We welcome Eric Lubin, an equity partner and co-managing partner of Lomurro Law in Freehold, New Jersey.
Eric is the Vice Chairman of the Board of the United Way of Ocean and Monmouth Counties. He represents individuals and entities in commercial transactional and litigation matters. ⚖️
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Welcome to the mighty Merp podcast. I'm here with Eric Lubin, who is a managing partner at Lamore Law. My name is Melissa Rosenblum and also known as Mighty Merp. Hey, Eric. How are you? Good. Thank you very much for having me on. Thank you for joining the Mighty Merp podcast. I'm surprised you're not wearing any pink right now. Now. But you know what? I figured I would let you handle that and I would try to play with a professional. Well, you did a good job on that. Thank you. 2s I do want to talk a lot about 1s what you're doing now at Lamore Law as a managing partner and what that means, especially from someone who's a solo practitioner. But before we get there, we're going to have to rewind start with a little bit of Eric's origin story. Maybe 2s back when you were you had hair. You had hair. 3s Even back before you went to college and law school. Like, where did you grow up? Did you know you wanted to be a lawyer? 1s Sort of your origin story? Sure. I was actually born outside of Massachusetts or outside of Boston in Framingham, Massachusetts, and I lived there till I was about four years old. So I used to have paw and awe. I used to drag my words. And then my family moved back to the Philadelphia area where I stayed all through high school. I went to college at the University of Pittsburgh. I had no idea I wanted to be a lawyer. I had no lawyers in the family. I knew I didn't want to get a job right away, and I knew that I should probably do something school related. So my grades weren't good enough to go to medical school, and I can't really remember why. Went to law school was not for love of law or anything like that, but it turned out to be a passion of mine. So I went to took the Lsa, went to the best law school in Delaware, Widener University, and that's how I ended up here, basically. So no great story, except I just was not ready to get a job out of college. 2s Well, what did you study when you were an undergrad? I was a dual major of psychology and economics. 1s And when you did that, did you have any idea what you were going to do with that? For a time I did. When I was in college, it was 911, and I thought about dropping out and joining an agent, law enforcement agency or something thing or later that are getting a degree and then going into some type of intelligence agency. I thought that would have been cool, something to do, good, patriotic. I got talked out of that by my parents, who said, every single generation of the Lubin family have served in the military. You will not do that, nor you get any tattoos. So that quickly went away and the market went bad. After 911, I'm kind of remembering this in my head, so I thought maybe something in finance or economics is probably not the best idea. So I choose law. Got you. So I also went to Widener, now known as Delaware Law School. 2s So you went to law school, gave you a little bit of time to figure out what you wanted to do when you grew up. And did you like law school? 1s I did. Law school was the first time I truly took my education seriously. I found myself really enjoying the Socratic method of having the responsibility to be called on and be prepared. I like learning about things that I can actually apply in the real world, like criminal law, those type of things. I found a passion for education and learning in law school that I did not have before. I chose wisely and I got lucky. 2s I love law school, too. I would have loved to just stay a student for longer than the three years that's become disturbing. The bar that was right across from the campus, 1s that could be true as well. I was already married. I was like, commuting back and forth. I didn't have that extra three years of college. 1s So when you graduated, did you do a clerkship or did you go straight into practicing? No, I had the best clerkship in the world. I clerked for Judge Garoppolo, the presiding judge of the Atlantic County Criminal Court. He was my first crew professional mentor. He was an amazing guy. I actually owe him a telephone call, which I will do when we're done. 4s Was going to say, you still talk to him? I love Judge Garapola. No, not really. I just thought of when we started doing a little bit of messaging on LinkedIn, and I told him that when I got back from Disney, I'd give him a call. And I just got back and I haven't looked up to my work yet, so I will. Yeah. 1s So I'm giving you some Jewish guilt as well during the interview. I'm used to it. 2s So 1s when you clerked for Judge Garapola, did you know you wanted criminal, or is that just the clerkship you obtained? And so you took it? I did not know what I wanted to do, and I took the clerkship because of Judge garapolo. I had such a great interview with them, and I really got the sense that this would be a great learning experience. And we just clicked. We truly did click over a few things. So I chose the clerkship because of a judge, not so much the subject matter. I was interviewing the civil judges. 1s And in Atlantic or all over New Jersey? All over New Jersey. 1s And so after your clerkship, where did you go? After my clerkship, I went to Jacobson barbones, which is a well known litigation firm in Atlantic City. I think I had 48 hours of free time in between the end of my clerkship and the beginning of my career, jacobson barbone. And that was the last time I had 48 hours free in the next seven years. Really? Well have a lot of attorneys say that the clerkship was their best year of practicing. 