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Volume 122, 2013 • $6.95

Ten Proven Strategies to Effectively Implement the Two-tier Partner Structure

Joel A. Rose The Demise of BigLaw: Does Startup Culture Provide a Solution?

Nicole Black Learning to Price Legal Services

Paul Bellows & Al Cinti

RISING STAR OF THE MONTH

Kristin Rizzo

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TABLE OF CONTENTS features 6 Learning to Price Legal Services Learning to Price Nonhourly Legal Services in a Manner Other than the Traditional Hourly Rate is a Critical Skill that Law Firms Will Have to Master to Succeed in Maintaining and Increasing their Market Share in the Future. by Paul Bellows & Al Cinti

10 RISING STAR OF THE MONTH

10 Kristin Rizzo

EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER Brian Topor

by Jennifer Hadley

12 COMMUNITYnews

EDITOR Nancy Deyo

ATTORNEY OF THE MONTH

CREATIVE SERVICES Skidmutro Creative + Layout

16 Paul Zuckerman by Jennifer Hadley

CIRCULATION Angela Watson PHOTOGRAPHY Bronson Pate Vinit Satyavrata STAFF WRITERS Jennifer Hadley Bridget Brookman Karen Gorden CONTRIBUTING EDITORIALISTS Joel A. Rose Nicole Black Paul Bellows Al Conti Christopher Walton Steven Kruis WEBMASTER Chase Jones ADVERTISING INQUIRIES info@AttorneyJournal.us SUBMIT AN ARTICLE Editorial@AttorneyJournal.us OFFICE 10601-G Tierrasanta Blvd., Suite 131 San Diego, CA 92124 P 858.505.0314 • F 858.524.5808 www.AttorneyJournal.us ADDRESS CHANGES Address corrections can be made via fax, email or postal mail.

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22 The Demise of BigLaw: Does Startup Culture Provide a Solution? by Nicole Black

24 Ten Proven Strategies to Effectively Implement the Two-tier Partner Structure Learn Ten Proven Strategies that We Have Recommended to Clients to Effectively Implement the Two-Tier Partner Structure. by Joel A. Rose PROFESSIONAL PROFILE

26 Subject Matter Mediation Services by Jennifer Hadley

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Editorial material appears in Attorney Journal as an informational service for readers. Article contents are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Attorney Journal. Attorney Journal makes every effort to publish credible, responsible advertisements. Inclusion of product advertisements or announcements does not imply endorsement. Attorney Journal is a trademark of Sticky Media, LLC. Not affiliated with any other trade publication or association. Copyright 2013 by Sticky Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without written permission from Sticky Media, LLC. Printed in the USA

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Learning to Price Legal Services

A

n April 2012 survey conducted by ALM Legal Intelligence and published by LexisNexis found that only one out of 218 law firms that were sampled did not employ nonhourly pricing for some legal services. More surprisingly, 13 of these firms indicated that they delivered more than half of their work using nonhourly alternative fee arrangements. Yes, this is only 6 percent of the firms, but it indicates the potential that more legal work will eventually be delivered by means of nonhourly pricing of services than via hourly invoicing. Why do corporate clients care about the structure of the fee agreements with their outside law firms? They have always paid attention to the credentials, competency and reputation of the lawyers they have hired. Today, however, a company’s

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Learning to Price Nonhourly Legal Services in a manner other than the traditional hourly rate is a critical skill that law firms will have to master if they are going to succeed in maintaining and increasing their market share in the future.

chief financial officer (CFO) demands that company personnel purchasing law firm services avoid the surprise of a large legal bill. Corporations work within budgets for all the obvious reasons. They need to know what their costs are going to be on a quarterly basis. General Counsel, CFOs and CEOs dread the possibility of explaining to boards of directors and analysts that a shortfall in earnings per share occurred because legal expenses were over budget. Nonhourly fee arrangements improve the probability that corporate legal departments can maintain their budgets without any surprises. Corporations also demand that the law firms they employ deliver legal services at the same or lower cost than the year before. They understand why law firms seek rate increases, but they don’t understand why these firms are unable to achieve

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any efficiency in delivering their services to compensate for the hourly rate rise. Until recently, most corporations have simply swallowed these frustrations. Now, they are demanding that the cost side be addressed. The challenge for law firms is climbing the learning curve of how to expand nonhourly pricing. It may very well be frustrating and time-consuming, and may produce disappointing financial results in the short term. But when done with a recognition of these problems and a commitment to work through them, this new approach can increase market share and improve the firm’s potential for greater profitability.

Educating Partners So how does a law firm respond to these pressures, and how does it do so without destroying its profitability? First, it must educate its partners. Most of them have spent their careers recording their hours dedicated to clients and then processing computer-generated bills that simply multiply hours by rates. Often they feel guilty about the resulting calculation,

Not every partner will buy into this analysis. Yet some will recognize that a law firm must respond to its environment by offering some services at a fixed price, a price that is attractive to target clients and profitable to the law firm over time.

Beta-testing Nonhourly Services How should a firm move forward? The first step is to identify a partner (or several partners) who has expressed an interest in fixed-price legal services or who is likely to be receptive to the idea. More than likely, this will be a partner who is still building his or her reputation and practice. He or she is probably comfortable with data analysis and willing to change as a means of moving up within the firm. A partner whose practice is focused on a specific set of services month in and month out would be a good choice. The challenge for this partner and the firm is to determine a price at which to offer the service. In all likelihood, the firm will get it wrong initially, sometimes materially so. Don’t dwell on this potential mistake. The

…the new approach can increase market share and improve the firm’s potential for greater profitability… so they discount the bill in the hope of preventing serious client concern about value. Partners need to be taught that the future is bleak if they continue this behavior. Law partners need to understand their clients are making a number of value assessments, including those listed below: »»  Clients view much of their legal work as commodities, i.e., a generally competent lawyer will be able to deliver a perfectly acceptable legal product for the client. »» Clients value their relationships with their lawyers and/ or law firms, but they are no longer willing to consider them more important than a competitively priced service delivered within a range of predicted cost. »» Clients want their legal service costs to decline or remain the same rather than rise simply as a result of billing rate increases. »» Clients will concentrate their business with those firms that can demonstrate efficiency improvements. »» Clients are supportive of their law firms’ efforts to improve profitability, but only if they are doing so while improving value delivered.

key is to get it right over time and to improve over time. Consider your initial effort as a “beta” pricing model, not something set in stone. Thus, the nonhourly pricing experiment might work as follows: »» Find a client who is willing to explore the potential of purchasing this legal service for a fixed fee. »» Agree to do three or four “test runs” at the beta price. »» Meet with the client after these matters have been concluded to assess how to further improve client satisfaction with the service from a responsiveness or price point of view. »» Adjust staffing and procedures to reduce the time spent or to improve the results from delivering the service. »» If only 50 to 60 percent billed realization is achieved on these beta matters, this is acceptable as long as the firm is learning how to deliver the service more efficiently going forward. The long-term objective is to improve client satisfaction, increase market share and improve profitability for the firm. Attorney Journal | Volume 122, 2013

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»» Working through this process requires addressing a number of mechanical issues. For illustrative purposes, we would include the following: »» Create a list of all the matters for the beta service category, showing total hours and fees worked, billed and collected in the past year for each matter. »» Develop a rough description of the tasks associated with delivering this service. »» Bring together the lawyers and staff who worked on the matters to revise and refine the task description. »» Estimate a price for the service and its tasks. »» Meet with a client to propose the beta pricing arrangement. »» Assess the results against projections and determine satisfaction on both sides.

