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BAR HOPPING

From his family-owned neighborhood bar in western Pennsylvania to the elite national plaintiff’s trial Bar, Jude Basile, Of Counsel with Gomez Trial Attorneys is one of the nation’s most renowned and fascinating attorneys.

There is no disputing the fact that Jude Basile is one of the foremost trial attorneys in the nation. After all, he’s a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, one of the most prestigious groups of plaintiff trial lawyers in America, limited to just 100 lawyers in the United States. He’s also a Board Member, Faculty Member and Past President of The Trial Lawyers College, where he has been instrumental in developing and teaching the curriculum at the college founded by Gerry Spence. To boot, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego have awarded him 7 separate “Outstanding Trial Lawyer” awards. Basile has also been named “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by peer groups on four different occasions.

Yet what is so remarkable about Basile isn’t that he’s accomplished so much, even though he came from humble beginnings. Nor is he particularly unique because he admittedly wasn’t any kind of academic superstar. Instead, what makes Basile such an anomaly amongst attorneys is both how he practices law, and how he practices living a balanced life. “I try to focus on being a human being, not a human doing,” he says.

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Basile explains, “It is my limited case load that allows me to intensely focus on a case without distraction. I spend lots of time in nature, hiking and contemplating. Balance is sought and is the key to success. I often see lawyers who work themselves crazy with cases, and think: Why? Less is often more, and gratitude is realizing what you have is enough. My biggest satisfaction comes when jurors and the people I represent tell me: ‘You certainly are not what I thought a lawyer was. You are a real person.’”

Indeed, Basile’s noticeable lack of greed, his disdain for the word “client,” and his absolute devotion to living a life of spirituality through consistent meditation and a connection to nature, make him quite frankly, fascinating. Although he lived and practiced law in San Diego for roughly 20 years, these days the Basile Law Firm is based in San Luis Obispo, CA. Still, Basile handles cases throughout the state, and now spends several days a month at the Gomez Trial Attorneys.
“I live in the woods in a small town. I take time each day to meditate, exercise and be close to nature, constantly relating to life in our world. That’s where the story of each case is closely discovered and developed in order to reach a group of humans—the jury. My cases are not prepared for adjusters, insurance companies or mediators, but for people who are motivated to listen, understand, and apply justice. This is achieved by telling a compelling story,” he says. “My career has been devoted to developing the skill of discovering and communicating a powerful story to move people.”

The Beginning: An Aversion to Bullies
“I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, one of six children. My dad owned a local bar and restaurant in a coal mining and steel worker town. He constantly struggled with unfair government that shut him down when I was young. I also had a friend killed by a tractor trailer when he was 19. I grew up hating bullies,” Basile recalls.
However, he did love sports. As a college athlete, Basile admits, “I did not have good grades nor money. I was intimidated by applying to law school. But Western State University College of Law (now Thomas Jefferson) had a ‘whole person’ policy of admission. They gave me a phone interview for about an hour and an half. I guess that got me in,” he says.

“The law school was only two blocks from the court house. I would go and watch trials every free moment. I was not from California and knew no one. My uncle would send me $20/week for food, and I rode the bus to class. I had no contacts, no connections and no money,” he says. However, what Basile did have was an uncanny ability to break complex information down into simple terms. In others words, he could tell a story in a way that others understood and identified with, regardless of subject matter.

“My first semester in law school we were given a practice essay to complete. I remember the professor showing us a terrible example, and then reading us a good example. The good example was my essay, which I had answered in a simple, direct way. That stemmed from the culture I grew up in. I grew up honest, direct, and learned to keep things simple. There is nothing more powerful in a story than presenting the truth of injustice in a simple way.”

It was precisely the desire to right injustices he saw as a child which determined the area of law Basile would ultimately practice. “Representing real people is the highest calling. I could not practice any other area of law. The people I represent—I hate the use of the word client—are individuals and families who have been treated unfairly, unjustly or intentionally harmed. They are people who have been saddled with a terrible situation and need help. Usually it is some corporate policy, practice or government abuse that has caused the harm. I also look to see how the case can make the community safer and better for all of us,” he says.

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Incidentally, it was also during law school that Basile would be introduced to, and consequently fall in love with, the Central Coast of California. “I took a trip to Big Sur in a borrowed car and it touched me spiritually. The confluence of the mountains, the air and the ocean against the cliffs was incredible and I always knew I wanted to get back there,” he says.
After being sworn into the Bar in 1982, Basile would spend a few years cutting his teeth with various firms, a city attorney’s office, and a district attorney’s office, before establishing a private practice in 1985.

Second-to-None Storyteller
Basile’s gift for telling compelling stories was further enriched early in his practice, by none other than Gerry Spence. “I have been mentored by him throughout my career, and he opened a huge door for me,” he says. In fact, it was when Basile was attending the first Trial Lawyers College in 1992, that he met a second, invaluable mentor. “Don Clarkson is not a lawyer but a specialist in Group Dynamics. He taught group dynamics and group therapy for many years at Howard University in Washington D.C. I have worked closely with him each year since then. He has helped me understand groups, how they are formed, how they determine leaders, how they make decisions, what brings a group together, what can make a group divisive, and many other aspects of group dynamics. But the most important thing he taught me that has shaped me both personally and professionally is how to find one’s self, and discover who we are, and how to truly listen not only to others, but to our own truth,” Basile says.

