ADVOCACY FOR THE EXPLOITED Jean-Claude Lapuyade is fixated on delivering results for clients wronged via construction defects, aggrieved wages and hourly employees, and low-income individuals who fall victim to unlawful housing practices. by Karen Gorden
like the challenge of complex multi-party litigation and class action litigation. I know it sounds cliché, but I love the fact that what I do every day is fight for the little guys,” says Jean-Claude Lapuyade, Founder of JCL Law Firm. At first blush, Lapuyade may be appear to be of the “little guys” himself. Just 4 years after graduating from law school, Lapuyade took a leap of faith to open his own firm—a risky gamble, considering his passion for complex litigation. However, given that he authored a winning brief before the Maryland Court of Appeals, (Chmurny v. State) while he was still a law clerk; in hindsight, it’s clear that Lapuyade’s talent and tenacity was anything but ordinary. “I always planned to run my own firm, but like everyone I needed to get my feet wet before hanging out my shingle. I began out of law school working for a plaintiffs’ construction defect firm. It was my first experience in that area of law, and I enjoyed the challenge of putting together a case against 5, 10, 15, sometimes 20 or more different defendants. I also had a great mentor in Bill Naumann,” he adds. “I got terrific experience in insurance litigation, turning cookie cutter construction defect cases into true product liability cases.” By 2010, Lapuyade was ready to try his hand at running his own firm, and launched JCL Law Firm, with an initial focus on construction defect cases. However, it wasn’t long before Lapuyade expanded his practice to include employment wage and hour class action litigation, and most recently unlawful housing practices class actions.
FOCUSED ON CLIENTS IN CONSTRUCTION DEFECT CASES “In a practice area lacking passion, we love what we do,” he says. “We represent large groups of single-family homeowners, 8
Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 160, 2016
homeowners’ association and commercial property owners in construction defect litigation against builders for defective original construction. This represents approximately 60-65% of our business, and the overwhelming majority of our cases are referred by my colleagues,” he says. Lapuyade believes that there are several reasons fellow attorneys are so quick to refer these types of cases to JCL Law Firm. “We are dedicated to personalized, attentive and regular client communication. I constantly hear clients say things like, “My last attorney wouldn’t call me back,” or “We haven’t heard from our attorney in 4-5 months.” I never want a client to feel that way, so we are committed to maintaining constant communication,” he explains. In addition, Lapuyade’s passion for helping homeowners who are up against a giant insurance company, or powerful builder, shines through when he says, “We are entirely focused on the best result for our clients, and are always striving to maximize their net award, rather than maximizing attorney fees.” By way of example, in 2016 alone, JCL Law recovered more than $5.5M for clients in construction defect cases. But perhaps the referrals that mean the most to Lapuyade are those that come from the attorneys defending the “big guys” the JCL Firm has challenged. “There is no greater honor than having former opposing counsel respect the quality of my work enough to refer clients. To have attorneys I’ve gone up against send business to me is the best compliment I can receive.”
FIGHTING FOR WORKERS IN WAGE AND HOUR CLASS ACTIONS When it comes to fighting for the little guys in employment cases, Lapuyade doesn’t mince words in describing the unfair and illegal actions leveraged against wage and hourly employees.
Attorney Journal, San Diego, Volume 160