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The marketplace has changed. Clients are pushing for their law firms to show that they deliver cost-effective legal services at predictable prices. In many cases, offering some pricing arrangements other than hourly billing will demonstrate this to clients. Firms that resist this pressure are likely to lose market share, as their clients will seek out law firms that will work with them on the pricing of certain services. It will be a difficult and lengthy transition for firms, but success will be rewarded with greater market share and improved profitability. Resistance or failure to adapt may well bring about the slow demise of a number of law firms. 2013© by the American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. n Paul Bellows has worked with law firms since 1981, recently as COO for a firm with nine offices and over 500 lawyers. He holds an MBA from Wharton and developed his leadership expertise as a U.S. naval officer. Al Conti has worked with law firms since 1973, serving in executive director or COO roles with a major New York firm, several large multi-office regional firms and in-house with a Fortune 20 company, managing its corporate legal department. Both Bellows and Conti are partners in Leadership Alternatives LLC. This article was originally published in the Volume 39, Number 4 issue of Law Practice’s Magazine.

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JOURNAL

FEATURED RISING STAR

OF THE MONTH

2013

EMPOWERING “A

Employees

s most people are employed, I love understanding an area of law that affects most people in one way or another,” says Kristin Rizzo, Founder of Rizzo Law, PC. However, she’s quick to note that “I am not the type of lawyer who will take a case just to get paid; the cases I handle involve aspects of an unlawful nature and clients who deserve justice. My firm focuses on substantive, quality cases, where clear, unlawful action has transpired. I have always believed in an ethos of strong advocacy with civility and integrity,” she says. For Rizzo, who launched her solo practice two years ago, that means that a great deal of the work she does on a daily basis may never result in a paycheck. “I pride myself on extensively vetting the cases presented to me so that the lawsuits I initiate are ones with strong merits, deserving justice,” she explains. “That said, working in the area of employment law, I receive a lot of calls from potential clients seeking representation for wrongful termination or a hostile work environment. I spend a lot of time just speaking with

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Kristin Rizzo’s efforts to educate and empower employees extend to everyone via civility and integrity.

people who have lost their jobs, and even more time trying to determine whether the termination was unlawful or just unsavory. If I find the termination was unlawful, I advocate hard for my client’s rights. On the other hand, if I feel there was no unlawful action taken, then I tell the potential client in clear terms and do not take on their case,” she says. Continuing, Rizzo adds, “I believe in being straightforward with clients about what their case is and what it isn’t. Hopefully, with this reputation, defense lawyers who see a complaint filed by my firm know that I have a valid case.”

Proud To Help Plaintiffs When it comes to opposing counsel, Rizzo is no stranger to defense. In fact, before launching her own firm in July of 2011, Rizzo spent several years in defense work. “I had been working at a great law firm, Higgs, Fletcher & Mack. After defending businesses and large corporations in employment matters, I began to feel a tug at my heartstrings and felt I

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could better serve people by representing employees who had been harmed through no fault of their own. In essence, I knew I wanted to change sides,” she explains. Understandably, leaving the safety of her position to venture out onto her own in plaintiff’s work wasn’t a decision Rizzo was going to make haphazardly. She set about to try to create a safety net for herself, and found a mentor willing to provide exactly that. “I reached out to David Strauss, a well-known employment attorney in the area and shared with him my desires to turn my practice from defense to plaintiff’s employment. He shared stories about his firm and what he enjoyed about representing employees. Several weeks later, he gave me the opportunity to work alongside him on several of his larger cases, and offered to mentor me as I went out on my own. Being offered the opportunity to start my own firm with a safety net of being aligned with a terrific plaintiff’s employment lawyer seemed like a no-brainer,” she recalls. Now, more than two years later, Rizzo hasn’t looked back for a minute. Her guiding ethos have earned her favorable peer recognition and corresponding accolades, including the 2013 Top Attorney Award for Employment Law from the San Diego Daily Transcript. She also received the Judge David R. Thompson New Lawyer Award in 2012. In 2009 and 2011, the San Diego Daily Transcript presented her with the Top Young Attorney Award, and the San Diego County Bar Association presented her with the Bar Star Award in both 2009 and 2010.

Civility & Integrity Extend Beyond Client Representation For Rizzo, advocacy, civility and integrity aren’t just nebulous ideals to aim for. On the contrary, they are interwoven into all aspects of her life, both professionally and personally. In her personal life, she is passionate about community service work, and her efforts benefit her hometown of San Diego, specifically. Rizzo sits on the Board of Directors for her alma mater, the University of San Diego School of Law and she is the current Co-Chair of the Labor & Employment Section of the San Diego County Bar Association. She is an Adjunct Professor at USD Law School and frequently lectures to legal and community groups about employment laws. She participates in the San Diego District Attorney’s Office Adopt-a-Family Program; she’s served the YWCA and Casa Cornelia, has volunteered with the Polinsky Center, and helped to create the Higgs, Fletcher & Mack Diversity Scholarship in conjunction with USD Law School. She is incredibly enthusiastic about her professional affiliations, most notably her work in the San Diego County Bar Association. “I’m passionate about serving the SDCBA and its community of legal practitioners.

The SDCBA is the umbrella organization for our legal community, connecting all practitioners in all areas of law, including plaintiffs’ lawyers, defense lawyers, and the numerous law-related specialty bar associations. Developing strong connections between legal groups reinforces community partnerships and creates a network of diverse attorneys working toward the common goal of civility and professionalism,” Rizzo says. “Litigation in general can be contentious, but I have found that knowing other practitioners through community work or through common membership in the SDCBA makes the litigation much more civil as there is mutual respect between the attorneys. The SDCBA promotes civility and camaraderie because it creates a place where all San Diego legal practitioners belong,” she says fondly. Not surprisingly, Rizzo has taken her passion for her work at the SDCBA to new heights this year. She is currently running for one of the four at-large Director Seats on the SDCBA Board of Directors. “If I’m elected, I will strive to build strong connections between practitioners and specialty bar associations within our legal community to ensure the SDCBA serves the needs of its unique and diverse membership,” Rizzo explains.

