The only thing more colorful than legendary Oregon personal injury attorney William A. Barton‘s personality might be his legal career. He’s worked cases involving the sovereign immunity of the Vatican, the infamous Rajneesh movement and the Boy Scouts of America. In the cover story of the 2007 edition of Oregon Super Lawyers Magazine, Barton’s colleagues shared their thoughts on his success.
Mark Bocci, a personal injury lawyer in Lake Oswego, is a member of one of Barton’s many self-formed clubs-in this case, the No Name Club, composed of a few close friends in the profession. He says, “If someone on the other side gets really irate with him because he won’t come off his numbers or he won’t negotiate or he won’t do what the other side wants him to do, they’ll express their frustration and anger with him and Bill will say, ‘Oh, I love you. Gosh, I’m sorry you feel that way. I just love you.'”
Jeffrey Batchelor likens Barton to a mountain stream.
“I think of him as water going down a hill,” he says. “So many lawyers, when they run into a witness that doesn’t want to answer a question or fights with the lawyer, the lawyer will fight back. But Bill is like water hitting a rock. Rather than arguing with the witness, he just goes around it. If he’s got a witness that wants to argue, Bill will say, ‘Well, let me see if I can just state that differently,’ or ‘OK, I’ll accept your amendment to my question.'”
Juries resonate with Barton’s humble approach. A slick lawyer in a designer suit he ain’t. Judge Lyle Velure, recently retired from Oregon Circuit Court, says simply, “Young lawyers act like lawyers; experienced lawyers act like human beings. [Barton] doesn’t talk down to a jury; he talks to a jury.”
Read the rest of the article on SuperLawyers.com. And be sure to check out the most recent issue of Oregon Super Lawyers.