikorske and Managing Partner Alex Caballero—both AAML fellows—attended the retreat with their spouses. The event included kayaking, biking and other outdoor activities, a continuing legal education seminar on stress and professionalism, holiday photos, nice meals and more.

Florida AAML members are qualified, ethical family law attorneys in Florida. Each attorney has advanced training, experience, and is operating under The Florida Bar’s most stringent ethical and professional standards known as the Bounds of Advocacy. Fewer than 100 family law attorneys in Florida currently meet the stringent requirements needed to become an AAML member—a testament to its rigorous technical and ethical vetting process.

Thank you to the AAML for hosting another very special retreat. 📷 Credit: AAML – Florida Chapter.

Alex Caballero and Caroline Black Sikorske at 2021 AAML Retreat
Guests Kayaking at AAML 2021 Retreat
Celebrating the holidays at the 2021 AAML Retreat

Attorneys Attend HCBA Past Presidents’ Luncheon

Here are some nice photos from today’s Hillsborough County Bar Association Past Presidents’ Luncheon, a longstanding association tradition. Pictured are former HCBA presidents Stephen Sessums (1977) and Caroline Black Sikorske (2014) and Steve and Caroline with Sessums Black Managing Partner Alexander Caballero, a member of the HCBA Board of Directors. Thank you to the HCBA for hosting this very special event.

Steve Sessums and Caroline Sikorske at HCBA Past Presidents' Luncheon

Sessums Black Attorneys at HCBA Past Presidents' Luncheon

Firm Seeks Experienced Family Law Paralegal

Sessums Black is seeking an experienced family law paralegal with a minimum of 5 to 10 years of related experience. This position requires knowledge of legal terminology, legal documents and records management, familiarity with the local court systems as well as the Florida Civil and Family Law Rules of Procedure. Applicants must be able to work files independently from initial intake through trial, including all areas of mandatory disclosure, financial affidavits, discovery and related financial data, preparation of family law pleadings. Applicants also must know how to calculate child support guidelines, alimony alternatives and equitable distribution charts. Computer skills necessary to complete duties include MS Office 365 (Word/Outlook/Excel), practice management software and divorce planning software.
We are a premiere Hyde Park law firm with a collegial environment and a nice group of professionals. Our competitive salary and excellent benefits package includes paid parking, health insurance, disability, a generous PTO plan and paid holidays. Relocation assistance is available to qualified candidates. Upon successful completion of a probationary period, a part-time remote work opportunity may be considered. For more information about Sessums Black, visit our website. Interested? Please contact Firm Administrator Paul Kanjorski at 813-251-9200 or email your resume and references to recruiting@sessumsblack.com.
Sesssums Black is seeking an experienced family law paralegal.

Caroline Black Sikorske Celebrates 32 Years With SBCF

Congratulations to SBCF Shareholder Caroline Black Sikorske, who this month is celebrating 32 years with the firm.

Caroline is admitted to the prestigious International Academy of Family Lawyers, a worldwide association of practicing attorneys who are recognized by their peers as experienced and skilled family law specialists in their respective countries. She is a diplomate of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers, a select group of 100 top U.S. family lawyers who practice sophisticated and complex family law matters. Caroline has been named to the 2018–2021 lists of “Top 10: Florida Super Lawyers,” attorneys who received the highest points during the Super Lawyers nomination, research, and review process. Caroline has been included in The Best Lawyers in America© in family law since 2006, is Florida Bar Board Certified in Marital and Family Law, is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Lawyers, and is Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Peer-Review rated.

Congratulations, Caroline, on your work anniversary!
Caroline Black Sikorske 32-Year SBCF Work Anniversary

Alex Caballero is Workshop Leader for 2021 Family Law Section Trial Advocacy Workshop

Here are some nice photos from the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar‘s 2021 Trial Advocacy Workshop last weekend in Tampa. Participants chose between a children’s issues case or a financial issues case and improved their trial skills while preparing and presenting a family law case from beginning to end.

SBCF Managing Partner Alex Caballero and attorney Catherine Rodriquez from Miami Beach led a workshop group in the financial-issues track. Alex and Catherine are both board-certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar and are fellows of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. The Workshop started on Thursday, October 7th, and went through Sunday, October 10th.

SBCF appreciates the Trial Advocacy Committee, workshop leaders, expert witnesses, speakers, and volunteers for all of their hard work in making this signature event a huge success.
Alex Caballero at 2021 Trial Advocacy Workshop (1)Alex Caballero at 2021 Trial Advocacy Workshop (2)Alex Caballero/2021 Trial Advocacy Workshop

SBCF is Platinum Sponsor for HCBA 24th Annual Bench Bar Conference

SBCF is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor for the Oct. 12 Hillsborough County Bar Association 24th Annual Bench Bar Conference, Membership Luncheon & Judicial Reception, a full day of professional development and networking for area legal professionals. This year’s conference theme is “Carrying the Torch for 125 Years” and Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady, 13th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Ron Ficarrotta and 2nd District Court of Appeal Chief Judge Robert Morris are keynote speakers.

The HCBA is one of the largest voluntary bar associations in Florida with a membership of close to 4,000 attorneys, judges and legal professionals. Its mission is to inspire and promote respect for the law and the justice system through service to the legal profession and the community.
24th Annual Bench Bar Conference

Michele Tawzer Celebrates 17-Year SBCF Work Anniversary

Congratulations to SBCF paralegal Michele Carpenter Tawzer, CP, FRP, who this month is celebrating 17 years with the firm. Michele is a Certified Paralegal through the National Association of Legal Assistants and a Florida Registered Paralegal through The Florida Bar. She is an active member of the Tampa Bay Paralegal Association, Inc., an organization that works to set the standard of excellence for the paralegal profession through its work on regulations, ethics and education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1999 from the University of South Florida and has more than 20 years of family law litigation experience. Michele devotes 100 percent of her practice to marital and family law. Happy work anniversary, Michele!