It is the understanding of both himself, and of the juries that he will ultimately be talking to, that Basile credits for his unparalleled success. “The only real power individuals often have left is taking their case to a jury of individuals from the community. All of my cases are prepared to present to a jury,” he says. To that end, Basile invokes the use of focus groups extensively. “I often will enroll focus group members as though they are part of the defendant organization or have them get in touch with what is moving them deeply in the story.”

As far as his role as the trial attorney is concerned, Basile says that working with Clarkson helped him to understand who he was, as not just an attorney, but as a man of compassion. “I immerse myself in the lives of those I represent,” he says. “Every case is a landmark case for the people I represent. The cases are very significant in their lives, and in their families.”
For these reasons, Basile intentionally limits the number of cases he takes, but he is not afraid to take on even the biggest corporations, or government agencies. “When I see a wrong that has been committed, particularly if it has the potential to reach a broad section of the population, I’m always interested,” he says. Whether that be a police department, a large corporation, or others, when Basile recognizes that an injustice may happen again and again, unless someone fights to have practices and policies overturned, he says that the desire to fight for what is right kicks in automatically. He is sincere when he says that he hopes that up and coming attorneys feel that same sense of passion for helping others.

“I would challenge any new attorney to look closely and ask themselves why they do what they do. If it is all about the money, fancy clothes, and homes, then I would hope that they would do something else. But if it is about being a trial lawyer and communicating with the only people that corporate and big government wrongdoers fear—the jury—then do it.”

Past, Present & Future with Gomez Trial Attorneys
Basile recalls that he recognized exactly these attributes in John Gomez, before he had even formally met him. “I was contacted to work on a very serious brain injury case with Mike Marrinan.

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When speaking with the person we were going to represent, they had told us they had spoken with John Gomez as well. John apparently told them that they couldn’t do better than hiring Mike and I, and that if we were willing to take their case, they should work with us. When I heard that, I remember thinking: Who is this Gomez guy?”
In time, Basile reached out and personally invited Gomez to attend the Trial Lawyers College. But it was just over a year ago that the two realized that collaborating might just be a brilliant partnership. “John offered to let me use his office while I consulted on a case in San Diego about a year ago. I saw the young, brilliant attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys who were all very passionate about the people they were representing. They were all so open to learning new methods of doing things,” Basile says.

From there, the two determined that Basile would serve as Of Counsel to the thriving firm and the resulting relationship has been rewarding for both Basile and the team of attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys. “John Gomez has given me tremendous satisfaction in working a few days each month with his staff of brilliant people. I continue to learn new things myself in working with these young, smart, caring people. They are truly the future of plaintiff lawyers.”
Through the alliance, Basile is able to continue his statewide practice from his home base in Cambria, while retaining a strong presence in San Diego, including his membership in Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. He is also able to focus on his own personal and spiritual growth in the area of California that captured his heart as a law student.

A member of the Black War Bonnet Society, an invitation- only group which requires a silent retreat each year, along with physical, mental and spiritual practices, such as anonymously helping the less fortunate, Basile says he hopes his fellow attorneys find their own truth through a creative or spiritual endeavor. His suggestion for how other attorneys can achieve this level of success, satisfaction, and balance?
“Do something each day to expand your understanding of human nature and human behavior. Have a creative activity like writing, storytelling, photography, poetry, or dance. Keep developing as a human being, and you won’t get stuck in the rut of constant analytical legal beagle thinking. Life is so busy. But the inner power we have, if we quiet ourselves and listen, if we take the time to stop and just be, will help us all to become more compassionate, and more intuitive in all of our endeavors.”

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» EDUCATION

• Edinboro State College, B.A., 1976; Indiana University of Pennsylvania, M.S., 1978; Trial Lawyers College, 1994
• Thomas Jefferson School of Law, J.D., 1981

» MEMBER

• Inner Circle of Advocates - "invitation only group limited to 100 of the best plaintiff trial lawyers in America"
• Black War Bonnet Society - "invitation only group of people demonstrating personal, intellectual and spiritual growth while helping others"

» EXPERIENCE

• Volunteer Counsel New Camaldoli Hermitage, Big Sur California
• Developed and Expanded Curriculum at The Trial Lawyers College
• Personally selected by legendary trial Lawyer Gerry Spence to succeed Spence
• Past President Trial Lawyers College
• Numerous 7 and 8 figure verdicts
• "Of Counsel" exclusively at Gomez Trial Attorneys

» AWARDS

• 7 times Outstanding Trial Lawyer, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego
• 3 times Trial Lawyer of the Year Central Coast Trial Lawyers
• Trial Lawyer of the Year Consumer Attorneys of San Diego

Contact:
Jude Basile
Of Counsel, Gomez Trial Attorneys
www.basilelaw.com
www.gomeztrialattorneys.com
jude@basilelaw.com
pr@gomeztrialattorneys

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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

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