2s How long have you been practicing now? 15 years. 4s I don't think so. I liked the clerkship. It was great. I enjoyed it. I learned a lot. Judge Garretto was so good about keeping me involved in teaching me, and I got to work with Judge Newstatter, who's passed on, but he was a great mentor, too. But no, to be honest with you, I'm not trying to be hokey. Each year since the last couple of years have been the best, and it's judge career has grown. My practice areas have grown. My responsibilities have grown, my clients have grown, my challenges and the types of things I do are maturing and evolving. I'm enjoying what I'm doing now the most of my whole career. That's great. So I heard a lot about Jacobs and Barbone because you know that my former partner also was an alum of Jacobs and Barbone and family with some other alum. So 2s tell me about this law firm. It's very well known as a criminal law firm, although it does family and civil rights. And as you mentioned, it was the 48 hours between was the only 48 hours that you had to rest. So describe the work atmosphere, 2s the background of how many attorneys there are in the type of law firm Jacobs and Barbonas. Sure. Or what? I spent, I believe, seven years there, which is probably close to a record. Besides for Ed Jacobs and Blue Barbone, they are the best trial attorneys who ever meet in your life. They are the harmless working lawyers you'll ever meet in your life. It's a really interesting place because it's a smaller firm, boutique firm on Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City. You hear about these things, about how they're top on associates and everything else, but the reality is they are both just unbelievably hardworking people, and they expect you to be, too. And there's no yelling or screaming or anything like that. They just expect you to carry your weight. And they've got big clients, big responsibilities. So if you don't. 1s That's going to hurt the file or the client. So they got to do something about it. learnings from Ed and lou, 2s I wouldn't be where I was today. I had a lot of luck there, where lou just took me under his wing, gave me responsibility. He's a very serious guy, and he's got very, very serious clients, and he's involved with very important, substantial matters. But he's a father her and he's a family man, and he was great to me. He taught me, took time to teach me. I've had the benefit of trying cases with both Ed and lou, I think. Ed and I tried a murder case together. lou and I have tried employment cases together. And then that culminated in the trial where the three of us tried a case together in federal court for about three months. 1s Having the opportunity to watch them, truly watch them and learn from them and be involved in that process, it takes years off your left, it does. But you learn how to do your trade craft. Watching Ed and lou conduct a cross examination, you can't learn from anybody better. Watching what goes into the preparation of a case, watching what goes into just talking to witnesses, those kind of things, thinking outside the box, it was great. Now, I learned the most from that firm, from another attorney, our friend. When I first started the firm, art was standoffish, as he always is with everybody. And then once you break down that barrier, art is one of the smartest people ever meet, just from intelligence wise, but he knows court rules in and out. He knows everything about the law in and out. And he was very, very critical in me doing that, too, and learning to do that, to be a practitioner. And Art also taught me, be nice people, be good to your adversaries, be reasonable, give an extension. If it's not going to be your client, you're always going to need one later on. So learning from Art actually was the most important part of my legal career. jacob's barbone but the firm, they punched well above their weight in terms of the results they get, the cases they handle for the size that they are. It was an amazing experience. And even up here in mammoth County, and when I have cases up north there know it's an amazing place. bye. 1s So let me ask you, when you were there, there are so many things to unpack in that whole thing, so I'm going to see if I can when you were there, were you doing just criminal? It sounds like you were doing a little bit of everything while you were there. No, we were doing everything. 1s I did criminal. I had first degree cases, I had attempted murder cases, but things were known us a lot of different things. So a lot of employment law. I had never heard of the whistleblowing act. The conscientious Employee Protection Act? Lewis is one of the best practitioners in that. So I learned how to practice employment law. We did a lot of civil law, whether it's representing or suing casinos under gaming regulations. We've done huge contract cases. The last case that I had there involved a three or $4 million casino card malfunction case that was all over the news. You represent celebrities. It was a really cool time, and it was really great, because now I'm a jack of all trades. At least I like to think of him. And I learned that from jake's border. And you learn the part one, the part two, the part three, the part four rules, and you can basically almost do anything. And not only that, but they do it in federal court, too, just as much as state court. So it kind of gets rid of that whole. mystifying difference between two courts. 2s Right. And so you talk about art. Murray. So I know he's going to hate that we're having this conversation. I'll probably give you a text message right now. Yeah, I'm checking. My phone started to explode as I said his name. 1s But I would agree with you on the court rules. And also, 1s he is someone that when you are in that inner circle, he is 1s so great and an amazing advocate and a supporter. Although I didn't work at jacobs and barbone, I could see him being standoffish in the sense of, is this one staying or not? And if I know you're staying, I'll commit to you afterwards. 