Ed Ciarimboli is likable, he’s honorable and you can see it
He would be an engineer today except he enjoys people too much
Published in 2008 Pennsylvania Rising Stars magazine
on November 25, 2008
Updated on June 11, 2009
Edward Ciarimboli always planned to be an engineer, like his father. But a college internship in that field changed that. “I didn’t get to interact with people,” he says.
At the time he had a part-time job that did let him work with people—pouring drinks at a bar called Peanuts in Market Street Station Square—and it was there that he found a kindred spirit and, ultimately, a new calling.
“He was a young college kid who was going to be an engineer and I was waiting to go to law school,” remembers Gregory Fellerman, his law partner at Fellerman & Ciarimboli in Kingston. They would discuss their futures while mixing Long Island Iced Teas—”we used to throw the bottles back and forth, we had fun with it,” Ciarimboli says—and Fellerman started selling his friend on the idea of law school. Ciarimboli liked the idea of helping people. Why not?
After his pal graduated, Ciarimboli followed, enrolling in Duquesne University School of Law. He joined the school’s moot court team, which won at the local and regional levels and placed in the top four nationally. He was energized and thriving and the faculty took notice.
“I can tell you from my experience and knowledge of lawyers in Allegheny County,” says S. Michael Streib, Ciarimboli’s torts professor and moot court coach, “that the most effective [lawyers] are the ones who instill confidence and trust … those are the talents and abilities that Eddie has. He’s likable, he’s honorable, and you can see it.”
After graduation, Ciarimboli, who has a quick grin and intense, close-set eyes, worked for a few years at Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn before teaming up again with his bartender buddy.
“Greg and I always talked about practicing together,” he says. “I knew it was going to be a good move.”
They now share an office overlooking the Susquehanna River at the edge of Kingston. The 25-foot banner announcing their personal injury firm is one of the first sights greeting visitors crossing the Market Street Bridge from Wilkes-Barre.
Just as they did when they tended bar together, they divvy up the duties: Fellerman handles the business side, Ciarimboli prepares the litigation. They try cases together.
“Not many people get to say this: I get to practice with my best friend in the whole world,” says Ciarimboli. “He’s like a brother to me.
“Of course,” he adds with a devious laugh, “I work way harder than he does.”
Framed photos of family members—including an ultrasound of his daughter, Contessa, and a black-and-white of his shoemaker grandfather, who had “hands like meat cleavers”—line the credenza behind Ciarimboli’s desk.
For someone who cherishes family above all else and is compelled by personal interaction, it’s no wonder he specialized in personal injury law.
“It’s an awesome responsibility,” he says. “In one case, a woman’s husband was killed in a [two-car] accident in which she was driving. From day one, the insurance companies put this woman through hell. She had walked around for three-plus years with the guilt hanging over her head, thinking that she killed her husband. …When we got involved, we did an investigation and found out that the [other] guy was speeding and cutting people off and [weaving] through lanes. The change in this woman from the day I met her until now [is incredible]. Her life was in absolute shambles … those are the people you want to fight for.” The parties settled for an undisclosed amount.
He has become somewhat of an expert on head injuries. It can be difficult to explain to a layperson how someone who appears normal can be drastically injured. “People think that if you have a brain injury, you’ve got to be in a wheelchair, slumped over,” he says. “That’s not the case. You could have a mild brain injury that can profoundly affect the way you live your life.”
He also works closely with area psychologists and psychiatrists, and through his work in that community was asked to serve as one of Luzerne County’s solicitors at commitment hearings.
“There is nothing more serious than having an involuntary commitment,” he says. “The doctors are involved in the hearings … and there’s a hearing officer and there’s also a public defender who represents the rights of the individual. It’s not really an adversarial process. Everybody who’s involved is looking out for the best interests of the person. … There’s no better feeling for us in that setting than seeing that person [later on] and they’re better. And when I say better, you don’t get rid of a mental illness; you learn how to deal with it through treatment and medication. It’s something millions of people struggle with every day. But with the right doctors, with the right medications, people can function normally.”
Emotions run high for families during hearings, especially since family members sometimes are the petitioners. “We try to make sure clients understand that their families love them and they’re just trying to do what they think is best for them,” he says. “But sometimes it can become … tense. Our job is to ensure that those moments are few and far between.”
He’s doing what he always wanted to do. Helping people. Beats being an engineer.