Michele Tawzer

SBCF Congratulates the 2021-22 HCBA Officers and Directors

Congratulations and best wishes to the 2021-22 officers and directors of the Hillsborough County Bar Association. SBCF Managing Partner Alexander Caballero serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Caroline Black Sikorske is an Ex-Officio member. The HCBA is one of the largest voluntary bar associations in Florida with a membership of close to 4,000 attorneys, judges and legal professionals. Its mission is to inspire and promote respect for the law and the justice system through service to the legal profession and the community. Thank you, Alex and Caroline, for your volunteer service to the Bar community.
HCBA 2021-2022 Leadership

Frank Steinbeck Jr. 9-Year SBCF Work Anniversary

Please join us in congratulating SBCF Paralegal Frank Steinbeck, Jr. on his nine-year work anniversary with the firm.

Frank has been a Florida Registered Paralegal through The Florida Bar since 2012 and is a Florida Notary Public. He is serving a four-year term as treasurer and as a board member for the Tampa Bay Paralegal Association, Inc., an organization that strives to set the standard for excellence for the paralegal profession through its work on regulations, ethics and education.

Frank holds an Associate of Arts degree from Pasco-Hernando State College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Legal Studies from South University, an ABA-Approved Paralegal Education Program. Frank had more than five years of civil litigation paralegal experience when he joined the firm in 2012, and now devotes 100 percent of his practice to marital and family law. Learn more about Frank here.

Frank Steinbeck Jr.

Sterling Lovelady 5-Year SBCF Work Anniversary

Please join us in congratulating Sterling Lovelady, who this month is celebrating five years of working with the firm. Sterling joined SBCF in 2016 as an intern and, after graduating from law school, joined in 2017 as a paralegal while awaiting his bar exam results. He has been an SBCF attorney since being admitted to The Florida Bar in September 2017. Sterling earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Florida State University and his Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law.

Prior to pursuing his legal career, Sterling was a scholarship athlete who played as an offensive lineman with the Florida State Seminoles football team, which went on to win the 2013 BCS National championship during his tenure. Learn more about Sterling at sbcf-famlaw.com/sterling_lovelady.
Sterling R. Lovelady

Jennifer Ficarrotta 10-Year SBCF Work Anniversary

Congratulations to SBCF Shareholder Jennifer Ficarrotta, who this month is celebrating her 10-year work anniversary with the firm. Jennifer has been Florida Bar board certified in Marital and Family Law since 2015, a designation held by only 271 lawyers statewide. She is a former chair of the Marital & Family Law Board Certification Committee and is rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell. Jennifer has been named to the list of Florida Super Lawyers for nine consecutive years. She is an experienced litigator who is trained in Interdisciplinary Collaborative Law and is an active member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce Group. Jennifer devotes 100 percent of her practice to marital and family law.

Jennifer A. Ficarrotta

Jennifer Ficarrotta Named to 2021 Florida Super Lawyers List

We are pleased to announce that SBCF Partner Jennifer Ficarrotta is listed in Florida Super Lawyers for the ninth consecutive year. Jennifer has been Florida Bar board certified in Marital and Family Law since 2015, a designation held by only 271 lawyers statewide. She is a former chair of the Marital & Family Law Board Certification Committee and is rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell. Jennifer is an experienced litigator who also is trained in Interdisciplinary Collaborative Law. She is an active member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce Group and devotes 100 percent of her practice to marital and family law.

Jennifer A. Ficarrotta

Andrew Reder Named to Florida Super Lawyers ‘Rising Stars’ List

Congratulations to SBCF attorney Andrew D. Reder, who has been named to the Florida Super Lawyers list of “Rising Stars” in Family Law for the second year in a row. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of lawyers in each state are included on the Rising Stars list. Super Lawyers uses a patented multiphase selection process, including nominations, independent research and peer evaluations, to identify attorneys who have a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Andrew is an experienced trial attorney who devotes 100 percent of his practice to Marital and Family Law. On Andrew’s behalf, we’d like to say thank you to the attorneys who nominated him again for this designation.

Andrew D. Reder

Caballero, Aleman Celebrate Work Anniversaries

We’re pleased to announce that this month marks the 22-year work anniversary for two members of the SBCF team, Senior Administrative Assistant Nelva Aleman and Managing Partner Alex Caballero.

Nelva started working with us in 1988 and has rejoined the firm several times over the years. She previously served as Executive Director of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Florida Chapter, worked part-time at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa and also was a stay-at-home mom.

Alex Caballero worked at the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office in Tampa before he joined the firm in 1999. Alex was a Lead Trial Attorney where he tried numerous jury trials, including prosecuting in the Felony Domestic Violence Specialty Division. He is board-certified in Marital and Family Law by The Florida Bar, is rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale Hubbell, is a fellow of the AAML and is listed in Best Lawyers in America. Alex also has been named to the 2021 lists of “Top 100” Florida and “Top 50” Tampa Bay Super Lawyers. Alex is a former Chair of the Judicial Nomination Commission for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit and is currently on the Judicial Nomination Commission for the Second District Court of Appeal. The main question that Alex asks himself frequently these days is, “How have 22 years gone by so quickly?”

Please join us in congratulating Nelva and Alex on their SBCF work anniversaries.
22-Year Work Anniversaries

SBCF Attorneys Named to ‘Top 50’ 2021 Tampa Bay Super Lawyers List

Congratulations to the Tampa Bay-area attorneys, our colleagues and friends, who have been named to the 2021 Tampa Bay Super Lawyers “Top 50” list. Every year, Super Lawyers evaluates lawyers across the country for its annual list of “top” attorneys and candidates are measured against 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Nominees from more than 70 practice areas are considered and the patented multiphase selection process is rigorous and methodical. The Top Lists feature attorneys who have been named to the Super Lawyers lists and who have the most total points earned. We are pleased to announce that SBCF partners Caroline Black Sikorske and Alex Caballero are among the 50 attorneys who earned spots on the “Top 50” list.