2s And then the last thing I'd say about Art is 1s he just is always available. If you just want to say, I need to confirm this. I'm pretty sure the court rule, or can you send me a case? Yesterday he was sending me cases and Funny Stewart, his boss, was also texting me and emailing me, asking me to send him cases. It was like, yeah, our emergency would be something that I preach to our associates, which has given me a level of comfort over the years, which is there's no real emergencies in the law, which is true. You freak out about deadlines, you freak out about this, unless it's a statute of limitation or something else. Arts, take a breath, relax. You got time. You'll figure it out. Get some sleep. And that's always kind of lowered my blood pressure a little bit. That's good. So seven years at jacobs and barbone. How did you know and this is always an interesting kind of dilemma, how do you know when it's time to either move on or switch gears? How did you know after seven years that you were going to leave jacobs and barbone or decide to leave? 2s That decision was made for me because I was 1s thinking about what type of I fell in love is really what it is. I fell in love with my wife. We were living in tom's River at the time. We were ed lou and I were trying a very, very $150,000,000 golden parachute case in federal court in camden, and I was was driving down to Jacob sorbo in Atlantic City, going to camden, doing work afterwards, coming home at eleven at night, and I just said, I don't know if I can maintain this relationship. And I wanted to. I was in love. And luckily I had a friend from law school who had we also clerk together. He clerked Ford. Reach out to me and say, hey, you're in tom's River. We're 1520 minutes away. Let's talk. And 1s that was the point where I said, I just can't commute anymore. So really, it was a commuting issue. It wasn't anything else, to be honest with you. I got a callous to the work of jacobs, Ford Moon, because you learn a work ethic and you learn what it's and things get easier as you get better at it. And I enjoyed working with lu. I enjoyed working with that people say online, 1s I loved working with teresa Is, my second mother at that firm. 1s I loved the work. The only weird thing was the bars on the window. I don't know if that was to keep you in or keep evil out, but it was a commuting thing. I fell in love. My wife's medical practice was in Tom griver. I wanted to spend more time with her. And that was an exciting factor. It really was. It but I loved working with everybody there no the commute and family is an issue for me. I ended up having to move my family 1s down to Atlantic County because I was commuting from Cherry Hill, and I had four kids. 2s And I jokingly say my part time job when I started lasted about 30 seconds, 2s but I just couldn't keep commuting. My kids were needing me. 1s I did it the opposite. We just found the house where I was working and then moved them down. 2s Did you go straight from jacobs and barbone to lamora Law? I did. 1s I think probably I got maybe 72 hours worth of a break that time, but I did, so I remember that we went to France on our honeymoon. 1s Came home and I said, I think it's time to to do this because I want to spend more time with my wife. We we just got married, and it just I didn't see an opportunity with all that with all the commuting I was doing. It's a two hour commuting a day, sometimes four, when we're going to federal court in Camden. So that was the origin of it, the attendance of it. So, yeah, I I went right to the Murala lot two or three days later. So what's the difference of the firms? Is there a difference in size, in 1s atmosphere, in the type of law you were doing when you switched two totally different places? Jacobs mortbone is a once a oneoff time place where it is synchronous. When I want to say cut throat, it's not cut throat. It wasn't like that at all. I've never had well, it's not cut throat with the attorneys that were there in the sense of as somebody again, I didn't work there, but I know a lot of the alum, and it seemed like you all were extremely supportive of each other. But cut throat in the hours and getting the work done right, more difficult, more intense. When I joined the Mirror Law, it was I believe there were almost 70 attorneys. 1s Much more of a 1s corporation. Definitely more of a corporation. There were big attorney meetings. 1s Everybody was wearing a suit in the office. Even if they didn't have court, it was much more structure just because of the amount of people. Now, I joined Lamura Law, and a month later, the firm split. I was going to say, I have to take this back. So Jacobs and Barbone is how many attorneys like, how big of it was when I left. It was I might be wrong here. I believe it was me and Jacobs. 3s I can't remember if Art had left before or after me and 1s Mike. Steve still there. Still Steve? No, I think Steve had left before 2s when I left. Got you. So going from there to 70 attorneys. Yes. Wow. That's a big difference. Huge difference. Total culture shot total everything. It was different. And it took a little bit to get used to because Jake's a fact pace. And this place was a little bit slower, a little bit more of, like I said, corporation motif vibe, but 1s blood pressure went down. 1s How many attorney? You said there were 70. But then the firm split, and so what happened with the split? 