Author: Craig Bramley, Esq., Managing Director
A Look Back: Over 100 Years of Service
Imagine Lisbon Street in Lewiston, the heart of a bustling mill town, 100 years ago. Shops line both sides of the street, while construction is being done on the nearby Bates Mill buildings. Imagine a young lawyer, Benjamin Berman, in his office commiserating with mill workers about working conditions, wages, and local politics. In Berman, the workers have found the champion they need to protect their rights.
More than 100 years after its founding, Berman & Simmons has evolved into a leading statewide law firm, employing the best talent and using the latest tools and technology to represent plaintiffs in personal injury and medical malpractice cases, as well as a wide range of legal disputes. But despite our growth, the core of our original mission endures: We continue to pursue justice for the hardworking people of Maine, and take on even the toughest opponents that others refuse to face.
In 2014, we celebrated 100 years of serving Maine. The anniversary gave us an opportunity to celebrate our history and accomplishments, and reflect on the great lawyers who helped transform Berman & Simmons from a general practice firm to Maine’s most successful trial firm, and now to a more specialized firm focusing on personal injury, medical malpractice, and complex trial matters.
While there is value in looking back, we don’t spend too much time thinking about the past. As a firm, our focus remains on our commitment to our current clients and improving every aspect of how we represent them.
Leading the Pack: Where We Stand
Today, Berman & Simmons is the leading personal injury firm in Maine, with 16 lawyers and more than 40 staff members. We have the most plaintiff attorneys of any law firm in the state. Because of our reputation, we often provide counsel on high-profile cases and receive referrals from the most respected lawyers in Maine and around the country.
Best Lawyers, Chambers USA, and other publications consistently rank Berman & Simmons and our individual lawyers as the best in Maine for the representation of plaintiffs in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. We have obtained some of the largest medical malpractice and personal injury verdicts in Maine history, and two of our landmark cases have been recognized in The National Law Journal’s Top 100 U.S. Verdicts.
A Look Ahead: Building for the Future
Continuing our success into the future will not happen by accident. We must rely on the key ingredients we’ve refined to prosper in the midst of transition and a challenging environment.
Teamwork and Collaboration
We have a collaborative approach to lawyering that started with a principle Jack Simmons preached for many years – everyone at Berman & Simmons benefits when any lawyer achieves a great result. Jack’s enthusiasm to celebrate the success of colleagues was infectious and resulted in a rare culture for a plaintiffs’ law firm. For many years, Berman & Simmons lawyers have transferred interesting and potentially valuable cases to others within the firm when they believed that was in the best interest of the client. This practice not only has served our clients well but has nurtured feelings of camaraderie and given us and a united purpose that binds us together.
This environment has also been cultivated by senior lawyers who are still active in the firm. Steven Silin and Jay Sweet continue to lead the most successful personal injury and medical malpractice groups in Maine. They pioneered new approaches to team building and collaboration that are now our mainstay.
We recognize that we can’t achieve success without recruiting the right people, including lawyers, legal assistants, paralegals, and administrators. I am proud of the fact that many of them have stayed with us for decades and that they are all dedicated to always providing the best representation and service to our clients.
With each hire, we look for people who are bright, energetic, and accomplished, and who want to represent clients against insurance companies and other powerful institutions. All have strong backgrounds that will allow them to contribute to our future success. All are committed to our model of teamwork and collaboration.
Mentoring and Succession Planning
At Berman & Simmons, we believe in the value of building for the future. Unlike other trial firms that circle around one or two “star” lawyers without paying attention to transition and succession, we put a lot of time and energy into training, mentoring, and developing talent. When seasoned lawyers retire, their partners are prepared to move forward with confidence.
Every Berman & Simmons lawyer participates in our system of mentoring and collaboration. Not only is this a smart investment in the firm’s future, but this approach also ensures that all of our clients consistently receive the highest quality representation.
Trial culture and our track record of success at trial have been at the core of our identity for many years. We value the civil justice system, trust in Maine juries, and believe that all our clients have a right to their day in court. We’ve seen enthusiasm for trial demonstrated by Bill Robitzek, Jay Sweet, and Steve Silin and the success they have achieved. Dan Kagan uses his decades of experience running a highly successful personal injury practice, along with a creative approach to lawyering, to obtain great results for his clients at trial. My contemporaries, Jodi Nofsinger and Ben Gideon, are leading the next generation of Berman & Simmons trial lawyers with proven ability to take on and aggressively present complex cases. Mike Bigos and Jim O’Connell continue to hone their trial skills in challenging cases. Over the last year, both have filed suit in very public cases involving catastrophic injuries or death.
Though fewer cases go to trial than they did in prior decades, we are committed to maintaining and enhancing our ability to take any case to trial, even in the face of rigorous defense. Our attorneys develop advanced approaches and strategies for trial, share these techniques within the firm, and support their colleagues through the trial process.
Positioning Ourselves for Success
We are fortunate to have inherited a strong foundation for growth, built over the past century by skilled trial lawyers and highly accomplished leaders. But we also recognize that our firm, the legal landscape, and our society are constantly changing. We look forward to addressing these changes and the opportunities ahead with innovation and a commitment to service excellence while always staying true to our core mission of representing Maine people.
With this vision, we are confident that Berman & Simmons will continue to prosper for another 100 years and beyond.