Caroline Black Sikorske Alex Caballero

Administrative Assistant Madison Sasser Joins SBCF

We are happy to announce that Madison Sasser has joined the firm as an Administrative Assistant. Madison is an experienced legal assistant who supports trial preparation, drafts legal documents, communicates with clients, and coordinates scheduling. She also is a creative writer who manages podcasts and blogs, serves as a ghostwriter, and curates content for business proposals and plans. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of South Florida, where she was an active member of the Mock Trial Team. Please join us in welcoming Madison to the SBCF team. Contact her at Madison@sessumsblack.com or (813) 251-9200 Ext. 131.

Madison Sasser, Administrative Assistant

Paralegal Kendall Tobin Joins the Firm

Please join us in welcoming the newest member of the SBCF team. Kendall Tobin has more than five years of experience as a paralegal and legal assistant working in marital and family law matters. Her background includes legal research and drafting pleadings, motions and notices, affidavits, proposed orders, and final judgments. She also manages correspondence to judiciary, opposing counsel and clients, and discovery and preparations for trial, mediation, and hearings.

Kendall studied Political Science and French at the University of Pittsburg and Political Science at the University of North Florida. She anticipates completing her bachelor’s degree in 2022 at the University of South Florida. She also is a Florida Notary Public and has volunteered as a tax return preparer through the United Way Suncoast’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Kendall devotes 100 percent of her practice to marital and family law.
Kendall Tobin, Paralegal

Sterling Lovelady Recognized for Pro Bono Service

Congratulations to the Bay Area attorneys and organizations that recently were honored with Thirteenth Judicial Circuit 2021 Pro Bono Service Awards. The annual circuit pro bono service awards recognize individuals, law firms and organizations, and attorneys who performed 20 or more hours of pro bono service in 2020, to honor their outstanding contributions to the community. We are very proud of SBCF attorney Sterling Lovelady, who was recognized for pro bono service in the 20-49 hours category. Thank you to Sterling and to all who were honored this year for volunteering your time to make a difference in the lives of low-income Tampa Bay Area residents.

Sterling R. Lovelady

Alex Caballero Elected to HCBA Executive Council

Congratulations to SBCF Managing Partner Alex Caballero, who has been elected to the Hillsborough County Bar Association Executive Council. Alex previously served on the Executive Council and is a current Hillsborough County Bar Association board member. The HCBA is one of the largest voluntary bar associations in Florida with a membership of close to 4,000 attorneys, judges and legal professionals. Its mission is to inspire and promote respect for the law and the justice system through service to the legal profession and the community.

Alex Caballero

Andrew Reder Elected as 2021-22 HCBA Marital & Family Law Section Secretary

Congratulations to SBCF Partner Andrew D. Reder, who was recently elected by his colleagues to serve as the 2021-2022 Secretary of the Hillsborough County Bar Association Marital & Family Law Section. Andrew will serve as Chair-Elect in 2022-2023 and will lead the Section as Chair in 2023-2024. Andrew is an active member of the HCBA Marital & Family Law Section and currently serves on its Executive Council.

Andrew D. Reder

Appellate Victories for Alex Caballero and Andrew Reder

Congratulations to SBCF partners Alex Caballero and Andrew D. Reder on their recent victories in Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal. In Rolle v. Rolle (2D19-2918) and Allen v. Allen (2D20-1199), Alex won his appeals when the Second District Court affirmed the trial courts’ rulings. In A.H. v. A.B. (2D19-4640), Andrew also won his appeal when the Second District Court held, “We affirm the rulings regarding parental responsibility, decision-making authority, and timesharing without comment.”

When a family law case is appealed, the court of appeal reviews the record of the trial and decides whether the judge’s decision at the trial level should be affirmed or reversed. In these cases, Alex and Andrew were successful in persuading the appellate court to affirm the trial courts’ rulings. Congrats to our clients, Alex, and Andrew on these important victories!

Alex Caballero Andrew D. Reder

SBCF Firm News In HCBA Lawyer Magazine

Thank you to the Hillsborough County Bar Association for sharing SBCF firm news in the latest issue of its Lawyer Magazine. Alex Caballero, Andrew D. Reder and Sterling Lovelady are included in the magazine’s “Around the Association” section. The HCBA is one of the largest voluntary bar associations in Florida with a membership of close to 4,000 attorneys, judges and legal professionals.

HCBA Lawyer Magazine

Andrew Reder Announces Birth of Son

We are so pleased for SBCF Partner Andrew D. Reder and his wife, Jessica, who are celebrating the birth of their third child. Ford Alexander Reder was born on March 27. Congratulations, Andrew and Jessica!

Reder Family is Growing

Paul Kanjorski Re-elected to ALA Suncoast Chapter Board

We are proud to announce that SBCF Firm Administrator Paul Kanjorski recently was elected to a fourth term on the board of directors for the Suncoast Chapter, Association of Legal Administrators. During Paul’s tenure on the board, the chapter has won the national ALA Presidents’ Award of Excellence twice, in 2020 and 2021. The award of excellence program is a performance guideline meant to encourage chapters to take effective and collaborative action in support of ALA’s mission to promote and enhance the competence and professionalism of legal administrators and all members of the legal management team, improve the quality of management in law firms and other legal service organizations, and represent professional legal management and managers to the legal industry and the community at large. Congratulations to Paul and all of our friends and colleagues at the Suncoast Chapter of the ALA on earning this prestigious award.

ALA Suncoast Chapter Honored

Sikorske, Caballero Named to Tampa Magazines’ 2021 Top Lawyers List

Congratulations to the 174 Tampa Bay attorneys in 83 practice areas who are included in Tampa Magazines’ 2021 Top Lawyers list. More than 11,000 attorneys in Hillsborough and Pasco counties were asked to nominate fellow attorneys who demonstrate excellence in their fields of practice. We are extremely honored that SBCF partners Caroline Black Sikorske and Alex Caballero have been named to the Top Lawyers list in family law. The digital issue will be online soon.