Aspirations and Ambitions: As far as the future of Rizzo’s firm is concerned, she tries not to get too far ahead of herself. “I have my own firm, am working in an area of law I am extremely passionate about, and representing clients who need counsel.” However, her plans do include giving back, whether it’s educating others about the highly specialized nature of employment law, regardless of whether they become clients; improving her hometown community, working together with her fellow attorneys in the SDCBA to raise the standards of excellence, or mentoring up and coming attorneys. Rizzo says, “I am a firm believer in the power of mentoring. I have been very fortunate to be mentored by several well-respected attorneys and judges. My mentors have taught me the values of civility and integrity in the profession of law and have encouraged me to follow my own unique personal career path. They have helped me become the attorney I am today, and I am so grateful to them for that.” n Contact: Kristin Rizzo Rizzo Law, PC www.RizzoFirm.com rizzo@rizzofirm.com 619.333.0949 1111 Sixth Avenue, Suite 404 San Diego, CA 92101

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COMMUNITY news nButterfield Schechter LLP is pleased to announce that Rob Butterfield was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America ©2014 in the field of Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law. Rob was previously included in 1991-2000, 2005-2011, and 2013. Rob is a nationally recognized expert on ERISA and pension plans. He is the co-founder of Butterfield ROB BUTTERFIELD Schechter LLP with a practice emphasis on employee benefits, executive compensation, ERISA, estate planning and corporate planning. He has practiced employee benefit, tax and corporate law since 1977. Rob is a co-founder of Promises 2 Kids (formerly known as the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation of San Diego County) and serves as an “emeritus” member of its Board of Directors. He is a current member and former president of the Western Pension and Employee Benefits Conference— San Diego Chapter. nThe American Association for Justice (AAJ) and the National College of Advocacy recently recognized Thomas D. Penfield—a partner with San Diego-based law firm CaseyGerry—as a Diplomate of Trial Advocacy at its 2013 Annual Convention in San Francisco. Penfield was honored for his commitment to improving practical THOMAS D. PENFIELD knowledge of trial skills and substantive law, as well as for his dedication to teaching and pursuing advanced legal education. In order to receive the designation, Penfield completed 400 hours of jury trial training with AAJ education programs, including the National College of Advocacy, the AAJ’s trial practice school. Penfield is the only attorney in San Diego to attain this status. Only nine attorneys in California and fewer than 200 lawyers throughout the United States have earned this designation from AAJ, the largest organization of trial lawyers in the United States. The goal of the AAJ’s Trial Advocacy program is to build and develop professional knowledge— active participants are recognized for dedication, commitment and enthusiasm in pursuing legal education.

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nKlinedinst is pleased to announce that associate Heather N. Catron has joined the firm’s growing Business Litigation practice group. Ms. Catron works out of the San Diego office, but handles cases statewide. Ms. Catron earned her law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law, where she graduated cum laude. She was a member of HEATHER N. CATRON the San Diego International Law Journal where she served as Research Assistant for a prominent law school professor. She was also involved in the USD Legal Clinics and served as Legal Assistant, tutoring and assisting first-year students. During law school, Ms. Catron interned at the District of Columbia’s Attorney General’s Office and at the San Diego Human Relations Commission. In recognition for her high-quality work and success at achieving project goals, Ms. Catron was awarded a Special Commendation by the San Diego Human Relations Commission. A native of Washington State, Ms. Catron earned her undergraduate degree in International Studies from the University of Washington, where she graduated cum laude. nSusan Hack, partner at Higgs Fletcher & Mack, was recently presented with the prestigious Daniel T. Broderick III Award at the 29th annual Red Boudreau Trial Lawyers’ Celebration. The award is given to a lawyer in private practice with a substantial body of civil litigation experience, who epitomizes SUSAN HACK the highest principles of civility, integrity and professionalism. The Daniel T. Broderick III award was established in 1990 following his tragic death in 1989; he was a highly regarded trial attorney who was a model of civility and leadership. The award, presented each year in Broderick’s name, is considered the highest honor for an attorney in the San Diego legal community. Upon receiving the award, Hack reminded the audience of Broderick’s accomplishments and asked that the community honor his legacy by remembering him for what he did in the legal community, and not for how his life was taken. “This is an incredible honor for me,” noted Hack. “The award reminds us of the spirit embodied by Dan Broderick himself, a spectacular trial attorney and a man who inspired all of us.”

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COMMUNITY news nWingert Grebing Brubaker & Juskie congratulates its managing partner, Stephen Grebing, on his election to the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). Membership in ABOTA requires high personal character, an honorable reputation and a minimum of 20 jury trials to verdict. “Steve embodies the core values of ABOTA, including civility STEPHEN GREBING and professionalism, integrity, honor and superior trial advocacy skills,” notes Alan Brubaker, past-president of CAL-ABOTA and current member of the National Board of ABOTA. With his induction, Steve joins six attorneys at Wingert Grebing who are ABOTA members, including Charles Grebing, Alan Brubaker, Robert Juskie, James Mangione, Christopher Todd and Roger Dyer. nFisher & Phillips LLP is pleased to announce that Regina Petty, a partner in the San Diego and Los Angeles offices, has been selected for inclusion in San Diego Daily Transcript’s Top Attorneys 2013 in the labor and employment law category. Petty’s practice areas focuses on labor and employment law counseling and litigation, and business litigation. REGINA PETTY Petty practices in state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels and is experienced in multi-district and class action litigation. She advises employers and public agency boards and handles litigation for private and public employers, and has obtained defenses verdicts in jury trials in Imperial County, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. She successfully argued Jones v. The Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership (2008) 42 Cal.4th 1158 before the California Supreme Court, a case noted on Bender’s California Labor & Employment Bulletin’s top ten list of most significant cases and trends for the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s fiftieth anniversary. Petty is a past president of the San Diego County Bar Association and a former member of the board of directors of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

Have a Press Release you would like to submit for our Community News?

nProcopio announces the addition of Chris Jaczko to the firm’s already significant Intellectual Property Litigation practice. The firm houses one of the largest groups in the region. Chris Jaczko, a former partner with Cooley, has extensive experience in intellectual property litigation, including patent litigation, trade CHRIS JACZKO secret misappropriation claims and a wide variety of complex business litigation. Jaczko’s experience includes representing a number of publicly-traded and venture-backed biotechnology companies in patent and licensing matters. In addition to his extensive legal experience, Jaczko was a Marketing Engineer and a Major Accounts Manager with the Semiconductor Group of Texas Instruments, where he was responsible for the strategic development and marketing of semiconductor products to the telecommunications industry. nWilson Turner Kosmo LLP is pleased to announce that the firm’s partner, Frederick Kosmo, has been appointed chair of the Federal Magistrate Judge Selection Committee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. The panel, composed of attorneys and other members of the community, will FREDERICK KOSMO assist in the selection of a new federal magistrate judge to replace Magistrate Judge William McCurine, Jr., who will retire in February 2014. Kosmo has practiced law for 25 years and joined Wilson Turner Kosmo in 1992. His practice focuses primarily on business, product liability, employment, contract, real estate, healthcare and trust litigation. He has been active in many local organizations including Association of Business Trial Lawyers, American Inns of Court and the San Diego County Bar Association. In 2011, Kosmo served as the commissioner if the City of San Diego Redistricting Commission, a seven-member panel, which has sole and exclusive authority to adopt the City’s redistricting plan that sets the boundaries of City Council districts. “It is a great honor and responsibility to assist in the selection of fair-minded Federal Court Judges,” states Kosmo. “I look forward to being a part of this important process.”

