William D. Umansky, or “The Lawman” as he is affectionately known by his peers, has almost two decades of experience offering “Second Chances” to clients who have either been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or who have, unfortunately, been charged with a crime. His practice is based in Central Florida and he advocates for his clients throughout Florida. He is the Managing Partner of the Umansky Law Firm where he directs a team of lawyers dedicated to success and to working hard to try and achieve the results the firm’s client’s desire.
Today we share his presentation, “Opposing Counsel” from MaxLawCon 2019.
Watch the presentation here.
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Transcript: “Opposing Counsel” with William Umansky
Run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum lawyer podcast, podcast, your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson metrics. Let’s partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show.
In today’s episode, we’re throwing it back to a presentation from Mac saw con 2019 Orlando criminal defense lawyer William Umansky shares his presentation, opposing counsel. Let’s get to it.
So is your opposing counsel and ass? And I’m gonna need a little bit of audience participation, if you will. Okay. I like you guys to raise your left hand. If you’ve ever dealt with opposing counsel who’s a complete ass. Good. That’s good. I like you to keep your left hand up, though. It’s not a little game just to keep you awake. Have you ever had a confrontation during a deposition hearing or trial? A real confrontation with opposing counsel, raise your right hand. This is the easy part. Now who’s brave enough to admit, have you ever had a situation where you wanted to beat the shit and choke opposing counsel, stand up and you just stand up? Those are not standing up either are not litigators or they’re transactional. I don’t need to get that much anymore, but keep standing. Okay, good. Because we’re gonna go over three tips. In the next 10 minutes. I’m gonna let you guys out of here, you sit down. Three tips that I really want you guys to focus on one is going to be you know, when you’re involved in a situation with opposing counsel, this is important, have perspective of why opposing counsels acting that way, and owning your own actions to you can afford communication outside of that case. And three, this is important after that case is over, you’re going to develop a very, very long bond that lasts way outside of that case. And if you do those three things, there’s going to be a good chance you’re going to turn that enemy into a lifelong referral source. So I’m going to come down because I hate talking up here. Gary, can you come up? So Gary is my story for today? Because Gary is an accomplished trial lawyer. multimillion dollar verdicts. He’s great and everything. He also looks like an ass. Sorry, Gary. So just imagine Friday afternoon. Does anyone from Florida? Okay. Anyone been to Florida? All right. I’m from Orlando. And there’s Tampa. There’s lawyers on both sides of the coast. And I have a slip and fall deposition. And and it’s in the middle of the state citrus Lake County. I don’t want to insult anyone here is from Lake County. I know guy. So we do a depo. Friday at three o’clock in the afternoon. This is years ago. Now. You can imagine if you said the Depo Friday after three o’clock for you experienced litigators, what you might already be thinking, you think, what are you thinking? Anyone thinking anything? So we come to a library and we have this. I bring my brand new law clerk and my wife’s here, I’m sorry. But she’s a brand new law clerk referred by family friends. She had never seen a depo. She’s a first year law student. I’m taking her over there. I have a huge ass binder to ask questions at a Friday at three o’clock deposition of their general manager, because I’m trying to establish liability on my slip and fall case. And this law clerk never seen anything. She prepared me for the Depo. You know, I want to show her that I know what I’m doing. So I get into the Depo, Friday, and I sit down a library and I have the binder and it’s gone pretty well. I’m asking questions. We’re trying to establish liability. And about an hour into the Depo. It’s now four o’clock. Those of you who practice personal injury, you may know even as a plaintiff’s lawyer an hour already for depo for general manager, I’m not sure. The opposing counsel who’s a little taller than Gary says to me, I gotta use the bathroom. So like, All right, we’re in a depo. He’s got to use the bathroom that’s normally around four o’clock and trying to wrap stuff up, supposedly, and he’s kind of nasty. I don’t really care. You know, yeah, we’ll take the Depo. But on his way out, he gives me a parting shot. And he says, Mr. Lemansky, whenever I see a lawyer with a big binder, I see a lawyer who’s scared of his own shadow. And whenever a big binders when they prepare for stuff. Okay? So, this is really bad, though. So I’m sitting