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When trial lawyers get together, they always tell war stories of cases they have won or of trials that went sour. For most attorneys, there is either an even balance between victories and losses or a lamentable record of juries’ continually favoring the other side. In each city and state, however, there is a small group of attorneys who rarely have to talk about losing at the jury level. They go years without experiencing that moment every litigator dreads — the moment jurors say they did not believe you or your client — and hit your client with a massive judgment, or deny your client the damages sought, or cause your client to be sent off to prison. Each year, The National Law Journal selects and profiles 10 trial attorneys who have established themselves as among the nation’s best at avoiding those moments. The profiles concentrate on how each attorney handles a lawsuit, through discovery and every step of the trial, using a recent major win as an example. The list of attorneys profiled each year is governed by two criteria: The attorney has amassed a long record of favorable courtroom victories and has won at least one recent significant jury trial. The lawyers profiled this year have long distinguished themselves at trial work. Brian J. Panish of Santa Monica, Calif.’s Greene, Broillet, Taylor, Wheeler & Panish, for instance, won the largest verdict ever against a tire manufacturer — $55.23 million against Continental A.G., makers of General Tires. Ronald Cabaniss of Orlando, Fla.’s Cabaniss, Smith, Toole & Wiggins successfully defended Ford in a rollover case involving an Explorer with Firestone tires, despite the Ford/Firestone maelstrom of bad publicity. George P. McAndrews of Chicago’s McAndrews, Held & Malloy won a $20.9 million verdict in a patent infringement action that was nearly quadrupled to $78 million after post-trial motions. Some of the attorneys are specialists. Ellen S. Simon of Cleveland’s Simon Law Firm, for instance, represents only plaintiffs in employment civil rights actions. But others will represent anyone in any type of case. Mark S. Werbner of Dallas’ Sayles, Lidji & Werbner handles civil actions for plaintiffs and defendants and represents defendants in criminal trials as well. Rusty Hardin of Houston’s Rusty Hardin & Associates does the same. One attorney — Michael D. Jones of the Washington, D.C., office of Chicago’s Kirkland & Ellis — works at one of the nation’s largest law firms. But most are from smaller litigation boutiques. The cases detailed vary from plaintiffs’ wins in breach-of-contract, wrongful-death and employment discrimination cases to defense wins in civil cases involving products liability and conspiracy. Their modes of operation vary as well. Milwaukee’s Robert L. Habush of Habush, Habush, Davis & Rottier believes in taking as many of the depositions himself as possible. Werbner, who typically is called in just before trial, relies on others to do all discovery. Werbner uses focus groups and mock trials. Hardin believes focus groups are useless because nothing can duplicate how a trial will play out. But there are some similarities. Each of the lawyers believes in keeping the case simple, breaking down even the most complex matters so the jury can understand. Each of the lawyers believes in dogged pretrial preparation, even when such preparation is conducted by co-counsel. They all believe in controlling the focus of the case, so no matter what the other side says or does, the jury will find their side’s explanation the more credible. Although the profiles cover only one counsel per trial, it should be noted that these attorneys rarely work alone. Bondurant, for instance, was accompanied by Richard Game of his firm; Jeffrey D. Horst of Atlanta’s Krevolin & Horst; and John Johnson and William Harrell of Tampa, Fla.’s Trenam, Kemker, Scharf, Barking, Frye, O’Neill & Mullis. Panish came in late to the lawsuit against Continental General Tire, after attorney Taras Kick of Los Angeles’ The Kick Law Firm had completed the preliminary — and, as it turned out, decisive — research linking the tire’s failure to the manufacturing process. Jones shared lead counsel duties with Donald E. Scott of the Denver office of Chicago’s Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott. A caution: These are war stories told by the winners and generally reflect their view of the case and tactics. In several of the cases, there is no guarantee that the result will not be reversed. Six of the cases are in post-trial motions or on appeal, and the loser at trial may yet win.

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