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Perry [Weitz] has never done anything but encourage us to spend whatever it takes to do the very best job, because he was a trial lawyer. If anything, he’ll say, ‘Why didn’t you do another focus group? Why didn’t you spend more money to prepare? Why not do more?’ It’s not just that they don’t say ‘no.’ They actually encourage you to do everything that you can to win.
As the Chief Trial Lawyer at Weitz & Luxenberg, Robert Gordon has amassed more than $400 million in jury verdicts over his career, which began when national asbestos cases were first starting to materialize.
In fact, Gordon tried the first asbestosis case and the second mesothelioma case in New York State history.
Gordon is not just a major player, he helped write the rules of engagement in asbestos litigation. He’s been at Weitz & Luxenberg since 1991, serving as the firm’s trial front man in high-profile cases involving asbestos-related illnesses, drug companies, dangerous medical devices and environmental pollution.
He’s engineered many of Weitz & Luxenberg’s biggest success stories, winning 12 cases with verdicts worth at least $10 million, among his 36 total judgments of $1 million or more.
While Gordon might be the focal point at times, arguing cases in the courtroom, there’s no understating the importance and impact of the overall team effort at Weitz & Luxenberg in helping win such large judgments for clients.
“To use a football analogy, I don’t think a quarterback would do well if he didn’t have a great offensive line, receivers and running backs,” Gordon said. “This is a team game, totally. So in these kinds of trials, you are both a performer and a conductor.
“That’s the magic to it. From the paralegals, to the staff attorneys, to the second-chair lawyer and to me, it’s a team game.”
Perhaps the best part about working at Weitz and Luxenberg, Gordon said, is the front office’s willingness to do whatever it takes to win a case, a notion that shouldn’t be lost on prospective clients. It starts with firm co-founder Perry Weitz, who also has a reputation as a trial lawyer of considerable repute. The firm has the resources and willingness to propel a case toward a maximum verdict for its clients.
“Perry [Weitz] has never done anything but encourage us to spend whatever it takes to do the very best job, because he was a trial lawyer,” Gordon said. “If anything, he’ll say, ‘Why didn’t you do another focus group? Why didn’t you spend more money to prepare? Why not do more?’
“It’s not just that they don’t say ‘no.’ They actually encourage you to do everything that you can to win.”
In an era when personal-injury firms are situated in every city, Gordon doesn’t blink when explaining why an injured party should call a national litigation giant such as Weitz & Luxenberg, which is entering its fourth decade of existence.
“Because we’re the biggest, we’re the best and we’ve been doing it the longest – all of those things,” he said. “Because we’re the biggest, we have incredible leverage over the defense, and the resources to bring to bear. We’re the best because we’re the most experienced. I’ve been doing this since 1984. How many other guys are still doing it? The core here has been together a long time.”
While Gordon prefers to emphasize the team-based results of his work, his personal accolades are as notable as his courtroom earnings. A former Philadelphia assistant district attorney, Gordon has been named to the Super Lawyers list of elite attorneys every year since 2006, and in 2009 was a finalist for the Public Justice Foundation’s Trial Lawyer of the Year distinction. In 2011, he was named the New York Mass Torts Litigator of the Year by Best Lawyers.
More publicly, Gordon made major waves in the pharmaceutical arena during a landmark case against drug giant Merck a decade ago, prompting The Wall Street Journal to publish a lengthy feature story about the Rochester, New York, native. The story gushed over the victory, won alongside fellow Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys Jerry Kristal and Ellen Relkin, which resulted in a $13.5 million verdict after punitive damages were added and upheld.
Positioned alongside one of the newspaper’s famous pencil drawings of Gordon, the headline read, “Low-Key Lawyer Wins Vioxx Case In a Quiet Way.”
With Gordon at the helm, Weitz & Luxenberg was involved in some of the biggest groundwater contamination cases in U.S. history. Since 2000, Gordon has served as the co-chairman of the national steering committee that oversees thousands of consolidated cases seeking damages from the gas and oil industry. Hundreds of millions in damages have been distributed to towns with poisoned water systems.
It’s been a decorated career, but Gordon wasn’t always sure he wanted to be a lawyer. While an undergrad at University of Michigan, he enrolled in seemingly every general-education class under the sun in trying to find his path.
“Once I started the law students in court program, I said, ‘Oh, this is like acting, but you write your own lines,’” said Gordon. “But it’s for a good cause, it’s about the truth. Brains are required, but there’s improv. It’s really cool.”
He’s used to having an audience, legal or otherwise. In college, he performed in bands in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, area and truly sang for his supper in area restaurants, playing his acoustic guitar for customers in exchange for free dinners. He has ten guitars in his collection.
He feels that being a guitar devotee has made him a better courtroom attorney, too. In court, moments of silence often make an impression bigger than a high-decibel harangue. Cadence and phrasing count for plenty.
“Dynamics, pacing, silence, volume, it’s all related to how well you speak, how you sing, or how you play,” he said.
It takes a certain personality to effectively argue multimillion-dollar cases against industry giants, under the klieg lights, with Gordon’s degree of success. Truly, the courtroom has become his stage.
“I’m a trial lawyer,” he said. “To me, it’s about trying cases. It’s all about being in court, with a client, cross-examining defense witnesses and winning a case.”
Robert J. Gordon will be happy to review your case.