Haldon Greenburg is an associate in Tyson & Mendes’ Fort Lauderdale, FL office where he represents individuals, businesses and insurance carriers in a variety of legal matters, such as construction defect, premises liability, first party property claims, wrongful death, personal injury, and contract related claims. A former public defender, Haldon has extensive litigation and trial experience, and has negotiated a number of complex multi-party civil litigation claims resulting in favorable resolutions for his clients. Read on to learn more about Haldon – including his favorite “hidden gem” in South Florida.
T&M: Why did you decide to become a civil defense attorney?
HG: It was less of a conscious decision and more of a coincidence that I ended up as a civil defense attorney. I began my career as an assistant public defender in Miami. After making the decision to transition from the criminal side of the law I knew I needed experience in the civil arena. Opportunities were limited then for attorneys with no civil experience. I reached out to a former colleague who worked for a large insurance defense firm to discuss options for me there and it ultimately resulted in a job offer. When the opportunity arose to join Tyson & Mendes, I decided to plant my roots as a civil defense attorney. Here, each attorney is dedicated to protecting what our clients have built, and believe in the notion that “justice for all” includes civil defendants and their insurers.
T&M: Compared to other firms you have worked for, what makes Tyson & Mendes so unique?
HG: There is a lot about Tyson & Mendes that makes it a unique place to work. First is the firm’s tangible commitment to the growth of all its attorneys in various aspects of the practice of law and life. The firm consistently holds internal training sessions to teach new litigation strategies and to continue developing our existing skills. The firm encourages its attorneys to take ownership not only in their cases, but in marketing ideas and strategic efforts to grow the firm. There is also a real dedication to find that ever elusive work-life integration that so many lawyers find out-of-reach.
The firm is always thinking ahead on how to prepare for the cases we currently have and the cases yet to come in new and emerging industries, and there is a constant effort and drive to be innovative in the way we evaluate and defend cases.
Lastly, I would say the true collegiality between all attorneys from the most senior partner to the newest associate is remarkable. Face-time and information that is otherwise guarded at other firms is always accessible here.
T&M: What has been the biggest challenge of your career thus far?
HG: Balancing the demands of being an attorney with the demands of being a good husband, father, son, sibling and friend. It is no secret that the life of an attorney is one filled with stress, long hours and challenging cases. If you are not careful, the job can consume you. As time has gone by, I have become better at finding a balance, but there is always room for improvement.
T&M: Similarly, tell us about your biggest accomplishment so far at Tyson & Mendes?
HG: My biggest accomplishment is receiving and maintaining the continued gratitude and appreciation of our clients and insurance carriers as a result of the fantastic results we continue to secure for them. Whether a dismissal when appropriate, a hard-fought victory after endless litigation, or a fair and just settlement, there has not been a single occasion where a client or carrier has expressed displeasure or anything other than appreciation for the result. Part of being a civil defense lawyer is recognizing you are in the service business. Delivering the best possible outcome in the service of my clients will always be my biggest accomplishment.
T&M: You also previously served as an assistant public defender in Florida – tell us about that experience?
HG: It was one of the most exciting, challenging, stressful and rewarding times of my life. Experience there comes fast! I tried my first case within a month of taking the Florida bar and before I was even sworn in as an attorney. There were times I was handling 150 cases at once and had a dozen cases set for trial on any given Monday morning. The criminal justice system operated like a machine, built to send one accused indigent defendant to jail after the other. It was truly an honor to act as the constitutional “monkey wrench” thrown into the gears of the machine on behalf of my clients. I learned a lot about compassion, about myself, and about being a trial lawyer during my time there.
T&M: What did you want to be when you grew up?
HG: An actor and a sportscaster. Growing up, I envisioned myself on a stage or in front of a camera. I have never shied away from the spotlight. It was not until my mother told me about “all of the starving actors” that I began to question the wisdom of my desires, and ultimately decided to begin a path toward becoming a lawyer.
T&M: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
HG: It is less a piece of advice, and more of a saying that was passed down to me from my great-grandmother: “Make a plan, work a plan, and win you can.” It has been a credo of mine for as long as I can remember. No matter how big the task, no matter how daunting the challenge. Make your plan, work your plan, and you will set yourself up for success. It has not let me down yet.
T&M: If you could have dinner with any historical legal figure, who would it be and why?
HG: Clarence Darrow. He practiced law at a time before technology was introduced into the courtroom, when trials were equivalent to theater and great lawyers were phenomenal orators who could compel juries and judges to render favorable verdicts simply with their eloquence. He represented union leaders, workers, accused murderers, and terrorists, and argued on behalf of the teaching of evolution in public schools. I would love to sit across a table from him, pick his brain about the art of communication, and listen to stories of his past trials.
T&M: If you could travel anywhere in the world – all expenses paid – where would you go?
HG: I have been lucky enough to do a lot of traveling, but never all expenses paid. If I was not footing the bill, I would love to take a month or so and travel around Japan, or I would go back to New Zealand and spend a month there.
T&M: What is your go-to restaurant in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, and what dish(es) do you recommend?
HG: I almost do not want to say because it is a hidden gem and I am fearful of spoiling the secret! It is a small family-run Italian restaurant called Il Paesano, run by a husband and wife from Mozambique. There is no set menu, but rather you are told about the appetizers, entrees and desserts of the day when you get to your table. They have a nice sized wine room to peruse and select a bottle (or bottles) for your meal. Everything is homemade and nothing is rushed. It is the closest experience I have found here in South Florida to a truly authentic Italian meal. If offered when I am there, I always go with the bucatini all’amatriciana.
T&M: When not at work or home, where are we most likely to find you?
HG: Enjoying the outdoors with my family. Nothing recharges my batteries quite like getting out into nature.