Honorable Kathleen Roberts
University of Florida
University of Florida (Double Gator!)
How long have you been practicing law?
Since 1993, sworn into the Bar September 1993 a couple months’ shy of my 23 birthday.
Why did you want to be an attorney?
Well…. It really wasn’t that I wanted to be an attorney if I am being completely honest. I have always wanted to be a judge, and the only way from here to there was to be an attorney first. My grandfather was a federal judge and I remember sitting in the courtroom when he was sworn in, although at the time I didn’t really understand what was happening. I loved my grandfather as a grandfather first, and from that little girl idolization it grew into wanting to be a judge like him. (Fortunately, I did find that I loved being an attorney on my road here!)
What do you like most about it?
Being a judge is everything I expected and more. What I like most is that as a county court judge I get to watch fresh out of law school new Bar members develop into attorneys right before my eyes. That is my favorite part.
What don’t you like? “Back in the day” it was a common practice for young lawyers to go back to the judge’s office and talk about the practice of law and where the attorneys might improve. Some of my most valuable lessons were sitting next to the Assistant Public Defender at lunch or back in our Judge’s office while he critiqued how we did on last week’s trial. While I embraced that tradition of learning and teaching, over the years sadly it has gone by the wayside.
What are the biggest changes you have seen through the years?
The absolute dependency on technology.
How do you define success?
Raising independent children who have lives and careers all of their own, while being able to do a job that I love.
Who Inspires you? My three girls. They have a mom who is a judge and a dad who is an engineer… and none of them have pursued those paths. They each have their own interests and are pursuing careers wildly different than ours.
Who has been the most influential person in your career?
My grandfather because of his passion for the law, but also my husband who has supported me in this lifelong commitment to public service.
If you could choose anyone as a mentor, who would you choose? Judge James Sloan of the 20th Circuit, who was my first mentor as I became an attorney.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Don’t focus on the horizon so intently that you miss what is happening right in front of you. (A take on the missing the forest for the trees analogy)
What advice would you give to someone looking to become an attorney?
If all you are good at is arguing, then you are missing the point. You have to be able to listen and understand the other side as well. Sometimes, the best lawyer is the one that is best at negotiation and mediation.
If you weren’t an attorney, what would you be doing?
Teaching high school algebra.
If you could switch places with someone for a day, who would it be?
I really have no idea.
What’s on your bucket list?
It’s pretty empty right now of end goal things. We did get to the Kentucky Derby this year which was a bucket list item- highly recommend.If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would love to see where my family came from in Scotland way back…. But that would mean finding where that was as legend has it they fled to this country when a horse “trading” went bad….
If you could have dinner with any person, alive, dead or fictional, who would it be and where would you go?
My best friend Lisa who was killed in a car crash right after high school graduation. I would like to be able to walk the beach with her again like we did practically every Sunday afternoon our junior and senior year in high school. We’d probably just grab a sandwich somewhere or eat it on the beach.
What is something about you (a fun fact) that not many people don’t know about you?
I am the one that did love math in school!