2s I think it was just two different practice groups. The side of the split, there was a law review article that came out during the split, and it described as two different firms under one roof. One was corporate wills, trust, real estate, and then the other was Contingency, personal injury, medical malpractice, workers compensation. And it turned into two firms of two totally different practices and I think core values and beliefs. So they literally just split down the middle. And that was probably about a month afterwards. And I remember saying, wonder if Jennifer Brown will take me back. Not. And then I'd gotten to know don lemura, one of my partners. I was good friends with rich lamar and his son, and I'd make great friends here, so 2s I stayed, and it was the best thing I possibly could have done. It was cool. We were part of a practice group that left the building where we had always practiced out. We went to a new office that had really no furniture 1s we had to buy. I knew computers 2s starting from a garage with 25 lawyers, and it was cool. It was fun. It was exciting. It was scary as hell, and now we're thriving. It's unbelievable where we went six or seven or eight years, how long it's been, but it was really, really cool to be a part of, and it's just been the best decision that I've made professionally. 1s So 2s when the split, you said there's, like, 25 attorneys that stayed with the group that you stayed with. Is that how many I could have been off? Maybe I think I may be exaggerating. How many left? I think maybe ten or 13, because I think we're part of the but I think it was ten or 13 that originally left, I'm thinking, in my mind, but and you were part of, in the end, that group that left because you were leaving with rich. Yeah. 4s Yeah. And you were an associate at the time? I was an associate. I think I was probably the newest associate, too. All right, so you are now a managing partner. So before you became the managing partner, you became a partner. Yes. Or did it all occur at the same time? See, as somebody who is from as you know, I am a solo practitioner. It's me and my paralegals, my staff. I came from a firm where it was me and one other attorney, really. 1s And so even though we were partners, it was still a very small field. 1s So I'm trying to figure out the bigger law firm, medium law firm, culture, 2s everyone's different. And basically the titles are as creative as you can get. But we have associate partner. And being a partner means 2s you have different perks, different responsibilities, but you have no ownership in the firm. Then you have equity partner, which means you're a shareholder, and then you have co managing partner, which myself and another attorney are. And we also have some of counsel in and out. We've had retired judges work for us. We've had retiring prosecutors work for us. And I don't really know if we have any of counsel right now or not. I have to check the website. But those are the kind of different levels we have. I deal with really big firms that have junior associate, senior associate, mid level associate of council of council, non part. It's however, different ways you can tell a client that we're going to build you more is basically all different names 2s we're going to take. That's actually a funny way to say it. I know 1s there's big law firms in Atlantic City that have also firms in philly and other areas, 1s and the naming of the different individuals there, whether they're partners or associates or I don't even know all the names. Sometimes I'll say to my friends, what does that mean? And I don't think they have succinctly said it as you did. It's a way to bill and explain the billing, right? Sort of, but nobody ever hears that because we're removing that part. 2s This is when we're like Tom. 6s Managing partner. What does that mean? That means that I have to keep the wheels turning internally, have a vision, make sure everybody gets along, make sure that we are doing the right things ethics wise, that we are practicing with excellence that were being good to each other, all the things that you think that a manager does, you do that and more. I don't know how Don lamar did it for 40 years by himself and also practice law. So give an example of today. I had 20 people in my office, some talking about ideas of cases, some asking about marketing ideas. We're filling one of our admin staff roles. So talking about that, talking salary, bonuses. I'm part of another forum of managing partners in the state of New Jersey. We speak about that a lot of the times where we can discuss what's your firm doing for leave policies, what's your firm doing for bonus policies. Figuring that out. We've hired a few new associates, kind of figuring out where they're going to fit in. And a lot of it is just talking things through with people and making sure that our executive staff is 1s sounds impressive, but it's a lot of talking and a lot of smoothing over rough edges. Well, you have to get along with everyone. Do you have a marketing department in your firm as well? We have a marketing committee. We also are exploring third party marketers for social media, online, digital marketing. It's just that area is moving too fast where if you don't stay up with it, it's like no, if you don't stay up with it, if you don't follow it, you're going to get left behind. The things you're doing, you're not going to be effective anymore. So we are considering that role of bringing somebody on. We don't do it like mighty merck, but we try. And for our practice areas, we are. 2s We see different models happening, and we got to keep up with them. For example, billboards, 1s those type of things where you're seeing all over the major roads. Now, for a firm like ours that does a lot of personal injury, a lot of medical malpractice, you got to keep up with that. That's just a target rich environment that you have to operate in with the marketing to the general public. Well, it's funny because I have a friend who's involved in the billboard business, and I was saying recently it's funny that you mentioned it. Most of 1s the ads that I'm seeing on billboards in and out of Atlantic City and on the way into Philadelphia are attorneys. And I never noticed that before, but I think in the last year or so, it's all law firms, 1s a lot of law firms that don't even have offices where they're advertising. 