Leslie Kroeger isn’t bashful about her enthusiasm for her area of expertise.
The Palm Beach Gardens-based attorney serves as the co-chair of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll’s complex tort litigation practice group and was recently sworn in as president of the Florida Justice Association for 2019 through 2020. She’s been a member of the consumer advocacy group for nearly two decades, and once she starts talking about her time with the association and its pursuit, it’s easy to see why Kroeger’s peers chose her to take the helm.
“The mission of the FJA is to strengthen and uphold the civil justice system,” the Cohen Milstein partner said. “We look to do everything we can to make sure that citizens of Florida are protected, that citizens have access to the courtroom if they need it, and that individuals are on equal footing, to the extent that it’s possible, with large corporations or insurance companies.”
Kroeger doesn’t take a moment to pause when cataloging the association’s myriad undertakings, which include educating attorneys and law students on the procedures and state of Florida’s civil justice system, and lobbying the Florida Legislature for victims’ rights.
“I feel passionate about it,” she said. “I think it is an amazing mission that we have, [although] it’s not always easy.”
Kroeger’s path to assuming leadership of the more than 50-year-old organization has been far from straightforward. It has taken the New Orleans native everywhere from Tennessee and Alabama to all across Florida. Although she’s close to reaching her 20th anniversary of residing and working in the West Palm Beach area, Kroeger’s career hasn’t always been marked with the certainty she enjoys in her current home and practice. However, the resolve to work in the legal profession, regardless of the specifics, has been a constant of Kroeger’s life from an early age.
“I think high school really had made that decision for me,” she said. After becoming involved with a legal explorer program, Kroeger found herself fascinated with the world of litigation. “I didn’t have any lawyers in my family, but, I really took to [the program] and it was really formative for me. They got us into the courtroom, explained all different types of law and trial law, and that set me on the path there.”
Kroeger pursued her undergraduate studies at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville before enrolling at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama.
“I finished my four-year degree in three years because I knew at that point I wanted to go to law school,” she said
As a law student, Kroeger interned with a criminal court judge in addition to working alongside a former district attorney now employed with the public defender’s office outside of Birmingham. She said both experiences were pivotal in expanding her understanding of how courtrooms operate as well as how attorneys succeed within them.
“Not much of law school has anything to do with real life, and certainly not being in a courtroom unless you go through the trial advocacy program,” she said, adding her criminal court clerkship proved invaluable for explaining “courtroom procedures, picking a jury, fairness and unfairness, and just how a bias can creep in.”
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