Steve Rissman, of Rissman, Barrett, Hurt, Donahue & McLain, P.A, has spent his entire career in the specialty of workers’ compensation. He graduated from Florida State University College of Law in March 1972. Shortly thereafter, he became employed by the Industrial Relations Commission, the Workers’ Compensation Appellate Court at that time. He worked for the Industrial Relations Commission from 1972 – 1974 as the law clerk, legislative liaison and administrative assistant to the chairman of the Industrial Relations Commission. During his tenure, he worked for two of the real giants in professionalizing the practice of workers’ compensation – Steve Slepin and Leonard Carson.
In March 1974, Steve joined the workers’ compensation defense firm of Earle, Yanchuck & Cooper as a young associate. That firm, over the years and after many changes, became Rissman, Barrett, Hurt, Donahue & McLain. During that entire time, Steve practiced workers’ compensation insurance defense, representing employers and insurance companies.
Steve has received many professional accolades over the years. He was Chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Section of the Florida Bar in 1982-1983, he was the recipients of the prestigious W.L. “Bud” Adams award in 1985, an award which was created “to recognize those who had performed outstanding and selfless service in advancing the philosophy and practice of the workers’ compensation system” and he has been an adjunct professor for his alma matter, Florida State University College of Law, teaching a workers’ compensation course in the 1990s.
More recently, Steve has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America since 1995, Florida Super Lawyers since 2006 and was recently named to the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, a prestigious national recognition. Most recently he was elected as president and charter member of the Workers’ Compensation Hall of Fame – one of only 17 lawyers, judges and industry individuals to receive that honor.
Professionally, Steve considers his biggest two achievements as the building of his defense firm and the expansion of the Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference. The firm grew from a small workers’ compensation specialty firm into one of the most experienced defense firms in Florida. The firm is headquartered in Orlando, with offices in Tampa and Sebastian, and concentrates its practice on insurance defense and workers’ compensation defense. The firm’s 65 trial lawyers handle legal disputes ranging from small to multi-million dollar cases. The firm was recently selected as one of only 18 firms in Orlando and 193 firms in the entire state (out of over 22,000) to be recognized in “Florida’s Top Ranked Law Firms” by the Wall Street Journal in conjunction with Lexis Nexis/Martindale-Hubbell.
Steve’s other major professional accomplishment has been with respect to the Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference. Originally, the conference was state run and quite small. In the mid-1980s, organization of the conference was taken over by Jim McConnaughhay, David Parrish, Gerry Rosenthal and Steve. The program went from a three or four page tri-fold program to today, when the conference is recognized as the premier workers’ compensation conference in the United States. The program is now over 100 substantive pages and has different breakouts for adjusters, lawyers, doctors, nurses, safety personnel, risk managers, personnel people and all of those interested in where workers’ compensation is going in Florida, the Southeast and the United States.
In his personal life, Steve has been married for over 31 years to Donna Bergh Rissman. Steve and Donna have two children, Elizabeth 27 and David 23.