As an attorney and consumer advocate, I believe that it is extremely important for consumers of legal services to research attorneys before choosing one. Attorney advertising has become more and more aggressive over the past few years. We now see attorney advertising on highway billboards, the Internet, television, and even on buses and trains.
Before simply calling the number on a billboard, it is important to find out the background, experience and training that your prospective attorney has in the area of law in which you are seeking services. A trust and estates lawyer, for example, may not be the best choice for handling a complex medical malpractice action, while a medical malpractice lawyer may not be the best choice for drafting a will.
My background, training, and experience is and always has been primarily in the field of nursing home negligence/abuse and mental health negligence. After graduating from the University of Denver Law in 1992, with highest honors, I began my practice at a small medical malpractice defense firm. My managing partner did not have a particular interest in the nursing home negligence and psychiatry/mental health cases that came to our office, and so he assigned those cases to me. I spent the next seven years primarily defending nursing homes, psychiatrists and mental health professionals who had been sued for negligence and abuse, and gained a great deal of civil trial experience. By 1999, I became fairly disillusioned with defense work, so quit my partnership and began prosecuting civil claims against primarily nursing homes, and later against mental health care providers. The decision to switch sides was unusual enough that the local weekly newspaper, The Westword, wrote a front-page feature article on my decision to stop representing nursing homes and their insurance companies, and instead start representing the victims of abuse and neglect:
As you can see from this article and some of the other links to blogs and media articles, I do not shy away from trying cases. To date, I have tried nearly 30 civil jury trials, which is considerably more than the modern average. In fact, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, civil trials have become so rare in the United States that the article author remarks that most civil trial lawyers should not be able to call themselves “trial lawyers” anymore.
I am particularly proud of my civil trial record representing plaintiffs, which has returned six and seven-figure verdicts. Trial experience is important in civil litigation because it creates settlement leverage. If the opposing attorney and insurance company know and understand that your attorney is willing and capable of taking your case to trial and potentially returning a substantial verdict, the insurance company is more likely to offer a reasonable settlement in order to avoid trial.
There are also other, more nuanced reasons to look for an attorney with a proven civil trial record. Juries in rural and lesser-populated areas, for example, can sometimes be turned off by attorneys who come across as being from the “big city.” Although I live in Denver, I grew up in a rural farming community in Northern Minnesota and a substantial amount of my trial experience is in rural courts and communities. One of my most substantial verdicts—3.2 million dollars—was returned by a jury from a very sparsely populated rural community.
My background and experience in both trial work and nursing home negligence has been repeatedly recognized in the legal community. I have been asked to make presentations on nursing home neglect and abuse by several bar associations, and I have authored the chapter on nursing home abuse and neglect for the Colorado Elder Law Bar for a number of years. I was recently chosen to join the faculty of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy to teach young lawyers how to hone their trial skills.
In addition to the trial work, I very much enjoy working with older and disabled clients who have been traditionally underserved by the legal community. I feel fortunate to have a job that I love, and I hope that shows.
Professional Background & Education
- Law Offices of J.M. Reinan, PC, 1999-present
- Gallo, Reinan & Marek, LLC, 1997-99
- Gallo & Reinan, LLC, 1994-97
- Gallo & Godfrey, PC, 1992-94
- Internship, Boulder County District Attorney, 1991
- B.S., University Studies, 1987, North Dakota State University, Fargo
- Juris Doctor, 1992, University of Denver, Colorado
- Order of St. Ives
- Barrister’s Cup Champion (Moot Court), 1992
- Albert Zinn Scholar, 1991-2
Bar Admissions: U.S. District Court, District of Colorado; U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit; and United States Supreme Court. Mr. Reinan is also licensed to practice law in Nebraska and Minnesota
Professional Associations: Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, Colorado Elder Law Society, National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR), American Association for Justice, American Bar Association
Other Associations: Classic Car Club of America, The Packard Club, Cadillac & LaSalle Club, Nash Car Club, Antique Motorcycle Club of America