Sam Branda Announces Marriage to Jordon Koko

Congratulations to SBCF attorney Samantha “Sam” Branda Koko and her husband, Jordan, who eloped in Park City, Utah on February 27. Sam moved to the Tampa Bay area in January 2020 from her hometown of Naples, where she has been practicing law since she was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2012. She celebrates her one-year anniversary with the firm this month. Sam said the couple has no connection to Utah, “We just picked a snowy destination.” Please join us in wishing the newlyweds all the best in their life together.

Sam Branda Weds Jordon Koko

Jennifer Ficarrotta Chairs Marital & Family Law Board Certification Committee

SBCF partner Jennifer Ficarrotta serves as chair of The Florida Bar’s nine-member Marital & Family Law Board Certification Committee, which reviews credentials for board certification applicants in that practice area, implements its standards, and administers and grades the Marital & Family Law certification exams. Board certification evaluates attorneys’ special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in practice.

Board-certified lawyers are evaluated for professionalism and tested for expertise. Jennifer earned Florida Bar Marital & Family Law board certification in 2015; SBCF Shareholder Caroline Black Sikorske and Managing Partner Alex Caballero also are board-certified. We are exceptionally proud of Jennifer’s leadership role for The Florida Bar.
Jennifer Ficarrotta/Vice-Chair of Certification Committee

SBCF Supports Bay Area Family-Service Agencies

In lieu of the firm’s annual Valentine party, we chose to make donations to Bay Area Legal Services and The Spring of Tampa Bay.

The Spring of Tampa Bay provides comprehensive services to enhance the safety of victims and survivors of domestic violence in Hillsborough County, and to support them as they rebuild their lives. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, creating a safety plan with the help of a trained advocate is essential. The Spring’s staff members are available 24 hours a day to answer phone calls, connect you to resources like safe shelter or legal representation, and to make sure you are not alone. Their programs are free of charge. If you need to shelter, The Spring can help you, your children and even your pets. The need is great. One in four women reports experiencing domestic violence in her lifetime. Since it was founded in 1977, The Spring has provided a safe haven and comprehensive supportive services to more than 70,000 abused adults and their children, and they have answered calls from more than 150,000 women in crisis.

Bay Area Legal Services provides free civil legal services to low-income residents and nonprofits in the Tampa Bay area. The organization helps foster children find permanency in stable, loving homes; protects families from domestic violence and child abuse; and helps veterans and seniors fight foreclosure and retain their homes. Every year, BALS attorneys, paralegals and support staff assist thousands of individuals, families and community groups. Support for Bay Area Legal Services promotes access to justice. Law firm support helps give BALS the ability to sustain and grow their programs and continue the important work they do in our communities, and we are proud to be a BALS Sustaining Law Firm for the tenth consecutive year.

Happy Valentines Day 2021

Andrew Reder Participates in Inn of Court Toy Drive

Please join us in thanking the J. Clifford Cheatwood American Inn of Court members who participated in the holiday toy drive to benefit Voices for Children of Tampa Bay, a non-profit organization that works with Guardian ad Litem volunteers to provide support and advocacy for local children. The highly successful toy drive allowed Guardian ad Litem volunteers to select thousands of gifts for kids in foster care so that children in Hillsborough County had gifts to open during the holiday season. The Cheatwood Inn of Court is a local association of lawyers, judges and other legal professionals from all experience levels and backgrounds who share a passion for professional excellence. We are proud that SBCF partner Andrew D. Reder is a member of this Inn of Court and continues to make a difference in our community.

Toy Drive 3 Toy Drive 2

 

Jennifer Ficarrotta Quoted in Florida Bar News Article

The Florida Bar News recently published a story about the Marital and Family Law Certification Committee’s consideration of a request to include collaborative law questions on the annual family law certification exam. SBCF Shareholder Jennifer Ficarrotta chairs the committee and is supportive of including the material, but the request came too late for the March 2021 family law certification exam. Jennifer, whose practice includes collaborative law, said she doesn’t see a problem including the subject on the 2022 exam: “We could have drafted it [collaborative questions] on the test, but it isn’t already part of the study materials. We wanted to be as transparent as possible for studying.” Twenty former Florida Bar Family Law Section chairs, including SBCF Shareholder Caroline Black Sikorske, signed the petition to include collaborative law questions on the certification exam.
Jennifer A. Ficarrotta

Jennifer Ficarrotta Donates 100+ Pro Bono Hours

We are exceptionally proud of SBCF Shareholder Jennifer Ficarrotta, who has donated more than 100 hours of pro bono legal services in the last year. In the past three years, SBCF attorneys have donated approximately 1,258 hours to Bay Area Legal Services, which provides free civil legal services to low-income Tampa Bay area residents. We are pleased to have earned the 13th Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee’s 2020 award for “Outstanding Pro Bono Service by a Law Firm.” Firm founder Stephen Sessums has instilled the concept that we all give back to the community by performing civic work and pro bono work to those who are in need. It is through his leadership, guidance and example that the firm encourages us all to give back and participate in pro bono.

Jennifer A. Ficarrotta

SBCF Included in 2021 ‘Best Law Firms’ List by U.S. News – Best Lawyers

We are honored to be among the law firms that are included in the 2021 Edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms,” a recognition of professional excellence based on ratings from clients and peers. Ranked firms, presented in three tiers, are recognized on national and regional-based scales. Firms that received a tier designation reflect the “highest level of respect a firm can earn among other leading lawyers and clients from the same communities and practice areas.” SBCF received a “Tier 1” regional ranking. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must first have a lawyer recognized in The Best Lawyers in America©, which recognizes 5 percent of lawyers practicing in the United States. Caroline Black Sikorske and Alex Caballero are named to the 2020 list. The 2021 “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on the highest lawyer and firm participation on record, incorporating 8.3 million evaluations of more than 110,000 individual leading lawyers from more than 22,000 firms. Congratulations to all of the firms that have been recognized.

