Shawn McCann will remember forever the day he went to work at Girardi | Keese.
The firm’s offices are on Wilshire Boulevard, just two blocks west of the Harbor Freeway in downtown Los Angeles. And in 2001, when McCann started as a clerk, the firm was expanding, joining two buildings to one to house the expanding firm.
Faced with a space crunch, Tom Girardi decided to welcome one of the interns into his office for nine months.
“So Tom had been out of town, and I’m sitting at the little table in his office, just a few feet from his desk,” says McCann, who officially joined the firm in 2003 after graduating from Loyola Law School. “He walks in, and I get up, walk over and put out my hand. He’s looking at me right in the eye, and there’s three to four seconds hesitation. He grabs both my shoulders, and says, ‘Nice to meet you! Don’t mess it up!’”
McCann sat in Girardi’s office for nine months learning quite literally firsthand the rules that have made Girardi | Keese the most successful plaintiff’s firm in California, if not the United States.
“Our lawyers have one job. To do the right thing by everyone they meet, first and most importantly our clients,” says Tom Girardi.
Girardi founded the firm in 1965, just him and a secretary. He became a legend working his way up the trial bar, making history in 1969 by winning the first million-dollar medical malpractice verdict in California. He went on to vindicate the rights of injured consumers in jury trial after jury trial. A leader of the bar and recipient of every accolade a lawyer can receive, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers recently named its highest honor for him.
Today, the firm has recovered more than $11 billion for clients, including $4.85 billion against Merck for harm caused by Vioxx; $2.2 billion for California consumers defrauded by Sempra in the California energy crisis; $785 million against Lockheed Martin in the Skunk Works litigation; $633 million for the residents of Hinkley, California poisoned by PG&E (and made famous in the Erin Brockovich movie); and $545 million in a class action against Farmers Group and Zurich Financial Services.
Among the clients the firm is currently representing are Bryan Stow, who was beaten nearly to death at the Opening Day of the Los Angeles Dod-gers in 2011; dozens of former pro football players suffering from memory loss and other ailments related to concussions; the city of Carson and 1,500 residents of the Carousel development who have become sick and whose homes have lost their value because they were built on top of oil storage tanks; and thousands of individuals injured by pharmaceuticals and other medical devices, including Yaz, Fosamax and Transvaginal Mesh.
Girardi’s lessons haven’t changed much in the firm’s nearly 50 years of practice.
“What I learned from sitting in Tom Girardi’s office is that being a lawyer isn’t a job, it’s a profession. And it’s how you treat people as a lawyer that will really decide whether you’re successful,” says McCann.
And like numerous lawyers before him, McCann hewed true to another Girardi | Keese tradition: its most junior lawyers waste no time getting to work. “The day I got sworn in, I took a deposition,” says McCann.
That tradition dates back to when Tom Girardi’s brother, John ‘Jack’ Girardi, joined the firm as a lawyer in December 1972. He had worked as a clerk at the firm beginning in 1968, between his junior and senior years of college. After he passed the bar, “I was sworn in on a Friday and the following Monday I answered ready for my first trial,” he recalls.
“We are here to help people who desperately need lawyers,” says Tom Girardi. “And there is no better way for our lawyers to learn how to represent the people we fight for every day than to get in court and start representing them.
“I am enormously proud of our firm and all the people we’ve helped,” he says. “My brother, Jack, our young lawyers like Shawn, Chris Aumais, Graham LippSmith, or the folks I’ve practiced with forever—Jim O’Callahan, Amy Solomon, Andre Rekte, David Lira. The list goes on and on. These are the finest lawyers I know. And that’s exactly what our clients deserve.”
1126 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90017
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