There is not much Freddie Brackin enjoyed more growing up than spending time playing sports or attending sporting events with his father, Brice. They were hardcore Auburn football fans, but really, most any game would do. They even started a tradition of attending one completely randomly selected college game every season.
As a grown man, Brackin still loves high school, college, and professional football, baseball, basketball, though now add amazing wife Jamie, dog-of-many-breeds, Chloe, and Athena, a fine little feline, on his list of favs.
He also is a man of degrees, four in fact. He attended undergrad in Jackson, Mississippi, receiving a B.A. in accounting, then an M.B.A. in finance at Millsaps College. A J.D. followed and after, his LL.M. in Estate Planning.
“I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to go to law school,” Brackin says. “When I got out of the M.B.A. program, the economy had tanked, and there were not as many options. With an accounting background and a law degree, all the doors were open.”
So, off Brackin went to Mississippi College School of Law. He enjoyed the logic of it; it suited his world view of how things should add up. Around the same time, a girl he and his sister, Mirel, befriended on a European tour a few years earlier moved out of the friend zone and soon joined him in Jackson, Mississippi. When Brackin finished – J.D. degree in one hand, marriage certificate in the other – he knew he wanted to put his dual education to good use.
“I started researching the programs, and one thing that really drew me [to the Heckerling LL.M. in Estate Planning] was that it is taught by actual practitioners in the field,” he says.
The Estate Planning program was exactly what Brackin was hoping for. “I knew that I wanted to work at a larger firm and a lot of the professors were group leaders at large firms so I knew that those would also be good connections.”
The small class size meant that everyone knew each other and fell into easy friendships. When Brackin finished, he had a great education and had impressed one of his professors enough to land a job in the Fort Lauderdale office of Gunster in the tax practice, working with personal and tax related matters and providing private wealth services.
Brackin has found a home at Gunster and in South Florida. His Vermont-born wife, Jamie, is happily working at the Miami Seaquarium as an animal keeper. “It’s what she always wanted to do, rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing animals back into the wild,” he says. “It is very rewarding.”
Looking back, the best financial advice his father ever gave him was, “always save and only invest what you can afford to lose.” It is a philosophy that he abides by and advises others. Even if he landed a seven-figure tax refund somehow, “I’d do the same – well, maybe a little bit of travel, too.”
“[Attending] The Heckerling Institute is one of the big deals of the program, and last year was my first year out,” he says. “The week before I was supposed to go, my father collapsed so I went home, still hoping I would make it to Orlando but my dad did not come out (of the hospital).
Brackin thinks he had the best childhood in his hometown of Alabaster, Alabama, near Birmingham. He has fond memories of countless hours spent in the batting cage with his dad pitching or in the gym working on his jump shot with Dad helping rebound. Looking back he realizes how lucky he was and hopes that one day when he has kids, he will be able to pass on the values he learned from his parents. Growing up he kind of figured he would stay in the South, near his family.
The camaraderie of the Heckerlng LL.M. program created a family for Brackin in South Florida. “What I think is so special about the program at Miami is the way the program is structured: you are in the same class, with the same group of people, and you all become really close,” Brackin says. “When my dad passed away, everybody got together and sent us a huge food basket and signed it ‘from your Miami LL.M. family.’
“To me, that is one of the best things that you can get out of the program is the relationships you build there, both the students and the professors.”