Let Regan Be Regan

White Shoes and Black Hats?

Ten years ago the American Civil Trial Bar Roundtable published a white paper (later revised in 2006) that addressed how the “Lack of respect and confidence seems to have developed in the public’s mind for the trial practice…”    Lawyer bashing is as old as the Bard, and more than likely even predates that famous and sometime misinterpreted slam on the profession.

Maybe the low public opinion is misplaced, maybe some of it well deserved.   And honestly, who doesn’t love a good lawyer joke?   In covering the release of this possibly long-forgotten document, CNN couldn’t even refrain from piling on, quoting an attorney who quoted Voltaire:   “I was only abused by lawyers twice in my life — once when I was sued by one and once when I hired one,” said Robert Parks of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers…”

Regan & Razi: Partners

It’s easy for civilians to be suspect and skeptical of those who practice.  It’s a closed and insular profession with it’s own customs and language, at times difficult to decipher.   And from the earliest days, Washington has been overrun with the critters, a sprawling 70 square mile warren.

Those who inhabit the big lobby shops receive a fair amount of criticism, while their more blue collar counterparts – the trial attorneys – have long had the ire of the right-of-center, tort reform boosters, the lot of them considered pinstriped, briefcase-toting and rapacious bete noirs.

The Wone wrongful death civil saga showcases two key legal players from different sides of the DC tracks: Covington’s Ben Razi and his co-counsel in the case, Patrick Regan.

Watching them over the next ten months may offer a good contrast to the differing breeds and also how well these disparate firms may compliment each other’s work gearing up for and executing trial strategy.

We can only guess what the division of labor for plaintiff Kathy Wone’s civil team will be, but watching from the sidelines, we’re beginning to get a feel for it.

Covington, a perennial leader among DC’s top grossing firms, and Robert Wone’s former employer, looks to have unlimited resources to devote to this case.

Judging by the paper that’s been cranked out since the stay was lifted after the criminal verdict, Razi’s team is responsible for the bulk of that and appears to be steering the overall strategy.

This is a pro bono case that former Covington partner Eric Holder dedicated the firm to immediately after Robert’s murder.  With them, it’s personal, not business.

Where does this leave Regan?

While Covington’s DC office commands a killer view of Pennsylvania Avenue, real estate that boasts some of the best seats for Inaugural parade viewing, across town at 19th and M Streets in the heart of DC’s nondescript office corridors, Razi’s co-counsel on the case makes his professional home.

On a pro bono basis, Regan joined the Wone civil team by filing a notice of appearance in February, 2009.  While little has happened publicly, Regan made his mark right out of the starting gate at the September 16, 2010 status hearing by proclaiming to the media in the courthouse hallway that, “Defendants don’t assert their fifth amendment rights if they are not guilty of something.”

That remark led the way to the defense’s gag order motion (subsequently denied) and may foreshadow more gunslinger tactics that we may see in the coming months.  Regan’s ‘apology’ to Judge Hedge was just as stinging as his initial remarks, “In my mind, my comments were less prejudicial than Judge Leibovitz’ decision; not nearly as prejudicial as her 55 pages regarding the culpability of the defendants.”

Will Regan play Bad Cop to Razi’s Good Cop?  Surely there will be plenty of courtroom choreography with the sizable defense team of five attorneys, so how does the large plaintiff team respond?  Does Cov provide the strategy and backroom firepower under Razi’s direction, while Regan manages the drama, theatrics and working over the jury?

In a recent law.com marketing supplement on “Washington DC’s Best Lawyers,” we get a better understanding of Regan the attorney and his approach to client service, much of it involving heartbreak cases of wrongful death, medical malpractice and personal injury.

On an ad page devoted to the firm, Regan’s comparatively small team of seven attorneys , versus Covington’s 300, is described as:

“A boutique firm with big firm capabilities,  Regan Zambri & Long has been called “DC ’s top personal injury boutique” by Washingtonian Magazine.  The firm specializes in representing consumers in cases involving medical malpractice, wrongful death, birth injuries,defective products,automobile collisions, consumer fraud, and other serious injury. The firm uses its extensive financial backing to put its clients on equal footing with their adversaries.”

Regan’s shop trumpets considerable success in big ticket judgments: sixty verdicts or settlements worth over a million dollars, and recently a verdict for five million dollars was awarded his client who was struck head-on by a drunk driver.  Regan is also responsible to the largest wrongful death settlement involving DC’s transit authority, on behalf of a woman struck by a Metrobus in 2007.

In the supplement’s full-page profile of Regan, there’s mention of a case he’s been working on for over thirteen years:

“Regan is committed to his clients, despite any obstacles he may face.  He is currently working on the case of a man who was severely burned when he was 12 as a result of a defective smoke detector and subsequent fire.

The incident burned more than 70 percent of his body, and he lost both legs. Regan took this case to the Maryland Court of Appeals three separate times. The trial is set to begin in September 2011. The man has now graduated from college and has a family of his own.”

Although we didn’t know it at the time, back during the September 16 status hearing when trial dates were being bandied around, Regan told Judge Hedge that he had a September 2011 commitment on the books.  This Maryland case was that commitment.

Also noted was Regan work on behalf of the family of a DC-based New York Times reporter who was slain near his Upper Northwest home in January, 2006:

“Mr.Regan was lead counsel in the lawsuit between the family of David Rosenbaum and the District of Columbia, in which the Rosenbaum family voluntarily gave up any monetary settlement in exchange for the District’s agreement to enact significant reforms in the provision of emergency medical services.  “As a result of this legal case and the selfless decision by the Rosenbaum family, the District has made fundamental changes in its ambulance service which have improved the lives and safety of all citizens in the District,” says Mr. Regan.”

