It has become increasingly difficult for me reconcile the idyllic vision I enjoyed of the practice of personal injury law in the first two decades of my legal career with the reality of being an attorney in Miami in 2013.
I took the Oath of Attorney on a day much like today in October 1991, starting my own law firm that same week. In my memory of those first few years, it seems I am looking at an old photo album of grainy black and white pictures. I see myself struggling to find the courthouse, both excited and terrified before picking a jury for a slip and fall case or car accident trial.
Lunches then consisted of frantically grabbing a sandwich or nothing at all. There were no Starbucks, Wifi, or text messages. Pictures required a camera, film, and a wait of a week or so for someone to develop the images. That may explain in part why so little photographic evidence exists to prove these facts.
That world is now long gone, and the Dade County Courthouse’s lobby in downtown Miami is no longer the mad menagerie it once was. Fewer law suits are filed, fewer cases go to trial, and pleadings are filed “on line” with the simple click of a keyboard button. But the business of practicing law is harder than ever. It has gone from lawyers who handled everything from “Administrative Law to Zoning,” to super specialized lawyers board- certified in specific areas of practice.
Personal Injury Attorney in Miami: The Total Equation
Most lawyers have always focused on the practice of law, but today’s lawyer also has to focus on what movie people call “the total equation,” or the business of being a lawyer or owning a law firm. That means lawyers are now involved in everything from search-engine optimization to case-management software apps for their IPads.
One of the Attorney Breakfast Club’s founding members, construction lawyer Alex Barthet, is a scion of those who understand both sides of the equation. His father, Patrick, chaired the commercial practice of one of Miami’s most respected law firms and created a paralegal curriculum in 1985 that is still offered today and has educated thousands; he has also served as the elected President of one the city’s oldest and most active business networking organizations. Together they practice law and provide their clients what has been collectively referred to as the “Barthet Touch,” which includes receiving periodic toy cars and trucks in the mail with their firm’s logo discretely applied.
The merger of my memories of my early career with the realities of today’s business of being a lawyer exploded today when I witnessed the Oath of Admission being administered to a young law school graduate, Jose Fuentes, by one of the oldest and most distinguished lawyers I know, the Honorable Richard Hersch. Richard plays a much deeper role in my life in two ways–I met him while I was attending the University of Miami School of Law, and then once I had graduated, his late wife Patricia Talisman served as an uncompromising mentor and co-counsel to me on all of my most challenging cases. In addition, both Patricia and Richard successfully defended me in a potentially career-ending contempt hearing brought against me by a judge who misunderstood my level of passion and commitment to my client.
Richard attended today’s meeting of the Attorney Breakfast Club (ABC), an organization I founded to help lawyers create an alliance to win the battle we face each day in running our individual practices. Think of it as a United Nations of lawyers, uniting for a common cause. Each month the assembled attorneys join forces to share ideas, contacts, and referrals. Today ABC has two chapters in Miami, a third in Broward County, and a fourth scheduled to open in Tampa in 2014.
As the members listened to the medicine-ball throw of the Oath, I could not help but reflect upon my own glorious and gutty life as a trial lawyer. There have been the glamorous appearances on the CNN or the Today Show, and also those painful moments of tearfully explaining things to my client who could not understand why the jury had rendered a verdict for the defense–or how the appellate court could dismiss the case without a jury’s ever even hearing my client’s story.
I remain committed to fight for my clients. If and when you need my help, call me at 866-597-4529.