A Message from The Managing Partner Ron Karp
In 2017, the Washington Post magazine will each publish a list in the Super Lawyers section called: Washington, D.C: THE TOP 100. I will be listed again amongst the top 100 lawyers who received the highest point totals in voting by other lawyers and blue ribbon panel process. Just as gratifying, I will be included in the Top 100 list of Super Lawyers in Maryland as well. There are more than 100,000 lawyers in the Tri-state area of Washington DC/Maryland/Virginia and seeing my name on a short list of lawyers whom I have so admired for decades in two separate jurisdictions is an honor I am unable to fully describe. Frankly, I think this is a result of luck, opportunity and years of hard work. It would not have happened without the unwavering support of a loving wife of 47 years and a supportive family at home (who missed me around the dinner table too many nights when I was in trial or preparing for trial) and at the law firm. I take a great measure of satisfaction (and good luck) in picking people to work at the firm. The partner tenure is truly amazing in world where folks jump from firm to firm: I have worked with partners Jeff Wigodsky for over 30 years; with Jack Gold for 20 years and with Lee Norwind for 15 years (and whom I have known for over 30 years). Our newest partner at the firm, Demo Komis, has been with us for 8 years. Until they retired, three of my legal secretaries were at the firm for 15 to 20 years. My former partner of almost 20 years, Brian Frosh, left the firm recently to become Attorney General of Maryland and former partner Phil Kessel worked with us for 25 years before retiring. I think when people choose a firm to trust with their case, they look for depth of experience, stability and team work.
And, every client shares a common factor — they woke up and looked forward to another normal day, when suddenly their lives turned on a dime. They became victimized by someone’s negligence — an errant truck driver, a careless landlord, a drunk driver, a doctor or surgeon who simply wasn’t paying careful attention to a patient. Sometimes, as simple (and outrageous) an act as driving on the wrong side of the road, or not paying attention to the rules of the road, created a catastrophic injury to an innocent victim who had no idea when he left home that morning that he would be airlifted to a shock trauma unit. Sometimes, the injury was beyond a physical injury, as when I was honored to represent Police Chief Charles Moose in his First Amendment fight to get his book published (it became a New York Times bestseller), or when I represented a group of women who took on a Fortune 500 company for sexual harassment.
I have sat with parents who lost children, children who lost parents, good people who lost loved ones or who were suddenly thrust from a normal life into a life of simply trying to survive with a serious brain injury or other catastrophic disability. Long ago, I gave up trying to supply easy clichés and catch phrases that pass for temporary comforting answers. I realized what clients really want from our system of justice is fair compensation for their losses. Even after successful jury verdicts or substantial settlements, I have never had a single client in all of my years who would not give back the funds in a heartbeat if they could just turn back time and erase the tragic incident from their lives.
Clients do not come to lawyers for sympathy or solace. They get that from their family and clergy. What they want from their lawyer is a high comfort level that justice will be done. Securing simple justice for clients is, and always has been, my greatest satisfaction. I met my clients in the worst period of their lives, when they were tragically deprived of a normal day, left behind, virtually helpless. Regardless of their station in life, all were equally vulnerable.
I save the many kind notes and letters clients have sent me over the years in a book. When I run into people I have helped, or hear from them on the phone, the greatest satisfaction I have is hearing how the funds secured by my law firm really changed their lives. Having spent more than 40 years practicing in my community, I often run into folks — at the mall, in theaters, restaurants, and around town whom I have had the honor of representing along the way — people who are kind enough to tell me, and sometimes my wife, that I changed their lives at a critical time when they needed it most. For example, I have had children, who are now adults, tell me they were able to go to college on funds I secured for them years ago. Just recently (Memorial Day weekend 2016) a 31 year old former client approached me at the mall. When she was 5 years old I secured compensation for her and we put it in a trust fund until she was 18. I asked her what she had done with those funds since she turned 18 and she said she went to college, got a Master’s Degree and taught for some years. Now she is finishing up her doctorate in education and hopes to be a school principal. She also used the money to buy a home. I thanked her for coming over to me and said she made my day, which she truly did.
That book of notes, letters and cards is now quite thick after over 40 years. It continues to be a treasured source of rejuvenation and energy. It reminds me that every case is always about the client, never the lawyer. I instill this principle in every case the firm takes. I have been blessed to be surrounded by partners who for decades have shared this ideal, and by bright associates who aspire to make this ideal a reality every day. It is also quite gratifying that my peers at the bar have recognized this work ethic and I am proud to have been selected by them in numerous professional rating services that list me among the top one percent of lawyers in the U.S.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity and honor to appear in courthouses all over the region, from small rural courthouses to large federal courthouses. I have learned that judges and jurors really try to be fair, and access to the justice system is the most sacred legal right victims have. Whether the case results in a jury verdict or a settlement, nothing would be possible without our time-honored system of justice. I also know that the best approach to helping clients in a team approach at the law firm and I have been blessed to be surrounded by absolutely first rate lawyers.
In 2012, my son joined the firm, and I can tell you that moving his admission in federal court was one of the greatest joys of my legal career. One of my heroes is Thurgood Marshall, who was probably the most influential lawyer of the 20th century. I now fully understand what he meant when he said that sitting on the Supreme Court or arguing the famous Brown v. Board of Education case was not as proud a moment as when he moved his son’s admission to the court.
I have always thought the day a lawyer is admitted to practice law, someone should whisper in their ear: “You have just been given the key to the courthouse and you really do have the power to change lives.” I finally had the chance to say that to my son.