Email it to PR@AttorneyJournal.us

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Everyman’s

Advocate By Jennifer Hadley

As managing partner of one of the largest law firms in the state of California exclusively dedicated to the representation of injured people, you might expect the firm’s Managing Partner, Paul Zuckerman, to have a bit of an ego. But within 30 seconds of talking with him, what becomes undeniably clear is that he’s a regular guy, fighting for the rights of regular people. In a sense, he’s truly an everyman’s attorney.

Humble Beginnings “I grew up in a blue collar area of Long Island, NY,” says Zuckerman. Though he admits that it was a “given that I would go to graduate school,” he certainly wasn’t raised in a world of privilege. “I always kind of felt like an outsider. I went to a regular public high school and learned a lot of survival lessons,” he recalls. “When you’re short on stature, and long on mouth, you have to become very clever, very quick,” he jokes. Yet, when he moved to California, Zuckerman once more felt like a fish out of water. All the same, he proved to be a promising student, and when the time came to attend college, he selected the University of Southern California. He graduated from Southwestern Law School near the top of his class in 1991, and sat for the Bar that August. With time to kill waiting for the results from the bar, Zuckerman issued a challenge to law school classmate, John Carpenter. “I dared him to have a Harley shipped abroad, and to ride across Europe with me while waiting for Bar results,” Zuckerman recalls. From England to Spain, the law school buddies rode together from August through November when they returned home to learn they’d passed the Bar. Upon returning to California, Zuckerman took a job in insurance defense. “It was during a recession, so I took it. The job was fun to a point. I got to make lots of court appearances, take depositions, and go to trial,” he recalls. But at the same time,

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Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley’s Compassionate, Yet Casual Approach with Clients Is Backed by Award-Winning Results he started to feel out of his comfort zone. He was defending a large insurance company at the expense of individuals who needed compensation for injuries. “I’d started working at 13 as a dishwasher. I wanted to use my law degree to help regular people who needed help. I fit in their reality,” he says. Zuckerman began thinking about switching practice areas, and his decision was solidified when his father died in 2004. “I found that what I was doing was puny compared to the loss of my dad,” he says. Zuckerman knew that he didn’t want to do insurance defense anymore, but also faced the hard reality that plaintiffs work is done on contingency, and “I was broke,” he says honestly. But fortune smiled on him in a way, as a plaintiff’s attorney he knew let him know that “he had about 30 files for me to work on. I called John (Carpenter) and said ‘look, I got offered these cases. If I’m going to do these cases, we might as well do them together and be miserable together.’” Carpenter agreed to come and work with his law school friend, though with reservations. “John’s stepfather warned us about going into personal injury work,” Zuckerman says. “But we were young, hungry and dumb. No one could tell us what we were doing wrong,” he chuckles. What seemed to have catch Zuckerman most by surprise in working those first plaintiff’s files

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ATTORNEY

OF THE MONTH

Photo by Bronson Pate

2013

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“We tend to take cases that involve people with drug and alcohol addictions. We help them change their lives. We will take the really tough cases, …”

was the fact that he accidentally fell in love with his work. He found that he spoke the language of the victims he was representing, that he could be authentic, and that he was good at the work. They were regular people, whom he could relate to, and he was passionate about helping them. He and John decided to go all in, and launch their firm.

Photo by Bronson Pate

Lessons Learned In the Early Years

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When Carpenter and Zuckerman set out on their own, they had only three strengths, Zuckerman says. “We had brains, mouths and time,” he recalls. “We wanted referrals, and we were trying to figure out how to get cases, but we had no money for advertising.” Moreover, the two inexperienced plaintiff’s attorneys didn’t have a long track record of success to draw in clients. “We decided that with the few clients we had, we would be the guys who called them. We would proactively reach out to them and keep them in the loop,” Zuckerman says. “We were able to show our clients a lot of love and a lot of attention, and we did.” Those clients in turn started referring others to Paul and John. “I would say to clients, ‘I’m your Jewish mother. Turn it over to me, and I’ll do all of the worrying for you,” Zuckerman jokes. The approach worked, and it’s one that the firm as a whole still embraces today. “We let them know first that we care, second that they need to turn their fear over to us, and third, that we will carry their burden for them,” he explains. Of course, Zuckerman is quick to see the humor of lessons learned in the early years of Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley. “I remember a time when I had four clients. One of my clients had referred another of my clients so she was responsible for 50% of my business,” he says. Talking with her one day, “I was trying to sound like what I thought a lawyer would sound like. I complimented her by telling her that she had asked a very astute question. She thought I was calling her stupid,” he recalls. Following a slew of profanities from the client, “I lost her and the other case, because I wasn’t being myself,” Zuckerman recalls. “From that day on, I have talked how I talk to anyone. I don’t try to confuse them with jargon,” he says. The firm has taken this valuable lesson to heart and is well reputed for its everyman approach to working

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with clients. “The relationship we have with our clients is not a business relationship,” he says. “It is much different than that. We let them know that we are all in this with them, and that we will ride their case out, no matter how long it takes,” he adds.

