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Confidante and Comrade

ProfessionalProfile_2013Candice Klein“As a child, I watched my mom go through divorce. I was in court several times with her and always felt her insecurity because she did not really understand the process or what her rights were.

I remember watching all of the men in their grey suits whispering amongst themselves in the hallways of the courthouse. I never wanted to be insecure like that, and at six years old, told my grandma that I was going to be an attorney,” says Candice Klein, Partner with Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, LLP (CZ&R).

Sixteen years after joining her firm, Klein is anything but insecure about the law. In fact, in March 2013, she became the first and only female partner with CZ&R. But her climb to partner of one of California’s largest firms devoted exclusively to personal injury victims might have gone another way entirely. “My original focus in law school was on entertainment law. At the time CZ&R handled some entertainment law cases, but our main clientele were personal injury victims. I took the job in January of 1997, and passed the bar in November of 1997. Within weeks of passing the bar, I was given a case and told to ‘go try this case.’ I remember it as if it were yesterday. The feeling I had when I was speaking to the jury about what my client had lost and why we needed their help to bring about justice-I knew this was what I was supposed to be doing,” Klein recalls

Compassionate Confidante
Since that first trial, Klein has never forgotten that feeling, and has channeled all of her efforts into being the most compassionate confidante her clients can have. “I represent seriously injured clients. I recognize that these clients are often struggling with great pain and loss and fear,” Klein says. “I try to do what I can to understand their pain,” she adds. In order to do this, Klein spends an enormous amount of personal time with her clients. “I go to their homes, and have dinner with them at their homes. I find that by experiencing a part of their life with them, I can better understand, and therefore translate the losses to a jury,” she says.

To  Klein,  being  there  for  her  clients  extends  beyond keeping them updated on their cases. “I make unsolicited phone calls. I update my clients without having to be asked. Even when there is a lull in the case, I stay in touch. My clients know that I am interested in their well-being and I find it makes them feel more willing to confide in me, and therefore improves my ability to represent them, when we are in constant communication,” she adds.

Continuing, she says, “I care about these people the way I care about my friends.” To illustrate, she recalls “Recently I represented a mother and her daughter who were involved in a car crash where both were severely injured. The mother had just moved to California and did not have a job. Because of her injuries, she was unable to provide for her family and ended up in a homeless shelter. I was gravely concerned about her daughter, who luckily had a friend she was able to live with so she could continue without disruption at high school. I regularly met with her to make sure she was doing ok, and that she had enough money to eat and take care of herself,” Klein says. Moreover, “I eventually hired her as a law clerk. She now wants to be an attorney,” Klein says with a smile.

Clever & Capable Comrade
Of course, all of the compassion in the world wouldn’t be enough if Klein didn’t have the expertise to stand as a clever and capable comrade for clients. Fortunately, she has those skills in spades. Klein is a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College. She was also one of a very select few attorneys to attend UCLA’s prestigious ‘Gross Anatomy Program for Litigators’ in

2007. In this program, Klein received hands on training with cadavers, wherein injuries ranging from spine and disc injuries, to brain injuries, to soft-tissue injuries were studied. “I got to really understand the injuries that I’m communicating to jurors,” she says.

Klein also has plenty of trial experience, which she credits with her successful trial track record. “I want the jury to ask questions,” she says. Her belief that juries provide invaluable opportunities to learn and become a better lawyer is also based on experience. “I had a tough case that I tried in 2011 that ended in a hung jury. I re-tried the case a few months later and obtained a significant verdict for my client. I listened to the jurors after the first trial and realized that they had many questions about facts that I thought were obvious. I was able to answer all of those questions the next time around at the second trial. I learned that you can never take anything for granted. I’m always learning, and win or lose, I’m always talking to the jury afterwards,” she says.

Moreover, CZ&R’s capabilities are second to none, giving Klein additional ammunition for cases. “Our firm is on the cutting edge of personal injury litigation. We have a team that looks for test cases to develop strategies around some of the most difficult legal obstacles to victims obtaining recovery for their losses. For instance, for years, supermarkets and other big retailers have escaped liability on slip-and-fall cases by pretending to have no notice that their floors were dangerous. We have developed a new strategy that eliminates the need to prove notice, and have won several otherwise unwinnable jury trials. Likewise, in connection with a bank, we’ve developed a financial instrument that allows a car accident victim to effectively purchase insurance after-the-fact and therefore not be subject to Prop. 213 which would bar them from recovering pain and suffering,” Klein explains.

Unassuming Ally
With her trial experience, the extensive strategies she and her partners employ for the benefit of clients, and the hundreds of millions of dollars the firm has recovered for clients, one might think that CZ&R exudes typical, powerhouse, formidable law offices. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, Klein’s passion for becoming friends with clients isn’t limited to her visits to their homes, or time spent on the phone. The firm has made it a point to make their offices welcoming and unthreatening as well.

“Our firm is very dog friendly. We often have several small dogs in the office, which help make people comfortable. When clients come into my office, they feel more at home when they have a dog curling up next to them,” she says. Klein also has her 6 month old son in her office with her for a few hours a day several times a week. The welcoming atmosphere doesn’t go unnoticed by clients, either. “They are surprised by how ‘normal’ we are,” Klein says with a chuckle.


Candice S. Klein
Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, LLP
750 B Street, Suite 330
San Diego, CA 92101

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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Filed Under: Featured StoriesPersonal Development

About the Author: Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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