Today we’re excited to share a presentation by Gary Burger from MaxLawCon 2021! Tune in to learn more about how important an honest day’s work is for an honest day’s pay.
Gary Burger has dedicated his career to standing up against bullies. The founder and principal attorney of Burger Law has helped hundreds of Missouri, and Illinois individuals and families recover the compensation that allows them to move forward.
1:12 they get paid for their shift
4:11 advocate for your clients
7:39 it fits my skillset
11:48 be gracious and honorable
15:19 it was a great case
19:04 humility and gratitude
Watch the podcast here.
- Join the Guild Membership
- Subscribe to the Maximum Lawyer Youtube Channel
- Follow us on Instagram
- Join the Facebook Group
- Follow the Facebook Page
- Follow us on LinkedIn
Transcript: Running a Firm While Getting a $113 Million Verdict with Gary Burger
In today’s episode, we’re sharing a presentation from Max law con 2021. Keep listening to hear Gary Burger as we share his talk, running a firm while getting a $113 million verdict. You can also head to the maximum lawyer YouTube channel to watch the full video. Now to the episode.
Run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum lawyer podcast, podcast your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson nutrix. Let’s partner up and maximize your firm.
Welcome, Judy show, folks, an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. If your employer promises to pay for all the time you physically work, they have to pay you. It’s a basic tenet, America. Thank you. And it don’t, you’re responsible for that harm. I represent 15,000 corrections officers in the state of Missouri 4000 of them today are working right now. And they don’t get paid for all the time they work. They get paid on their shift when they’re back in the prison. But they don’t get paid going in or going out when they’re walking among the worst of the worst. They go in, they go through security, they’re checked, they can be stripped searched, they go through an airlock, they confirm their identification with retina scans or thumb prints, they go through airlocks they go back in the bowels of the prison and get buzzed through different gates. They’re walking among killers, they get their keys and radio OC spray handcuffs. And then they get a shift briefing at the end to see what happened. And for none of this time, are they getting paid and the Missouri Department of Corrections requires this mandates it and refuses to pay them and they’ve refused to pay for 30 years, and 2004. They calculated this time to be seven and a half million dollars a year in 2004. They can’t get rid of one pre or post shift activity, not one because there’s so essential. And you know what this shift change time is when the shit goes down. I didn’t say that to the jury is when everything goes down. Because these prisoners know that’s when you take action. That’s when contraband is exchanged. That’s when murders happen. And that’s what suicides happen. And that’s going to be the undisputed evidence in this case. So that was part of what I said to this jury in 2018. And right now today, in about three hours, about two hours, these 4000 people that I’m at I represent right now are not going to get paid when they leave their shift. And when the new shift comes on at 330. So I litigating tried this case got I didn’t get $113 million verdict, I got 113 704 10,630 $2,000 judgment and verdict, because to the dollar. That’s what my experts said the damages were in the jury gave it to the dollar, because they liked that case. So here’s what I learned about thank you that this one is not about me, it’s about these people, because this is what I learned about myself and my firm as I did this, and I have my lessons I’ve wrote this speech years ago or last night. So right, so with trailers, right? I do all my work the night before, right? So but build a great team, and a system, not just for running your business, but for trying cases. Because if you’re a trial, or you got to do the systems for all this stuff, and that’s great. But build a team for trying cases, you got to make money on the other cases, and do other trials. But if you want to work on the big one, I have paralegals, I have teams of lawyers, I’ve trained them, they’ve tried cases with me, we know how to do it. And I do it all the time, build a trial firm. And sometimes I work with other lawyers, a lot of times people send me cases asked me to work with them. Sometimes for this case, I brought in another firm. I’m going to talk to you about that in a minute. But don’t forget to build a great trial team because when you look on your oath on the wall, it doesn’t say build a great system. So you can make a lot of money. It says advocate for your clients and do your duty as a lawyer and we and I know no one here is going to forget that. All right. So build a system to try cases your trial lawyers know how to do that. Next, take risks in your business. Take and try the big cases. I am only going to live once. My why is because I like to fight for the little guy against the bullies. I hate bullies. I hate big organizations that trample the rights of people. I equal the playing field. That’s my why I am the CEO of my firm. I have good systems. I have KPI charts that I do not follow as good as most of the people that give lectures about those systems, but I do it pretty good. You know and been coming here makes me focus on my business more which is why I do it. I know myself. So you know I follow the numbers to some point and then I kind of just don’t care because I like being a trial lawyer. I’m going to be a CEO a little bit of My firm, but I kind of want to be a trial lawyer. I’m not gonna break it down like other people I know myself take risks. Not only did I get that high verdict that year, I also got an award or my opponent got award, I got the