Growing Up and Gaining Steam Carpenter and Zuckerman were starting to add employees, and eventually found a third partner in Nicholas Rowley. The three were starting to take on bigger cases. The men had a real soft spot for the underdogs and found themselves repeatedly taking cases that other firms had rejected. In particular, Zuckerman remembers the time a homeless man who was addicted to drugs stumbled into his office. “He was mentally handicapped, and had become addicted to drugs. This was a guy who never had a chance in the world,” Zuckerman recalls. The man told Zuckerman that he’d been run over by a garbage truck, but that he had no way to prove it. “The police never made a report,” Zuckerman says. But something about the man’s story drove him to see if it checked out. “We did some real CSI type of work. We tracked down the emergency room visit reports, we found a witness, we were able to locate 911 calls,” he says. Still, the insurance company refused to pay. “We had to go to trial. But during the course of litigation, we were able to get him off the streets, into a sober living facility, and he got healthy,” Zuckerman says with a tinge of pride. Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley won the trial to the tune of 2 million dollars, and was able to establish a

conservatorship so that the man is cared for. It’s been several years since the case, but the client “is sober and healthy and off of the public purse,” Zuckerman says. This case served as proof to CZ&R that not only could they help people who had been injured at the hands of others to receive the compensation they deserve, but they were also able to help make a real life difference for their clients. “We tend to take cases that involve people with drug and alcohol addictions. We help them change their lives. We will take the really tough cases,” he says. Continuing, he adds, “It became kind of a niche business for us. Call us crazy, but we believe in taking chances.” Indeed, the firm takes chances, and true to Zuckerman’s word—that the firm will see a victim’s case through no matter what—they also take smaller chances, if only to provide some sort of resolution or peace of mind for clients. “I recently had a client who lost his mother. He was so close to her and couldn’t sleep at night wondering if she’d died as the result of malpractice. We went ahead and had a doctor review the medical records, and found out that his mother had not died as the result of malpractice. Even though there was no case for us to pursue, we were able to give him resolution,” Zuckerman says.

Outgrowing Their Hometown, Expanding Into San Diego The chances that CZ&R has taken have paid off to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars recovered for clients and has established the firm as one of the largest plaintiffs only Attorney Journal | Volume 122, 2013

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EXPERIENCE

firms in the state. Cases that spurred the growth and reputation for the firm as one which will take cases other firms will not take include a $74.25 Million record breaking verdict in a medical malpractice case; a $31.6 Million result for a car crash victim in the defendant driver was an uninsured illegal immigrant operating a work vehicle; $13.86 Million recovered for a professional fighter who suffered traumatic brain injury as a result of a rear end collision, $38.6 Million for a young man who suffered traumatic brain injury after falling from a hotel balcony while intoxicated and $6.9 Million for a young man who was injured by a security guard at a nightclub in Orange County. Clearly, with results such as these, the firm needed to increase its manpower, and has done so to include more than a dozen attorneys and more than 35 full time employees. Not surprisingly then, in 2012, the firm was ready to open a second location in Southern California. It was partner Nick Rowley who spearheaded the firm’s expansion into San Diego, according to Zuckerman. “Nick had spent a lot of time in San Diego and realized it was a great place to live, to work and to practice,” Zuckerman says. “We needed to branch out and open another office so we followed his lead.” The move has proven to be a wise decision for the firm, and Zuckerman is excited about the firm’s future in San Diego. As managing partner, he splits his time between the offices as do many of the firm’s attorneys. “San Diego is a much more collegial environment than Los Angles,” he says. “We are very excited to be here. I believe we’re going to deliver the same award-winning service we’ve been able to provide in L.A. We just hired another terrific associate, Teresa Bowen, for the San Diego office,” says Zuckerman, and “we focus on continuing to get better all the time. We are always improving. That’s our plan for the future.” n

»» EDUCATION

• University of Southern California, B.A. • Law School—Southwestern Law School, J.D.

»» FIRM RESULTS

Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley consistently achieves multi-million dollar record breaking results on behalf of our clients, including: • $74.525 million for the victim of a birth injury caused by medical malpractice in San Luis Obispo • $38.6 million for a young man who suffered a traumatic brain injury due to a fall from a hotel balcony while intoxicated • $31.6 million for a young woman with a traumatic brain injury in Kern County, California • $17 million for a woman with a traumatic brain injury which she appeared normal to those who did not know her • $13.86 million for a professional fighter who suffered a mild traumatic brain injury after a car crash • $12 million for a young man who suffered a mild traumatic brain injury • $8.3 million judgment for a US Navy veteran who suffered a penile injury in a San Diego motorcycle crash • $7.6 million for a client when the defense offered only $300,000 • $6.9 million for a college football player with a traumatic brain injury when the insurance company offered only $30,000 to settle

Contact: Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, LLP www.czrlaw.com EMAIL: info@czrlaw.com 619-814-9000 750 B Street, Suite #3300 San Diego, CA  92101

• $6.1 million for a victim of assault & battery which resulted in a mild traumatic brain injury with normal MRI scans and normal neuropsychological testing • $3.7 million for a patient who was the victim of medical malpractice when the defense refused to settle before trial • $2.25 million for a lifeguard who suffered a back injury after a car crash when the primary defendant offered nothing before trial • $2.1 million for a homeless man who was a victim of a hit-and-run by a garbage truck which the police refused to investigate • $1.5 million for a grocery worker who was injured in a motorcycle collision • $1.23 million for a veteran and former railroad worker who suffered a back injury after a car crash

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• $1 million jury award for a soft-tissue injury which State Farm offered only $1,400 prior to trial.

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Miller & James, LLP Attorneys at Law

David D. Miller

David has over 35 years of experience, primarily representing plaintiffs in the areas of civil litigation and medical malpractice. He is a board-certified civil trial specialist through the National Board of Trial Advocacy and has served as a faculty instructor for that organization. Super Lawyers has recognized David in their annual publication of top attorneys in San Diego in the area of medical malpractice. He is also a fellow with the Litigation Counsel of America. In 1968, David became Ranger qualified. He was on active duty in the United States Marine Corps as a platoon and company commander from 1968 to 1972, serving in the Republic of Vietnam in Southeast Asia in 1969. He spent 27 years in the Marine Corps Reserve, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Patricia I. James (“PJ”)

After earning her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of San Diego in 1976, PJ went on to attend California Western School of Law in San Diego, graduating in 1979. PJ has worked with David since 1989. While David serves as the firm’s trial attorney, PJ acts behind the scenes, using her writing skills to move cases from the initial stage of preparing the complaint through the interim stage of motions and written discovery and finally, to the last stage of settlement or trial.

In sum, David has established himself as a leader ready to take your case through trial.

Miller & James, LLP 2550 5th Avenue, Suite 815, San Diego, California 92103-6624 Tel: 619.685.0077 | Fax: 619.685.0011 | Email: contact@millerandjameslaw.com

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The Demise of

BigLaw Does Startup Culture Provide a Solution?

