In May, Super Lawyers Magazine highlighted four top attorneys with compelling back stories. From stopping a robbery to scoring 28 points on Michael Jordan, the stories surrounding these lawyers provide plenty of conversation starters. Access each issue to read about the legal prowess and determination it takes to become the top five percent and 2.5 percent of attorneys in a region.
Now in his 60s, Reeves Mahoney, a founding partner at Mahoney Nashatka Richmond in Virginia Beach, stays fit by running five miles every morning. While Mahoney credits his father-a WWII surgeon awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre for heroic deeds at the Battle of the Bulge-with instilling in him a tireless work ethic, it's his mother he points to for making him curious and culturally aware.
Mary Watkins Reeves wrote daytime serials for radio during the 1930s and '40s (she wrote for the popular The Romance of Helen Trent) and then soap operas for CBS in the '50s. She had her son tutored in Latin and ancient Greek. She took him on regular trips from their home in Long Island to Manhattan's museums, galleries and bookstores.
That erudite training helps him as a man of many talents who is a top-rated family law attorney.
"Whenever I asked her what a word was," Mahoney says, "she would say, 'Look it up and you'll never forget.' The only dictionary that we had was the Oxford English Dictionary, which had those wafer-thin, onion-skin pages. I had to wash my hands before I could put them on the sacred OED. She would say, 'That word is a derivation of what Latin word? Where did that come from in Greek?', and sometimes you would take words all the way back to their Phoenician roots. Every word became a journey."
"Reeves is one of those Renaissance people that is well-read and thinks deeply," says former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. "He's always looking for a way to make the practice of law better and desires a comprehensive strategy to serve his clients better."
The curiosity instilled in Mahoney helped him become one of the best trial lawyers and family law attorneys in Virginia.
Read the entire feature story to learn about his work in domestic abuse cases, divorce cases and how he once thwarted a robbery attempt in 1975.
Karl Tilleman holds the Olympic record for the most three-point baskets made in a single game, making 10 of 16 shots from beyond the arc and scoring 21 points in a row for Canada against Spain.
In fact, Tilleman was so successful for the Canadian national team that Michael Jordan, yes that Jordan, was tasked with guarding him.
On the wall of his office at Steptoe & Johnson in downtown Phoenix, Tilleman keeps a framed photo of himself and Michael Jordan facing off against each other in the 1984 Olympics.
"He guarded me in the semifinals, and whenever he would come after me, he would kick me toe-to-toe," Tilleman says. "Not in a rude way, but he would just literally slam his toe into my foot, and then he'd slap me on the leg, as if to say, 'Come on! Let's go!'"
But it's his work as an attorney which has garnered him as successful a career in court as he had on the court.
As a seasoned trial lawyer and class action litigator, he has litigated antitrust, IP, RICO, insurance and environmental cases while representing clients like AIG, USC, Western Union and the Harlem Globetrotters.
"I love litigation; it does feel a lot like athletics to me," he says. "There's a little bit of a chase; there's the competition part in taking an adversarial position. I enjoy the personal relations, particularly in jury trials; working with people. Plus, it's not hard emotionally on me, because I feel-no matter the outcome-that's the way life works out."
Take a look at the feature article to learn more about Tilleman, including cross-examining Meadowlark Lemon, and the time he was a law clerk to both Chief Justice Warren Burger and Justice Clarence Thomas.
Sometimes, when she's thinking about which way to proceed in a mediation, or while making notes on an opening statement in trial, Dodge gets up from her desk, grabs one of the baseballs scattered around her office and idly tosses it up and down as she thinks.
She's had Pirates season tickets for almost 30 years, and her office is a shrine to the power the hometown team has to own, and break, a fan's heart. There are bobblehead dolls, and a framed photograph of the crowd and field at the 2013 Wild Card game, an altogether too brief resurgence for the Pirates.
Dodge, a commercial trial lawyer, took her first job at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott in 1981. She loves trying cases before a jury, and she's established a reputation among peers for her composure and preparation. Last year, she won the Academy of Trial Lawyers' Joseph F. Weis Jr. Distinguished Service Award, which honored her entire career.
Russ Ober first worked with her at Rose, Schmidt, Hasley & DiSalle, and now works with her at Meyer, where he also litigates.
"Her style is truly calm and non-confrontational. But it's like surgery. Before you know it, she has opened you up."
Her low-key unflappability is especially effective when applied to those used to giving orders without being questioned: CEOs and CFOs of large corporations. "I guess they get faked out by this calm woman who literally kills them," he says.
Learn more about Dodge's journey to becoming an attorney, which included three years as a probation officer for Allegheny County.
Save what can be salvaged and, whenever possible, build something better and longer lasting. An apt description for how Harley Riedel approaches his bankruptcy practice.
In fact, the Tampa attorney has made quite the career of keeping bankrupt companies in the game.
"I think all of us feel good about taking a case that has hundreds of employees if you're going to save jobs," says Riedel, co-managing shareholder at bankruptcy firm Stichter, Riedel, Blain & Postler, where he represents mostly debtors. "If the company fails, there are going to be 100 people without paychecks, without the ability to put food on the table, without the ability to make mortgage payments."
Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Riedel moved to Tampa when he was two. His dad, a third-generation dairy farmer, had contracted polio, and doctors suggested he seek warmth and water. He brought his entrepreneurial spirit with him, buying a small chain of a dozen Li'l General convenience stores.
Those who know Riedel say his Midwest nice-guy persona is real.
Fellow Tampa bankruptcy lawyer Robert Soriano has dealt with Riedel, almost always as an adversary, for more than 30 years.
"I mean, if he's put to the wall, he'll litigate and litigate well," Soriano says. "But he's almost always a consensus-builder. A deal-doer. Always a gentleman. Always well-prepared. And you know, most importantly, you can trust what he says."
So nice is Riedel that, in addition to his heavy caseload, he devotes many hours to pro bono work. He also helps a lot of people in his regular line of work.
"I say, only half joking, that we on the debtor's side, we're doing God's work. We're saving jobs. And, you know, we [also] represent creditors, and their job is to get paid so their stockholders can get paid," says Riedel. "But it's not as much fun to put a company out of business as it is to save it."
Find out what else makes Riedel tick in the cover story of the 2018 Florida Super Lawyers Magazine.
And to read all the articles in issues of Super Lawyers Magazine, access the digital editions online.
According to the 2017 Super Lawyers Legal Market Trends Survey, the top two reasons respondents gave for pursuing a law degree were because it was a challenging field and to help others.
Attorneys want to be known for their dedication to a difficult and stretching profession, but they also want to be altruistic. Pro bono work dovetails with both motivations.
The need for volunteer services isn't going away anytime soon and with complex shifts in the law, pro bono work presents the opportunity to learn more about a variety of cases.
Here are two reasons why taking on pro bono cases is worth the time and effort.
The need for pro bono work is well documented. Providing your expertise free of charge opens the opportunity to help disadvantage people groups and raises the quality of representation available to the community. It's just plain good for society.
As was previously mentioned, attorneys know the gap in legal services and those who need them. That's why 30 percent of those surveyed said their reason for pursuing a law degree was to help others. Pro bono work provides representation to people who really need it and improves community sentiment about attorneys.
"By trade, lawyers have a unique set of skills and knowledge that can be used to expand access to justice for those who might not otherwise have it," said Steve Marchese, pro bono director for the Minnesota State Bar Association.
By taking on cases for underprivileged clients, you will get a picture into issues you may not normally confront. In addition, it can give you an appreciation for your usual case load and for your profession. Access to experienced and expert legal representation can change lives.
Pro bono work is a great opportunity to practice cases you feel passionate about. In addition, they can expand your knowledge about nuanced parts of the law. Developing your skills can advance your career and build business for your firm.
Each case gives you the chance to work on practice areas you wouldn't typically take on. They can seem daunting, but when your top reason for going to law school is to work in a challenging field, it's not like you shy away from difficult circumstances. By assisting pro bono clients, you can expand your expertise, and may even find a niche practice you never even knew you enjoyed. It's the perfect chance to try on new hats and practice on a more diversified and advanced level.
Another great side effect of pro bono work stems from the fact that one of the 12 criteria used for Super Lawyers selection is the pro bono and community service participation of an attorney. This means a dual benefit of helping the community and helping yourself.
In fact, 40 percent of attorneys credit pro bono work with providing new business opportunities, according to the 2017 Super Lawyers Legal Trends Survey.
With a monetary and generous viewpoint, volunteering your services provides the perfect chance to advance your professional profile and positively impact society.
To learn more about building out your pro bono practice, download our playbook, Doing Good While Doing Well: A Road Map to Success with Pro Bono.
Legal consumers want to know you are the top attorney for the job. In fact, 24 percent of consumers consider expertise to be the most important factor when selecting an attorney.1
Because of the critical nature of leveraging expertise for attorneys like you, we will host an encore presentation of our free webcast, 6 Ways to Put Your Legal Accolades to Work. In it, we will cover how your legal accolades can support your broader marketing strategy.
When it comes to showcasing your expertise as a lawyer, third-party validations like Super Lawyers and Rising Stars are invaluable marketing tools. Those recognitions and honors help you stand out in a competitive legal market and they sustain momentum when promoted in the right way. The key is to share your achievements in a way that showcases your firm without coming off as self-serving.
Legal consumers won't know about your expertise and accolades if you don't talk about them. If you were recently named to a top list, booked a speaking engagement or wrote a scholarly article, take the time to expand the exposure of those recognitions.
Among the topics addressed in the webcast are:
A proven record of success is crucial, but if legal consumers aren't aware of your accolades, you're missing out. Taking time to promote your legal achievements will make branding and reputation management easier. Hear from Cindy Larson, Super Lawyers Publisher, and Thomas Girardi, founding partner of Girardi Keese and perennial Super Lawyers list selectee, to learn how to better use your accolades to bring in more qualified clients. Sign up today.