For a generation of Washingtonians, Edward Bennet Williams was known as “the man to see” if you needed something done in this town.  With a far lower profile, Regan may be filling a void as a consummate fixer, not on K Street, but on the area’s Main Streets. 

Appropriatley for the holidays, the Regan profile opens with this:

“Every December, Patrick M. Regan knows they will come, just as they have for the last 15 years.  The holiday greeting and accompanying photo make him smile.  And just as he has done for years, Regan will place the updated photo in a frame on his desk.

The simple gifts are symbols of thanks from a client Regan helped long ago — a mother of five daughters whose husband was killed in a serious accident.”

Come Christmas time 2011, not long after a decision comes down in the Wone case, Regan may see even more greeting cards arrive from yet another grateful family.

18 comments for “Let Regan Be Regan

  1. susan
    12/23/2010 at 12:25 PM

    Both of these men, B. Razi, and Patrick Regan, seem ubelievably decent and honorable, and both excel in their professions as attorneys.

    19th and M is a great location for Regan to have his offices. As I recall, it’s not far from where Ms. Wone’s office was when she met J. Price for lunch about one block over at the Daily Grill. It’s a pretty part of the city and many major offices and organizations have their base right in that area.

    The plaintiffs have a powerful team, and an upstanding ethical team in these two men and their staffs.

    • Clio
      12/23/2010 at 5:52 PM

      Ben and Patrick also are both stylish dressers: I particularly like PapaRazi’s updated flourish of blue and grey pictured above.

  2. dieter
    12/23/2010 at 12:35 PM

    i think my computer crashed trying to get both images of that massive USS Razi forehead on the poor screen

    • She did it
      12/24/2010 at 7:54 AM

      I wouldn’t kick Razi out of bed for passing gas; nor would certain members of the trouple my heart tells me. I think Razi could give Spags a run for his money in the board room, in the court room, and even at JR’s.

      Love and happy holidays to all; yes all — including you Ben Franklin.

      • Clio
        12/24/2010 at 1:49 PM

        SDI, what a stirring visual feast that the trial may be for the retiring Brook and/or for her successor; these peacocks really have their earnest stare down. Accordingly, send in the fashion show at Moultrie ASAP!

        Nonetheless, “white shoes and black hats” are not to be worn after Labor Day, Craig.

  3. Clio
    12/23/2010 at 2:32 PM

    Editors, your historically-tinged wit knows no bounds with the title of today’s post — an especially delicious take-off on 1980s political advice. Bravo, Craig!

    • Clio
      12/24/2010 at 5:48 PM

      I just got it: the Double R Bar is a rhetorical riff on the name of the Double L Bar, Rehobeth Beach, Delaware’s leather bar. Clever, as always, guys!

      • Craig
        12/24/2010 at 6:17 PM

        And don’t forget Roy and Dale’s Double-R-Bar Ranch, pardner. 🙂

        Happy holidays and love to all the assorted ranch hands, cowpokes, city slickers and lawmen/ladies. Let’s head off all the bad guys at the pass in 2011.

        • dieter
          12/26/2010 at 6:41 AM

          Who exactly are the “bad guys,” sheriff? I thought this site was objective in “…seeking answers to the mystery of Robert Wone’s murder…”

          • Bill 2
            12/26/2010 at 8:38 AM

            Murderers are bad guys. Are you not aware of that? In “…seeking answers to the mystery of Robert Wone’s murder…” do you think the person who murdered him is a good guy?

  4. 12/25/2010 at 6:54 PM

    The Razi blue suit is very DRAMA-Miami Vice

    • Clio
      12/26/2010 at 2:32 PM

      I know, and I love it!

      And, he’s apparently more than just a suit, or so we’ve been told. That is good news for ultimate justice.

      • 12/27/2010 at 10:36 PM

        I hope s0O cause this case needs the best for his wife and Robert

  5. boofoc
    12/26/2010 at 3:47 PM

    Seeking answers to the mystery of Robert Wone’s murder – our agreed purpose – obviously involves seeking the identities of the “bad guys.” The question, “Who are the ‘bad guys’, Sheriff” is subsumed in the stated proposition, and, thus, no answer is required, Sheriff Craig. Does the logic confound anyone?

    • Craig
      12/27/2010 at 10:19 AM

      Bad guys also include whoever may be keeping the killer’s(s’) identity(ies) a secret.

      • Clio
        12/27/2010 at 11:51 AM

        Do then they include those directly enabling or funding the real killer(s) to remain on the loose? This definition may be “mission-creep,” but our nation’s doctrine against terrorists includes as our targets — funders as well as actors — thanks to W.

  6. boofoc
    12/27/2010 at 11:18 AM

    Hopefully, big mouths have produced over the years many of the kinds of “bad guys” you describe, Craig; the more the likelier the truth will out.

  7. Clio
    12/28/2010 at 11:40 AM

    I just adore a post that quotes someone quoting Voltaire, but is there that much of cultural or social difference between the worlds of Covington and Regan other than the clients that they serve? So, are “white collar” and “blue collar” dramatic poses constructed for the most lucrative effect? It is a minor irony that Ben is the one wearing a blue collar above, and very well indeed, I must say again.

    Any populist bluster that Patrick can summon will be welcome here for the successful theatrics, of course, but he must not overdo it and, thus, make the unsavory appear to be sympathetic.

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