Robert Glass and James Robson have started their own plaintiffs personal injury firm, Glass & Robson, after four years working with other plaintiffs lawyers to gain experience and develop a pipeline of cases.
They have ventured out from Cash, Krugler & Fredericks, which this year celebrated the 10th anniversary of its own founding when Andrew Cash, David Krugler and Alwyn Fredericks left defense firms to start a plaintiffs practice.
"It's sad to see them go, but we understand that sometimes lawyers have to get out there and spread their wings," said Fredericks. "I think they are going to do an exceptional job for their clients."
"We did essentially the same thing," Fredericks added. "We've had a fantastic run and a great time practicing."
Glass and Robson acknowledged the difficulty of starting a plaintiffs practice and said the guidance and support in building a caseload from the more experienced lawyers at Cash, Krugler & Fredericks gave them the boost they needed.
"I think plaintiffs lawyers, especially those eight to 10 years ahead of you, know what it's like to want to do plaintiffs work," said Glass, who is 33. "They know it's hard to get started and a really stressful way to make a living—and they want to help the next generation."
"You've got to start at the bottom of the barrel," Glass added, recalling that the first case he ever settled was for $13,000. "I jumped for joy."
Glass & Robson is focusing on premises liability and road wrecks. The two partners are not doing any medical malpractice, said Robson, who is 31.
The two have about 50 cases percolating, "all of which we would take to trial," Robson said. "We actually do like to try them."
Glass and Robson have been friends since their first day of law school at Mercer University. After graduating in 2007, both worked two years for defense firms—Glass at Balch & Bingham and Robson at Swift, Currie, McGee & Hiers—before jumping into the plaintiffs world in 2009.
Glass said a small plaintiffs' case he took on while at Balch & Bingham led him to make the switch.
"It was the best decision I've ever made. It's hard, though," he said, explaining that the defense's job is merely to block the plaintiffs' claims while the plaintiffs' side must make the case. "One misstep and you could potentially lose the case. There are lots of midnight wake-ups worrying about a case," he said.
Glass briefly joined The W. Winston Briggs Law Firm before affiliating with Cash, Krugler & Fredericks as of counsel while maintaining a solo practice. "I ate 100 percent of what I killed. It was a great opportunity to learn the ropes of being a plaintiffs lawyer and still have a bit of cover," Glass said.
He said that he shared cases with the older lawyers and didn't have to worry about overhead, since they didn't charge him rent.
"I needed all the help I could get as a young plaintiffs lawyer just four years out [of law school]" Glass said. "It's been a tremendous help. Cash Krugler has a great client base and I got great trial experience."
For example, Glass said, he didn't feel comfortable handling a complex trucking case as a brand new plaintiffs lawyer, so he could associate with the other, more experienced, lawyers.
He recruited Robson to Cash, Krugler & Fredericks as an associate two years ago from another plaintiffs firm, Law & Moran.
Robson said he "got the bug to switch sides" after working on a plaintiffs' case for a family member. "I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work for Pete Law and train with some of the best plaintiffs lawyers in Atlanta, with Pete and Mike [Moran]."
Robson said he'd litigated a trucking case against Fredericks while on the defense side and had "a lot of respect for how he practiced."
Fredericks became his mentor at Cash, Krugler & Fredericks, and they tried several cases together.
They won a $3.8 million award from a Fulton County jury last year representing a young woman severely injured when a driver smashed into the already-wrecked car she'd been riding in on I-285. She'd been helped into the emergency lane by drivers who stopped to assist, when a minivan slammed into the wrecked car, knocking it into the 21-year-old college student, causing brain injuries and breaking her pubic bone.
In the case, Baldwin v. Phoenix Air Group, the jurors apportioned full responsibility to the driver of the minivan, who was working for Phoenix Air Group, represented by State Farm's outside law firm, Sharon W. Ware & Associates.
The two won $306,000 in damages last year from another Fulton County jury for a 23-year-old woman who was struck by a car on Moreland Avenue as she was walking to cash her paycheck from her minimum-wage job at a Wendy's restaurant. The accident fractured her pelvis, spine and left leg in multiple places.
At issue was whether the defendant's Audi AA5 jumped the curb and dragged the petite, 90-pound woman beneath it—the plaintiff's contention—or whether the driver looked both ways before turning on Moreland, when the young woman stepped in front of him. There were several witnesses, but their stories conflicted, according to a June 7, 2012, story in the Daily Report.
The insurer, Liberty Mutual, offered the plaintiff $70,000 initially, which increased to $120,000 the week of trial. Fredericks and Robson held firm at $500,000. The jury returned a verdict of $510,000, but apportioned 40 percent of the responsibility to the young woman, resulting in the $306,000 damage award.
Glass & Robson are subletting space from another plaintiffs firm, Moraitakis & Kushel, in Buckhead.
Glass said Nicholas Moraitakis helped him build a plaintiffs practice when he left Balch & Bingham. "I don't think I would have survived without the cases sent to me by Nick when I started out."
He said the first plaintiffs case he worked on was with Moraitakis—a slip and fall that they settled for $107,500 right before trial in November 2011.
A Delta flight attendant injured her back and knee when she slipped on a food spill at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The case, Maitland v. Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corp., filed in Clayton County State Court, settled after Glass and Moraitakis arranged a video deposition with a key witness, an Army lieutenant colonel. He testified from the Illinois Army base where he was stationed that the fall was caused by an existing spill and not from food that fell from the flight attendant's bag, as claimed by the co-defendant, the airport's janitorial contractor Corporate Services Management.
I think plaintiffs lawyers, especially those eight to 10 years ahead of you, know what it's like to want to do plaintiffs work. They … want to help the next generation.
—Robert Glass, on guidance from Cash Krugler lawyers