there and I hear laughter over my right shoulder. And it’s my F and law clerk. No, no, no, she’s actually a sex prosecutor and St. Pete is great, but I’d hire her now and pair less but I didn’t hire her. But I couldn’t even look over my right shoulder. I mean, I was embarrassed. And that original heat then started turning into something more. You know, I started getting angry and pissed. Because I was I was pissed. I was angry mad. And I I really didn’t know why at the time. So he goes off to the bathroom. And now use Gary. Gary, can we turn around together? I’m a little smaller, and we’re standing at the urinal. And I do what two men should never do in a urinal. You look at my microphone, I looked down. I looked down and I gave that mother. You know what? And I started going after it everything his family, why would you embarrass me in front of my law clerk? I mean
he’s getting red in the face. And he’s, and he’s just pissed, because I’m gonna, I mean, I don’t want to, I’m not allowed to curse, supposedly, but I’m calling a fucking asshole, and all this other stuff, and he wants to kill me. So we get back in that depo It’s like 430. And the shit is on. Like, every time I’m asking a question. The guy’s going nuts, like objection speaking objections, which you know, are unethical. At least in Florida. He’s just going crazy. The good thing is his, his client, the general manager, the general manager was kind of like, was flustered by us, because we were going nuts. We hated each other, and gave me some good points and liability, despite all the bullshit objections a guy raised. So that was great. So I walk out of there. And, you know, I’m on my way home. And this the serious point about that, my law clerks with me, I’m feeling really good. I got that guy back. I’m good. I’m blah, blah, blah. But as I’m driving home, and this, this really was the part that got to me and changed a lot of things for me. I didn’t feel good, right? I mean, have you ever, like blown up with opposing counsel and just guy? Have you ever blown up with opposing counsel? You’re such a calm Zen guy. Is there one person in here? Yeah, who’s blown up and opposing counsel? And then you don’t feel good about it? Right. So I think what was important about that, was that I started thinking about why that was, you know, why I was upset? Why did I get angry? And it’s really simple. He made me feel small, right? Because I felt small. He was actually right. At the time, the fuck, but he was right. But sorry, she said, she knows that she she’s had she hears that a lot from you. She told me. And she called me weird, but she does hear that from daddy’s mouth. So Jim, Jim Hacking has a potty mouth apparently. Just trying to be authentic. So. But what happened was that was I also started to gain perspective of his own actions. And I started thinking to myself, why was he acting the way he was acting. And this is important in our engagement with opposing counsel, because he was just trying to get home to his family. And I played poker, so I can size people up pretty well. And I did size it up. I mean, I heard him without his family and everything. But that’s really what was happening. I had scheduled depo, three Friday afternoon, and he just want to get home to his wife and kids. So you have to like an ass. He wasn’t an ass, maybe he just was a guy who was having a bad day wanted to get home with some younger attorney at the time was younger, and you just wanted to get home. So that’s the first thing is that when you’re engaged in that conversation with someone, I know, there’s complete assets out there, and you’re all perfect, and you don’t do anything wrong. But there are times when you engage in conversation with someone, you get into a battle, and a confrontation where you’ve got to look at your own actions and gain perspective of the other side. So what did I do when I got home? This is important, because I think it’s important to realize how we resolve that case, I sent him an email the next day. Now, if he had just for that email to the Florida Bar, I would have been in trouble. Because I apologized. I said, you know, I’m really sorry, I shouldn’t have done that I shouldn’t occur. So shouldn’t launch on your family. And I mean, I lost on everything you can imagine, including when I looked down at him. And the funny thing is, it wasn’t enough. He said, I just got a few propriate. But anyway, what I, you know, I started reaching out to him. And what I did was, I sent him that email to, to basically apologize. But then I got on the phone to call him. And I wasn’t worried about like getting reported a bar or anything, but I wanted to tell him, you know, look, I’m really sorry, I shouldn’t have done those things. I didn’t focus on his behavior. And I just said it was wrong. And to my surprise, got an email back where he said to me, I’m sorry, I acted like a jerk. I shouldn’t have said those things. And what was neat about that, was that we engage the conversation. And what was really, really cool is