Scott Knight was a sophomore at Florida State University when he had an eye-opening introduction to the law. He and three roommates, unaware of their rights and responsibilities as young renters, got stuck footing the bill for a fourth roommate who bailed on their apartment lease for several months. The students took the landlord to court, trying to fight the $1,200 they were asked to pay to make up for the non-paying roommate, and lost the case.
“At the time, I felt it was unfair, but the lease stated it was our duty to find another roommate to make up the full cost of the rent,” Knight said. “We were poor college kids at the time and had no money. Our parents were not happy.”
The experience had somewhat of a happy ending if you look at Knight today. He is now Tampa International Airport’s Assistant General Counsel who helps the airport sort through all types of legal matters, a job and industry he finds endlessly fascinating and well-suited to his personality.
It was that early experience learning about how law affects people that helped nudge him into law school at a time when he was a finance major trying to decide what to do. Knight’s father was an engineer, and “I can’t stand science,” Knight said, so he knew he didn’t want to do that. His mother was one of the first females in the field of computer systems technology and he didn’t care for computers either.
But he always liked using logic and reasoning, and he loves to read, so knowing he’d have to do tons of reading as a law student didn’t scare him. Although Knight is a diehard FSU Seminole fan – check out his office to see the framed Seminole Indian puzzle on the wall, the newspaper and magazine clips on the table and the large Seminoles calendar on his desk – he attended the University of Florida’s law school program and had to endure three years of Gators fans before practicing law.
“People always tease me about that,” Knight said. “They say, ‘You get to be a Florida State fan when the Seminoles are doing well and a Florida fan when the Gators are doing well. But it’s not like that. I’m garnet and gold all the way.”
After law school, Knight worked in private practice, mostly handling construction and commercial litigation. While he was great at his job, the demands of private practice often kept him away from his wife and family, and he also yearned to practice law that wasn’t so “cookie-cutter,” he said.
Knight joined Tampa International Airport six years ago and has enjoyed the various challenges of working with airport contracts, policies, real estate, people and legal matters.
“It’s invigorating,” Knight said. “I rarely do the same thing day-to-day. It’s always something new.”
He also loves that it’s not about billable hours but about doing a good job for his one and only client, the airport … and then going home to family at the end of the day. Knight and his wife, Heather, have a 9-year-old son, Tyler, and 7-year-old daughter, Gretchen, and both are involved in sports. Knight often helps out coaching the kids’ teams, and the whole family likes to go to Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lightning and Rays games.
Knight still loves to read, finishing about four or five books a month. He mostly likes fiction from authors such as James Patterson, John Grisham and Jeffery Deaver.
Knight’s family didn’t have many relatives nearby when he was a child, so he’s happy to have his siblings and in-laws living within a couple of hours away from his home. He values his family time the most, and feels that TPA is the perfect place for someone to both practice law and achieve a work-life balance.
“We are very fortunate to have a CEO and VPs and top supervisors who all recognize the importance of that,” Knight said. “To me, having that is a big draw.”
He also thinks it’s a big reason the airport is a success. Happy workers typically are more invested and interested in their workplace, adding to the pride employees already feel working at a place so loved by the community. Knight said he never stops learning about Tampa International Airport, and is constantly fascinated by how much work – including his own – goes into operating it.
“It provides me an incentive to do my best,” Knight said.