In Florida, you can’t drive a mile without seeing a billboard plastered with the faces of local attorneys. Lawyers are a dime a dozen in the Florida region. In 2015, the Tampa Bay Times reported that “Tampa Bay leads the nation in number of lawyer ads on TV,” followed closely by Orlando.
According to a 2018 report by the American Bar Association, Florida boasts over 78,000 lawyers, up 30% in the past 10 years. No wonder we see so many ads. One might wonder why there are so many advertisements for lawyers in the Florida region, especially for injury and class action attorneys. Could it be the number of car accidents, which equated to over 1,000 per day in 2018? Could it be Florida’s aging population that is more prone to fall risk or health complications? Or on the job injuries?
Whatever the reason, the onslaught of advertising makes it even more difficult to find a lawyer that is honest, has the client’s best interests in mind, and puts their profession over the dollar. Too many lawyers in today’s fast-paced marketing world too often put personal financial goals over client needs. And then there’s Lindsey Sheppy with GBY Associates.
Born in Chicago (a Cubs fan for life), Sheppy moved to Sarasota, Florida with her family when she was seven. After graduating from high school, she went to Manatee Community College for a short while focused on obtaining a degree in Occupational Therapy and pursuing her love of basketball. But then, a new love derailed her plans when she met her girlfriend.
Sheppy and her girlfriend moved to St Petersburg to get jobs, pursue careers, and enjoy a change of scenery.
Sheppy landed a job with a medical billing company. In its infancy, the company owned two mobile MRI units that rotated throughout hospitals at a time when most hospitals couldn’t afford their own MRI units. As the company grew, so did Sheppy’s role in the company. She progressed into a marketing role for her company’s MRI center, and eventually into a position as the compliance officer. In this role, she began exploring the legal aspects affecting the medical industry. In both her working and personal time, she began to lobby for her industry at both the State and Federal level.
While working full time, Sheppy had returned to college and entered the college of business at USF to pursue a degree in Economics. “I read an article in the St Pete Times that said the majority of Americans don’t understand basic economic principals. So, I achieved a degree in economics, with Honors, which was a good undergrad focus for law school.” This degree would be the next step in pursuing her ultimate career goal, as she eventually hoped to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a lawyer.
During her lobbying work, Sheppy grew to have a greater understanding and respect for Congress, the legislative process, and the power people can yield through lobbying. “If you really want to effectuate change,” Sheppy said, “then you become a lawmaker. If you don’t want to become a lawmaker, you can impact your representatives as a local advocate or attorney.”
Around 2005, the MRI business began to face difficulties with new medical laws, like the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. These legal changes motivated Sheppy to become an advocate for her industry and fueled her desire to lobby. Then, medical laws snowballed and began to affect every medical specialty. Due to these changes, Sheppy decided to make a major change in her life and to chase her dream to become a lawyer.
While working full time in the medical field, Sheppy attended Gulfport’s Stetson Law School. In 2016, Sheppy achieved her dream and became a licensed attorney in Florida. Shortly after graduation, Sheppy joined the GBY Law team in St. Petersburg, which immediately felt like family. Three of the five attorneys that make up GBY Law are gay and lesbian.
Sheppy’s devotion to GBY and the clients she serves are unmatched. “The neat thing about this firm is that two of the partners have over 40 years of experience in Personal Injury Law and Ian Gómez has over 25 years of experience in Criminal Defense. It’s such an awesome mentor scenario. When I work with clients who trust and know me well enough to bring their legal issues to me, they also know I have this wealth of experience supporting me.”
Working in the field of Personal Injury law gives Sheppy the opportunity to work within and give back to the community that has supported her throughout her journey.
GBY supports many community centered organizations, many specifically supporting the LGBTQ community in our area. “I loved being a part of the Pride Parade and Pride festival through GBY. Our firm also supports other St. Pete Pride events, Equality Florida and the LGBT Welcome Center in St. Petersburg.”
In addition to her firm’s community outreach, she also appreciates the teamwork that permeates through GBY. “We work all of our cases together as a team. We have the financial resources to keep all of our cases in house. Meaning, we don’t farm out litigation. I appreciate being able to be with my clients from the beginning to the end of their case.” I could not be happier with the decision I made to go to law school, to go through the blood sweat and tears of the process. It feels good to feel fulfilled.”
When it comes to marketing her Florida practice, Sheppy has a different approach than those in her industry. She gets involved in her community and seeks out referrals. She relies heavily on word of mouth referrals, just as successful lawyers did before billboards and TV advertisements took center stage. “I like being someone a person can turn to in a bad or confusing situation. It’s important to me to be accessible to my clients.”
Sheppy also brings with her a wealth of connections that assist her clients. “From working in the medical field for so many years, I know the doctors in this area and I have access to the doctors. If I have a question about a client, I can just call up the doctor and talk to them, which isn’t always so easy.”
The legal industry keeps Sheppy motivated, too. “You get a rush out of meeting new clients, settling cases, and helping people. And I love being part of a team. I also enjoy hiring law clerks from Stetson, which keeps fresh in my mind what it took for me to get here.”
When asked about her most challenging and/or memorable case, Sheppy shares about her first client. ” I was working for GBY part time. I started here on a Monday. One of my best friends got in a car accident on the prior Friday and so I brought her in as a client. The case took about a year and half to settle. The pressure I felt to do well for a friend was overwhelming. I cried more than they did when it finally settled.”
She learned a lot during this case about being a better advocate to her clients. “The most interesting thing about having my first case be a friend, it showed me what an injury case client goes through on a daily basis. How much it can change them. How hard it can be. It allowed me the experience to apply with other clients when answering difficult questions like, ‘When will pain go away?’ or ‘What about my outstanding medical bills?'”
One service that Sheppy provides at no cost is an auto policy review. “There’s nothing worse than bringing in a client who is hurt that has been hit by someone who doesn’t have Bodily Injury Coverage and our client doesn’t have or Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance. I appreciate the opportunity to review people’s insurance policies before they really need it!”
Outside of work, Sheppy makes it a point to be supportive to the LGBT community and active in the St Petersburg region. “Whether it be supporting Equality Florida, or sitting on the board of the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber, I sponsor the LGBT Welcome Center, attend Social Women in Motion (SWIM)events, and love getting involved. I’m so proud of St Petersburg. I’ve seen it grow up along with me. I used to ride my bike back and forth to school when I attended USF. Now I get to see the downtown area and Grand Central in all of its glory. And now that I own property here, it’s even more exciting. I go to Ribfest, the orchestra, Main Sail Art Festival, Saturday Morning Market, and more. And the restaurants and live entertainment in this area are amazing.”
Sheppy feels blessed that she didn’t have to leave St. Petersburg as her career evolved. “The Tampa Bay Area is full of opportunity for those willing to chase their dreams!”
To learn more about Lindsey Sheppy and GBY & Associates, click here.