Andrew D. Reder is SBCF Partner

We are very pleased to announce that Andrew D. Reder is now a partner in the firm!

Andrew is an experienced litigator who devotes 100% of his practice to Marital & Family Law. He regularly represents business owners, executives, lawyers, doctors, nurses, stay-at-home parents, and other individuals in a wide range of family law proceedings such as divorces, paternity actions, and post-judgment proceedings. His practice combines alternative dispute processes, such as mediation and collaborative divorce, with traditional litigation. Andrew is a former prosecutor for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit and successfully litigated numerous jury trials, non-jury trials and motions, including prosecuting domestic violence offenses. Previously, Andrew served as a staff attorney in the Sixth Judicial Circuit where he was responsible for advising four circuit court judges on various issues of Florida Law, conducting legal research, and drafting proposed Court orders, experience that provides valuable insight into the judicial decision-making process.

Andrew prides himself on his work ethic, accessibility, legal knowledge, and the personalized legal services he provides each client. Andrew holds a Martindale-Hubbell AV “Preeminent”® Peer Review Rating—the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. He has been named to the 2020 lists of Florida Super Lawyers Rising Stars in Family Law and Lawyers of Distinction. He is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, the Tampa Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society, the J. Clifford Cheatwood Inn of Court, and the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar. 2019, he was elected by his peers to the Executive Council of the Marital & Family Law Section of the Hillsborough County Bar Association.

Andrew earned his Juris Doctor degree with honors from Stetson University College of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with honors from Auburn University. Andrew and his family are proud Tampa natives with strong connections to the justice system and legal community. He lives in Tampa with his wife, Jessica, and their young children.

Andrew D. Reder - SBCF Partner

Andrew Reder Serves as HCBA Seminar Moderator

SBCF Attorney Andrew D. Reder recently served as the moderator for “Accountant’s Perspective on Financial Affidavits and Use of Financial Experts,” a Hillsborough County Bar Association legal education seminar. Andrew is an active member of the HCBA and was elected by his peers to the Executive Council of the Marital and Family Law Section of the HCBA for the 2019-2022 term. We appreciate Andrew’s continued involvement in the Bay Area legal community.

Andrew Reder Serves as Seminar Moderator

Congratulations to Tami Bradley on One Year With SBCF

Please join us in congratulating Paralegal Tami Bradley, who today is celebrating one year with the firm. Tami has been a family law and business litigation paralegal and legal assistant for more than six years. She is a Florida Notary Public and licensed realtor who has worked in residential sales since 2002 and worked in commercial sales in from 2018 until joining SBCF. She also is a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit and was named 2018 Guardian Ad Litem of the Year.

Tami Bradley Work Anniversary

Caroline Black Sikorske Celebrates 31-Year SBCF Work Anniversary

Please join us in congratulating SBCF Shareholder Caroline Black Sikorske, who this week celebrates 31 years with the firm. Caroline is named among the Top 10 2020 Florida Super Lawyers, attorneys who received the highest points during the Super Lawyers nomination, research and review process. She is admitted to the prestigious International Academy of Family Lawyers, a worldwide association of practicing attorneys who are recognized by their peers as experienced and skilled family law specialists in their respective countries. She is a diplomate of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers, a select group of 100 top U.S. family lawyers who practice sophisticated and complex family law matters. She has been included in The Best Lawyers in America© in family law since 2006. She is Florida Bar Board Certified in Marital and Family Law, is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and is Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Peer-Review rated.

Caroline Black Sikorske

SBCF Honored With 13th Circuit Pro Bono Award

We are exceptionally proud to be honored with the 13th Judicial Circuit’s 2020 award for “Outstanding Pro Bono Service by a Law Firm.” Here are some excerpts from the award write-up:

“The firm’s founder, Stephen Sessums, instilled in the firm a dedication to pro bono involvement as a means to providing a rewarding and substantial impact on the community. In keeping with that tradition, the firm has been a consistent provider of pro bono in the community. In the past three years alone, Sessums Black has donated approximately 1,258 hours to Bay Area Legal Services.

“In 2019 alone, the firm provided over 335 hours to pro bono services. For example, firm attorney Jennifer Ficarrotta agreed to handle a pro bono custody case where the client could not find or keep counsel due to the opposing party’s threats of violence and bullying, including threats against counsel and the judiciary. Ms. Ficarrotta took on the case despite these challenges and her client ultimately prevailed. Other Sessums Black attorneys have devoted significant hours to pro bono causes, including representing children in foster care and serving as volunteer attorneys for Bay Area Legal Services.”

SBCF Partners Stephen Sessums, Caroline Black Sikorske, Alexander Caballero and Jennifer Ficarrotta attended the virtual awards presentation on behalf of the firm. Steve said, “It’s a great honor for us to receive the award. We accept it on behalf of not only the lawyers but the staff, who contribute as well. From the beginning, we have tried to create an environment in which public service of all kinds to the Bar and elsewhere has been a core value of the firm. We’re honored by this recognition.”

Click below to view the presentation ceremony on Facebook.

HCBA Pro Bono Awards Ceremony 2020

 

SBCF Celebrates Paralegals on National Paralegal Day

Today is National Paralegal Day and Paralegal Day in Florida, and we want to say a big thank you to our exceptional paralegal team: Michele C. Tawzer, Frank Steinbeck, Jr., Lorri Rowell and Tami L. Bradley. This day is an opportunity to recognize and appreciate the work of all paralegals in our state. We congratulate our paralegals for their hard work, professionalism and contributions to the Florida legal community. Learn more about the firm’s paralegals at sbcf-famlaw.com/paralegal-profiles.

National Paralegal Day 2020

Caroline Black Sikorske Attends AAML Florida Chapter Retreat

SBCF shareholder Caroline Black Sikorske and her husband, Jeff, recently attended the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers – AAML – Florida Chapter retreat and CLE in Savannah, Ga. Founded in 1962 to “promote the highest degree of professionalism and excellence” in family law, AAML members must be highly technically proficient in law, experienced, ethical and must commit to continued education to maintain excellence in family law. Fewer than 100 family law attorneys in Florida currently meet the stringent requirements needed to become an AAML member. We are proud that Caroline has been an AAML Florida member since 2002 and served as Florida Chapter president in 2012-13.

