West Palm Beach Bankruptcy Attorney Receives Teaching Honor

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West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorney Craig Kelley was recently named the Adjunct Professor of the Year at Palm Beach State College, an honor which Kelley says makes him a more effective attorney.

West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorney Craig Kelley’s accolades span far beyond the courtroom, and now Palm Beach State College Adjunct Professor of the year can be added to his long list of accomplishments.

When the dean entered Kelley’s classroom recently and announced to the class that there was a problem, Kelley said he was taken by surprise. However, the real surprise came when he and his students were informed that the “problem” was that Kelley had been named Adjunct Professor of the Year.

“It’s truly an added bonus when you’re recognized for something you love to do,” Kelley said.

Kelley is what many would call a lifelong learner, something which he believes sets him apart as an attorney. As those in the industry know, attorneys are required to obtain hours towards continuing legal education every three years. For Florida attorneys, that means 30 hours spent attending classes and seminars. While Kelley could count the class he teaches towards his CLE requirement, he said it’s unnecessary. Outside of his classroom, Kelley easily reaches upwards of 60 hours in continued education. It is for that very reason that Kelley holds that his love for learning (and, of course, teaching) serves as an exponential benefit for his clients.

“A firm run by a professor is one that clients can count on because they know that I’ll always be on top of the latest news and trends in the industry,” Kelley said. “I’d be doing them and my students a disservice, otherwise.”

Kelley started teaching at Palm Beach State College in 1989, shortly after completing law school, but his experience in teaching goes back even further. During Kelley’s junior year of college, he took a class with Dr. Stuart Schwartz. He enjoyed it so much that he sought out a teacher’s assistant position for the course the following year, and was appointed head TA. When Schwartz was called on to serve as fire chief, Kelley took the lead in teaching the remainder of the course, which focused on various disabilities. Kelley said he replicated Schwartz’s teaching style, which helped mold his own teaching style.

“When students learned about something like blindness, they were then instructed to explore the campus with a blindfold on,” Kelley said. “It’s a teaching style I’d never experienced before, and it resonated with me.”

In Kelley’s classroom, less than half of his time is spent lecturing. As for the other half? Kelley’s students spend it actually doing what they were lectured about. Kelley said this allows students to leave his class with the ability to obtain a job in the industry because they’ve gained the necessary experience. Additionally, Kelley makes a point of incorporating real life examples into every lesson, and as a practicing attorney he has plenty of knowledge on the subject.

According to Kelley, his teaching style was also impacted during his time in law school, where courses were primarily taught with the Socratic method. Kelley utilizes the Socratic debate in his own classroom, encouraging students to incorporate their own opinions into lessons by way of probing questions on the part of the teacher, as well as providing his own take on lecture topics. Kelley holds that this methodology is key when teaching law, since a main concept in the practice of law is that differing opinions will have an impact in every case.

Kelley said his role in the classroom has yielded excellent results in the courtroom, not only for his clients but for other lawyers as well. He said there are several attorneys who come to him with their own questions about the law, and believe it or not, he’s happy to answer them. The payoff for his clients comes not just through the benefit of having an attorney who utilizes the latest legal principles in his practice, but also through being represented by someone who is held in high regard by others in the legal industry.

“Judges respect my background,” Kelley said. “When I present them with something, they know they can trust that I’ve done the research first.”

When it comes to expanding his knowledge of the industry, Kelley has no plans of slowing down. If you ask him, learning is a never-ending process.

“I’ve been doing this for 28 years, and I learn something new everyday,” Kelley said.

About Kelley & Fulton, P.L.
The attorneys of Kelley & Fulton, P.L. are South Florida bankruptcy and business lawyers attuned to clients’ needs to make cost-effective decisions that can stabilize their business and financial future. With more than 28 years’ experience in helping South Floridians, and business owners make legal decisions that best fit their personal and business needs, the attorneys at Kelley & Fulton, P.L. have remained committed to finding solutions to difficult problems.

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