Achieving Success as a Litigator
South Florida Legal Guide - 2010 Edition
Andrew C. Hall believes there are three qualities that lead to success as a litigator: passion, intellect and preparation. “You need to feel passionate about your case, because trying a case is hard work, stressful and time consuming,” he says. “You must have a strong sense that justice needs to be done.”
In his long career as a litigator, Hall, 65, has harnessed that passion to achieve courtroom victories for his clients, including victims of state-sponsored terrorism in Africa and the Middle East.
As the founding partner of Hall, Lamb and Hall, P.A., Hall focuses his practice on complex commercial cases. He recently represented family members of the 17 Navy sailors killed in the 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen. In 2007, a U.S. federal judge ruled that the Sudanese government was liable for the bombing. “The original amount of the recovery was $13 million,” Hall says. “But after we were able to get a limitation on the damage award reversed on appeal, I expect the final number will be three or four times that amount.”
Ira Leesfield, managing partner, Leesfield & Partners, and a long-time friend, calls Hall a “lawyer’s lawyer.” He adds, “Andy uses his heart as well as his intellect. He’s smart and tenacious, and has a very diverse and eclectic practice. He can handle any type of case.”
A Holocaust survivor
Born Warsaw, Poland, in 1944, Hall and his parents survived the Holocaust and immigrated to the United States four years later. A resident of Miami since 1952, Hall went to the University of Florida intending to become a doctor. While taking pre-med courses, he took the LSAT on a whim, then received a letter from the dean admitting him to the UF College of Law without even applying. “I wasn’t enjoying pre-med, and realized that I should pursue a career in law,” he recalls.
After graduating in 1968, Hall returned to Miami as law clerk to U.S. District Judge Joe O. Eaton. Two years later he joined an Atlanta firm and in 1972, became an associate with the Miami firm of Frates, Floyd, Pearson, Stewart, Proenza and Richman. While with that firm, he defended John D. Ehrlichman, formerly President Nixon’s senior advisor for domestic affairs, in the Watergate trial.
“Andy Hall has taken his life experiences and incorporated them into his career,” says 11th Circuit Court Judge Norman Gerstein. “He represents people who are underdogs, such as victims of terrorism. He makes an important contribution doing that.”
In 1975, Hall opened his own firm and has steadily taken on more complex cases. He served as lead counsel in the defense of former Ambassador Marvin L. Warner arising from the failure of the Ohio state-insured savings and loan institute. He has also won a number of multi-million dollar verdicts for Security Pacific Bank, Union Bank, Spanno Corporation, Georgetown Manor, Inc., Burger King Corporation and other clients. Today, Adam Hall — one of his four children — is a partner in the firm. Hall and his wife Gail have three other children: Michael Hall, Hilary Azrael and Kathryn A. Meyers.
Throughout his career, Hall has been active in professional organizations and Jewish affairs. He is a trustee of the University of Florida College of Law Foundation, and a member of the American Judicature Society, Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. A former national board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, he was chairman of Partnership 2000 for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. He has also been active in Easter Seals, the New World School of Arts, South Florida Transplant Foundation and Florida International University’s Council of 100.
Tips from a veteran litigator
For Hall, stepping into the courtroom to argue your case is the ultimate challenge for an attorney. “I had the benefit of great mentors who showed me that a great lawyer has to be fearless in court,” he says. “You also have to be willing to persevere. When things get tough, you just dig in and try even harder.”
Hall believes an effective litigator must prepare diligently for every case in order to understand exactly what happened. “You have to come at the event from all angles, listen to what everyone has to say, and then put it all together,” he says. “It’s not unusual to spend 10 to 20 hours preparing for every hour you’re actually in the courtroom.”
For Hall, one of the exciting aspects of his profession is the thrill of discovery. Noting that he often feels like “Columbo,” the fictional TV detective played by Peter Falk, Hall says he likes to ask “just one more question.” When a witness can clarify a situation or explain a certain matter, he learns more and more about the cases. “In the final analysis, it’s all about uncovering the truth,” he says.
Hall adds that a good trial attorney must also be able to present the case effectively and react quickly to unexpected events. “Surprises happen in every trial,” Hall says. “You have a witness that suddenly doesn’t remember everything or starts telling a different story.” At that point, the attorney needs to step back and listen closely.
“My best results have occurred when I followed the case the witness gave me,” Hall says. “So when someone starts going in a different direction, you have to say ‘all right,’ let’s go back to the beginning and work this through. And suddenly the trial really comes to life.”
After spending more than 40 years in and out of the courtroom, Hall says he still finds his work exciting. “I look forward to every day,” he says. “I love what I do, and I plan to keep it going.”
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