AAML FL Chapter Retreat

Michele Tawzer Celebrates 16-Year SBCF Work Anniversary

Congratulations to certified paralegal Michele Carpenter Tawzer, who last month celebrated 16 years with the firm. Michele is a Certified Paralegal through the National Association of Legal Assistants and a Florida Registered Paralegal through The Florida Bar. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of South Florida in 1999. She is an active member of the Tampa Bay Paralegal Association, Inc., whose mission includes setting the standard of excellence for the paralegal profession through its work on regulations, ethics and education. Michele has more than 25 years of family law litigation experience and devotes 100 percent of her practice to the area of marital and family law.

Michele Tawzer

Sterling Lovelady Presents to Tampa Bay Paralegal Association

SBCF attorney Sterling Lovelady made a virtual presentation on September 17 to the Tampa Bay Paralegal Association, Inc. titled “COVID-19: A Sword and Shield in Family Law Proceedings,” Sterling discussed the impact that COVID has had on our family law proceedings, what has changed and what we can learn from this experience. Sterling devotes 100 percent of his practice to marital and family law. (Screenshot credit: Frank Steinbeck, Jr.)

Sterling Lovelady Presents to TBPA

SBCF Partners are TBACP Members

SBCF partners Caroline Black Sikorske and Jennifer Ficarrotta are members of the Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals, a group of independent attorneys, neutral financials and neutral facilitators who focus on and commit to collaborative divorce. All professionals accepted to TBACP are selected based on rigorous training and extensive experience beyond normal professional requirements. Attorneys must have been practicing primarily in marital and family law for a minimum of 10 years and all professionals must be individually approved by the TBACP Board of Directors and by a vote of the general membership. In addition to their individual profession’s requirements, all TBACP members must undergo specialized training in the collaborative process and the associated negotiation techniques and must be members in good standing of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals

Sterling Lovelady Serves 3rd Year as Crossroads For Florida Kids Attorney Ad Litem

SBCF attorney Sterling Lovelady is serving for the third year as an Attorney Ad Litem for Crossroads For Florida Kids. Attorneys who volunteer for Crossroads handle complex legal representation for disadvantaged children and young adults in Hillsborough County. The need is great. If you are interested in becoming a Crossroads For Florida Kids pro bono attorney and helping children in our community who need legal advocates, contact Executive Director Rosemary Armstrong at rosemary@crossroadsfloridakids.org or call her at 813-873-7490.

Sterling R. Lovelady

Frank Steinbeck Jr. Celebrates SBCF Work Anniversary

SBCF Paralegal Frank Steinbeck Jr. this week celebrates eight years with the firm. Frank is a Florida Registered Paralegal through The Florida Bar and is a Florida Notary Public. Frank had more than five years of civil litigation paralegal experience when he joined the firm in 2012. He is an active member and current Treasurer of the Tampa Bay Paralegal Association, Inc., which strives to set the standard for excellence for the paralegal profession through its work on regulations, ethics, and education. Frank holds an Associate of Arts degree from Pasco-Hernando State College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Legal Studies from South University, an ABA-Approved Paralegal Education Program. Happy work anniversary, Frank!

Frank Steinbeck Jr.

SBCF Thanks Firm Administrator Paul Kanjorski

We’d like to give a shout-out to SBCF Firm Administrator Paul Kanjorski, who helps keep the firm on track with a wealth of knowledge and expertise from his 20-plus years of experience. Paul has managed financial, bookkeeping, administrative and human resource functions in various corporate settings, including law firms and other professional services. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History & Political Science from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania. He also has been honored as the 2018 Member of the Year by the Suncoast Chapter of ALA.

During his first two-and-a-half years, Paul has advanced the firm’s forward-thinking mentality by partnering the latest technology with the firm’s already compassionate and professional law practice. These efforts were tried during COVID-19 in March when the firm overnight moved 75 percent of its operations to remote. The technology was tested and performed almost seamlessly, allowing the firm to continue to serve its clients without disruption. Paul’s efforts, along with the full support of the firm’s leadership, are laying the foundation for the next 15 years of SBCF Law. Thank you, Paul, for being a key part of the SBCF team.

Paul Kanjorski

Sterling Lovelady Celebrates SBCF Work Anniversary

Congratulations to Sterling Lovelady, who this week is celebrating three years of working with the firm as an attorney. Sterling first worked with us as an intern in 2016 and assumed his full-time position as an attorney in 2017. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Florida State University, where he played as an offensive lineman for Florida State Seminoles Football. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law. Sterling is a member of The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division and the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar. He also serves as an Attorney Ad Litem—a volunteer attorney—for Crossroads For Florida Kids, a nonprofit organization that handles complex legal representation for disadvantaged children and young adults in Hillsborough County. Sterling devotes 100 percent of his practice to marital and family law.

Sterling R. Lovelady

SBCF Attorneys Maintain Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Rating

Sessums Black attorneys Stephen Sessums, Caroline Black Sikorske, Alexander Caballero, Jennifer Ficarrotta and Andrew D. Reder are rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale Hubbell, the highest peer-rating standard. This rating signifies that a large number of each lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence for legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards. This honor is a reflection of an attorney’s skill, experience, integrity, and overall professional excellence. We are extremely proud that these SBCF attorneys have achieved and maintained this prestigious rating. Learn more at martindale.com/ratings-and-reviews.

SBCF Attorneys Maintain Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings

Alex Caballero Serves Third, Two-Year Term on HCBA Board of Directors

We are proud that SBCF Managing Partner Alexander Caballero recently was sworn in for his third, two-year term as a member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association Board of Directors. Congratulations to these newly installed HCBA leaders:  Paige Greenlee of Greenlee Law PLLC is serving as 2020-21 President. Other officers are President-elect Cory Person of Hill Ward Henderson, Immediate Past President Grace Yang of GrayRobinson, P.A., Secretary Scott O. Stigall of the City of Tampa Attorney’s Office and Treasurer Amanda Porupski of Cbiz Mhm LLC. Best wishes to all for an excellent Bar year.

