In the latest issue of Minnesota Super Lawyers Magazine, Minneapolis ADR specialist Marty Swaden discusses his sidelight as a singer and theatrical performer for, among others, Minnesota Opera Company. Another interesting aspect of Swaden's story involves Ron Meshbesher, the legendary Minnesota attorney who died last month at the age of 85. Here's what Swaden recalls about meeting the Minnesota legal giant, and how it changed his life.
In Swaden's Words
I did not graduate in the top 10 of my graduating class. I did well, but not that well. I was sending out letters and getting no responses. So I said to myself, "You might have to start knocking on doors-and whether that will work or not, I don't know." So I started knocking on doors.
I thought at that point in time I may want to do criminal law, so I went to the Meshbesher Law Firm. I didn't have any appointments, so I sat in the waiting room. I waited to talk to Ron Meshbesher for eight hours. I got there at 9 in the morning, and at 5 or 6 in the evening, he returned from wherever he was-court appearance or whatever. The woman at the front desk asked if he'd be willing to spend a little time with me. He said, "Sure," so we went into his office.
When he found out that I had a singing background, he just lit up like a Christmas tree. "Tell me about it! What did you do and where did you sing?! What is it like when people start applauding?!" I thought to myself, "This guy is a frustrated performer. He's a great lawyer-that's why he does well at what he does, but he's really into this." He couldn't care less where I went to law school and what work I was interested in. He just honed in on the performing.
I was there about an hour, and at the end he said, "Well, I've got an opening here in family law. I don't know if that's anything you're interested in."
I would have said, "Fine," to anything he said.
Read more about Swaden's career as a performer in the latest issue of Minnesota Super Lawyers Magazine. You can also check our past coverage of Ron Meshbesher--a Q&A we did in 2007, and some excerpts from that same interview we released last year.
The latest issues of Super Lawyers Magazine showcase the variety of what makes up a Super Lawyers or Rising Stars selectee. The following three cover stories find an epicenter in the Western United States, but contain connections across the world. Senegal, Cuba, India, Nepal and Columbia are just a few of the locations featured, but the commonalities in work ethic and talent is immediately evident from the top attorneys in the country. Check out each of the stories to see their commitment to and passion for their craft.
2018 Southern California Rising Stars Magazine
Raised in a family of 10, Ibiere Seck grew up with a strong sense of family and self. From a young age, her mother encouraged her to become an attorney.
"My mother planted the seed," she says. "I think she recognized when I was young that I could have this amazing opportunity to have an incredible education, and do good work in my community."
But it was the 1995 trial of one O.J. Simpson that captivated Seck, a teenager in Seattle. She was mesmerized by Johnnie Cochran.
"He had a way about him," she says. "I felt like: That's what I want to do."
She became determined to follow in his footsteps and followed them a little closer than she ever expected. Not only did she attend Cochran's alma mater, Loyola Law School, but she now practices law in his city and works at his firm: The Cochran Law Firm in Los Angeles.
"Johnnie Cochran's office is still in the same condition it was when he passed away [in 2005], and my office is right next door to his," she says. "To be able to go into work and know that just on the other side of that wall, Mr. Cochran sat-it's humbling. It never gets old for me."
Learn more about Seck's story, from reengaging with her Senegalese roots, to fighting for the John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute at Northeastern University, to winning a $2.6 million verdict in a sex abuse case, in the 2018 Southern California Rising Stars Magazine.
2018 Washington Super Lawyers Magazine
The 2018 Washington Super Lawyers Magazine gives a group of Washington attorneys a chance to share their experiences immigrating to the U.S. With Washington state's immigrant population more than doubling since 1990, the same boom is reflected in its legal community, whose immigrant members have journeyed here for a variety of reasons.
Hector Quiroga came in 2000-when narcoterrorists were assassinating officials in Colombia, where his dad had been a judge and senator. Kripa Upadhyay's parents were activists under a repressive government in Nepal. Her family was targeted with pressure-cooker bombs and home shootings.