1s Correct. And that's kind of something that has been a little bit of a pet peeve of mine is 1s we're in the community. We are in the mammoth community. We're in the ocean community. We live there. We've got children that go to school there. We sit on boards there. We have dinner there. And a lot of the marketing has been law firms that are not here that want to give the appearance of being here. They want to give the appearance of, hey, come see us. You can't. And it's been something that I have noticed over the last couple of years, but it is what it is. Things change. 2s Yeah, I mean, I have that same feeling sometimes when 2s clients are calling me after hiring someone that is not from our area and community. And you know this about Atlantic and Cape May and Cumberland is we're really small here. And so I don't know if this is true with every type of law, especially if you're doing federal practice, but in the type of law that I do specifically, there is a home field advantage. There just is, because we're dealing with prosecutors and judges and even just explaining to a client 1s what the possible resolution is based on who the judge is or who the prosecutor is. You can't do it if you don't know who they are. I always will say, like, I can try a criminal case anywhere in the state, but to negotiate or to tell the client what to expect with a judge or a prosecutor, I can't do that anywhere across the state because I don't know all the judges, I don't know all the prosecutors. You're exactly right. I mean, you can never guarantee a result because you know somebody or anything, but you 100% can get to familiar with the personnel involved, the processes involved. Look, I tried a case not too long ago from my living room, a probate case in Berg in front of Judge. 2s It was an interesting thing. I had no familiarity with the judge. I kind of felt it's a great result, everything, but I kind of felt, I wish I was trying this in a different county. The judge was great judge. It was a nice guy, possibly big. He's just not familiar with the procedures. I'll give an example. Filing a motion in Burton County Probate is different than filing a motion ocean County Probate. It's just two totally different things. Getting somebody on the phone in command is easy, as opposed to other counties. Especially when you say blah blah from Lenovo. Okay, let me help you out. Not help you out, but let me talk to you about this. It's 100% true. When I did municipal court, walking into municipal court, seeing the prosecutor waving to him, getting to the front of a line, those type of things, absolutely. It makes you feel more comfortable. And you can tell your client, hey, I can't promise anything. But when other people have had this case here is what I've seen before, and it's true. It's funny that you use that language, because it's exactly the same language that I give. I always say. 2s I'm not making any promises. There's no guarantees. What I'm telling you, based on my experience, because I've been with this judge or this courtroom, are these facts. This is usually what happens. 1s And I think anyone listening to this who does not practice law at all would be shocked to hear filing in Probate in Bergen is different than filing in Mammoth, that every county has its own little unique 1s way of doing things. And I just had a case where I filed a motion notice, a motion for a new trial. I wasn't the trial attorney. I was hired after the trial. And I've been asking for months for a briefing schedule, waiting for the transcripts, waiting for the briefing schedule. 1s And then the prosecutor said to me last week, something to the effect of, well, the judge is going to move to sentencing. And I said, I still haven't gotten my briefing schedule. And then we had to conference it. And it was a little bit of an oversight, but I did have to say. 2s This is Atlantic City. Do you hear that? No. Do you hear that? I thought you could hear the more hailstorm going on during the beginning of this. No. So when we conference the case, I did say, Your Honor, I've sent multiple letters requesting a briefing schedule. 1s Is this something different in your county? That is not how Atlantic or Cape May doesn't and that's what the home field advantage is. And as you say in Mahmouth, you can say, I'm calling from the Moral law Firm and it carries weight. It's the same for me in this county. They know who I am. You're not going to do anything unsuccessfully, 1s let me tell you. Let me give you information. And one of the things that 2s I've noticed, having tried cases in multiple counties, there really does need to be a uniform trial role, whether it be monitored golden ticket role, which I thought was great, you're going to get trial date during COVID it's not real. Unless you have a pretrial conference and you have a golden ticket, then you actually don't have to pay experts, you don't have to get witnesses, you don't have to pay thousands of dollars to show up and say you're not trying this case, as opposed to other counties where they're going back to the quote unquote, cattle call. Show up, get ready and we'll tell you if you're one of the 30 churches of that day. So being comfortable and knowing the directions is kind of how I tell clients. I know the directions of mama, I know the directions of middlesex, I know how they operate, ocean I know how they operate is not the same as