Les is More

The Mystery of the Week is “How does Les Weisbrod find time for everything he does?”

Published in 2004 Texas Super Lawyers Magazine — October 2004

When Les Weisbrod ran for the position of parliamentarian of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) in 2003, he campaigned under the slogan “Les Does More.”

He wasn’t kidding. This is a guy with a full plate.

This past July, following the usual path for officers, Weisbrod assumed the role of treasurer. He also serves on the ATLA’s board of governors and is a member of the organization’s executive committee and chair of the membership committee. He’s also the director of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.

All of this is in addition to his “day job” as managing partner of Morgan & Weisbrod in Dallas, where he specializes in medical malpractice and has successfully tried more than 125 cases to settlements and verdicts of $1 million or more.

“Sometimes it feels like I’m doing about four full-time jobs,” jokes the 51-year-old trial attorney as he reclines behind an oversized desk. Black leather couches partner with sleek metal side tables in Weisbrod’s corner office, offering a cool respite from the shimmering heat and noisy weekend traffic outside his third-floor office on a Friday afternoon.

A fourth-generation Texan shod in crocodile skin [not ostrich skin] cowboy boots, Weisbrod’s even more proud to be a native Dallasite. He and his family live within blocks of his former elementary and high schools. He left town long enough to attend Claremont Men’s College in California, and after an early graduation moved to Austin to work as an administrative assistant for then-Representative Jim Maddox. The son of a certified public accountant (who he says was a frustrated lawyer), Weisbrod knew from the age of five that he wanted to practice law, which he studied at nearby Southern Methodist University.

Through the years, Weisbrod has developed a reputation as the “pit bull” of the medical malpractice bar. Currently focused on litigation involving women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer after undergoing hormone replacement therapy, Weisbrod is unapologetic about his aggressive style.

“If I represent an injured victim as my client, I’m not going to be shy about that representation. That’s my job. I’m not concerned with whether they like me on the other side. I’m concerned about whether I get the best possible result.”

Because of this reputation, he says, his opponents often underestimate him. They assume he’ll use the same rigorous methods of pursuit in the courtroom that he employs in the pre-trial and discovery phases of a case, with the potential to offend a jury.

But Weisbrod doesn’t mind being underrated. “I always respond well to a challenge.”

And challenges are what he faces as treasurer of the ATLA. Since 2003 when Weisbrod began as parliamentarian, he has been enmeshed in political and legal battles involving tort reform. “There are a lot of political forces with a lot of money trying to 

take away injured victims’ rights. On a daily basis, these rights are under attack,” he says. He’s been fund-raising this election year on the ATLA’s behalf for U.S. Senate and congressional candidates who oppose tort reform, and he’s in charge of beefing up and diversifying the organization’s membership, 87 percent of which is white and male. Weisbrod also is working closely with the organization’s search committee, which has been interviewing potential candidates to replace the ATLA’s retiring CEO.

Given the headaches of this unpaid position on top of the everyday demands of his profession, one wonders why he bothers. But Weisbrod recalls the benefits he reaped as a young lawyer making crucial contacts at his first ATLA convention in 1982. Since then, he says, he has received valuable help that ultimately made him a better lawyer. Now it’s time to give back. “It’s almost like an addiction. It gives you a very good feeling about what you’re doing. It’s kind of like anything else. The more you put into it, the more you get back out of it.”

And what Weisbrod stands to get out of it, if all goes according to plan, is the presidency of the ATLA in 2008.

In the meantime he’s focused on his term as treasurer, during which he also hopes to expand the ATLA’s international profile. The organization boasts a number of Canadian attorneys as well as lawyers practicing in Australia and the U.K., and its European membership is growing. “We find that the issues we deal with as trial lawyers are the same all over the world. It’s just that the systems of recovery are sometimes not as sophisticated as they are in the U.S.” In other cases, he notes, international methods of recovery are more advanced. This drive for global expansion dovetails with one of Weisbrod’s newest cases, which involves a 21-year-old nursing student and U.S. citizen paralyzed while undergoing chemotherapy treatment in Germany. Weisbrod anticipates a number of overseas trips for the case, which will be tried within the German legal system.

All of this will leave little time for fishing, the admitted workaholic’s surprisingly lowkey hobby. But lest one imagine Weisbrod trading in his cowboy boots for waders and the Zen rhythms of fly-fishing in the peaceful streams of Montana, he makes it clear that he’s focused on only one thing.

“I’ll fish anywhere and I don’t care what I’m fishing for,” he says. “I like to catch things.”

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