Paul Anapol, one of the founders of plaintiffs law firm Anapol Schwartz, was known for the standard of perfection he demanded in his work product on behalf of injured clients.
Joel Feldman, a shareholder in Anapol Schwartz, recounted that, when he became Anapol’s assistant in 1982 and turned his first assignment in to Anapol, before Anapol even reviewed it, “he looked at me, ‘Is it the absolutely best product you can do?’”
Anapol told Feldman to take the assignment and not bring it back until it was perfect “because, ‘If my name goes on it has to be perfect,’” Feldman said.
Anapol, 79, died Friday.
Anapol would have celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife, Sarah M. Thompson, in November, Thompson said. Thompson also is a retired attorney.
Anapol was known for his “preparation, preparation, preparation,” Thompson said.
Anapol always would say, ‘”My opponent may be smarter than me, but he can’t work harder,’” Thompson said.
Anapol’s son, Thomas Anapol, another shareholder in Anapol Schwartz, said that his father was very demanding and sought perfection from his partners and associates.
Bernard W. Smalley Sr., now senior counsel with the Tucker Law Group and who also was an associate who worked directly for Paul Anapol before becoming a shareholder in Anapol Schwartz, said that under Anapol’s direction the firm would work for weeks with clients to determine what snippets from their daily life would be included in a “day-in-the-life video” to be shown in trial.
Anapol’s philosophy was that “with the client there is no tomorrow. You’ve got to get it right,” Smalley said.
Anapol taught him, Smalley said, to listen to clients.
“When you listen to the client tell you about the little things, ‘This is what we would do every Sunday after church; this is where my husband would take me and he can’t take me there anymore,’” that becomes the story that the jury is told.
“Those are the things that move jurors. Those are the things that move adjusters,” Smalley said.
Thomas Anapol recounted that when he was a third-year law student his father was a guest lecturer in a trial advocacy course, and he walked in without introducing himself and launched into his closing argument.
Paul Anapol’s ability to hold a room applied in that law school classroom just as it did in the courtroom, Thomas Anapol said.
“To watch 40 or 50 prospective attorneys … come up to him afterwards was just an amazing experience for me” Thomas Anapol said. “He touched a lot of people.”
Paul Anapol had a good relationship with the defense bar and he was very friendly with them, Sol Weiss, another shareholder at Anapol Schwartz, said. But that didn’t mean he didn’t go to battle for clients.
“He had a very rare ability to understand what it took to motivate juries to return verdicts for his clients,” Weiss said. “He was a consummate storyteller and he was very good on his feet. He excelled in cross-examining witnesses. He had a very big presence in the courtroom. He was able to break down very complex things and make them very simple.”
Smalley recounted that during one deposition of a urologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Anapol got into a fight with the opposing defense lawyer about an X-ray in the middle of the deposition. The defense counsel invited Anapol outside for a fistfight, Smalley said.
“They both fly out of the room, slam the door,” Smalley said. “Now it’s just the court reporter, me and the doctor.”
But after just a couple of minutes the two of them walked back with their arms around each other, and “you would have thought they were long-lost cousins,” Smalley said.
Feldman said Anapol “had an uncanny way of being able to play one defendant off against one defendant for maximum recovery” and get defendants “who weren’t proportionally so liable to kick in money and we’d just look and say, ‘Wow.’”
Joseph W. Fullem Jr., a defense lawyer who just retired from Thorp Reed & Armstrong after 50 years of practicing law, said that Anapol was one of the leading plaintiffs lawyers because of his advocacy on behalf of his clients, his preparation and his hard work.
Anapol also used creative settlement agreements, such as ones in which a defendant would settle but agree to stay in the case to help at trial for the plaintiff to get the largest amount of money against a nonsettling defendant, Feldman said.
Anapol attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He played college football on a full scholarship at Temple University.
He served two years in the military during the Korean War and was stationed in Germany between his first and second year of law school, Thomas Anapol said.
He clerked for Judge Harry E. Kalodner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Paul Anapol first worked for B. Nathaniel Richter, the first president of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association. Anapol became president of the PTLA later himself from 1986 to 1987.
Richter’s office was the progenitor of “legal powerhouses” like Anapol, Thomas Anapol said.
Paul Anapol started his own firm in the mid-1970s, which is now known as Anapol Schwartz.
Anapol was a second-generation immigrant. His parents had immigrated from Ukraine, and Anapol was born and raised in Atlantic City.
“He came from very humble beginnings,” Thomas Anapol said. “He was incredibly driven to succeed and help others who were less fortunate.”
Paul Anapol retired around 1992, just shy of his 60th birthday, because of heart problems, he told The Legal in 2008.
Anapol told T he Lega l he’d found fulfillment away from the courtroom.
“In all truth, while I did love working, it wasn’t my whole life,” he said. “I found there were things that I missed when I was working. I keep quite busy, but now there’s no pressure.”
“I completely enjoy my wife’s company,” Anapol also said, adding that some of their favorite pastimes include exercising, talking about politics, walking their dog, going to the theater and meeting their daughter for meals. “My best and strongest advice for people who are going to stop working is to first make very, very sure you have somebody with you that you want to be with.”
“He treated me like gold,” Thompson said. “Anytime he talked about me he said nice things behind my back as well as to my face. I never fell out of love with him.”
Thompson first met Anapol in a job interview, “but I was immediately certain that it would not be a good idea to work for him. I thought he was so handsome and charming,” she said.
Thompson went to work for Jim Beasley Sr. of the Beasley Firm instead, she said.
Anapol loved sailing, and Mark W. Tanner of Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig and Smalley both said some of their mentoring from Anapol occurred on a sailboat.
Tanner said that his wife and he went sailing with Anapol and Thompson one weekend when Tanner was deciding between a job offer at a defense firm, as a prosecutor or at a plaintiffs firm that was not Anapol’s.
After hearing about Anapol’s passion for representing plaintiffs, Tanner took the plaintiffs job, he said.
Anapol called his sailboat, “The Passing Wind,” which was a sign that despite his success he didn’t take himself too seriously, Tanner said.
Smalley recounted that his wife and he spent a weekend sailing with Thompson and Anapol when he was trying to make partner.
On the second day, Smalley’s wife — who was seven months pregnant at the time — said she wasn’t going back out on the sailboat, even it meant Smalley didn’t make partner, he said.
Anapol “gets a big smile and says, ‘Darling, we’ll do whatever you want to do,’” Smalley said. “We spent the day shopping in an air conditioned mall in Annapolis.”
“He could walk into room with people he had never met and light it up and entertain them and tell them stories,” Tanner said. “He got along with everybody and anybody regardless of their background or their political beliefs.”
Anapol also is survived by two daughters, Ruth and Andrea Anapol, and four grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned for noon July 20 at the Anapol Schwartz office at 1710 Spruce St., Philadelphia. Visitors will be received from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.