There’s been a lot of discussion about BigLaw in the wake of announcements regarding recent mergers and the outright dissolution of a few firms. I would suggest that the answer lies in changing the ways in which lawyers perceive their primary job function–and that of law firms–and that startup culture can provide incredible guidance in this regard. But before I expand on that idea, let’s take a look at some of the underlying reasons suggested for the BigLaw crisis. Many who have offered their opinions argue that a major cause is greed, plain and simple, as explained in this recent article from the New Republic: Part of the reason the law-firm ecosystem has changed so dramatically in a single generation is greed: The most profitable partners steadily discarded their underachieving colleagues, because they didn’t want to share the spoils…Within the next decade or so, according to one common hypothesis, there will be at most 20 to 25 firms that can operate this way— the firms whose clients have so many billions of dollars riding on their legal work that they can truly spend without limit. The other 200 firms will have to reinvent themselves or disappear. So far, the transition has not been smooth. In fact, the more you talk to partners and associates at major 22

law firms these days, the more it feels like some grand psychological experiment involving rats in a cage with too few crumbs. Jordan Furlong reaches the same conclusion  in his recent post about the rash of legal secretary layoffs, contending that a mean-spirited selfishness is at the core of the problem. He posits that instead of facing the actual issues head on, managing partners are simply taking short-sighted steps to maintain their positions and wealth, with little thought of the future or the underlying issues causing the previously unheard of fiscal crises many large firms are now encountering: Something has gone seriously wrong at the core of a number of law firms. I don’t how else to describe it except as a mean streak—a level of selfishness and ruthlessness among decision-makers that we’ve not seen before. The triggering event was probably the massive change in client behavior and the deeply unnerving drop in business that followed, combined with lawyers’ utter inability to adjust their own practices in response. Similarly, Ron Friedmann reflects on the predicted decline of BigLaw in a recent post and contends that one cause of managing partners’ apparent selfishness may be the result of their looming retirement and thus unwillingness to plan for anything more than maintaining profit levels in the short term: Too many (law firm partners) seem focused on cost cutting and re-allocating profits rather than fundamentally changing how they deliver legal services and advice. It may be that partners 50 and older do not need to worry; after all, change, to the extent it happens, moves slowly in legal. If, however, I were a newly minted partner or just in my 40s, I might be paying close attention to these alternatives—and taking action.

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“ At its core, the less than exemplary behavior described above is encouraged by the structure of most law firms–one that emphasizes the interests of the individual over those of the group. Lawyers in large and mid-sized firms are rewarded for bringing in a personal book of business and as a result, jealously guard their clients and cases. For these lawyers, the law firm is often viewed as the entity within which the lawyers operate–rather than the entity for which they operate. The service delivered by each lawyer to his or her client is viewed as one that is personally provided rather than a commoditized service delivered by the firm as a whole. Internally, favorable case outcomes are perceived as a victory for the individual lawyer rather than that of the firm. In other words, mid-sized and large firm lawyers generally operate for the good of themselves, not the good of the firm. Is it at all surprising that this mindset breeds jealousy, selfishness and greed? Law firms—rather than being perceived as entities that are bigger and more important than the sum of their parts—are viewed as disposable shells, mere life support systems upon which lawyers leech until retirement. The success of the individual lawyer often matters more than that of the firm as a whole. Startups, however, are a different story—and lawyers can learn a lot from startups. In the startup culture, the team works together to achieve success for the company. Each team member contributes different pieces of the puzzle, all of which are important, with the end goal being happy customers. In order for startups to thrive, they must meet the needs of their customers. Doing so is of paramount importance and thus shifting consumer expectations must be quickly met with a corresponding shift on the startup’s behalf. Also important, long-term success is the end goal of most startups. Of course the definition of “success” can change over time, but generally speaking, the team operates

In the startup culture, the team works together to achieve success for the company.

with the long-term success of the business in mind. In other words, startup culture provides law firms with a wonderful example of what it means to pivot and be responsive to customers’ needs. And, as I’ve argued in the past, in order to survive in this rapidly changing legal landscape, mid-sized and large law firms must indeed learn to pivot. Otherwise, the short-sightedness and selfishness of the current law firm culture will quickly and inevitably lead to its demise. So, pivot or pay the price. Which path are you going to take? n Nicole Black is the Director of Business Relations at MyCase. com, a law practice management software company based in San Diego. She is also of counsel to Fiandach and Fiandach, in Rochester, New York,  is the author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” (2012) and co-authors “Social Media: The Next Frontier” (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authored “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson West treatise. She writes a weekly column for The Daily Record and has authored numerous articles and has spoken at many conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile computing and Internet-based technology. 

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10 Proven Strategies T

his article describes ten proven strategies that we have recommended to clients to effectively implement the two-tier partner structure. Partners in a great many law firms have recognized the value of creating a two-tier partnership structure—as opposed to the “up or out” alternative—for dealing with those long-tenured associates the firm has invested a lot of money in developing, yet do not satisfy all of the objective and subjective criteria to become equity partners. During recent consulting assignments with mid-size and larger law firms, managing partners who are keenly aware of the need to develop more effective methods to integrate non-equity partners into their firm’s career development program have expressed some frustration with the less than effective implementation of the two-tier partner system in their firms. To quote one managing partner, “it is one thing to attract and spend a lot of time and money training  high-quality associates and progress them to non-equity partner status, but it is more challenging to integrate them into the firm to enable them to feel as though they are more than ‘higher paid associates’.” By the time an attorney becomes a non-equity partner, a law firm has invested heavily in time and money to train them. Nonequity partners should be among the most profitable attorneys in the firm. They have experience and the partners should assign work to them and expect high quality work product with minimal oversight and direction. Further, they should be capable of supervising younger attorneys and managing/coordinating certain non-billable matters for the firm.

to Effectively Implement the Two-tier Partner Structure by Joel A. Rose

people,” except for the fact that they did not know how to supervise and develop attorneys. •• They would like to become equity partners in the firm, if only the current equity partners could “get their acts together.” ••  Equity partners were not nearly as interested in the professional development of the  non-equities as they claimed to be. They (equity partners) were more interested in the non-equities’ billable hours and collected billable hours. ••  During pre-employment interviews, equity partners misrepresented the type of personal and professional development the non-equities would receive. •• The non-equities did not feel as though they  were  an integral part of the “team” serving the firm’s clients, i.e., they were told only what they had to know to complete the assigned work, rather than being told the rationale for the assignment and the broader scope of the client project.

Problems Reported by Non-equity Partners

•• The non-equities were among the last to know what the firm’s plans were. One common complaint echoing these concerns was that the secretaries knew more about what was happening at the firm than they did.

Below is a composite of the key perceptions that were offered to the author by non-equity partners about their firm and its equity partners during recent consulting assignments. During personal and confidential interviews, a majority of the non-equities said that: •• Equity partners were excellent lawyers and basically “good

•• A considerable amount of the work assigned to the nonequities did not provide appropriate intellectual and personal challenges.

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•• The non-equities were not making adequate contributions towards satisfying the client’s objectives.

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•• The more experienced non-equities were not given sufficient independence and responsibility for their work and were instead micro-managed by equity partners. ••  Equity partners failed to provide open and honest communications and constructive feedback about the nonequities’ work. •• The non-equities were not given adequate opportunities to develop and use their skills and talents in areas in which they excelled. ••  The equity partners talked about opportunities for partnership, but were unwilling to discuss the criteria for making equity partner or the length of the equity partner track that was likely applicable to the non-equities.

