Carrying the Load
For one local law firm, the focus is on improving people’s lives.
The law partners of Silbert, Garon, Pitre & Friedman don’t picture themselves as bulldogs, body guards or battering rams the way some personal injury and wrongful death attorneys do. In fact, they would prefer you picture them as problem solvers and peacemakers.
“Though we all know the inside of a courtroom, the litigation process does not have to be contentious,” says founding partner Scott Silbert. “Lawyers have to be practical problem solvers. Since 98 percent of civil cases ultimately get settled, if you can appreciate your opponent’s objectives, work together to narrow the issues and try to solve problems together as closely as possible, you can get cases over more quickly and efficiently than if everything is a fight.”
Silbert is proud to say that a significant number of cases referred to the firm come from lawyers and often, lawyers they have litigated against. He says they see how practical and expedient the firm is at handling cases and how they watch out for their clients through the process.
The firm also prides itself on helping those most in need of help. Silbert says in this economic era where the vast majority of people live paycheck to paycheck, it doesn’t take a catastrophic injury to cause major financial hardship for the working class. “If you take away their ability to work and they go two to three weeks without financial assistance, they’re out on the street,” he says. “They’re worried about what they are going to do in the future, worried about making ends meet… ‘Who is going to take care of my family? Am I going to be a cripple?’ These people have no outlet for their normal level of stress. Just picture the additional stress they are carrying with them. To the extent allowed by law, we are there to help with all our clients’ needs.”
Each of the partners looks outside the firm to assist others with their talents and resources as well.
Justin Garon is one of the founders of the post-Katrina New Orleans Recreation Department; David Pitre is civically active in fundraising for children with cancer; Jonathan Friedman is a magistrate, commissioner who dedicates himself to causes in justice like sentencing reform and jail conditions; and Silbert is active at his synagogue, which has a very full social action agenda.
“It isn’t just about what we do during the workaday world to create justice; every one of us is dedicated to making people’s lives better,” Silbert says. “It would certainly be easier to focus all our efforts on profitability, but that’s not the driving force behind what makes us tick.”
Scott Silbert: Telling the Story by Effective Analogy
On attorney-client relationship skills being like bedside manners: “You might be going to the greatest neurosurgeon around, and he or she might have the best set of hands, but you are dealing with a major medical problem and you need someone who is going to listen to you and have the bedside manner to assist you through this very challenging period of your life.”
On how a case is like an airplane ride: “It’s our function to get justice, not to rush it, not to look at it as an opportunity to make money … we don’t handle cases, we take care of people. It’s the difference between a horribly turbulent flight to Houston versus sitting in first class with a smooth ride. Many lawyers can get you from point A to point B but how will you feel once you arrive?”
On how each attorney is like a designated driver: “We tell our clients and we’re darned serious about it, we’re the designated worriers. They should focus their energies on getting well and maximizing their ability to live their lives. Let us take care of securing justice.”
On keeping clients informed: “It’s like when you’re constructing a building. You have to see it as it is going up to appreciate the completed structure.”
On challenging himself: “It would be nice if everything that came in was a highly compensated surgeon rear-ended by a Coca-Cola truck. I could send my 21-year-old in and he could handle that. It could be very lucrative, but there’s no challenge. Part of my satisfaction is in the challenge.”
909 Poydras St., Ste. 2130
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 581-6200 | (800) 394-3209
3506 Washington Ave., Ste. G
Gulfport, MS 39507
(228) 822-2404 | (800) 890-2227