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.
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