We recently interviewed Kelly J.C. Gallinger, a partner at Brown Law Firm in Billings, Mont., who practices insurance defense and litigation. Gallinger spent 11 years in the Montana Army National Guard, and one year teaching ESL in South Korea--which you can read about in the latest issue of Mountain States Super Lawyers.
Here, Gallinger talks about how retired Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Karla Gray--the first woman in the state elected to the post--was instrumental in whipping Gallinger's legal writing into shape:
I clerked for Karla Gray for a year and I probably learned more from that than my three years of law school. She was a tough boss but a great boss. She taught me more about legal writing and legal research than I learned in law school, or the Public Land & Resources Law Review, or anything. I was on the Law Review and I had gotten good grades in law school, and I thought I was a pretty coherent, straight-forward, logical writer.
I was terrible.
It's shocking to me that I ever got on the Law Review. I would do a draft of an opinion and it was like [Karla] spilled a bottle of red ink. She would mark it up. But there was no ego involved. She was a tough boss and she would do it in not a very diplomatic way by pointing out: "Why do you even think you need these three pages, this adds nothing to your argument. This is what we're trying to say." And as blunt as it was, it was the best way for me to learn to become a good writer. I have utter respect for Karla Gray.
In the most recent issue of Washington Super Lawyers & Rising Stars magazine (available online, digitally, via app, and of course in magazine form), we highlight Rebecca Ringer, whose lifelong campaign for justice began with a high school crusade against the Sadie Hawkins Day dance.
A personal injury lawyer at Floyd Pflueger & Ringer, Ringer represents healthcare providers-ranging from individual nurses and doctors to Providence Health Systems and Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound.
"She has a win/loss percentage that's almost unparalleled. She speaks softly, carries a very big stick," says colleague Francis Floyd. "She's not afraid to try a case ...Some litigators talk about going to trial, but they don't really want to. She is preparing the case for trial from the very first day; she's thinking about tactics, about issues that might come up."
Ringer's job starts with a great deal of fact-finding. "Most of my clients are pretty straight with me on whether they think there is a problem in their care," she says. "If there is, they tell me, 'I've thought about this one a lot and maybe in retrospect, I should have done something here, earlier, versus here, later.' But if they have gone back and looked, and really do think that they met the standard of care, it's hard for them to understand that there are professionals taking a different position."
That's when she has to reassure them about the jury system: "They're very nervous about juries. They're thinking, 'That's not a jury of my peers; I need a bunch of doctors deciding my case.' I have to spend a lot of time educating them that I've seen it time and time again--you put 12 people together and they get real smart as a functioning group."
We also interview James Lobsenz, an unassuming appellate lawyer at Carney Badley Spellman who could boast of some landmark rulings. The most recent headline-grabber was the case of Major Margaret Witt, an award-winning 17-year veteran Air Force nurse who was once featured on a promotional Air Force brochure. Witt lost her post in 2004 after being outed for being gay. It took six years, but a federal judge ultimately ruled that "don't ask, don't tell" was unconstitutional as applied to Witt. Three months later, Congress threw out the entire policy. Many, including Sen. Joe Lieberman, believe Witt's ruling played a major role.
Anne Bremner, with Stafford Frey Cooper, has opposed Lobsenz--whom she calls a "brainiac"--in several cases. "Jim's not a prestige guy," she says. "It's all about justice, the law and individual rights."
Judge J. Robin Hunt echoes the praise: "He has the utmost integrity. Whatever he's representing about the case law, the facts, he's not going to misconstrue things."
As for Witt, she had confidence in Lobsenz from the first meeting. "He was very serious about the conversation. Serious about me," she says. "I knew that if he took my case, he would give it his all."
In our Q&A with John Hempelmann, you'll find out about the role this land use attorney with Cairncross & Hempelmann played in 'Camelot'-including shoveling snow for JFK's inaugural parade and attending the inaugural ball-as well as his near-victorious bid to become a U.S. congressman and the influence he wields when it comes to shaping public policy.
You'll also read about two Seattle environmental attorneys who are playing key roles in Louisiana's litigation over the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Bradley M. Marten, with Marten Law, is serving as special assistant to Louisiana's attorney general; and Samuel W. "Billy" Plauché IV, with Plauché & Stock, was tapped by Gov. Bobby Jindal to help with the administrative end of the litigation. Both attorneys are also very active in Washington state's environmental landscape.
We tell the success story of Stephen Graham, of Fenwick & West, who started life in a small town in east Texas and is now managing partner at his Silicon Valley-based firm's recently opened Seattle office. Graham, who handles mergers and acquisitions, is also the office's lead biosciences attorney. He's been working on strategy since junior high, when he would play marathon battlefield board games.
Giving us their take on the best advice they've ever received are Bruce Goto, intellectual property attorney with Riddell Williams; Katie Matison, transportation/maritime lawyer with Lane Powell; Chris Alston, bankruptcy lawyer at Foster Pepper; Robert Tenney, personal injury attorney at Fluegge & Tenney; and Eileen Peterson, elder law/estate planning lawyer at Gordon Thomas Honeywell.
In the latest issue of Florida Super Lawyers & Rising Stars magazine (available online, digitally, via app, and of course in magazine form), we sharpen our pencils to profile Top 100 attorney Jane Kreusler-Walsh, an appellate lawyer who knows what judges really want: a well-edited brief. Fortunately, that's the only kind Kreusler-Walsh knows how to produce.
From a rather inauspicious start as a "baby lawyer" crammed into a windowless storeroom, she rose to new heights--literally--and now owns the firm, which is located three floors above her former cramped office. Helping to propel her career have been a number of landmark cases, including Thompson v. Thompson, which established that the good will of a business is a marital asset that can be divided in a divorce; and Wransky v. Dalfo, which reaffirmed that punitive damage awards must be in proportion to a defendant's net worth.
Despite her winning record, Kreusler takes nothing for granted: "I still get nervous before every oral argument. I want to walk out the door and say I did the best I could, win or lose."
Bruce Rogow, an appellate lawyer with Alters Law Firm in Miami who has opposed Kreusler-Walsh many times, calls her "a formidable opponent." Here's why: "The key to a good presentation is oral argument and an ability to think on one's feet, and Jane can do both," Rogow says. "Jane sticks to the facts and the law, and tries to find the hole in the needle in order to prevail."
You will also find a Q&A with commercial litigator Benjamin H. Hill III, with Hill Ward Henderson in Tampa. How do we know he's so good? His fellow attorneys come to him when they need help.
As Hill says, "I think probably one of the greatest compliments that an attorney can have is when you try a case against a lawyer on another side, and two or three years later that lawyer comes to you for assistance for their own personal needs, or they've referred one of their good clients to you."
That sort of thing happens to Hill on a regular basis. He's also served as general counsel to former Gov. Bob Graham and is currently on the American Bar Association committee that evaluates all the president's candidates for federal judgeships.
We also pick the brains of three attorneys who played a role in the landmark, headline-grabbing decision overturning Florida's decades-old ban on gay adoptions--Hilarie Bass, Elliot Scherker and Scott Rubin. We find out what motivates Howard Talenfeld in his longstanding battle for the rights of Florida's foster children, and take a look at his remarkable record of reforming the state's foster care, juvenile delinquency and mental health systems. Harley Riedel tells us why he was drawn to work for his mentor, Don Stichter, despite the frugal Stichter's less than over-the-top campaign to recruit the young Riedel. LaShawnda Jackson shares what it's like having a mentor like Scott Kirk who's "always got my back." Plus, Bryan Gowdy takes on the state of Florida and wins; and Prineet Sharma makes sure land-takings are fair to both takers and sellers.