Congratulations Michael O'Rourke

Michael O’Rourke is a claimant’s attorney in Jacksonville. He has been representing claimants there since I can remember. He was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1991. I can recall practicing against Mr. O’Rourke on various occasions, and in my experience he was zealous, but consistently among the most professional attorneys in what was a fairly close-knit Jacksonville workers’ compensation bar.

I have written before in this space about the Inns of Court movement. The Inns are focused on admirable subjects like professionalism, collegiality, and mentorship. In an Inn of Court, experienced attorneys and judges mentor less experienced attorneys who are newer to the practice. It is a movement that encourages and promotes positive aspects of the practice of law. The E. Robert Williams Inn of Court in Jacksonville is dedicated to the practice of workers’ compensation.

Mr. O’Rourke is a founding member of the Williams Inn. He has been a leader with the Friends of 440 Scholarship Fund. In 2013, Mr. O’Rourke led a delegation of the Williams inn on a visit to Inns of Court in England and Ireland.

Each year, the Williams Inn presents a professionalism award, the John J. Schickel Professionalism Award. Most Section members are familiar with Jake Schickel. This award named in his honor is the highest award that the Williams Inn bestows. At their December 2013 meeting, they awarded this honor to Michael O’Rourke in recognition of his dedication to professionalism. He joins an elite and exclusive circle of former recipients, Douglas Myers Jr. and Ben Samuels.

The presentation of this award is a great recognition of Michael O’Rourke, the Inn movement generally, and the Williams Inn specifically. Recognizing and rewarding professionalism is critical if we as attorneys hope that professionalism will spread.

The practice of law is full of a myriad of challenges. There are so many obstacles to effective litigation on behalf of clients. There are interactions with other professions who do not understand or respect what attorneys do. There are time constraints imposed by laws and circumstances. There are emotional effects that come from dealing with people whose lives have been changed by some injury or event, sometimes profoundly.

In this environment, with all of its challenges, the last thing attorneys need is to have to deal with, and suffer from, other attorneys who are not professional. We all know what it means to be professional, to disagree without being disagreeable. That is not always easy. Emotions can become involved. I have seen even the best of us have bad days.

 Congratulations Mr. O’Rourke on this recognition! I hope that you and the other Schickel Award recipients, and the whole Inn, continue your efforts to develop and mentor professionalism. It is efforts like these that will develop and encourage a working environment that can sustain the effective and professional representation of the injured workers and the employers for whom they work. We cannot prevent all injuries, or all disagreements. We can deal with each other professionally and effectively when those disagreements bring us to opposite sides of the table.


To disagree is human, to avoid being disagreeable in the process is professional.

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