saying, hey, I know this judge is going to do this because he knows me. That never happens. No one's ever going to do that. 2s I actually say to clients when they're calling and meeting me, I was like, everyone's going to tell you. They all know, the judges, the prosecutors. I said, we all know everyone. I was like, It doesn't guarantee anyone results. So when you hear it, make sure you hear the follow up of it doesn't guarantee me a result, but what it allows me to do is explain to you based on prior experience. I have people call my office, say, well, I'm choosing your firm because the average series has this other firm and the judges like this other firm. I'd say, that's not a reason to choose a law firm, and there's zero truth to that. I'm happy to talk to you about what we can do, but don't drink the kool Aid about that. It's not true. 2s Right. So you said it at the beginning, but 2s when I asked about being a law clerk, was it the best year? But do you feel you've been practicing 15 years now? You're sort of in that golden stride. You said golden ticket, but that stride of, like, confident in your ability, 3s having your own client and success being a manager partner, is this the best so far in the last 15 years of practicing? Yeah, no question. No question. 4s It's very nice to have your own clients. Very nice to have your own practice. It's something that I did not realize I would enjoy so much until it happened. Working on other people's files is a great way to learn. It's a great way to do everything. But if you can learn to generate your own cases, and you can have your own referral sources and you can have your own associates helping you out with things, you really do become more efficient. Your cases get bigger, your responsibilities get bigger. Now, at the same time, I tried an arbitration case two weeks ago, and I didn't sleep for that two weeks because was nervous, and that the jitters never go away. But having somebody help me and being the lead attorney on that, it was cool, and it was a very big case. Hopefully they'll go great with that decision, a couple of months, but it just was. 2s Being where I am now, to have the clients and have the opportunity to lead at my firm and to really handle substantial cases on my own is great. Seeing the leap that I did from jakes barbone to being writing the briefs to now being the one who's having the litigation strategy, it's cool. And you look back and you say, how the hell did that happen? I guess just happens with time. But I enjoy it. I also enjoy that I can shoot, I can choose what I want to take. I can supply. It's a big case. If my bullshit meter is going up. Or I'm thinking, hey, this may be a bad client. It may be good money now, but a bad client later on, or it's just not something right for a firm or the client wants me to do something I don't want to do. It's nice to have the opportunity to say, no, thank you. I appreciate it. So in having the other opportunity of leading and having a strategic vision for a law firm and being a source of kind of guidance is really cool. But it's something I never expected I'd be in a position to do, and I'm enjoying it very, very much. 1s So the asking 2s I always call this the money ask, which, when I was a public defender, I would never have the confidence, ability, or skill to look somebody in the eye and say, 1s these are my fees, right? 2s And then also have clients say, oh, I didn't know it was going to be that much. And then I think different attorneys do different things. I'm at the point, I'm very busy. I've been trying to hire an associate for a long time. I can't take on many more cases because of the load I have. And so sometimes I just say, those are my fees. I know what I'm bringing to the table. I'm sorry if that's not good for you. You're welcome to go to other law firms. How did you learn to do the ask? How did you learn to look somebody in the eye? Because we don't learn this in law school, right? We didn't learn any of this in law school. You don't learn at jacobson brown. I learned how to deal with clients. I talk to clients. I learned how to the most important thing don't bullshit clients. Be honest with them. Give bad news. Don't sugarcoat. That was one of the best things I learned. It just comes with it. I have done research about the firms or size in the area. I know what they charge. You know, I am upfront with clients. Sometimes I tell them, don't retain me. You know, I we talked to somebody myself, an associate. He wanted to sue a neighbor for a $7,000 line. I said, look. 1s So she can do the work at X amount of money. But if that guy's borrowing $7,000 and you get a judgment for he's not able to get back or also wouldn't be borrowing $7,000. So don't even pay us, don't even retain us. Go do it yourself. I'll give you the website. But at the same time, when we have big cases and it's I've never really had somebody say, that's crazy hourly rate except for an insurance company and trying to negotiate it down when when you have to do the fence, we're or the rare times we do it, it's been something that's evolved over time. Just this firm is really cool with 1s they're really sensitive about hourly rates. Once you have two years in, three years in, it's almost like an automatic adjustment to where you're keeping pace with the market. And we do a lot of research to find out, hey, this firm's charging $700 an hour. Let's come in at six. Let's look like, you know, because you also have to factor in there's a burn rate. There's a burn rate of I am probably not going to collect 20% of what I built in my practice. I'm lucky. I have a very small burn rate, 4s carry huge ars over in a huge burn rate. So 2s you got to factor that in. But for the most part, it keeps pace with your experience and then also your practice. I jokingly laugh about the burn rate because, you know, criminal lawyers burn rate is probably higher percent at times. And 1s I've been in practice now for years. My first year, I accepted very little down in order to take cases because I was building a practice and I was concerned in all of that. And I'm now at like half up front, and then I will work with you, and I have clients that will say, I'll pay, just let me. And I'm like, no, I've been through it. 1s If people really knew how much I know that if I finish a case before the payment is done, I'm never getting paid. Yeah, those are the things that 2s it's worse for criminal attorneys. You have corporate and other type of businesses. 