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40 Under 40 - Class of 2021
Business Observer Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 2 weeks ago

Kennedy Legler, 35

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State’s Attorney Office, assistant state attorney violent crime division
by: Amanda Postma Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Kennedy Brandon Legler IV

Assistant state attorney violent crime division, state of Florida

Age: 35

Growing up in the shadow of his father’s legacy, Kennedy Legler IV is now making a name for himself. 

Legler didn’t have anyone to look up to when he was young. No older brother. Or older sister. His dad, a well-known attorney, filled that void. “My father has always been a strong presence in my life,” he says. “He built his practice from the ground up.” 

Legler remembers his father, Kennedy Legler III, instilling the importance of never giving up. “I wanted to emulate him and be just like him,” he says. 

He remembers his father mentioning teen court to him and explaining the opportunity it could provide so Legler could determine if becoming a lawyer was something he wanted to do. In the eighth or ninth grade, Legler became a volunteer for the teen court in Manatee County. “My dad was the one who got me involved with that,” says Legler. And, immediately, he fell in love with it. 

Teen court is something he’s stayed passionate about throughout his career. Now, he serves as a volunteer judge. “It’s become a staple in my life,” he says. “I have my dad to thank for presenting that opportunity to me. That’s probably where the bug to become a prosecutor began.” 

He also was on the mock trial team with his dad as his coach. 

“He always supported me in every decision I made,” he says. Even his decision to not work at his father’s firm.

Instead, Legler started his career at the State’s Attorney Office in Sarasota. After passing the bar, he became a prosecutor for the misdemeanor division. After a while, he moved up into the juvenile division and then eventually to the felony division. Now, he’s found a place as a specialty prosecutor for violent crimes. 

He also stays busy as a professor at the Sarasota County Technical Institute and State College of Florida, where he teaches criminal law and criminal procedure.

Even while others still question when he will join his father’s law firm, Legler says his father stands behind his decision. “I don’t want to because I love what I’m doing,” he says. “He’s always been supportive of that decision. He stays neutral and lets me make my own decisions.” 

That support has come to fruition many times. He remembers his father showing up to many of his first trials. The first misdemeanor trial, the first homicide trial and the first felony trial. 

“I try to be my own person by getting out into the community and taking on new positions,” he says, noting he was recently elected as a Sarasota County Charter Review Board member representing District 1. “I try to create my own name for myself.” 

Name: Kennedy Brandon Legler IV

Age: 35

City of Residence: Sarasota

Employer: State Attorney's Office

Title: Assistant State Attorney, Violent Crime Division

Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio

Years in the area: 31

Marital Status/Children: Married, two children (ages 7 and 4)

Alma Mater/Degree: Stetson University, Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a minor in Business Law and Stetson College of Law, Juris Doctorate

What community group or organization are you most involved with? Teen Court. I began volunteering as a teen attorney in high school and have continued to volunteer now as a volunteer Judge presiding over cases.

What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Booking Agent for Concerts/Student Activities for Stetson University

What's your top tip for being productive? Staying organized and ahead of schedule. Even in college I would tell myself that assignments or papers I had to write were due three days before they were actually due so that I was sure to finish them on time. Starting this discipline in school has carried over to today, as it keeps me from falling behind and feeling overwhelmed. Now, if life gets the way and I do get behind I have plenty of time to finish without getting that anxious feeling that I am running out of time.

Also, getting up and doing 30-45 minutes of some type of workout in the morning. For years I hated getting up and working out in the morning, but my wife finally convinced me to give it a try about two years ago. Ever since then, that 30-45 minutes of working out or moving in the morning gives me a burst of energy and helps to clear my mind for the day’s work. I am even down to just 1 cup of coffee a day on mornings I work out!

If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Guitar player or drummer for a "punk rock" cover band.

What's your favorite off-hours activity? Running and training for my first Marathon in November

Have you gone to the movies in 2021? If yes, what did you see? Yes, I went and saw "A Quiet Place Part II" by myself!

What's the top item on your bucket list? To visit all 7 continents (4 or 5 down - depending on what continent you consider Cyprus to be part of."

What's your favorite podcast? Team Never Quit

Where is your happy place? Waynesville, North Carolina, standing on the back deck overlooking the mountains.

Describe yourself in three words: Funny, Organized and Loyal

Who is your mentor for your career and why? My father, Kennedy Legler III. Being the oldest child, I did not have an older sibling to look up to or follow around. But I do have a wonderful father who continues to teach me so many valuable lessons about life, work ethic and family values.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? Ever since I was little, my dad instilled in me the lessons that Rocky Balboa’s trainer “Mickey” taught him and that was to have the “Eye of the Tiger” in anything you do in life. Whether that be in school and trying to finish an assignment, or at work trying to win a case, or even at home putting together a kid’s Christmas present at 11pm on Christmas Eve; the idea of never quitting, never giving up is one of the biggest lessons my father taught me. I have tried to take that mentality and apply it to my everyday life in anything and everything I do.

My father also taught me how to be a dad. Growing up my dad was always present. He never let work get in the way of being at my sporting events, my school activities or being home every night for dinner. He always made time for his family whether it was chasing my brother and I around the house after dinner to wear us out before bed or waking up early on weekends just to sit with us watching Saturday morning cartoons, he was the definition of a “great father.”

 

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