Super Lawyers Releases 2012 Top Lists
Super Lawyers Releases 2012 Top Lists
The latest issue of New Jersey Super Lawyers & Rising Stars magazine is now available online, as a digital magazine, and, of course, in print.
A diverse set of skills and experiences showed itself in the latest issues of Super Lawyers Magazine. From immigrating to America, to persevering through familial heartache and experiencing the elation of trial success, Super Lawyers selectees commit to their craft. In the following stories, you get a picture of what it takes to become a top-rated attorney.
Eighteen years after coming out on the other side of his own tragedy, Buffalo personal injury attorney, Jim Scime now manages a caseload of them.
"I get to meet and represent really extraordinary people who have been through hell," he says. "I tell my clients, the bad part has already happened, and there is nothing I am going to do, or the court or the jury will do, that can undo what has happened. The good thing is, they have faced the worst. And if you do your job right, and if you are fortunate, you get the chance to make their situation better."
While he may work in a business in which bravado and ego can be critical weapons, he is, by all accounts, humble and workmanlike. Maybe because he credits his career to nothing more than "dumb luck."
"If you want to be a litigator, there are so few places you can go and actually try cases at such a young age," he says. "I was 24 years old, and I was lucky enough that there was some movement [in the D.A.'s office], and I got the chance to work at the felony trial level early on."
The pressure in leading a team at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP into battle in a multimillion-dollar products liability case can be immense so, for Scime, family is the counterbalance. Theater is another joy-he is a longtime season ticket holder at historic Shea's Performing Arts Center. (He settles on South Pacific as his favorite show.) Or you might find him simply unwinding at home in Snyder, just outside of Buffalo, enjoying a movie or two.
Practicing at the same firm since 1980, read how Scime came out on the other side of trauma and helps his clients do the same.
For many immigrant attorneys in Michigan, the hard part was getting out.
George Mann, owner of George P. Mann & Associates in Farmington Hills, was a teenager in Romania in 1964 when his family, after 15 years of planning, finally escaped. Mani Khavajian, principal attorney at his solo firm in Birmingham, fled Iran with his brother and parents after the 1979 revolution. "We were watching, basically, the country burn before our eyes," he says. And while Carrie Pastor-Cardinale, owner of Pastor and Associates in Troy, was born in New York, her father arrived from Cuba after fleeing Fidel Castro's new regime, on a boat with no navigator.
All were inspired to take up the law. A few drifted into immigration law. "Immigration was a natural fit," Mann says. "In 1980, there were only six or eight lawyers in the whole state of Michigan making a living doing immigration work. But I saw the future. I understood movement of people across borders [was] just going to be more and more of an important phenomenon."
Access the feature story to read six immigrants share their journeys from Romania, Iran, Poland, Zimbabwe and Israel to become Michigan attorneys.
Mark Lanier, a personal injury attorney and Super Lawyers listee since 2003, is a busy man.
Within a 36-hour span, he would touch down in four cities-attending a pretrial conference in St. Louis for an asbestos case, sitting in on a hearing in Cleveland dealing with the opioid epidemic, then heading home to Houston for a morning meeting of The Lanier Law Firm's section heads. That afternoon, he would fly to Nashville to moderate a panel at Lipscomb University, his undergrad alma mater, and attend a dinner honoring his former Greek professor.
The only thing remarkable about this schedule is how unremarkable it is-he does this all the time.
The 57-year-old attorney ascended to this intense level most notably in August 2005, when his firm represented the widow of a man who died while taking prescription painkiller Vioxx. In Carol A. Ernst, et al. v. Merck & Co. Inc., the jury awarded Lanier's client total damages of $253.5 million. This, says Lanier, "moved what I did to a different stage. I could mean 'stage' like a rocket, but I also mean 'stage' like a theater. It moved me to a national stage, a multidistrict litigation world that I'd never played in."
Richard Arsenault, a personal injury attorney at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault in Louisiana, met Lanier about 20 years ago. Lanier was one of the "rock stars" on his list of keynote speakers-lawyers, academicians and jurists revered by their peers.
Lanier's honors through the years include an American Association for Justice Lifetime Achievement Award and, last year, admission into The National Trial Lawyers' Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame.
