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Meet Sandra Krumbein of Shutts & Bowen in Downtown Miami

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandra Krumbein.

So, before we jump into specific questions about what you do, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in Argentina and migrated to the United States in 1966 when I was a small child with my parents and brother. I still have family in Argentina as well as in England, where my mother was born.  Until moving to Miami in 1997, I lived mostly in the New York area.  I am a true New Yorker at heart.

Law is a second career for me. I started my professional career in New York City as a Certified Social Worker working with older adolescents in the foster care system. I loved being a social worker, helping vulnerable children and families. However, after moving to Florida, I was faced with the reality that I could not support myself and my daughter on a social work salary in Florida. My master’s degree in social work did not translate the same in Florida as it did in New York as far as job “earning” opportunities because the social welfare system is not as fully developed here, and at that time, being a single mother, I knew I needed to make a change for both myself and my daughter.

I vividly remember one instance as a social worker involving a meeting with a guardian ad litem and one of my foster children where the attorney clearly didn’t know the case or the factors at play. To be honest, I was a little taken aback and disheartened by the whole process, and it got me thinking that I would be more effective in helping people as an attorney.  I decided to take the LSAT in 1998 and enrolled in Nova Southeastern University Law School with a full scholarship in 1999, going to school full time while also raising my 3-year-old daughter as a single parent. I thank my mother, who was also living in Miami and who helped me look after my daughter, while I was in law school.  Despite the parenting demands on me at this time, I managed to graduate law school second in my class.  I was recruited by Ruden McClosky in 2002 to work in family law.

After only three months in family law, I discovered social work and family law had little in common and I was not happy as a family law litigator.  As a result, I decided to try a totally different industry—real estate. I started working in the real estate department, specifically in condo development, in 2003 at Ruden, right as the real estate market was heating up.  I was made a partner at Ruden in six years when the partner track was typically a seven-year process.  I remained at Ruden until 2011.

I left Ruden in 2011 to join Shutts & Bowen as a partner which is where I continue to practice law today. I have built my entire professional career on my own, from the ground up, and consider myself a better lawyer, mother and person because of my “self-made” path.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It certainly hasn’t been a smooth road, but those challenges made me who I am. As a single mother for most of my daughter’s life, I tried to put an emphasis on being a role model for her to look up to and admire. My entire perspective was based on me wanting to give my daughter and me a better life, a secure future.

When I decided to go to law school, with only tuition covered by the scholarship, my biggest concern was not being able to pay for living expenses for me and my daughter. This was 1999, she was three years old and I was a single mom facing some of the most challenging times of my life. Growing up myself with a single mom for many of my formative childhood years, I understood what it took to become successful the hard way. I pushed myself to always find my means to an end and was able to support my way through law school as I did my entire education. I have an undergraduate degree from New York University in Philosophy and master’s degree in Social Work is from Columbia University.  These educational accomplishments are some of my proudest achievements.

After law school, I had to put in the time and effort to succeed in the practice of law, which in the large law firm environment meant working long hours and striving for partnership.  One of the most overwhelming hurdles I had to overcome was balancing work and parenting. I worked hard to develop my expertise, build my client base and reputation —all while juggling school events, dinner times and afterschool programs.  When I wasn’t working, I was with my daughter.  Thankfully, she always understood that if I was not with her, it was because I was working to give us a better and secure financial future.

So no, the road was not smooth. I had to work hard to pay for my education, be a good mother, be a good role model, study hard and educate myself to become a successful lawyer. My daughter is now a successful adult in her own right, and I am proud to have worked hard to give her that opportunity. It was a hard road but a worthwhile pay off to see her grow into the woman she is today.

Please tell us about Shutts & Bowen – what should we know?
Shutts & Bowen is one of Florida’s oldest law firms, established in Miami in 1910. We are a full-service business law firm with more than 300 lawyers in offices in Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

At Shutts, I practice commercial real estate law, with an emphasis on condominium and planned development law. I saw the massive real estate boom starting in 2003 and knew that’s where my career would have longevity. I am Florida Bar Board Certified in Condominium and Planned Development Law and, in fact, I am Chair of The Florida Bar’s Advanced Condominium and Planned Development Certification Review Committee. I am also a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL), an Executive Council member of the Real Property and Probate Trust Law Section (“RPPTL”) of the Florida Bar and an active member of several RPPTL committees.  I truly love my work.

I am most proud of being part of such a well-established and well-regarded law firm, and to be colleagues with some of the most recognized attorneys in the State of Florida. Also, with almost 300 attorneys located in eight offices throughout the State of Florida, Shutts offers me the ability to provide my clients with a full range of legal services.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Qualities and strong values are extremely important to me. Being hardworking and dedicated is a characteristic I am most proud of as I pushed myself to excel at all levels of my education and career. This trait allowed me to succeed early on in my educational pursuits, as a student, a social worker and in my career as an attorney. As a social worker, I honed my people skills. I brought my people skills to my legal career, allowing me to relate to my clients on a more personal level.  I believe this skill sets me apart from other lawyers, allowing me to be a highly effective advocate for my clients.

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