fifth best defense verdict against me that same year, I tried a medical malpractice case in this county in St. Charles County, it was a suicide murder case, one of the tough case to try, I’ve never been bawling my eyes out direct examining my witness, I tried to hell of a case, we lost the case nine to three, I met, and I’m still friends with an amazing family and an amazing story. I am as much or more proud of my work in that case than in my big verdict case, it was an it’s an astounding story. I’m never going to tell that story. That’s not going to be in the papers. But but that’s you got to take the big cases, sometimes you want them and sometimes you lose them. So you got to go and get ready for trial in cases and insist that your clients get paid the best they can for their injuries. Many times that’s right up to trial, or try the case, I took a break, went outside settled a case for $110,000. In a case, it’s set for trial and two weeks, I had doctor’s depo set up and all kinds of stuff. So we let her and my actually my a great lawyer works for me, Mike Sheldon actually did all the work on that case. And so he and I were on a conference call. So there you go. That’s my point, take risks in your business, try and take the big risk, because that’s the reward when you look back on your career, that’s what you’re proud of. But run a kick ass business. Don’t forget that you got to run your business build systems, you got to do that case, you cannot do these cases, unless you’re making money and profitable and insist on full compensation for your clients on the other stuff, try cases and all that. But I did a great one of my speeches I liked that I did in the first maxilla I did 75 things I did in my first two years of my firm in 45 minutes, they replayed that on the podcast this year. That’s where I go into my systems and what I’ve done, I do all the things as the kids say, I got Google reviews top SEO rankings in PEI, Missouri and Illinois, bi weekly newsletters, podcasts, books, hundreds of videos, that kind of stuff. I do that too. I mark it, I try to get cases I try to do it as well as I can I turn my energy towards that as much as I can. I have three lawyers who work for me now, I always have three to four, I always have seven, eight support staff. My firm is six years old. But I had another firm for 14 years before that. I track and measure stuff. To some extent, I’m not that good at it. Sometimes I am good at it. Sometimes. I think I know what’s important. But I can always improve there. It fits my skill set, I try to focus on crushing opponents in cases. And that’s where I try to hone my talent. And I have great lawyers and staff that I work with we push to get good results. But you got to keep everything else going. So that you know that’s how do you do these cases and do this as if you just got to do it all next lesson, be funny and have fun. It’s not all that serious. So I’m below the table in a motion argument. I’m digging in my bag, my old trial back for something. And the jet we’re trying to strike. They’re experts, we struck their experts in the case and the judge goes, Mr. Burr, how much money for this case? And I remember I looked at $95 million, Your Honor. And I looked back down and she laughs and she turns the other side. He’s he wanted that much money, you don’t have your own experts online ready to go? What are your people doing? And and the other lawyer, they put their very fancy smart lawyer, he’s using all these analogies and all this crap and opening stuff up taking them up shoving them right up his rear the whole time. And at the end he’s talking about you’re gonna shoot an arrow and shoot an arrow, you missed the mark or bowling alley. And so enclose the entire jury erupts in laughter when I say I’m here talking about wages for 1000s of employees who are walking among merged when required activity and you’re not paying him and you know it. And he’s over here shooting arrows in a bowling app. And the jury erupts. So have I always tried to be a little funny. I think I’m hilarious. My kids do not. And my staff, I think I’m hilarious. But anyway, but try to be funny because you know, when you’re dealing with powerful emotional things you need to as humans, we need to laugh at stuff, black humor, dark humor, sometimes you need to laugh at stuff too. And that’s a human thing juries need to know to do that, that they can let that go and be human. And I laugh at myself too. Like when I make a mistake or that kind of stuff. So be funny. Oh, so here’s the others. I thought this is hilarious. So I walk around a lot my talk right as we do. So my damage x were to calculate it $100 million right before trial. They produced me the retirement data. I’ve been litigating this case for eight years, and for you and and they will give me that so they give me this retirement data. So I give it To my expert, great economist, he calculated another $13 million in damages for all the people that are retired. And so my number is now 130. They’re objecting they got motions, blah, blah, but they didn’t take it up. So they didn’t take it up with a judge. What is the first thing I do? And for Dyer? Does anybody here have a problem, if I prove to you with the evidence required a me to award $113 million in damage in that case, they shed their faces were priceless. That number was the number throughout the case, there was never another number set until they crossed my expert at the end. That’s there’s a lot of there’s a lot of grounding. There’s a lot of ideas behind talking about numbers. In the beginning, I thought that I had more fun saying that it was so funny. I was I was laughing. So be funny, and have fun with it too. Because the weight of these cases and the pressure that we put on ourselves can be overwhelming. So you need to step back and laugh at yourself or whoever or the and especially the other side, right.
