Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Thomas Rinaldi
February 1, 2020
By: Thomas K. Rinaldi
Growing up in Natchez, Mississippi, Tom Rinaldi loved studying math and science, but his humanitarian side was never sure how he’d translate those interests into a meaningful career. It wasn’t until much later, as a high school science teacher and Behavioral Therapist for children with autism, that Tom had his “aha” moment.
“I was teaching kids with developmental and behavioral challenges and became keenly interested in their struggles to obtain a proper education. Similarly, there were disadvantaged and exceptional students who were also struggling to get the education they needed to excel. I wanted to help them fight for appropriate accommodations and empower them to achieve.”
Now ten years into his law career, Tom still considers himself an educator at the core. Only his audience has changed. Instead of high school students, Tom now spends his days educating judges, jurors, clients and even opposing counsel.
Named a member at Bond in January 2020, Tom’s practice includes general business and employment litigation involving contract disputes, business torts, and real estate disputes. He also handles landlord-tenant, personal injury, probate and trust litigation. He also advises clients on a variety of cybersecurity issues. Throughout his career, Tom has represented financial institutions, higher education institutions, insurance companies, small businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals.
“I’ve structured my practice to be able to handle a variety of cases that would both be of interest to me and allow me to be able to continue to improve peoples’ lives.”
That said, Tom’s impact in the community goes well beyond the courtroom or boardroom. He believes that his greatest contributions have been through his volunteer efforts, and he is particularly passionate about the Literacy Volunteers of Collier County (LVCC). LVCC provides literacy training for all ages with one-on-one tutoring for adults and a reading together program for families. Tom was so moved by the organization’s mission that he quickly volunteered as a member of LVCC’s Board of Directors. He rose through the ranks of LVCC’s leadership and served as President of the Board of Directors from 2017-2018.
“In general, without appropriate literacy skills, you’re at a true disadvantage of communication, and it’s difficult to develop the relationships necessary to succeed,” explains Tom. “Literacy is one of the most important and often overlooked skill sets.”
Over the years, Tom has served in a number of roles within his church community as well. Along with his wife, he was a co-teacher of Trinity’s Youth Formation and has also been a member of his church’s Grants Commission, reviewing, evaluating, and interviewing local charitable grant requests.
His volunteerism extends to the law community. Tom has served on the Board of Directors for the Young Lawyer Section of the Collier County Bar Association and volunteered as a judge for its regional High School Mock Trial Competition, critiquing and providing advice to student participants. He was appointed to the Law Related Education Committee by the Florida Bar Board of Governors and while serving, drafted the High School Mock Trial case packet that was used throughout the State of Florida in 2017-2018. Eventually, Tom helped coach Mason Classical Academy’s Mock Trial Team for the 2019 competition.
Tom’s commitment to serving the less fortunate extends to his work for Legal Aid’s Advisory Committee. The Legal Aid office provides free or reduced cost legal counsel to those without the necessary resources.
When not at work or otherwise volunteering in the community, Tom can be found playing sports with his three young children. His favorite sport is soccer, and Tom has played or coached soccer throughout most of his life. Although his oldest is only six years of age, Tom has already coached eight teams over the span of seven seasons for the Optimist League in Southwest Florida. Tom credits his father for instilling the patience necessary to teach young kids the joy of scoring a goal and/or just playing with dirt while their parents cheer them on.
While Tom’s career and community involvement provide him the opportunity to meet many interesting people on a daily basis, he says that his favorite part of the day remains dinnertime, when his family always shares the best and worst part of their days. “It’s amazing how much you can learn from listening to a young child explain what made them upset during the day. It may just lead you to an interesting theme for your next trial.”