Strategies to Enhance the Integration Process Following is a list of proven strategies that we have recommended to our clients to enhance the integration of the non-equity partners into their firms. Equity partners should:

1.

Conduct personal meetings with the non-equity partners to determine: •• To what extent do the non-equities perceive (the firm’s) stated values about “open communications, and concern for quality of life and professional development” as an accurate representation about how associates are treated, professionally and personally?

3.

Strive to work with the non-equities to gain an understanding of:  what professional and personal objectives the latter want to achieve, and how the firm can assist the non-equities achieve their objectives while ensuring that such differences do not interfere with collaboration at the firm.

4.

Make the non-equities’ professional and personal development a high priority. The lines of communication between the equity partners and the non-equities have to be open, reasonable and candid. For example, equity partners should invite the non-equities to attend many of the equity partners’ meetings and retreats. When the equity partners intend to discuss issues that should not be heard by the nonequities, the latter should be excused from the meeting.

5.

Reassess the firm’s non-equity partner career development program and decide which programs are working, which ones need to be tweaked, and which ones may require major surgery.

6.

Develop objective and subjective criteria to evaluate the nonequities’ professional performance and personal characteristics, so that the equity partners may offer constructive recommendations concerning their performance and career development.

7.

Designate one equity partner to head a committee of equity and non-equity partners to develop a coherent approach for the professional and personal development of the non-equities, including developing strategies to address the non-equities’ concerns, including enhancing the quality and frequency of  communications.

••  Whether the non-equities believe their opportunities for advancement, professionally, personally and financially, are better than, less than, or about the same as opportunities available to their peers for performing similar kinds of work by other law firms and corporations?

8.

•• Whether the non-equities believe their “total” compensation (cash and benefits) is better than, less than, or about the same as the “average” total compensation paid to their peers, for performing similar kinds of work, and demands on their time, by other law firms and corporations?

Make it clear that, while individually, the non-equities have free rein to excel, collectively, they are the keepers of the firm’s future. The firm will grow if it permits its non-equities to perform for their individual benefit and for the firm. Therefore, the equity partners must provide an environment in which both the equities and non-equities will thrive.

•• Whether the non-equities believe that the equity partners’ demands about their billable time and expectations of their total time commitment are reasonable when compared to other law practices performing similar kinds of work in private firms and corporations? ••  Whether the non-equities perceive the present methods followed by some equity partners for assigning work as being conducive to providing to them “stable, diverse and challenging workloads?”         

2.

Allow for individual differences among the non-equities while ensuring that such differences do not interfere with collaboration at the firm.

Recognize that the individual lawyers’ effectiveness can be an insurmountable mode of ensuring excellence. A welltimed “great job” for a good performance is a much more effective motivator than a kick in the pants when things go poorly.

9.

10.

(After the equity partners agree to the above) Integrate the above program into the firm’s career development program and present at separate meetings to the non-equity partners as well as to the associates. n Joel A. Rose is a Certified Management Consultant and President of Joel A. Rose & Associates, Inc., management consultants to the law firms based in Cherry Hill, NJ. He has extensive experience consulting with private law firms about management and organization, strategic and financial planning, lawyer compensation, the feasibility of mergers and acquisitions, and planning and conducting retreats. Mr. Rose may be contacted at jrose63827@aol.com. Attorney Journal | Volume 122, 2013

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JOURNAL

Strength in Specialization

FEATURED PROFESTSHIOENMAOLNPTROFILE OF

2013

H

by Jennifer Hadley

O

ne look at the Subject Matter Mediation Services (SMMS) website will clear up any ambiguity about what differentiates the newly formed mediation panel from other mediation services companies in San Diego. The company’s founders, Doug Sohn, President, and Cheri Sohn, Vice President and General Manager, don’t pull any punches when it comes to conveying the single biggest strength of their mediation panel company. “Because our mediators already know the law, they get right down to the business of resolving your case, saving you time and money,” reads the homepage. Speaking with DOUG SOHN Doug and Cheri confirms that this declaration is not just for show. Founded in December 2012, with offices in La Jolla, “The SMMS panel is centered on the concept of subject matter expertise, which emphasizes the type of case in which a party is involved and ensures that they will be provided with a mediator who has expertise in that particular subject matter,” Doug Sohn explains. To that end, when Sohn CHERI SOHN and his wife Cheri first conceived of the panel, they realized that this focus would be the linchpin in differentiating their mediation company from others. “After 35 years in litigation practice, I wanted to become involved in a process that was less adversarial, and more focused on meeting the needs of all of the participants,” Doug says. With the help of his wife Cheri, who has served as the Office Manager of The Law Offices of Sohn & Associates for more than ten years, 26

When It Comes To Resolving Disputes: Specialization Reigns Supreme for Subject Matter Mediation Services, Inc. the two became convinced that with the highly competitive mediation market, it would be imperative that they carve a niche for their company, or risk lackluster success. “We started doing research on mediation companies. We found that most panels focus on the process of mediation,” Sohn says. In fact, he found that when he tried to find mediators who had expertise in specific areas of law or subject matter, it proved a challenge. “Focusing on the process of mediation is a legitimate approach,” Sohn says. But he realized that focusing on subject matter expertise was an equally valuable, yet largely untapped model.

Handpicked Professionals To that end, Sohn decided that he would seek out those with expertise in 9 specific areas of law: Business Litigation, Probate Litigation, Employment Law, Real Estate Law, Antitrust & Securities Law, Injury Law, Lemon Law & Other Auto, Commercial Litigation and Construction Law. Sohn admits to spending a great deal of time scouring attorney biographies to find those with the specific expertise in the designated fields, and more importantly, who had at least 10 years of litigation experience in those areas of law.

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“I looked through an awful lot of bios to find the candidates,” Sohn says. However, it was worth the effort. Following informal meetings over coffee with his future colleagues, Sohn had compiled a panel of mediators who had many years of experience in litigation, and who recognized that the opportunity to offer their services as specialists in particular areas of law was a chance they couldn’t pass up. In time, Sohn succeeded in compiling a team of 6 additional attorneys who collectively had hundreds of years of experience in litigation. In addition to himself, the panel included Elisabeth Epel, Kevin Forrester, Marc Geffen, Jim Greer, Allen Gruber and Steve Oggel.

