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Deductive Reasoning

If Problem-Solving and Open Communication Are Beneficial, Then the Benefits Are to Peter Schulz’s Clients and Referring Partners.

“I have always been drawn to the thought process one goes through in the practice of law.  It started in college with mathematics, logic and problem- solving.  The deductive reasoning and analysis has always come naturally to me,” Greco Traficante Schulz & Brick’s Managing Partner Peter J. Schulz says.  Perhaps it runs in the family. The Wisconsin native’s father is a trial lawyer, so advocacy may be in his blood.

Although the ability to advocate logically for clients is a must-have for any successful lawyer, equally important to Schulz is a willingness to maintain ongoing communication with his clients, no matter how busy he may be. Indeed, when contacted for his interview, the AV® Rated Martindale Hubbel attorney was busy prepping for trial in federal court the next morning while concurrently preparing to provide expert testimony on behalf of a local law firm engaged in a fee dispute with an insurance carrier who had retained the firm as independent counsel. Busy as he is, Schulz still places the highest priority on answering calls.

The Antecedents of Successful Advocacy

For Schulz, after graduating from California Western School of law, where he’d been the recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award in both Legal Skills and Trial Practice, and had also served as an Honor’s Instructor for Legal Skills, the first business he needed to attend to was carving out his niche.

“Throughout my life, I have always been a leader, someone who takes pride in making my own way in the world.  There are so many talented lawyers out there and I really needed and wanted to find a way to separate myself from the rest, and put myself in a position to build a practice and reputation.  I spent the early years of my practice working on litigated matters involving construction, real estate, copyright and trademark.  However, it never felt like I had found a practice that was special or in-demand,” he reflects.  “It was through the mentoring I received from my (now) partner Clyde Greco, Jr., where I ultimately discovered my place.  Having started out working mostly for insurance carriers, I learned how carriers approach claims and the business of insurance.  Using that experience in combination with my litigation experiences in a variety of areas I began the transformation to representing insureds,” he says.

The transition resulted in a perfect fit in more than one way.  First was finding his place in a firm that would encourage him to continue making his own way. Schulz says, “Very early on, there was a great deal of chemistry with Clyde Greco, Jr., Paul Traficante and I. After two years, they promised me a partnership track and after five years made me a junior partner with a full partnership shortly thereafter.”  The transition also fit, because Schulz’s practice had become increasingly more focused.

“I had begun to build a referral network with several first rate attorneys in town who would come to me when they were having insurance issues.  This included a number of HOA clients, property management companies, mortgage loan brokers, contractors and real estate developers,” Schulz explains.  The more often he was called in for his expert opinion and assistance, the more word-of-mouth referrals poured in, and for good reason.

“I am called in by other lawyers to help clients understand the insurance situation they are in, and provide confidence that every opportunity for coverage has been considered,” he says.  Of course, in order to provide that confidence, Schulz culls from his strengths in problem-solving and logic.  “If I had to say what sets me apart it would be my ability to find coverage where others may give in to the carriers’ position,” he says humbly.  “My end goal is to get the carrier to take care of its insured in a way that best serves the client’s needs.  Sometimes that means taking it out of harm’s way by settling, other times it means fighting to the bitter end and standing behind the result,” he adds.

A Formula That Works

However, all of the ability to find coverage is useless if that information is not communicated properly to Schulz’s clients and the clients of his referring lawyers.  “My practice is very much dependent on other lawyers seeing the need for my services and their willingness to recommend bringing me into the litigation,” he explains. From a logical standpoint therefore, it is crucial that Schulz communicate honestly, openly, and perhaps most importantly, quickly.

“In this day of instant communication, it’s a constant struggle staying a step ahead.  However, that is the key in this business-you always have to be a couple of steps ahead of your opposition.  The same holds true with client relationships-I have to take the time to talk to clients, explain the process, explain the risks, and keep them apprised of what is going on at every step.  Clients pay a lot of money for legal representation and I never forget that.  They not only need to see the results, but they want to be part of the process.  At the core of every lawsuit you will find people who want a voice or who have an opinion. I take the time to listen and understand what those people have to say.  I have learned that despite all of the technology out there, talking to people face to face is still the best way to solve problems,” he concludes.

It makes perfect sense that Schulz’s pragmatic approach to problem solving often results in his referral partners telling clients that “if anyone can bring the carriers around, it’s Peter.”  With his problem-solving savvy, and steadfast dedication to “moving fast and being responsive,” Schulz’s business is thriving.  Moreover, as a result of his pragmatic and good-natured demeanor, he has a fulfilling personal life that has stemmed from his professional life.  “I am truly blessed to have spent the entire 18 years of my practice in this firm and have the utmost respect, trust and love for my partners and everyone at the firm,” he says.  Similarly, that group of networking partners he credits with a great deal of his success?  They spend evenings after work, and weekends playing golf and blowing off steam.  “Nothing can compare to the camaraderie of hitting the links with my friends on a sunny San Diego weekend,” he says.

“I later learned that after only 20 minutes of deliberation, the federal court jury returned a verdict in favor of Schulz’s corporate client.”

Greco Traficante Schulz & Brick
185 West F Street, Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234 3660
pjs@gtlaw.cc
www.gtlaw.cc

 

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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