The Daily


I’m reckless and feelin’ no pain
You know I’ve got no need to control
Livin’ with the danger
I’m always on the edge now
With million dollar visions that I hold
Livin’ like this never ever tore my life apart
I know how to maintain and you know I know my part

Reckless Life, Guns N’ Roses

I was once favorably compared to my Father by a Big-City/Big-Firm defense lawyer as “another grade of unstable plutonium.” I’d asked my Dad to cover a deposition for me in my first big solo med mal case while expert discovery was going on. I guess my Dad put on a show, thinking it might help the case out. Regardless of how the defense lawyer meant it, I took the remark as a compliment. Something of a “family tradition”.

Eventually, my Dad came to Atlanta to help me with the trial of that case. By that time, everyone had gotten relatively comfortable with the way I/We do things. Through a week of trial, the Judge brought all the lawyers into his chambers at the end of each day to take the temperature on settlement negotiations. By that time, the “unstable” nature of what I might do was already baked into the cake – which is a very long story I can’t tell here. But it all ended fantastically – as in, hard to believe.

There’s a benefit to being unpredictable, as long as your fundamentals remain the same: being on time, telling the truth and fighting hard. Unlike Axl Rose, I have always been punctual and on time (meaning early). Guns N’ Roses, despite Axl’s eccentricities (maybe partly because of them), had a genuine menace, bringing a palpable stage sense that anything could happen. Literally anything. They wrote and performed with a fierce and unbridled power. And while there is a certain satisfaction in the legend you can build upon memorable stage moments, those only work if you put the time, energy and money into real skills necessary to play the long game.

In my case, that means spending decades litigating and trying complex cases – meaning, cases involving issues of expert witness testimony (medical malpractice, product liability, aircrash, accident reconstructions). Typically, these cases take a week or more to try. Because of the time involved, jury selection can be difficult. Complex cases require a higher level of commitment than other kinds of cases. I am proud of my record in finishing what I start – I have seen more and more firms (particularly those that advertise) giving up on cases and clients long before the cases are ready to be resolved. In my view, this is a betrayal of the trust relationship between clients and lawyers. Once I have decided to take on a case (and I reject more than 80% of the cases I interview), I am in it for the long haul. I demand the same from my clients.

The challenges in these cases are steep and the odds are often long. The opposition is well-heeled: “too big to fail” companies and insurance carriers with easy access to unlimited funds to pay their lawyers hourly to scorch the earth making examples of lawyers not willing to go the distance. My clients rely on me to match that intensity with our own.

Having dedicated myself to this life for almost thirty years, electing to forego the freedom to do other things by tying myself to my clients’ causes both in terms of money and energy – there is nothing I’d rather do. It is a reckless life, but very rewarding in every way.