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Defending Her Clients

REBEKAH J. POSTON Enjoys action and adventure, along with science, business and complex legal issues. So it’s not surprising that she’s an amateur powerboat racer as well as a successful criminal defense lawyer. “I enjoy watching all the ‘CSI’ shows on television and how forensic science can be used to solve crimes,” says Poston, a partner in the Miami office of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. “I also love being on the water and have been fascinated by the ocean my whole life.”

Born in a small town in Indiana, Poston dreamed of exploring the oceans with legendary French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. She went to nearby Manchester College and double majored in biology and chemistry with a minor in psychology. Since her aunt and uncle lived in Fort Myers, Poston was introduced to Florida at an early age.

She enrolled at the University of Miami and in summer courses at the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, earning a bachelor’s of science degree in 1970. “At that time, engineers and oceanographers were not in high demand, and I felt it was important to get a job to support myself,” she says. Poston enrolled at the university’s School of Law, which had one of the nation’s few programs on ocean law. During her first year, she fell “hook, line and sinker” for criminal law and determined to make that her career.

After earning her law degree, Poston worked briefly for Janet Reno, then the chief assistant state attorney. She left to join the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami feeling that the federal courts would provide more opportunities for legal growth.

After working in Miami from 1975-77, Poston moved to Cleveland, becoming a special attorney with the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, which was indicting organized crime figures. “One fellow I put away for counterfeiting put a contract hit on me from federal prison,” she says. “I told my boss that I was honored — but I took it more seriously when the Department of Justice assigned an FBI agent who taught me how to look for a bomb under my car.”

Poston moved back to Miami in 1980, joining Fine Jacobson as a criminal defense lawyer. In 1995, she joined Steel Hector, which was absorbed by Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. in 2005.

At Fine Jacobson, Poston defended Cordis Corporation in a criminal case involving the company’s pacemakers. “We worked with leading experts in the medical device field and prevailed in a six-week trial,” she recalls. Another noteworthy case when she was a federal prosecutor involved a South African girl who had been brought to the U.S. as a 10-year-old by a South Florida couple and effectively enslaved. After Poston filed charges, the couple fled the country, but eventually were caught and convicted. “It has been a delight to see her grow up, lead a healthy life, marry and become a U.S. citizen,” says Poston.

In a pro bono case, Poston defended an agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who had been accused of perjury. “We won the case,” she says, “and even though it was 30 years ago, he still calls me on the anniversary date and thanks me for his freedom and believing in him.”

Throughout her career, Poston has defended multinational, public and private corporations, brokerage firms, airlines, banks, medical device, pharmaceutical and industrial manufacturing companies, as well as their officers, directors and employees.

Today, Poston is moving away from courtroom work into white-collar matters, such as corporate compliance issues and internal investigations. “I’ve had to learn to think like a business lawyer,” she says, “and it’s been a fascinating evolution, taking on issues we never studied in law school.”

She has counseled clients on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), anti-money-laundering, environmental crime, Internet fraud and numerous other matters. She has also written corporate compliance programs and conducted FCPA trainings, audits and investigations for Fortune 500 companies around the globe. She leads her firm’s global FCPA practice, provides advocacy training for younger lawyers, and supervises the firm’s pro bono CJA program in the federal court.

Poston says she is happily married to her work. “I guess I took to heart the cautionary advice given by one of my law professors when he told us the law is a jealous mistress.” She does believe temporary separations from her work are good for the soul. For a change of pace, she races her “go fast” boat in Biscayne Bay. “It’s exhilarating and tremendous fun,” she says. “It requires me to really focus, so it takes my mind off work.” As far as retirement, she says, “I can picture myself being involved in environmental activities — especially if they involve preserving our oceans.”

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