Running your own practice can be scary. Whether you’re worried about where the next case will come from. Feeling like you’re losing control of your growing firm or frustrated from being out of touch with everyone working under your license, the stress can be overwhelming. We will show you how to turn that fear into a driving force of clarity, focus, stability, and confidence that eliminates the rollercoaster of guilt ridden second guessing and mistake making to get you off that hamster wheel for good.
Maximum lawyer and minimum time is a step by step playbook that shows you how to identify what your firm needs and how to proactively get it at every stage of the game. But you’re prepped and excited for the inevitable growth that will follow. Name the lifestyle that you want. And we’ll show you how to become a maximum lawyer and minimum time. Find out more by going to maximum lawyer.com forward slash course.
The next lesson, be gracious, and honorable, be a gracious and honorable lawyer. I give all my exhibits to the other side. I don’t cheat or screw the other side. Even if they’re doing it to me most of the time. The other side would not they gave me their exhibits. But they were going up and crossing my witnesses without giving me the exhibits and handed me stuff. I was asking her and she wouldn’t do it. The jury I wasn’t watching the drag people watching the jury, the jury couldn’t believe it. They were rolling their eyes at what jerks the other side were and when how honorable and fair I was being with the other side. I always do that. The other side did an offer proof on their expert. And this is the here’s a good honorable lawyer. I like him, the guy with the arrows in the bowling alley, he forgot to ask some questions because he wasn’t a Missouri lawyer. So at the end of he’s done with his offer proof with his expert, he flew in from California, I went up to him and I whispered, you have to say that do hold these opinions to a reasonable degree of economic certainty because otherwise you’re not going to make your burden of proof. And he didn’t believe me at first. But then he turned around and did it to him. And he established that. So those are because I’ve screwed stuff up, where I’ve had honorable lawyers on the other side helped me and get my back because that’s not the playing field I like to play on. So I have my own code of honor and you kind of develop this as a trial lawyer. There’s certain things you do and certain things you don’t do. So think about that. Next lesson, from this case that I apply in my life, have serenity, really, really surrender to the idea that you can only control what you can control you can lose the entire case you can get a defense verdict, you can lose it I’ve lost big cases I have so it hurts and it but it hurts less as I get older because I try to develop that serenity in my life and I work on that when the jury goes into deliberation after I’m done closing I am at my most relaxed ever in a case because I am done a God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom know the difference I’m done and I just chill out and I relax in that seat and I savor that moment I may lose it I may win it and then it but anyway so that that to me. It’s folk it’s trying to concentrate on what I can control and can’t control and that helps me helps with my stress. Then when you see the verdict be open to the lessons from it. Acceptance is the answer to all of your problems today, when I am disturbed that is because I find some person place thing or situation some fact of my life unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that that person place thing or situation is being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Acceptance is the answer to all your problems today. There you go. The other thing is I am totally biased I drink the water I believe in my case use focus groups all right next lesson how I work and I’m you can tell this the style of this talk is just shotgun give you information, give me my thoughts. I’m not going to pause a lot for dramatic effect or do this stuff or try to you know, whatever my other mechanisms of persuasion. I’m just trying to share with you some of my lessons I got Five more minutes of it, how I work with other people in firms pretty good. So I partnered with another firm in this case, it was a it’s a national class case. So I am weird in my brain, right? So I don’t know if you guys have partnered with other firms. So I’m like, well, it was a great case. They helped me do the class action stuff. 15,000 member class man’s union is a huge undertaking. Wait a minute. I know all that shit. I learned it all. I don’t need them. What are you talking about? What Why do I have them? In that case? I email the class. I do all this stuff. I’m doing it to them, you know, handle it. I handle all their questions. And you know what? I got this verdict. But you know what? No, wait, they really helped me. They threw people in good people. They’re smart. They helped me brief stuff. All the motions eliminate this is the most complex legal case you can imagine. I got a breach of contract case against a sovereign around immunity around a host of Supreme Court precedent. But bringing in the Fair Labor Standards Act to set guidelines and a labor contract. And I got class cert, I got expert issues, all kinds of stuff going back and forth. Oh, man, I have to split the fee. Now, wait a minute, we got a pretty good deal. It’s pretty it’s proportionate to the work, man, I gotta work. I gotta share a large fee. This sucks. That you know what, wait a minute. We went to the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, and we briefed it. And they’re brilliant writers along with me. And we have an amazing in very smart team together. We were honed, we’re dialed in. We’re amazing. briefing this case together. Thank God, I didn’t eff up that relationship. Thank God, they were here with me to take this case all the way. I have to share, I get to share success has 1000 Masters