For our next Attorney Spotlight, we welcome Juliann O’Meara, Tyson & Mendes’ newest New York Partner. Juliann’s background as a former registered nurse and her many years of litigation experience will provide clients with effective defense in high-exposure medical malpractice and professional liability lawsuits. She has handled malpractice cases in the fields of teleradiology and intraoperative neuro-monitoring and is well-versed in the defense of emergency and non-emergency medical transportation cases. Her medical background will prove to be invaluable to our clients and we are excited to learn from her expertise. Read on for more!
T&M: Tell us about your legal/insurance defense background?
JO: My practice focuses on defending various types of clients including hospitals, individual physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, therapists, teleradiologists, and nursing homes in medical malpractice and nursing defense cases. Given my background as a registered nurse, this field of law was a natural fit for me when I graduated from law school in 2000. I have represented clients in several venues including state, appellate, and federal courts in New York.
T&M: What drew you to Tyson & Mendes?
JO: Tyson & Mendes’ team approach to client service drew me to the firm. The drive for exceptional client service clearly stands out among other defense firms. It is important to me to be at a firm where everyone collaborates for the best possible outcome for each client.
T&M: What has been the biggest challenge of your career?
JO: The biggest challenge of my career was early on. I am originally from the Midwest and attended law school in Boston, but I decided to take the New York Bar and move to New York immediately after law school. I did not know anyone in New York and was living in a very intimidating city, which was challenging in and of itself. Attempting to start my legal career in addition to this was quite stressful but it proved to be very rewarding in the end.
T&M: Similarly, tell us about your biggest professional accomplishment?
JO: I represented a dialysis company in a case against an aggressive pro se plaintiff, who was also an attorney. The dialysis company wanted to involuntarily discharge him from their facility because he was extremely disrespectful and physically intimidating towards the entire staff. This plaintiff constantly threatened their nursing licenses and often cursed and screamed at them, although each staff member always remained professional. The issue eventually elevated to a hearing in the New York Supreme Court during which 13 witnesses were produced. I was successful at the hearing but the plaintiff obtained a stay pending appeal. As a result, he remained in the facility for quite some time until the appellate court eventually agreed with my arguments and dismissed his appeal. This was the biggest accomplishment in the case.
More than a year after the hearing, we successfully discharged the plaintiff to a home care setting. I am very proud of the result in this case because I saw the toll it took on the dialysis staff on a weekly basis. It was rewarding to help eliminate this stressful work environment so that the staff members could continue with the work they enjoyed.
T&M: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
JO: I remember asking a very experienced female attorney how she moved up in her career. She told me she “focused on doing good legal work and the rest followed.” She secured her first client after giving that advice to me, and she won the respect of her colleagues as well.
T&M: Why did you decide to transition from a career in healthcare and nursing to law?
JO: I knew I wanted to transition to a career in law after a nurse manager told me that meeting the hospital’s attorneys was an awful and stressful experience and she hoped she never had to interact with the attorneys again. I believed the hospital’s attorneys should have been her advocates and partners in delivering the best results for the hospital.. I thought about law school on prior occasions, but this was when I made the final decision to pursue a legal career, representing healthcare clients with compassion and empathy.
I bring an internal understanding of how stressful the healthcare industry is. When a member of the healthcare team becomes involved in a lawsuit, that stress increases tenfold. A great lawyer reduces the stress related to the lawsuit and should never contribute to it. This is the kind of lawyer I aspire to be for my clients.
T&M: Beyond the obvious technical/medical knowledge you possess, how has your experience as a nurse been of benefit to your legal career?
JO: My nursing education and experience have benefited my career in not only healthcare malpractice cases but in all aspects of litigation, specifically in analyzing the plaintiff’s claimed damages. Since damages are such an important aspect of any case, my experience has undoubtedly assisted in achieving better case results for my clients and significantly reduced settlements.
T&M: What legal or community organizations are you most actively involved with?
JO: Currently, I am most involved with the Westchester Women’s Bar Association. Their mission to promote justice for all regardless of gender and to expand opportunities for women in the law is deeply meaningful for me.
T&M: Any shows or podcasts you are watching/listening to that you would recommend?
JO: I enjoyed listening to Serial, the podcast, and any other investigative documentaries.
T&M: Have you picked up any new hobbies since we all switched to working from home?
JO: We recently bought electric bikes, which allows us to navigate the steep hills in our neighborhood much more easily. We are now able to frequent our favorite coffee shops and patronize local businesses, helping them weather the pandemic closures, without getting into a car.
T&M: What is a fun fact about you that most people do not know?
JO: I have been heli-skiing in Utah and regularly cat ski whenever we get out to Colorado!
T&M: What is the place (whether a particular business/restaurant or a specific city/country) you are most looking forward to visiting again when things open back up?
JO: My family planned a trip to visit my husband’s relatives in Ireland before the shutdown, so we look forward to having a drink (or two) in a local Irish pub with all his relatives when the world reopens.