Others came for the opportunity. "My husband had just gotten a job at Microsoft," recalls Pallavi Mehta Wahi with K&L Gates, who moved here from New Delhi. "It just felt to me and my husband like America was a better option for us long-term. Very cliché: We saw a land of opportunity, and we saw a place that was very welcoming to immigrants." One attorney--Chi-Dooh "Skip" Li at Ellis, Li & McKinstry--wrote a book titled Buy This Land, describing his personal journey and his organization that makes farmland available to the poor in Central America.
Access the issue to read stories from eight attorneys who came to the States from India, Nepal, China, Colombia and elsewhere.
2018 Mountain States Super Lawyers Magazine
David Nevin doesn't shy away from difficult cases.
Nevin, a founding partner in the Boise, Idaho, firm Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett, is often in Cuba to visit his client Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, described in the 9/11 Commission Report as the "principal architect" of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
If you only knew Nevin by the kind of cases he takes, you may think he's the type of guy looking an argument. On the contrary, he's warm, amusing and earnest.
Not that he minds a fight.
He represented Kevin Harris, whom the government tried for killing a deputy U.S. marshal at Ruby Ridge in 1992. Nevin poked holes in the government's case and provided evidence that Harris was defending himself against unknown assailants. Ultimately, Harris was acquitted on all charges and he received a sizeable payout. In 2004, Nevin successfully defended Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, a Saudi grad student whom the government charged with raising money and recruiting newcomers for terrorist groups.
Nevin's representation of Mohammed in particular has brought him vitriol as well as condemnatory op-eds. But Nevin believes it would be wrong to go through the motions when representing the alleged perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes.
"Every case is a link in a chain, and the chain is only strong as the weakest link," he says. "I have gotten the occasional death threat, but mostly I get support. I think Americans, generally speaking, recognize that the system isn't perfect, but way ahead of what's in second place."
See how Nevin got his start in the law and why he's so interested in bird-watching in the 2018 Mountain States Super Lawyers Magazine.
And to read all the articles in issues of Super Lawyers Magazine, access the digital editions online.
That's the tally so far this year for Super Lawyers at annual Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) award ceremonies around the country.
Feature stories from the Thomson Reuters legal publication have won three first-place awards, two second-places, and one third-place honor-with one announced winner, in Florida, yet to be determined. Several more contests are still up in the air.
It's been a good year. But without your excellent legal work as Super Lawyers and Rising Stars selectees, we wouldn't have award-winning stories to tell. So thank you for letting us share your experiences with the world.
Top of the Rockies Clean Sweep
At the Top of the Rockies' competition, which includes competition from four states-Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming-Super Lawyers entered three stories and wound up sweeping the Legal Reporting category:
- The Force of Nature and the Steadying Hand: A feature profile on criminal defense attorneys Iris Eytan and Dru Nielsen
- The Vanishing Jury Trial: The good and bad of a disappearing cornerstone of the American justice system
- 'The Chief is Eating My Sandwich': An oral history featuring eight former clerks to the U.S. Supreme Court
Of the first-place feature, the judge wrote, "Makes me want to put aside any personal feelings on a case and cheer them on in the courtroom."
The Best of the Rest
More recently, Super Lawyers won two first-place awards at Ohio's Best Journalism contest. "Looking Around Corners," on Cincinnati class action/mass torts attorney Janet Gilligan Abaray, won first place in the Best Personality Profile category for trade publications, while "The Incredible Shrinking Jury Trial" won first place in the Best General Story category for trade publications. That same story won second place in the SPJ Metro Louisville Journalism Awards.
Of the Abaray profile, the judge wrote, "From the very beginning, the reader is hooked. Ms. Berman sets the stage-the office, Janet Abaray's career, her cases-and fully illustrates who this woman is and why she's important. What could have been a dry, legal profile was instead fascinating and inspiring."
Visit here for a full list of Super Lawyers journalism awards through the years.