failure has none. So now I get to go retry it in June. Thank God I didn’t spurn or destroy those relationships. Those people are some of my best friends. Now. Truly, they are. I can. They’re great. They’re great. They’re amazing lawyers. But on the second day of trial, I made a mistake. I brought in this new team of lawyers and we’re gonna go try this case, we go to Jefferson City, we go try this case. On the second day of trial. I call my paralegal Casey, Casey, get your ass here right now. I need my trial team. Because I had built my trial team I went to trial without so they all came there. Boom, I trialed it. She knows what she knows what exhibits to give to me before. She knows how to try cases with me. I’ve done a lot of cases with her. She knows how I work. She knows it. She knows how to keep track experts. So I brought him in. And we were great. We were great. We were next lesson. Two minutes left. Cases happens and life happens. This is a long case. 12 years, my firm broke up and I started a new one. I negotiated with my many letters and battles with my ex partner. I cut a deal giving them money in other cases for the fee in this without deep I don’t want to go into details. I don’t need to. That was a great I actually cut a brilliant deal. Wait a minute, I haven’t collected a dime. Did I cut a shitty deal? I don’t know. That’s what contingency that’s the risk we live in. Right? That’s business and unless you get serene with it and good with it. That can be tough. case filed in 2012. I have a new firm. I have a new wife. I got a new kid. Many new employees. Max law was created since this case started. I do all this do all this stuff and run a firm and do all the shit you do. Are you kidding me? That’s not the half of it. That’s the only part of my life. I’m a dad. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a coach. I’m a cave diver. I’m a beekeeper. I’m a music fan. I’m a juggler. I do all kinds of shit. That’s not part of my life. So not that’s not bragging. Maybe it is but the point of that is live life. Live your life. That’s this is part of your life. That’s one of the lessons I have. Now, of course, I’m segwaying to humility and gratitude. This case for me is a constant study of my ego and my humility and my gratitude. All glory is fleeting, it really is true. Get out of your own way. Don’t have that attitude. Think about all my clients, my class members. Oh, you got a big verdict bla bla bla, you’re the greatest No, think about my class members. These are the hardest working people in Missouri. They call them the Forgotten force, the biggest police force in the state of Missouri the biggest those people are counting on this money to buy a house to send a kid to school to pay off debt and Justice delayed is justice denied. I would imagine at least 1000 of them are dead now of my class or an older workforce. I get these emails all the time. My dad died done it. Am I still part of the class? That’s the reality of this case? That that keeps me grounded. No one was more surprised than I have ever If I still do this, I don’t have I don’t know, let me just read it. Maybe I lack confidence. I don’t really think so. I but I am trepidatious about a certain future. I’ve lost too many cases not I’ve lost a handful. But I mean, you know, I don’t want to jinx it. Because I don’t know what I don’t know, maybe I miss something that’s going to tank the case. Maybe there’s a secret juror that wants to torpedo me, I have to I have to, I have to have the wisdom to know the difference. I can’t control the outcome. I can control the case I put on a do my best to put the very best case that I can in style tone, respect to the fact finder. I think trials are kind of magical and cool, wrote next lesson, and I’m going to skip one of them about the media and what I did with the media. You can read about it. Relax into your power and your legal ability. Relax into that. I’m proud of the novelty of the case. I’m proud of what I did. I’m proud of the I did every witness they put up I did these blind crosses, meaning I never knew what they were going to say. And I just scorched them one after another had him coming up every time. It doesn’t take any time to do this. Did you time it? Yeah. When? Friday? You mean? Like three days ago for it? Yeah. Did you have a stopwatch? No, I did this and what did you do? Did you count? One 1002 1000
the bullshit case that they tried to put on, I was very proud of how I destroyed them. I don’t I don’t want to tell you any other war stories about that. But I relax into I have this thing where I I get nervous. I think I’m not going to It’s not that I don’t think I’m going to do well. But I really get nervous about how I’m going to do and stuff and then I go take the deck or try the case and I’m gonna go shit. I’m good at what I do. But I still have that part of me. It’s very interesting. I think that maybe that’ll go away with time. I don’t know. I think it makes me a good lawyer. So this case is like a book in life any imaginable twist and turn it happened. Now I’m gonna go retry it. Oh, Judge gone new judge. The Supreme Court said my sovereign immunity argument was correct. I had a contract it was breached, the class was correct. To have the seven things these guys do is compensable as a matter of law, and I’m supposed to go retry it on the rest of the five things and recalculate the damages. That’s not a neutral. It sounds pretty good to me. So I’m gonna go try to get more. Maybe I’m trying to in June, maybe I’ll be invited back to max law again, and I’ll tell you how it happened. This case is a constant lesson and ego and humility and gratitude. It’s for me to be opened up to the lessons God would not give us traffic unless he wanted us to learn patience. Failures make us appreciate success and learn the flower blooms when it is ready. And it’s up to me to fertilize my soil. hone my talent, look for sunshine, and try to be a kick ass trial lawyer. It won’t be every time. But that’s okay. Thank you.