Alex Caballero

SBCF Team Members Celebrate Work Anniversaries

Please join us in congratulating these SBCF team members, who recently had work anniversaries with the firm: Managing Partner Alexander Caballero and scheduling administrative assistant Nelva Aleman celebrated 21 years in June and Partner Jennifer Ficarrotta celebrated nine years in July.

  • Alex is board certified in Marital and Family Law by The Florida Bar and holds Matrimonial Law Arbitrator Certification by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He is rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale Hubbell, is a fellow of the AAML and is listed in Best Lawyers in America. Recently, he was named to the 2020 lists of Top 100 Florida and Top 50 Tampa Bay Super Lawyers.
  • Nelva started working with us in 1988 and has rejoined the firm several times over the years. She also has served as Executive Director of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers – AAML – Florida Chapter, worked part-time at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa and enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom. Nelva is an integral part of SBCF and we are extremely lucky to have her as part of the team.
  • Jennifer is board certified by The Florida Bar in Marital and Family Law and is rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell. She is an active member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce Group. She also has been named to the list of Florida Super Lawyers for the eighth consecutive year.

SBCF Work Anniversaries

SBCF Attorneys Included in 2020 Florida Super Lawyers ‘Top’ Lists

Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Florida via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Florida lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Florida Super Lawyers Top Lists. We are extremely proud of Caroline Black Sikorske and Alexander Caballero, who are named to the lists of “Top 100: 2020 Florida Super Lawyers,” and “Top 50: 2020 Tampa Bay Super Lawyers.” In addition, Caroline is included on the lists of “Top 50: 2020 Women Florida Super Lawyers” and “Top 10: 2020 Florida Super Lawyers.” Congratulations to all of the attorneys statewide who are named to the Florida Super Lawyers “Top” lists.

2020 Super Lawyers "Top" Lists

Alex Caballero Continues Service on Florida Bar Professional Ethics Committee

We are pleased to announce that SBCF Managing Partner Alexander Caballero has been appointed by Florida Bar President-Elect Dori Foster-Morales to continue serving on The Florida Bar Professional Ethics Committee. The committee is charged with answering ethics inquiries from members of the Bar concerning attorneys’ proposed conduct, and it publishes formal advisory opinions to guide Bar members in interpreting and applying the ethics Congratulations, Alex, and thank you for your volunteer service to The Florida Bar and the statewide legal community.

Alex Caballero Professional Ethics Committee

Alex Caballero Starts Third HCBA Board Term

Congratulations to the Hillsborough County Bar Association and HCBA YLD 2020-21 boards of directors and officers, who were installed virtually on June 4. SBCF Managing Partner Alexander Caballero was sworn in for his third, two-year term as a member of the HCBA Board of Directors. Best wishes to our friends and colleagues who were installed in their leadership positions and thank you for your service to our local legal community.

HCBA June 4 Virtual Swearing In Ceremony

SBCF Attorneys Named to 2020 Florida SuperLawyers Lists

Congratulations to Caroline Black Sikorske, Alexander Caballero and Jennifer Ficarrotta, who have been named to the list of 2020 Florida Super Lawyers in the family law practice area and to Andrew D. Reder, who has been named to the list of Florida Rising Stars in family law.

Every year, Super Lawyers selects attorneys from throughout the United States from all firm sizes and more than 70 practice areas. Super Lawyers uses a patented, multiphase selection process that includes nominations, evaluation of candidates by the research department and peer evaluation by practice area. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. The objective of Super Lawyers is to create a “credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.”

2020 Florida Super Lawyers Lists

SBCF COVID-19 Statement

For the health and safety of our employees and clients, Sessums Black is adhering to the standards set forth in the White House Guidelines for Opening Up America Again.

Opening America Again

Andrew Reder Article Published in Family Law Section Commentator

Congratulations to SBCF attorney Andrew D. Reder on the publication of his article in a recent issue of the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar’s Family Law Commentator. Andrew’s article, “Third Party Considerations in Contempt & Enforcement Proceedings” discusses ways that certain contempt and enforcement proceedings require decisive action against third parties. Read the full article online.

Andrew D. Reder

Jennifer Ficarrotta Facilitates Grading for Marital & Family Law Board Certification Exams

SBCF partner Jennifer Ficarrotta serves as vice-chair of the nine-member Florida Bar Marital & Family Law Board Certification Committee, which reviews credentials for board certification applicants in that practice area, implements its standards, and administers and grades the Marital & Family Law certification exams. The committee has been grading the examinations that applicants took on March 13. Board certification evaluates attorneys’ special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in practice. Board-certified lawyers are evaluated for professionalism and tested for expertise. Jennifer earned Florida Bar Marital & Family Law board certification in 2015. Currently, only 273 attorneys are Florida Bar board-certified in Marital & Family Law.

Jennifer A. Ficarrotta

Alex Caballero is AAML Institute Presenter

SBCF Managing Partner Alexander Caballero was among the presenters at the prestigious 42nd Annual AAML Institute hosted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) Florida Chapter. The two-day Institute is a premier continuing legal education opportunity and the presenters are among the top in their fields offering advanced education for family law attorneys. On May 1, Alex presented “A 20/20 Perspective on Alimony and Child Support” with CPA Anthony Phillips.

Alex Caballero

Frank Steinbeck Jr. is TBPA Treasurer, Board Member

Congratulations to SBCF paralegal Frank Steinbeck, Jr., who is serving a four-year term as treasurer and as a board member for the Tampa Bay Paralegal Association, Inc. The TBPA’s mission is to set the standard for excellence for the paralegal profession through its work on regulations, ethics and education. Frank has been a Florida Registered Paralegal through The Florida Bar since 2012. He also is a member of the Knights of Columbus in New Port Richey. Frank joined SBCF in 2012 with more than five years of civil litigation experience. He now devotes 100 percent of his practice to marital and family law.