1s I have been very lucky with being able to say. 2s You're not paying on the work, 1s right? It's very rarely, unless you're close to a trial date, that really becomes an issue. But I've always operated with if I'm doing a good job, I expect to compensate for it. If you have an issue with the job I'm doing, let's talk about it. But with criminal, it's definitely different. You can definitely expect to never see the second part of those payments. But, you know, I think lawyers live in fear, at least I do, of ethics. You never want to have any bad market your name. You never want to have to be in front of the OE or anything like that. You live in fear of the fee, or you live in fear of the messing up a trust account, those type of things. So if you're charging a client $2,000 an hour, it's going to be tough to say, hey, I did work. That justifies that $2,000 an hour. You're also not going to be able to do the work that's necessary in the file because you'll build a $300,000 fee on a $200,000 case, and then you haven't done right by your clients. So the kind of the relationships in the case dictates everything dictates, retainer dictates. Am I going to do the work at a higherly hourly rate? Am I going to have my do some of the work at a lowerly, lower hourly rate? The last thing you want to do is hurt your client on fees when it doesn't dictate. That's never a good way to treat a client, right? Have you sat on the Ethics Committee or Fiord or done any of that? Not nor. 4s I've had a conversation. So I have been chair of our district ethics. I sat on the ethics committee for years and years and I used to come back from every meeting and then institute new procedures and policies at the office. 1s And the same with Fjord. 1s I definitely 2s if, for whatever reason, there's a client who decides that maybe I'm not the right fit, and I say to people, I'm really good at what I do, I might not be the right fit for you. There's a personality component to representation and 1s this is your life and freedom. And I totally understand it. Same with PR. 1s If they say I want a return of money, I do a very specific look at what I did. Sure. And if there's reason to return it, I don't argue over it. I usually return more than is asked for because I'm not the same reason. You don't want to quibble over and deal with a fee ARB or an ethics issue over a client or one case. And one case, if one case is going to make or break your business, then there's a problem with your business model. That's exactly right. No, it's 100% right. It's never worth it. And we trade on our reputations. The last thing that we want to do is have somebody out there bad, nothing else. Or have that unfortunately or knock on what ethics issue. It's just like any other business, keeping the clientele happy. Clients will come back and the last thing you want to do is have somebody scorned out there attacking you. 1s Yeah, I agree. So I think we both have that same philosophy to work hard, be nice. And I say be nice to everyone in the courts because it's amazing how the court staff, sheriff's officers, will be willing to help you when you're kind to them, because they're doing their job and you're doing your job. 2s Being a nice person is if you walk in there demanding, you know who I am, blah, blah. 1s That's not going to get you far. Even where in the county or the town where you practice? No. I hear you. So I'm going to start to wrap this up. I have 1s two questions that I've been asking most people during this season of the Mighty mer podcast. The first has to do with law school, and I don't know if you know this, but my daughter is graduating from college in May. Don't let her go. 3s Your daughter? What are you doing to her? Come on. 4s Every attorney feels passionate about this. Say no is what you absolutely. Unless she knows what she wants to do. 1s There is such a level of stress with being a litigation attorney that it's impossible to explain. I try to say to my wife, do you think I'm crazy? But just waking up at two in the morning, sending yourself emails, things go wrong. 3s It's fun doing it, and it's really great putting this whole big project together and executing it. But looking back on it, I don't want to put my kids through the stress that I've been through. I just don't. And also, I've had no lawyers in the family. I kind of paid my own path. I want them to pay their own path. I think that's really important is they figure out what they want to do and paid their own pen, but don't do it. Don't do it. Don't you think there's something about the way we learn to think though, and analyze things and argue things? As a lawyer that has been different than anything else? I mean, the truth is, I've said to her, if you want to do it, go do it, and if you don't, don't. But I think it's so funny, the question to every lawyer, because whatever their position is, and there's a lot of attorneys, I have told her, don't do it. And there's a lot of attorneys that say absolutely. It's pretty extreme, though. The reaction is your reaction is either absolutely not or absolutely yes. 3s I don't know why, maybe it's