"Trial lawyers usually don't go around giving other trial lawyers these kinds of accolades unless they're really accurate," says Arsenault. "I've taught trial advocacy for years and got a bunch of accolades myself, but he's in a different league. It's reminiscent of when Eric Clapton saw Jimi Hendrix play and started crying. I'm not saying I'm Eric Clapton, but he said, 'I'm pretty good, but I'll never be that good. I don't know how he does it.'"
Read the entire article to see the array of talents this Houston attorney puts on display, including a strong work ethic, natural connection with juries, technological savvy, deep faith, photographic memory-and even acting chops.
Look back at every issue of Super Lawyers Magazine by accessing the digital editions online.
Word-of-mouth is critical for attorneys. It elevates happy clients and it serves as a proof point to a job well done. This leads to referrals and the cycle starts again. However, making referrals a cornerstone of your business isn't just about face-to-face interactions. It's also about the way you diversify your marketing as an attorney.
Potential consumers, and referring attorneys, are looking in more places to find solutions to legal problems. But they still need to know about you to refer cases your way.
That's why it's important to master the art of referrals by cultivating your referral network.
Yes, your current clients and former clients are a great source of referrals, but practicing law has connected you to an extensive network of professionals. From high school, college and law school classmates, to attorneys in other practice areas and co-members of community groups, the list is long to expand your contacts.
And when it comes to fellow Super Lawyers selectees, the referral source is a strong one. In fact, 46 percent of Super Lawyers selectees have referred a client to a fellow selected attorney four or more times in the past year, according to the Super Lawyers Attorney Referral Survey.
Rob Sullivan, a nine-time listee and personal injury lawyer at Sullivan Law in Kansas City, Missouri, takes the referral process a step further. He created a method for using the Super Lawyers online magazine and directory as a referral tool locally and nationally. He vets fellow selectees from each region on the Super Lawyers list and then picks a handful as potential sources to refer out cases he won't be able to handle.
"If a case is in Seattle, it's not going to be cost effective for me," he said. "I've done cases in 25 states, but I want a local person and the top one in the area. And in the future, hopefully they'll think of us."
Sullivan said he knows that over time, the act of passing out business to others will make its way back to him. The process expands his connections and when he provides a good referral experience with the other attorney, it increases satisfaction in his firm within the minds of potential clients.
It's a give-and-take for Sullivan and something he's taken the time to cultivate. How are you building your referral network?
Download our playbook, Master the Art of Referrals, to learn more about how you can make referrals a cornerstone of your marketing strategy.
In the wake of 9/11, civil rights and employment lawyer Shereef H. Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine in Troy, Michigan, found his calling representing Muslim Americans who had been victims of discrimination. But his most notable case might have been a class-action lawsuit on behalf of detainees held in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Akeel described the case to us in the 2006 edition of Michigan Super Lawyers Magazine.
In March 2004, a man Akeel refers to as "Mr. Saleh" also walked into Akeel's office with a complaint. He had recently been imprisoned, he said. He had been tortured, he said. He gave the name of the prison.
"Abu what?" Akeel asked.
This was a month before the now-infamous photos of torture and abuse were broadcast on 60 Minutes II, and Akeel had no idea what the man was talking about. Suspicious at first, Akeel listened as Saleh cited instances of torture and rape and humiliation. He had witnessed an old man dying from neglect. When Saleh grimly told of being forced to strip down and lie atop another nude man, and having a rope tied around his genitals and then tied to the genitals of several other men, Akeel started to believe. No Muslim, he felt, would freely talk about his own sexual humiliation if it weren't true.
Akeel's decision to travel to Baghdad a few months later to interview other Abu Ghraib prisoners did not come easily. He had a wife and four young sons, and a law practice to run, and the situation in Baghdad was worsening. The trip would be risky, even though Akeel, a Muslim of Egyptian descent, could take measures to blend in.
An Iraqi-born childhood acquaintance, Mohammed Alomari, who had recently returned from the warravaged country, counseled against it. "You don't know what you'll be getting yourself into," Alomari said. "Sleep on it and make your decision in the morning."
Akeel awoke the next morning and, to the surprise of no one, still wanted to go. He owed it to Mr. Saleh.
"There are thousands of attorneys in the Detroit area, and a lot of Muslim attorneys too," Akeel says. "He could have [gone] anywhere. But he came into my office. I took that very seriously. I felt it was something I had to undertake because it represented everything I believed."