I recently returned to Wilentz, Goldman and Spitzer, the law firm where I began my legal career, to conduct a mediation. After a judicial clerkship, I spent several years at the Wilentz Firm, focused primarily on commercial litigation, and I learned a lot about litigation techniques and the practice of law generally from some great lawyers – among them, Alan Wasserman, Roger Kaplan, Fred Becker. I was lucky to do a lot for work directly for Warren Wilentz, a debonair gentleman who had a unique combination of intellect, political savvy and business acumen. He gave me guidance on how to treat clients (always return calls promptly), drum up business and investigate a case. To work for Warren was a delight. I’ll never forget my first solo jury trial, when I somehow managed to win a million-dollar-plus verdict for one of Warren’s clients. When I returned to the office and told Warren the good news, he embraced me and called me his son. He took me around to different offices to share the news with partners: “Do you know this kid, we used to call him the God-damned Greek; now we call him the Greek God.”
I left the Wilentz Firm to serve in government, starting out as an Assistant Counsel to the Governor, for what I thought would be a year or two tops in public service. I went on to serve as a Senior Deputy Attorney General and then Jersey City Corporation Counsel. My stint in public service was a little longer than I thought . . . nearly a dozen years. For the past six years, I have had the thrill of running a law firm that I co-founded with a great partner who shares my passions: We are dedicated to fighting for individuals who have been seriously injured or discriminated against in the work place and to protecting the environment.
But, every day, I still use the skills and lessons I learned at the Wilentz firm. I recently lost a jury trial into which we invested a great deal of time and money, and, although our performance was complimented by the judge and client, it stung. But, oddly, I left this experience as excited about practicing law as I was when I won my first trial. For me, there is no better way to make a living than to use my skills to fight for someone’s legal rights and, although I can’t control the results, I know I always work as hard as I can for my clients.