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Diamonds are Lawrence B. Newman’s best friends. Newman, 54, has made representing some of the top diamond dealers in New York and abroad the cornerstone of his solo practice, winning the trust of many in the tight-knit and secretive jewelry business community. Most diamond businesses are privately owned. Diamond dealers say they need a lawyer who understands the industry, is sensitive to their business concerns and after a loss, can make them whole. Much of Newman’s work includes suing the insurance underwriter, Lloyd’s of London, to recover in dollars what was stolen from the client in diamonds. Not such an easy task, said Newman, as the language of the insurance policy can be complex, and it can be difficult to prove that the dealer was truly robbed and is not just trying to defraud the insurer. Also, it is often difficult for a lawyer to bridge a profound cultural barrier between the diamond dealers and the jury, said Dennis M. Wade, who as an attorney for Lloyd’s of London has crossed swords with Newman for the past 10 years. For example, in the diamond industry, business has been conducted in the same secretive manner for centuries, and the players themselves are most often foreigners, many from Israel, Russia and India, he explained. According to Wade, Newman is able to “demystify that culture to the jury.” “He can not only relate to the jury but also make what is strange and suspicious appear perfectly ordinary,” said Wade, of Manhattan’s Wade Clark & Mulcahy. And Newman is a delight to spar with, said Wade, describing his opponent’s style as a rare mix of fighter inside the courtroom but cordial professional outside. Newman revels in some of the more fascinating cases he has won during his 26 years in practice. Without revealing names, he recounted that more than 10 years ago he represented a dealer who had been robbed at gunpoint. Thinking he was selling his gems to the representatives of the Shah of Iran, the dealer produced his best inventory, only to learn that what was inside the buyer’s suitcase was not cash but a semi-automatic weapon. The thieves tied him up, gagged him and took his most expensive diamonds. The dealer turned to Newman to recover money from Lloyd’s of London. To complicate matters, when that dealer bought the diamond shipment the market was high, and by the time he was robbed, the diamond market had crashed. Newman not only had to make the case that his client was really robbed, but also that he should recover the purchase price and not the market price for his loss. That case, he said, actually kicked off his career as the jewelers’ lawyer. Since then, he said clients have poured in based on word of mouth. Wade said that Newman represents all kinds of diamond dealers, from the stars to the smaller outfits. According to Newman, roughly 65 percent of his practice involves jewelry businesses, while the rest is medical malpractice and personal injury. For the diamond dealers he not only litigates policy claims but also renegotiates their New York leases, and even handles an occasional messy divorce. But although the temptation is there, he never accepts payment in kind, he said with a smile. Abe Moussazadeh, head of Evvtex Co., said that 10 years ago he came to Newman because of his impressive reputation. He has never been disappointed, he added. “We have interviewed lots of attorneys and [Newman] understands this industry better than anyone else,” he said. And although Moussazadeh said he uses many lawyers, Newman is their lead counsel. “We seek his consultation in every matter from real estate to business situations,” he said. START IN PERSONAL INJURY Newman, a Queens, N.Y., native and 1974 graduate of St. John’s University School of Law, began his career in a personal injury practice. But after setting out on his own in 1977, he met someone whose son went into the diamond business in New York City. Taking the son as a client, Newman was introduced into the tightly held and tight-lipped diamond industry. A trial lawyer by training, Newman said he litigates roughly 10 trials each year all over the country, most of them in federal court. He said that the law firms that represent the diamond dealers and the insurers comprise a very small group. He often sits opposite the same group of lawyers. In his exceptionally clean and uncluttered office with no files or folders strewn about, Newman is surrounded by chic black-leather furniture. As if on cue, he accepted a phone call from a diamond dealer in Italy who had learned of Newman from a colleague and who wants to expand his business into the United States. Smoothly and brimming with confidence, Newman assuringly lets the client know that he will take care of him in the United States as well as his lawyer does in Italy.

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