we had an upcoming demo of our client that we rescheduled and I said to him, Listen, let’s schedule the demo at a time where you and I can get drinks and dinner after. And don’t worry, I’m not going to pay for you your insurance, defense lawyer blah, blah, blah, but let’s just go out and get dinner. So we had that depo I prep my client, I could just tell you the Depo didn’t go well. did surgery on a slip and fall case. But by the end of the Depo, he had her walking around the room showing her shoulder and everything. It was a bad depo caught her and some lies. I thought I prepped her well, but apparently I wasn’t too good at prepping. But we were able to get dinner that night and talk about the bathroom. Talk about the Depo talked about the law clerk talked about the Depo, my client, and we had so much fun. We mediate the case, a couple months later, I sell it for a buck 25 It was okay. It was a shoulder surgery a scope, who probably could have sell it for less, maybe a little more. And I think he did give me the money because he liked me. Even though I score points with his client, he really did a job on my on my client. So the most important thing though, and this is what I want to get across to you is after that deposition was over. And I can’t tell you how important this is because you will run into assholes. Right? But this person, I started following him on social media and his kids graduated college. I was there with a note for them. You know, who writes his comments and posts? Do you go the extra step and like write a hand card or a note or a text even? Because she should. So I wrote him a note when his kids graduate. And then what was even neater about that was when he became a managing partner of a very large firm on the West Coast insurance defense firm. I was there with a bottle of whiskey. And some of you lawyers who refer me cases know that I should have sent you a bottle of something, you know, whatever our note or something. But I was there saying a letter like congratulations. The last thing he did was he that we had touch with it was amazing for us as he became president of his Bar Association, which I knew none of this. And I drove from Orlando as a surprise. And he didn’t even know can imagine he’s in Tampa and I just show up. And I’m there shook his hand. He was so impressed. I didn’t tell him. So what do you think he got that exchange since the case was over? And I already got money out of them? What do you think? What do you think he got out of that, that he knew I was still staying in touch with him year after year? Yeah. So he felt like I didn’t use him. For that case, there was validation. He felt like I was building a connection beyond that case. And here’s the key guys, whenever you have that relationship, what was amazing about that relationship, I never had a case with him again, ever, ever. But what I did have. And what’s really important was that we had other cases with his firm with other lawyers that were reputed to be insurance jerks, difficult to deal with, I would always send an email saying, Hey, we got a case with you guys. And we never had a problem with any of those other lawyers ever. And I It struck me at the time, like I could have taken the short side of such diversion, that the guy’s a complete jerk. But I took the extra step to stay in touch with him and connect. So really, the next time you have someone like this, I want you to focus in your own practices. Next time you’re ready to launch on someone. Try really to look at their behavior and why they’re acting that way. I know that people you can’t change. But even if you have someone who’s got a bad reputation, take that extra step, slow down, look at your own actions and think about their perspective. And forge communication outside of that case, talk about anything family, kids interests, something that survives that case, and then stay in touch with them. That guy referred me criminal cases until he recently retired, he referred me some small auto cases. When I was on the Grievance Committee, he wrote a letter of recommendation, I didn’t even ask for the Florida bar to get me his chairman of the Grievance Committee. He did a lot of stuff for us. And he was a terrific person who’s just having a bad day. And this is the ultimate outcome. That’s not him. No one else. So hug me. So I took one of my associates who his taller than me and his six foot six. But if you do these things, I know it always be difficult, but I can assure you, your practice is going to change. It’s good for your family. It’s good for your firm, it’s good for your professional status. And we live in a professional we live just constant stressful lives, right? So if you can really, really make a friend out of an enemy, you’re just better suited. So I hope that makes sense, guys, now we go drink, right. Alright.
Thanks for listening to the maximum lawyer but staying in contact with your hosts and to access more content content, go to maximum liar.com. Have a great week and catch you next time.