just me, but I really want them to figure out organically what they want to do without being influenced with what I did, because I got very lucky. I had so much luck in where I am right now. It's unbelievable. I didn't have a parent and nephew. I had no connections, nothing. I'm in Lava County, I'm from Philadelphia, so I had nothing but luck and opportunity. Nine times out of ten, they're not. And I don't want them to go through the same worries and stress that I did. 1s But it is fun. Your mind changes. Cross examining five and a half year old twins is so easy. You know, when they think that they're getting something on me, I can crush them and high five myself. So it does help in that regard. Yeah. Well, when my youngest was five, I think I was losing those arguments then, but not bad. One out of four, you know, 2s you put me in a two. Five year old twins in court all went. 1s There you go. It's funny that you said you didn't have any family. I didn't have any family either and sort of kind of 1s paved my own road. Nobody was a lawyer. I didn't have any of those connections. But I would tell you that you say it's luck, and I would say it's grit, which you can't teach hard work, opportunity, and then luck. I think it's like combination of all of it. There's no question. But I can't tell you how many people went to law school with who either are not lawyers or are 1s doing something that does not have the benefits and freedom that I'm doing right now. I'm very lucky. A lot of it was hard to work. I didn't say any work. Hard everything else. But 1s I don't know. I don't want them to go through that ten years of 2s I want them to come out of college and say, we're going to be brain surgeons and we have scouts. There you go. Well, I wish you luck on that. The ending. The last final question is my crazy courtroom story question. And you are a trial attorney. You've been practicing a long time. 1s Do you have a crazy courtroom story that you'd be willing to share on the mighty merp? I do, and it's my first trial, and this is 100% pro. 1s I started jacobs or a bone. I think Ed jacobs is on a very big federal trial. I didn't see him for a while. In the beginning, he would go on these very big, substantial federal trials in Philadelphia or other places, and he just wouldn't him for a while because he's basically living there, breathing that, living that trial. Second week in, I get handed a file. 2s This is a client, a friend of that. He owns a body shop. The guy's getting sued in special civil. No representative, defendant. I had only been to civil court, like, once or twice to serve as a mediator. I had always worked out of the criminal court in Atlanta County. I go to civil court, special civil. It's black stuff going on and trial. Okay. Judge Pain I go up to the bench. 1s I probably didn't object once to the plaintiff. Maybe I can't remember. But I just remember that it's my turn, and I start presenting the defense, and I just get the sense that nobody really is taking me seriously. And every time I'm talking, I'm presenting. I'm showing the pictures, and the sheriff's officer keeps going up to the judge and talking to them, and I'm just white with my face. It's just like they're making fun of me. I'm not doing a good job. They're laughing at me. I'm screwing something up here. And I just never got the sense that I got anyone's real attention. I'm talking, and then same thing. I'm showing this here's the color palette. It's what he ordered. Judge says, all right, rolling to the defense. It's the color palette saying, and next case, I run out of there. I'm like, okay, one. But I feel like the James Barbara is going to get a call and say, hey, the lawyer you sent him really messed up. He had just laughed, blah, blah, blah. Because a lot of times when I'm presenting evidence, sheriff's officers talking. Judge King go back and one of the lawyers says, you idiot. Judge King is blind. The sheriff's officer was explaining some of the evidence to him. I had no idea 1s who called you the idiot, though. That's what I wanted. It probably are, but I had no idea. 2s I had no idea. And to this day, people think I made it up. It's 100% true. He ruled for me, which means he made a great decision. But on top of that, I just walked out going, I can't believe I did not pick that up. And I can't believe that I sat there saying, they're making fun of me when they're it was something totally different. So that's my funny story. It will live with me to the day I die. And it should be in the movie starring me. 2s Starting you. Yeah. 3s Not as a judge, you don't think? Now, you would need to be more of a judge than the young, wide eyed, bright attorney. Just needs to go up here, and I'm good. There you go. Well, thank you so much for talking to me about where you are now and understanding our manager partner role. As I said said, it's me and my staff. I think I need to start writing an HR book. Should I admit that we don't have any formal rules here? Sort of. You want a vacation day, take a vacation day. You want a sick day, take a sick day at my office. No, it'll make it a lot easier for me to sue you, so that's okay. There you go. I just won't give my staff your information up. Thanks again. All right. I appreciate your time. 13s Good. 24s Awesome. 10s That's fake. Fake immediate. The only thing to take out. I made that comment about the billing. Yeah. Thank you very much. Yes. 7s No way. 24s Awesome. 4s Great time. Thank you very much.
I am an equity partner and co-managing partner of Lomurro Law in Freehold, New Jersey. I am also the Vice Chairman of the Board of the United Way of Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
I represent individuals and entities in commercial transactional and litigation matters.
Here are some great episodes to start with.