Half of Firm’s Attorneys Are Barry Law School Grads
Three Alumni Are Partners; Eight Others Are Associates
There are a multitude of Barry Law School diplomas hanging on the walls at the Florida law firm of Pearson Bitman LLP. Nearly half of the attorneys at the firm are Barry grads … bringing their Barry Law relationships, Barry Law experiences and even a Barry Law textbook or two to the firm. Three grads are partners – Allison Morat (’12), Christopher O’Brien (’12), and Julie Tyk (’10) – and eight other Barry alumni are associates.
Managing partner Karl Pearson and co-founder Ronnie Bitman note the quality and the acumen that Barry grads possess, enabling Barry alums to stand out as early as the interview process. “We’ve had tremendous success with picking who our future stars will be,” says Bitman. “The school should be very proud. Every Barry grad we’ve hired has been a tremendous success and they’ve each helped boost our firm to tremendous levels. They’ve all become ‘go-to’ attorneys in their respective fields.”
Those fields at Pearson Bitman – which handles a wide variety of commercial litigation – include banking / finance / foreclosure matters, product liability defense, breach of warranty defense, insurance / subrogation, premises liability, personal injury / wrongful death defense and construction law. “We’re very glad to have Barry Law as a feeder school so that we can continue plucking gems from among the school’s grads,” says Bitman. “They all have good practical knowledge and experience gained at Barry Law, and they all have the desire to succeed, do well, and be the best at what they do.”
The firm’s three Barry alum partners also give significant credit to the Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law for shaping their respective journeys toward successful legal careers at Pearson Bitman.
Morat has an affinity for legal writing and language, dating back to her time as editor of her high school newspaper before earning a BA in English Lit and a minor in Criminology from the University of South Florida. After college, she entered the world of law by working as a legal assistant for several years before enrolling at Barry Law.
“I had really great professors at Barry that helped shape the attorney I am today,” Morat says. “My legal research and writing professor was top-notch and I also had excellent contracts and commercial law professors. In my third year of law school, I took a motions and depositions class that helped push me outside my comfort zone. I still carry valuable advice with me today that I received from my professor in that class.”” Overall, Morat says her Barry experiences “gave me a certain amount of confidence that I really could do this lawyer thing. I also realized that I could accomplish big things by setting goals and working hard.”
After passing the bar, Morat began working as an associate in a law firm with Karl Pearson and Ronnie Bitman, who soon formed their own firm and brought Morat with them as an associate. Today, as a Pearson Bitman partner, she focuses on appellate law as her main practice area, handling appeals in all five of Florida’s district courts of appeal.
And, she’s still using that love of writing and the legal writing skills she honed at Barry. “Being an appellate lawyer, legal research and writing are so important,” she says. “In fact, I still regularly use my bluebook from my Barry legal research and writing class. Because I enjoy reading, researching, and writing so much you might call me a case law nerd. I like to read the law in the same way others enjoy reading books or magazines. I also keep my civil procedure book from Barry – tabbed, highlighted, and marked up – on my desk to this day. Other attorneys used to make fun of me for it, but now they ask to borrow the book on occasion.”
Based on her own successful experience, Morat has some advice for current Barry law students. “Figure out what you are uniquely good at and fine-tune that skill. Read. Work harder than the person next to you. But also enjoy the experience. Make connections with people. Some of my best memories are from Barry Law. I met my husband there, and some good friends too. In fact, one of my closest friends from law school is also an attorney here at Pearson Bitman.”
O’Brien graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland with degrees in English and History and then worked for several years in the IT area of a Fortune 500 company before deciding on a new direction – taking the LSAT. “When I received the positive results in July,” he recalls, “most law schools were closed for fall admission, especially schools in the area like Rutgers and Seton Hall. But Barry had recently opened their night program and my parents lived right down the road.” So, O’Brien enrolled at Barry and after that first semester he says he “fell in love with Central Florida.” He’s been a Floridian ever since.
At Barry, O’Brien became involved with the Juvenile Life Without Parole Defense Resource Center, was a delegate to the Environmental Responsibility Committee and was the founding Secretary of the Energy Club. He was also awarded the book award in Trial Advocacy and assisted attorneys across the state in the aftermath of the Graham decision.
“I enjoyed many of the professors and classes at Barry,” O’Brien recalls. “I can say without question that being completely prepared – and confident – for the bar exam was the best help for my career.”
