Carol Licko - The Educator
Carol Licko provides guidance to colleges, institutes and other clients
Carol Licko believes in educating her clients about their choices in litigation matters. After all, she was a teacher and administrator for the Miami-Dade County Public School System, earning the “Teacher of the Year” award before joining the Bar.
“I still enjoy mentoring young attorneys and providing guidance to my clients,” says Licko, who is litigation manager in the Miami office of Hogan Lovells. “My heart is still in education, because that’s where you can have the most impact on the future.”
Today, Licko focuses her practice on complex commercial and environmental litigation in trials through appeals, with an emphasis on the life sciences, business, health, and educational law.
In the education sector, she represented the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in issues relating to the costs of medical malpractice cases, and has served for several years as general counsel to WPBT-2, the largest PBS television station in Florida and the producer of the Nightly Business Report. She also serves as general counsel to the Miami-Dade College (MDC) Foundation, serving the nation’s largest community college.
Working the with MDC Foundation, Licko was instrumental in negotiating the transfer of Miami’s landmark Freedom Tower to the college as the MDC Museum of Art + Design. “This was a complex transaction that resulted in an innovative solution that benefits our entire community,” she says. “It was a very visionary approach to ensuring the future of one of our city’s historic landmarks.”
Becoming a Teacher
Born and raised in Chicago, Licko’s family moved to Miami in the 1960s. She was valedictorian of the 1967 class at Miami Central High School, before enrolling at the University of Miami. “My dad was a tool and die maker, and my mother stayed home and raised five children,” she says. “We all looked up to teachers, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do with my career.”
At UM, Licko took on two part-time jobs to help pay her college tuition. While working at the Sears store in the Northside Shopping Center, she met her husband Gary, who became a public accountant. She was also a nurse’s aide at St. Francis Hospital in Miami Beach, before graduating in 1971 with a degree in English.
Although St. Francis offered her a job training other aides, Licko became a teacher at Miami Northwestern High School working with 9th and 10th graders who were potential dropouts. “The highest reading level in my class was third grade, and many kids didn’t even know the alphabet,” she recalls. “As a new teacher, it was a sink or swim situation. So, I took some reading classes, and went on to get my master’s degree in education at UM. This was a very satisfying experience and I stayed close to many of my students through the years.”
Licko spent 13 years as an educator, first as a teacher and then as assistant principal at American Senior High School, where she wrote a grant application that resulted in a Ronald Reagan National School Award. “At that point, I realized I was ready to try something different, so I enrolled at UM’s law school,” she says. “It took me four years, but it was a great decision for me.”
Moving into Law
After passing the Bar in 1984, Licko joined Paul & Thomson, a boutique firm that broke up soon afterwards. She followed partner Parker D. Thomson to Thomson Muraro Razook & Hart, , where she learned about securities offerings, media-related matters and other commercial litigation cases from mentors like Thomson, Dean Colson and Sanford Bohrer.
One of Licko’s first cases involved SafeCard Services, a Fort Lauderdale credit card protection company co-founded by Peter Halmos. She represented the board of directors in a dozen suits filed across the country alleging breach of fiduciary responsibility. “One of the directors was Jeb Bush, who liked how I handled the matter,” Licko says. “After he was elected governor in 1999, he asked me to be his general counsel and it was an honor to serve in that role.”
Licko represented the governor in a variety of matters, including statewide healthcare and educational reform, before returning to private practice in 2001 with Hogan & Hartson. Several years later, she worked closely with Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez on several life science projects. “Rocky is one of my favorite attorneys,” says Licko, who represented The Scripps Research Institute in incentive grant negotiations while Rodriguez represented the State of Florida. Licko also represented The Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies and the University of Miami Genomics Center with respect to incentive grants from the state.
“Carol is, without question, one of the finest lawyers I have ever had the privilege of working with, in addition to being a marvelous person,” says Thomson, who has known her for more than 20 years and is now of counsel at Hogan Lovells. “She is committed to devoting a substantial portion of her time to pro bono activities, including extensive work on children’s issues, and she has acted as a mentor to numerous young lawyers. I can’t think of enough positive things to say about her.”
Active in pro bono causes, Licko served two terms on the State Ethics Commission, and was a member of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force established to improve state foster care and health services for dependent children.
She is now an officer of Our Kids, Inc., an organization that provides community-based services to children in foster care. “I have supported a program so these kids can stay in the same school, even if their home changes during the year, “she says. “Our foster children need as much continuity and support as possible for them to have a better chance at happy, healthy and productive lives.”
A Diverse Litigation Practice
In recent years, Licko has built a diverse litigation practice, while also handling complex transactional matters. She spent four years defending General Electric Capital Corp. in a series of suits filed in state, federal and bankruptcy courts brought by plaintiffs’ counsel representing nursing home residents who sued because a nursing home company had received loans from her client. “It took a long time, but we got a summary judgment in favor of GECC,” she says.
Licko continues to handle matters for Scripps Florida, as well as The Jackson Laboratory and other life science clients. She also negotiated the sale of WPBT-2’s long-running “Nightly Business Report” to CNBC.
Reflecting on her career, Licko says, “I’ve had the privilege of working with great attorneys and clients, while staying on the cutting-edge of the law. I love what I’m doing now and look forward to the next chapter in my career.”