Specialization in Subject Matter In addition to Sohn, whose expertise as a mediator lies in injury cases (personal, premises liability, product liability), and Lemon Law and auto law, Sohn sought out Elisabeth Epel, who specializes in employment law cases and commercial cases. Epel, who holds Masters Degrees from Harvard University, and from Pepperdine University in addition to her J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School, first became a mediator in Florida in 2000, before becoming a mediator in California in 2003. When approached to join the SMMS panel as a mediator, Epel ELISABETH EPEL was eager to be part of the team. 28

“When people need to have a commercial dispute resolved, it is beneficial to work with a mediator who has practiced in that field and understands the complications of litigation.  I am deeply committed to the process of mediation, the people involved, and the ultimate resolution of the dispute,” she says. Likewise, Kevin Forrester was intrigued by the concept of using his expertise as a mediator in his specialized field. In his case, working as a mediator in real estate law is nothing if not a perfect fit. Forrester, who has not only 25 years civil litigation experience as a trial lawyer, arbitrator, and mediator of litigated KEVIN FORRESTER and pre-litigation civil, real estate and real property disputes; he’s also spent more than 30 years as a licensed REALTOR® and real estate broker. In fact, Forrester has served as the President of the North San Diego County Association of REALTORS®, and as a 10 year director of the California Association of REALTORS®, one of the nation’s largest state trade associations. Not surprisingly, the decision to join forces with Sohn and others at SMMS was an easy one for Forrester. “SMMS seemed like it would be a good fit, both for me and for parties with real estate disputes,” said Forrester. “SMMS provides the opportunity for people already in the same field to get together in the same room and solve problems,” he adds.

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For Marc Geffen, joining the SMMS team fit with his overall philosophy of successful dispute resolution. “Francis Bacon wrote that the greatest trust between people is the trust of giving counsel.  While good mediators are skilled at identifying and overcoming the particular obstacles to settlement in a given case, exceptional mediators also MARC GEFFEN possess the credibility of their counsel.  Often, that comes in the form of the mediator’s subject area expertise,” says Geffen, who serves as one of the panel’s expert mediators in the fields of business litigation and probate laws. With more than 20 years of experience in litigating probate matters in addition to all types of business litigation including Contract Negotiations / Contract Preparation, Contract Disputes & Commercial Litigation, Business Entity Formation and Governance, Construction Law and Litigation, Trade Secrets Protection and Enforcement, Unfair Business Practices / Unfair Competition, Professional Licensing & Disciplinary Matter, Corporate Control Contest, Commercial Debt Collection / Creditors’ Rights, Fraud and Misrepresentation, Geffen is trained in both evaluative and facilitative methods of mediation. Jim Greer’s interest in joining the SMMS panel was strong when he learned that the panel would be organized by subject matter expertise. Greer’s passion for construction and real estate is evident not only in his experience in construction, real estate and business law, but also because he’s a licensed general contractor. Beginning JIM GREER his career as in-house counsel for a top ten construction contractor and developer in San Diego County, Greer’s immersion into the field of construction and real estate law began in 1986. Since 1997, he has also mediated and arbitrated hundreds of cases in the field. “As an advocate on behalf of builders, contractors and homeowners I became increasingly frustrated with the pace of the litigation process. In my litigation practice, it was refreshing to achieve resolution of claims in a mediation format (many of which were complex construction defect cases and class action realty matters). As a mediator and arbitrator for these past 15 years, drawing on that litigation experience, I have been focused on bringing the parties to ‘yes’ in most efficient manner possible. This focus is especially important now, with the more budgetburdened court system, that seems to have reverted to a slower processing of civil lawsuits,” Greer says.

For Allen Gruber, whose specialization lies in Real Estate Law and Commercial Litigation, the attraction to joining SMMS stemmed from his desire to utilize his 40+ years of real estate and commercial litigation experience and his 5+ years of mediating cases to assist others in efficiently and ethically resolving ALLEN GRUBER similar disputes. Moreover, joining the SMMS panel would complement his role as a long time commercial arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association and as an adjunct professor and supervising attorney for the live Client Civil and the Landlord Tenant Clinics at the University of San Diego School of Law. Additionally, mediating cases with SMMS would further facilitate his role as a real estate broker and in-house counsel and advisor to the broker associates and agents at the Keller Williams San Diego Central Coastal office. Steve Oggel also boasts a legal career spanning more than 40 years, with the last fifteen of them focusing on mediation. Prior to that, Oggel served in the armed forces, where his legal career began, before retiring as a captain in the Marine Corps in 1970. Since then, he has brought more than 75 cases to trial, in the fields of STEVE OGGEL business litigation and real estate law, with a niche specialty in antitrust issues. Oggel is also a licensed California real estate broker. Lately, Oggel has been active in teaching anti-trust at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and providing lectures to groups like Oasis. “With the present budget problems, trials will be delayed for years.  Mediation is the best, least expensive and confidential answer to this problem,” Oggel says.

High End Expertise and a High End Experience With the team of specialists in place for the launch of SMMS, Sohn recognized that in addition to the expertise that attorneys and their clients would receive from the panel of mediators, they would expect a mediation experience that would be equally as impressive. To that end, Cheri Sohn stepped in to create a very friendly and comfortable setting for the mediations. “When mediation clients come in, it’s high stress. Of course, it’s not as stressful as a trial setting, but there is an emotional component to all mediation,” Cheri says. “If I can put the clients at ease, and be a friendly welcoming face, it helps,” she adds. Attorney Journal | Volume 122, 2013

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To accomplish this, beverages and snacks are available free of charge for all half day mediations. Full day mediations include lunch, which she admits includes a lot of healthy foods and fruit. “People are not effective when their blood sugar crashes. We need everyone to be feeling their best while they are here, so that they can accomplish what they came to do,” she says. “We’re committed to providing a first class experience here,” agrees Doug. However, part of providing a premium experience means that the panel knows its own limits. That is, they are not trying to be everything to everyone. Instead, they focus on being the best in their specified areas of expertise. “We are not for everyone. But for those whose disputes involve one of the areas in which we specialize, and involve a significant amount in dispute, we give the participants their best chance at resolution.” Because of that, Sohn has high expectations.  “We expect mediation to continue to grow as a valuable disputeresolution tool, and we expect that our San Diego office will be fully booked within the next 12 months. We also plan to add an Intellectual Property mediator to our panel very soon. After that,

we will be opening offices in Orange County and other Southern California markets,” Sohn says. In the meantime, though, the panel of mediators at SMMS is focusing on the immediate future, and is looking forward to their formal introduction to the legal community at the State Bar Annual Meeting October 10-13, 2013, where they will be at booth 510. “We’re all excited to show our new clients that they can easily find the mediator at SMMS who has the subject matter expertise that he or she needs,” Sohn adds. After all, when it comes to mediation, the “subject matters,” says Sohn. n Contact: Subject Matter Mediation Services, Inc. 858-500-6893 www.subjectmattermediation.com schedule@subjectmattermediation.com 4225 Executive Square Suite 600 La Jolla, CA 92037

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Attorney Journal, San Diego, Volume 122