Frank Steinbeck Jr.

Sterling and Allison Lovelady Finalize Adoption of Their Son

Congratulations to SBCF attorney Sterling Lovelady and his wife, Allison, who are celebrating the adoption of their first child. Sterling and Allison finalized the adoption of their little boy, Zane Cole, on May 6—Zane’s second birthday. Zane has been a part of the Lovelady family since he was a few months old and now it’s official.

Lovelady Family Finalizes Adoption

Caroline Black Sikorske Presents at AAML Institute

SBCF partner Caroline Black Sikorske was a presenter on May 1 at the 42nd Annual AAML Institute hosted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) Florida Chapter. The Institute is a premier continuing legal education opportunity and the presenters are among the top in their fields offering advanced education for family law attorneys. Caroline spoke on “Mediation and the Art of Negotiation: How to Create Options that Lead to Closure” with attorneys Tami Sbar and Ky Koch. Congratulations to the AAML staff, who did a great job of hosting the Institute virtually.

Caroline Black Sikorske

Attorney Sam Branda is Engaged

We’re happy to announce that SBCF attorney Samantha Branda is engaged. Sam’s boyfriend, Jordan Koko, proposed on May 2—which would have been Kentucky Derby Day—and we are very excited for the happy couple.

Sam moved to the Tampa Bay area in January 2020 from her hometown of Naples, where she was practicing law since she was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2012. Sam previously was an associate attorney for the Marshall Law Office and was an Assistant Public Defender for the 20th Judicial Circuit. She earned her J.D. degree from NSU Shepard Broad College of Law and her B.A. degree in creative writing from Florida State University. In Naples, she was active in the Collier County Bar Association and the Collier County Women’s Bar Association and volunteered for Legal Aid. She is a new member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association and plans to be involved locally in more organizations.

Sam Branda Engagement

SBCF Attorneys Maintain Florida Bar Board Certification

We are very proud that SBCF attorneys Caroline Black Sikorske, Alexander Caballero and Jennifer Ficarrotta are among only 273 lawyers statewide who are board-certified by The Florida Bar in marital and family law. All have maintained board certification since earning the designation in their respective years: Caroline (1995), Alex (2004) and Jennifer (2015).

Board certification recognizes attorneys’ special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in practice. Certification is The Florida Bar’s highest level of evaluation of the competency and experience of attorneys in the 27 areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida. Learn more about Florida Bar marital and family law board certification.

Florida Bar Board Certification

SBCF Attorneys are Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals Members

Several SBCF attorneys are members of the Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals, a nonprofit association of independent attorneys, neutral financials and neutral facilitators with a focus on collaborative divorce. Professionals who are selected have training and experience beyond normal professional requirements and must undergo specialized training in the collaborative process. Caroline Black Sikorske, Alex Caballero and Jennifer Ficarrota hold membership in TBACP. Instead of a traditional court-based divorce, collaborative divorce typically takes less time, costs less money and limits the children’s exposure to the stress of divorce.

Tampa Bay Academy of Collaborative Professionals

SBCF Partners Will Present at AAML Institute

SBCF partners Caroline Black Sikorske and Alex Caballero will be presenters at the 42nd Annual AAML Institute hosted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers – AAML – Florida Chapter. The April 30-May 1 Institute is a premier continuing legal education opportunity and the presenters are among the top in their fields offering advanced education for family law attorneys. Caroline will present “Mediation and the Art of Negotiation: How to Create Options that Lead to Closure” with attorneys Tami Sbar and Ky Koch. Alex is presenting “A 20/20 Perspective on Alimony and Child Support” with CPA Anthony Phillips. Congratulations to Caroline and Alex for being selected to participate in this prestigious CLE event.

42nd Annual AAML Institute

Andrew D. Reder Earns Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating

Congratulations to SBCF attorney Andrew D. Reder, who has earned a Martindale-Hubbell® “AV Preeminent®” Peer Review Rating. In its peer-review process, Martindale-Hubbell conducts a thorough review of attorneys who wish to receive a Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating through a secure online survey where a lawyer’s ethical standards and legal ability in a specific area of practice are assessed by his or her peers. AV Preeminent® is the highest Martindale-Hubbell peer-rating standard and is given to attorneys who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills and ethical standards by their peers. Approximately 10 percent of attorneys have earned the AV Preeminent® rating. Learn more at martindale.com/ratings-and-reviews.

Andrew Reder Earns Martindale=Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating

SBCF COVID-19 Statement

Given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations regarding social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak, SBCF is taking every precaution to ensure that our office and employees adhere to recommended health and safety guidelines. Starting on Monday, March 23, the firm’s associate attorneys and paralegals will work remotely, and the remainder of the staff will reduce in-office hours whenever possible. Our business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and calls to the office will be answered during normal work hours. The SBCF team has the capability to continue to represent our clients in an effective manner during this time. Each of us is available by email, and our contact information is online at sbcf-famlaw.com/contact-us. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we focus our efforts on maintaining a safe work environment for our employees, our clients and their families.

SBCF Logo

Samantha Branda Joins SBCF as Associate Attorney

Please join us in welcoming attorney Samantha “Sam” Branda to the SBCF team. Sam moved to the Tampa Bay area in January 2020 from her hometown of Naples, where she has been practicing law since she was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2012. Sam previously was an associate attorney for the Marshall Law Office and was an Assistant Public Defender for the 20th Judicial Circuit. She earned her J.D. degree from NSU Shepard Broad College of Law and her B.A. degree in creative writing from Florida State University. In Naples, she was active in the Collier County Bar Association and the Collier County Women’s Bar Association and volunteered for Legal Aid. She is a new member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association and plans to be involved locally in more organizations. Welcome aboard, Sam!

Samantha Branda