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Name and location: Martin A. Diaz, Iowa City, Iowa. bona fides: Creighton University School of Law, admitted in Minnesota in 1983 and in Iowa in 1989. type of practice: Diaz concentrates on plaintiffs’ personal injury medical negligence work. He has also handled automobile collision cases, fall cases, construction accidents and products liability claims. Diaz’s medical malpractice roster has grown and “I find that a particularly challenging and enjoyable part of the work I do. Given the success my staff and I have had over the years, we’ve been able to choose the kind of work in which we get involved, since we have more than enough requests for assistance.” In fact, Diaz now screens potential cases, taking only ones where the injury is significant or substantial, or there is a significant social or community issue at stake, or there is “something legally or factually dynamic about the case.” getting started: Diaz started out as one of the last of the Reginald H. Smith Fellows, doing two years of poverty law work with the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis. He then became director of a nonprofit group. “I gained tremendous experience in community contact, working with people of little means and running a business. Although I was not rewarded financially for what I did, I was clearly rewarded and challenged in doing that work. It made me a better lawyer, person and ultimately a better businessman.” Although he feels that his nonprofit work set him back several years in trial experience, he did gain experience running a law office. “That type of practice also makes you humble and makes you realize what is important about the law.” Diaz entered private practice in 1989 with the Tom Riley Law Firm and helped to expand its Iowa City office, where he gained trial experience. key means of getting business: Iowa “heavily regulates” lawyer advertising, said Diaz. He relies mostly on client referrals and on building a network of friendly relationships with colleagues, often by helping them in their own cases. In Iowa City, “the lawyers are committed to helping their clients and we are always willing to assist each other to make sure we provide good service to the community.” gross revenuesbilling: In 2002, Diaz’s gross revenues exceeded $700,000, but he has substantial overhead that includes a full-time staff of four. Although income from personal injury work is unpredictable, “I am proud to say that I’ve never missed a payroll since this office opened.” He has gone as long as four months without revenue, “but I’ve learned to save money for those periods of drought.” average work week: Fifty to 60 hours, though more at times. start-up tip: “Spend money on good computer technology and good software.” It also pays to “keep track of money coming in and going out, including the attorney trust account.” Diaz also said that, philosophically, “it’s about the clients.” Let clients “know there will be lulls in cases. Return phone calls.” Even clients “for whom you don’t succeed will come away with a positive feeling about you and tell their friends,” advises Diaz. support employees: Diaz’s “wonderful support people” include a secretary, legal assistant, receptionist and office manager-a self-described “Jill of all trades.” key research tools: Diaz favors LexisNexis and the Internet. favorite reading: Trial magazine , ATLA and Iowa Trial Lawyers Association material and the Iowa Lawyer. office size: 2,700 square feet, in a building he owns. key office equipment: Diaz’s office is outfitted with custom-made server-connected computer stations. He likes Quickbooks for accounting, TimeMatters for case management, TimeSlips for bills and CaseMap for a database and timeline. family profile: Diaz is divorced, with two teenagers. Martin, 19, is a freshman at the University of Iowa and Natalie, going on 13, is a seventh grader. To unwind, Diaz likes to travel, hit the casinos, play poker and read mysteries. shining moments: For Diaz, it was a $1.76 million verdict in 2000 on behalf of a 33-year-old woman whose cancer was not diagnosed in a timely manner. “She died nine months after trial. I still carry her funeral service announcement in my suit coat. There are some people you just don’t forget.” would he go solo again “Absolutely.” Though he regrets he didn’t do it sooner, he enjoys it all the more because he went solo “when it became obvious that I needed to do it.”

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