Rubin & Levin partner Elliott Levin speaks on bankruptcy law and why he never underprepares for a case.
Super Lawyers selectees are often in the headlines for anything from big settlements to high profile criminal cases to awards and profiles. This happens when you're considered by your peers to be one of the best attorneys in your state. Below are just a few of their stories this month.
Steve Berman-The NCAA settled an antitrust lawsuit with thousands of former athletes represented by Super Lawyers selectee Steve Berman of Hagens Berman. The class-action case claimed that the NCAA illegally capped athletic scholarships and did not include the usual cost-of-attendance stipend scholarship students receive that covers expenses beyond books, tuition and room and board. Around 40,000 former college football and basketball players will receive part of the $208.7 million settlement.
William Scherer-Sing like no one is listening, dance like no one is watching and email like it will one day be read in a deposition. Wachovia Mortgage Company learned this the hard way in March when a jury awarded West City Realty Advisors $43.9 million in losses after an errant email caused the company mass exodus of condominium buyers. William Scherer of Conrad & Scherer LLP successfully argued that the email, sent by a representative of Wachovia Mortgage Company, and mistakenly carbon copied hundreds of condo buyers, cost the real estate company millions just before the housing collapse.
Drew Findling-Ever have one of those days when you're rushing to get to the airport and accidentally pack the wrong bag? Well hip-hop star Waka Flocka Flame took that to a new level when he packed his then-fiancee Tammy Rivera's backpack instead of his own. Unfortunately for him that bag contained Rivera's handgun and 30 bullets. Super Lawyers selectee Drew Findling of The Findling Law Firm successfully argued that bringing the handgun to the airport was a legitimate mistake. The jury only took 30 minutes to come back with a not guilty verdict.
In 2012 issue of Colorado Super Lawyers Magazine, we published an award-winning oral history focusing on the legal fallout of the tragedy in Littleton. We spoke to six attorneys, including James A. Cederberg, who represented one of the victims; and John M. Richilano, who defended a friend of the shooters. An excerpt:
Cederberg: We were trying to put together evidence that [teachers and school officials] had a lot of information in front of them and didn't put two and two together. And [U.S. District] Judge [Lewis] Babcock didn't care much for that argument. He issued a written order that pretty much addressed the arguments that we were making. The standard's very tough, which is reckless indifference. Red flags-he didn't feel that was enough to get where he needed to go to impose liability.
Frankly, we were asking in our motion to go in uncharted territory. We knew we had an uphill battle. There was no precedent for applying the kind of principles that we were trying to apply to the bizarre and outrageous facts of this particular case, where you've got kids who had this plot, and signaled the plot, who I thought were making somewhat extraordinary efforts to tell people they were not happy. ... We never got to do any discovery to find out what exactly did happen. I don't think we left any stones unturned. The legal system is the best one in the world, but it doesn't provide a remedy for every harm that occurs.
It's easy to get nostalgic about where you went to school. Those days when you were young and idealistic, working with challenging professors and forging relationships with your fellow classmates. But think about those classmates for a bit. How many of them are you that close to these days? Are any of them practicing law near you?
When compiling online bios many lawyers have a tendency to just list qualifications like the law school they attended and their professional accomplishments, treating it like a résumé. The truth is that many of your competitors went to great schools and have accomplishments that are similarly impressive. So how do you stand out from the crowd?
Prospective clients want to know the factors that differentiate your services and how your personality influences your practice. In other words, they want to know what's important to them. If they think your bio reads like someone stroking their own ego they will likely move onto the next firm. Instead put yourself in their shoes. They're in a tough situation and want to know how your particular set of skills directly relates to their scenario.
You can also take it a step further and describe what about your practice area makes you tick? When consumers are researching you online they want to know if you are passionate about their needs. On top of that they want to feel comfortable. Speak in the third person and tone down the legalese.
Keep away from clichés, every attorney says they "fight for their clients." While it's difficult, finding a creative approach to appeal to a prospective client helps you stand out from a sea of legal websites using the exact same phrases. One way of doing this is sharing the particular area of the law that really motivates you or some content you recommend for screening and selecting an attorney. You can provide links to articles or other published works, including a brief introduction about why it's compelling.
Photos can also add value to any attorney website bio page because they help the reader connect with your words. If people can assign a face to black and white text, they're more likely to cultivate trust and a connection with the attorney. Also, invest in a professional headshot. Your website should exude professionalism in every facet from the design to the copy. A professional photo will not only give your profile a personal touch with clients but also help you put forward your best attorney website bio.
Trust is difficult to establish when marketing to online consumers. For more information on securing a client's faith and business download the playbook Building Real Trust in a Virtual World: An Attorney's Guide.