We are delighted to announce new Boston partner, Steve O’Brien! Steve joins us with 36 years of legal experience and will focus on representing clients on premises liability, construction litigation, catastrophic injury litigation, commercial and general litigation, complex trial team litigation, automobile liability, and professional liability. He is the recipient of the 2019 Lawyer of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Defense Lawyers Association. Read on to learn more.
T&M: Tell us about your legal background?
SO: I most recently worked for Morrison Mahoney, LLP, but when the opportunity to come to Tyson & Mendes presented itself, I took it. Prior to Morrison Mahoney, I worked at Tang & Maravelis, P.C., a small law firm that primarily did defense work but took on some plaintiff’s work. I was the primary attorney on two major plaintiff’s cases that resulted in very large settlements. As staff counsel for Zurich Insurance Company, I was one of the lead attorneys in a crane collapse case that now stands as the longest civil trial in the history of New York County (10 months). Along with a colleague, I received the Zurich Gold Award, the company’s highest award, for our work in that trial. It was the first time in the history of the company that the Gold Award was given to staff counsel. Prior to that, I worked as staff counsel for AIG where my focus was construction matters related to the Big Dig as AIG had the wrap policy for the project. I also worked in private practice for 16 years, where my focus was medical malpractice defense. In this area of law, trials were much more commonplace than today.
In 2019, I was nominated and received the Lawyer of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Defense Lawyers Association (MassDLA). That award is bestowed upon one attorney each year who meets four criteria: Public Opinion, Trial and Defense Experience, Contribution to the Legal Community and the Community at Large, and Contribution to MassDLA and its Mission.
T&M: What drew you to Tyson & Mendes?’
SO: I was drawn to Tyson & Mendes through a client who works with the firm in parts of the country outside of New England. The firm’s culture, brand, and extensive trial expertise seemed like a natural fit, and I was thrilled with the opportunity to help the firm grow in New England.
T&M: What do you hope to achieve as the leader of Tyson & Mendes’ first office in Boston?
SO: My main goal is to grow and establish this well-respected law firm in Boston with the help of the tremendous resources available at Tyson & Mendes!
T&M: Compared to other firms you have worked for, what makes Tyson & Mendes so unique?
SO: The team structure at Tyson & Mendes is very unique. Each attorney is part of a litigation team, and while one may work with other teams when big cases require it, primarily one works with the same team of lawyers. This permits the attorneys to tackle challenging cases efficiently, as everyone gets to know the clients they most often work with, their preferences, other attorneys on their Tyson & Mendes team, and their role within the team. I am enjoying this unique approach very much and see the value it brings to the firm and our clients. Additionally, I have had tremendous support from the firm to get the office up and running. It is quite impressive.
T&M: Tell us about your biggest or most significant trial win?
SO: My biggest win in the courtroom was a ten-month long trial, the longest civil trial in the history of New York County, involving a tower crane collapse that resulted in the unfortunate death of two individuals. My client was facing settlement demands well in excess of the $11 million policy coverage. While the ultimate verdict against the responsible defendants was $95.5 million, a verdict of no liability was rendered in favor of our client – our client was not responsible for any portion of the verdict. Additionally, our client was entitled to repayment of all the legal fees and expenses from the responsible co-defendants. As indicated above, a colleague and I received the Gold Award from Zurich Insurance for our work during that trial.
My biggest win in the courtroom involved a ten-month long trial, the longest civil trial in the history of New York County, and a tower crane collapse that resulted in the unfortunate death of two individuals. My client was facing settlement demands well in excess of the $11 million policy coverage. While the ultimate verdict against the responsible defendants was $95.5 million, a verdict of no liability was rendered in favor of our client – our client was not responsible for any portion of the verdict. Additionally, our client was entitled to repayment of all the legal fees and expenses from the responsible co-defendants. As indicated above, a colleague and I received the Gold Award from Zurich Insurance for our work in this trial.
T&M: Similarly, what has been the biggest professional challenge you have faced?
SO: My biggest professional challenge involved a case where a woman lost both feet, one hand and a portion of another hand during a medical procedure. It was a very emotional case that took a toll on everyone involved. Ultimately though, I asked the jury to listen carefully to the judge’s instruction on the law and challenged them individually and collectively to summon the courage to render a defense verdict, which they did. One juror was in tears when the unanimous defense verdict was announced.
T&M: What advice would you give to young attorneys who are just starting in this field?
SO: The most common advice I give young attorneys is to take on any assignment offered. These are the assignments others probably do not want for whatever reasons, but they are great learning opportunities. These sorts of cases can be mundane, even boring, or may be quite complicated. If they give you a chance to be in court, take them because there is no better teacher than being on your feet in front of a judge, advocating for your client. A second piece of advice to young attorneys is never go into a courtroom to try a case without having read and analyzed every piece of paper in the file, no matter how large. I have pulled some jewels from documents opposing attorneys admitted into evidence where it was evident that they had not read everything.
T&M: If you were not a lawyer, what would you be?
SO: My initial gut response is a fly-fishing guide. Years ago, my brother took me on a salmon fly-fishing trip to Canada, and it became an instant passion for me. The peacefulness on the river coupled with the excitement of the catch (and release) of the salmon was something that hit a chord with my inner soul. As a guide, I hope I would be able to instill that passion and reverence for the outdoors to others.
T&M: If you could be any fictional lawyer (TV/movies/books/radio/new media) for a day, who would it be and why?
SO: I would be Paul Newman as Frank Galvin in “The Verdict.” It is just a great movie about a lawyer down on his luck, up against big law firm lawyers, and pulling it off with good old fashioned street smarts and determination. A true classic in my mind.
T&M: Where are we most likely to find you on a weekend afternoon?
SO: On Saturdays, I enjoy fly-fishing, hiking, or any other outdoor activity if weather permits. Sundays in the Fall, I am watching the New England Patriots.
T&M: Any hidden talents to share?
SO: Prior hidden talents: I used to play the guitar and sing in college pubs when I was younger. That was fun! Also, I once won a twist contest in a nightclub (although I could never compete with John Travolta’s version of the twist in Pulp Fiction!).