O’Brien’s positive experience during law school also translates into some advice for current Barry students. “Get experience!” he urges. “Internships, part time jobs, even volunteering. Start building relationships now. Also, go and observe hearings and trials. You will learn a ton.”
After graduating from Barry Law, O’Brien began his career in a general civil practice focusing on foreclosure defense, family law, bankruptcy, and eviction. He then worked at a large Orlando firm specializing in default services, before moving to Pearson Bitman through a referral from a friend.
Today, as a Pearson Bitman partner and Consumer Finance Litigation Manager, O’Brien is focused on residential real estate transactions and foreclosure litigation for the firm. He also tries to be as involved as possible in the legal community. “I like to think of justice or social justice as a proper mind frame for approaching each and every case to ensure I do my part to obtain the most just result,” he says.
After earning a BA in legal studies from SUNY University of Buffalo, Tyk was a legal assistant for four years and then worked as a paralegal for five years in the areas of medical malpractice, personal injury, product liability, aviation and wrongful death cases. Then, she enrolled at Barry. “Barry Law School helped me learn the law and how to think like a lawyer,” she says.
While at Barry, Tyk also became involved in a number of student activities as a member of the Trial Team, the Law Review and the Women Lawyers Association. Additionally, she was a law clerk for in-house counsel at one of Orlando’s largest hospital systems.
Based on her Barry experiences, Tyk has some advice for today’s law students. “Study hard and take advantage of internships during your last year of study. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek out a mentor,” she encourages.
After graduation and passing the bar, Tyk began her career as an assistant state attorney for Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orange county. She was soon recruited by a local medical malpractice defense firm, and worked there several years before moving to a large Orlando firm in the Health Law Department. Next, she moved to another Orlando firm where she gained experience defending product liability and aviation matters before joining Pearson Bitman in April of 2018 as a partner.
As Pearson Bitman’s newest partner, Tyk’s practice is concentrated on medical malpractice, transportation litigation, premises liability, insurance defense, product liability, general business litigation and health care. She represents physicians, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, nurses and other health care providers across the state of Florida in matters involving professional liability, risk management, general liability and premises liability.
MORE BARRY CONNECTIONS
In addition to the three Barry alumni who are partners at Pearson Bitman, there are eight other Barry Law grads who are integral members of the firm’s team as associate attorneys.
Brian Shank (’04)
Shank joined Barry’s inaugural class and graduated in 2004. Shank is a Senior Associate at Pearson Bitman LLP, and is Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Construction Law. Shank’s practice comprises complex multi-party construction litigation on behalf of design professionals, contractors, and material suppliers. He has a special emphasis on the representation of multi-national modular space providers in commercial and construction litigation.
Ronnie Syme (’08)
At Barry, Syme was part of the Children and Family Clinic where she represented children in dependency court. She also received the Barry Achievement in Civil Excellence Fellowship for her work with Orange county’s Guardian Ad Litem Program.
Today, as attorney of counsel at Pearson Bitman, Syme focuses her time in the area of criminal defense.
Courtney Crossland (’10)
Crossland’s practice focuses on representing design professionals in complex construction litigation, complex personal injury and wrongful death claims.
Her practice also includes representation of multi-national mobile space providers in commercial and collections litigation.
Morgan Bates (’12)
Bates is nationally certified in acoustical physics, Abdomen, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Breast sonography.
She currently practices real property law, contract law, and commercial litigation.
Meghan Keane (’12)
At Barry, Keane participated in the Children and Families Clinic where she served as appointed counsel in several delinquency and dependency proceedings and went on to receive the book award for the class.
Today, she practices real property law with an interest in plaintiff’s foreclosure work.
Kristen Crescenti (’13)
Crescenti concentrates in litigation, and is experienced in all stages of civil litigation, which includes trial and appellate practice in state and federal courts.
Teris McGovern (’14)
McGovern handles various matters at Pearson Bitman, including complex commercial litigation, contested consumer financial services litigation, deceptive and unfair trade practice actions, and landlord-tenant and eviction actions.
Nicole McKee Barkett (’15)
Barkett graduated magna cum laude from Barry Law, where she served as the Executive Editor of Law Review. Barkett’s practice currently consists of attorney’s fee matters and residential foreclosure.