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Why I Give

January 29, 2020

Lori Baggett has thought a lot about how to be intentional in life – particularly in regard to how she spends her time, talent and money. It is a mindset instilled in her by her parents, both of whom were schoolteachers deeply rooted in their faith community.

“My parents set a great example for me and my brother in their stewardship of time, talent and treasure,” she said.

One initiative worth Baggett’s focus was the establishment of the Baggett Family Scholarship. She hopes to continue her family’s legacy by providing financial assistance for African American students interested in entering the legal profession.

Established in 2019, the Baggett Family Scholarship pays expenses for three years at Stetson Law for students who exhibit exemplary academic and personal leadership and have demonstrated financial need. The overall goal is to support the academic achievement and potential of African American students who, through sharing their varied cultural perspectives, will enhance the education of all law students and the excellence of the Stetson College of Law.

“I was blessed to earn a diversity scholarship from the State of Florida called the Minority Participation in Legal Education (MPLE) that was matched by Stetson, allowing me to obtain a full scholarship for law school and additional funds toward The Florida Bar exam,” Baggett said. “It was a great benefit to me and a reward to be able to receive something like that and helped propel my career.”

If we want historically underrepresented groups to achieve greater educational advancement in the legal profession, then financial assistance earmarked for them is key, Baggett said. Increasing diversity and equal representation in the practice of law is important to her, and she realized she needed to take an active role to make that happen.

“You have to be intentional about the things you are passionate about,” Baggett said.

She grew up in Crestview, Florida, and played Division I college basketball at the College of Charleston and at the University of South Alabama. Baggett earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in African American studies and sought a new avenue to continue the reading and writing she loved while incorporating analytical and critical thinking. Law offered that. And Stetson offered a beautiful campus with no distractions and a scholarship match that made it the obvious choice.

During law school, she was active with Black Law Students Association, as well as Moot Court and Law Review. She won a Labor and Employment Moot Court competition, and that experience, along with internships and courses taught by Professor Emeritus Robert Bickel, helped inform the direction her law career would take.

Baggett graduated in 2002 and now works for Carlton Fields in Tampa, representing companies in many aspects of labor and employment law, with a particular expertise in workplace safety and health (OSHA) issues. She is one of a handful of Florida lawyers with OSHA 30 certification. She represents clients dealing with fatal and catastrophic accidents and helps them resolve OSHA citations and whistleblower complaints. She also advises and counsels employers on workplace legal compliance issues and defends employment-related claims.

Despite a busy career, Baggett continues to be involved with the Stetson community by serving a second term as a member of the Stetson Law Alumni Association and was recently inducted into the U.S. Supreme Court with other Stetson alumni. She wants her fellow alumni to understand that giving back doesn’t have to be through monumental, one-time gestures. Small, monthly donations have a cumulative effect and provide vital support for Stetson’s mission.

“Give what you can, when you can. Many people are intimidated by the impression they must give a large gift at end of year, but for most of us, it’s more palatable to break it up and donate monthly,” Baggett said. “It can be regular, intentional giving over time. If everyone gives what they can, it will have an impact!”

Legacy is important, too. Baggett lost her brother in 2018. It made her think about how she can both leave the world a better place and have an impact while she’s still here – to be intentional about where to give her time and treasure. It had to be for something of significance to her, and again, Stetson was the obvious choice.

“Stetson is important to me.”

Reprinted with permission from Stetson Lawyer Alumni Magazine.

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