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RARE Breed

As Chair of CaseyGerry’s Motion and Appellate Practice, Jeremy Robinson has been San Diego’s Oldest Plaintiffs Litigation Firm’s not-so-secret weapon for nearly twenty years.

I am one of the few, and maybe the only attorney working for a plaintiffs’ litigation firm in San Diego specializing exclusively in research, writing, oral advocacy, and case analysis, as well as complex litigation matters such as class actions. Those skills are very different than trial lawyering skills,” says Jeremy Robinson, chair of Casey Gerry Schenk Francavilla Blatt & Penfield LLP’s (CaseyGerry) Motion and Appellate Practice and a partner with the San Diego-based firm.
Indeed, Robinson has dedicated his career to reading, studying the law, mastering the craft of refining complex information into succinct briefs, motions, civil writs and appeals.
He’s also known for his oral advocacy acumen, having earned a well-deserved reputation for excellent presentations.
Certainly, as far as trial lawyers go, Robinson is a rare breed, and it’s entirely by choice. His niche is case evaluation and strategy, legal research, writing and oral advocacy and he has devoted his entire legal career to developing those skills. This focus has allowed him to become extraordinarily good at something most plaintiffs’ litigation firms either struggle with or are forced to outsource. In doing so, Robinson has made a name for himself for both an excellent work product and analysis. In short, Robinson is the attorney other attorneys come to for answers on complex questions.
He is also unique amongst plaintiffs’ trial attorneys in that his audience will never be a jury. “My audience is always a judge,” he explains. An admitted introvert, Robinson says, “I never wanted to be in court in front of a jury, or taking depositions, like most trial attorneys want to do. I love learning about the law, and I’ve always liked figuring out how to overcome perceived hurdles in cases. I am naturally analytical and have always been good at distilling a large amount of information into small, key points.”
His diligence results in briefs and oppositions to motions where he doesn’t need to spell out why a motion should be dismissed, or what a judge’s ruling should be, because the facts of the case are presently clearly on paper or delivered concisely via oral argument as the result of the time he has invested into the work. It’s worth noting, however, that in spite of being noticeably low-key and displaying courteous disposition, Robinson has a smart, dry sense of humor, which he acknowledges has helped him to transform even the driest material into entertaining, and often humorous presentations.

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DIFFERENT BY DESIGN

Robinson’s fascination with uncovering the facts, understanding various facets of the law, and the critical analysis required in complex litigation cases began while he was still in college. Born and raised in Kentucky, he took a summer job as an office worker and “errand runner” for a successful trial attorney in Louisville, Kentucky. “While I was there I managed to immerse myself into some of the cases and found the work both fascinating and rewarding,” he says. “I began studying law in college and decided it was a profession uniquely suited to my abilities. Both the intellectual challenge and the ability to shape social policy were tremendous draws for me,” he recalls. He credits that attorney, Larry Franklin, with introducing him to the law. “He really helped guide me to finding my strengths, whether he meant to or not,” Robinson recalls. In fact, the relationship he forged with Franklin while still in school would eventually play a small role in opening the door for Robinson to join CaseyGerry years later.
Of his decision to leave his home state and move to San Diego, Robinson says, “I packed up and moved here in 1996. It seemed like a nice community, so I’ve been here ever since,” although the rest of his extended family remains in Kentucky. “I’m the only one who has moved out of state.”
Upon settling in San Diego, Robinson reached out to an attorney he had met through his work as a law clerk in Kentucky. “We had taken on a very high profile case, when I was clerking for Larry Franklin. A church bus had caught on fire and several people had died or were horribly injured. We associated in a well-known Orange County attorney. I contacted him after moving here, and he remembered who I was. He was friends with one of the partners at CaseyGerry, and helped introduce me to the firm,” he says.
Robinson was immediately drawn to the established, reputable firm. Though he didn’t know it at the time, CaseyGerry was the oldest plaintiffs’ litigation firm in San Diego. The firm was founded in 1947 by David S. Casey, a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant and son of a St. Louis attorney to provide quality service for plaintiffs in civil litigation and personal injury cases, but Robinson only knew that he liked the partners he met, and more importantly, they were interested in his unique skill set.
He would come to find out that CaseyGerry was uniquely positioned in San Diego to bring Robinson in to provide the precise type of legal work that he was not only best suited for, but that he loved doing. “Aside from having a wealth of experienced trial lawyers, CaseyGerry had the resources that few, if any other plaintiffs’ litigation firms could match,” he says. “That remains true to this day,” he adds.

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BEHIND THE SCENES STAR

Though Robinson is not one of the more publicly visible faces of the firm, the work that he performs behind the scenes is an asset which CaseyGerry counts as an invaluable tool in their arsenal. Robinson admits that he specifically sought out to become CaseyGerry’s de facto “attorney’s attorney.” He concedes that in joining the firm, his goal was to make himself, for lack of a better word, indispensable.
“When it comes to research and writing, most firms have new lawyers do it. Most senior plaintiffs’ attorneys don’t like doing this type of work. But for me, this was always the work I wanted to do. I didn’t want to do trial work. I wanted to write and I wanted to improve as a writer, and drafting quality briefs and motions can take a long time. To do it well, there is a lot of editing and proofreading, that needs to be done. Good briefs must be concise yet thorough. No judge wants a 50-page brief. Writing is perhaps not a skill that comes naturally to me, but is something I’ve worked hard to master.”
Robinson is definitely in a league of his own when it comes to written and oral arguments, for the very reason that very few attorneys have the amount of experience he has in his specific niche. “I think it’s unfortunate that brief writing is typically relegated to inexperienced lawyers,” he says. “A lot of decisions will be based on the written argument. Most judges will have formed a tentative decision before oral arguments, based entirely on the written documents.” he adds.
After nearly 20 years of honing his writing chops, suffice to say, Robinson has experience in these areas that others just can’t claim. Knowing how to present an argument for the specific attorneys he is working with at any given time, is an area in which he excels. “Some attorneys are ok with a bit of humor in a brief, some love it, and some don’t, and I’ve learned what our attorneys need and are comfortable with. These are professional briefs, so they can’t be demeaning of the opposing counsel. Judges don’t like cheap shots. But, the brief must also be interesting enough to keep the judge’s attention.”
Robinson also says that having a judge as his audience rather than a jury requires a different approach than a trial attorney would use to relay the facts of a case to a jury. “Judges are very intelligent people and I’m not going to insult them by trying to tell them what to think. I present the facts and the research in a way I hope guides them to the conclusion I want while still allowing them to arrive at the conclusion on their own,” he explains. “Judges want to do what they think it right and just, but do not want to be pandered to.”

BEST IN SHOW

Although he’s not seen by the public in court, Robinson does keep a visible presence in the greater Southern California legal community through numerous leadership roles he’s held, including serving on the Board of Directors of the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego (CASD). He’s also been a regular speaker and writer for Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), in addition to other regional trial lawyer organizations. He’s been published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, and other publications, and has made appearances on local news stations, for his expert commentary on the legal aspects at issue in various cases.
Furthermore, he’s put on multiple programs for Continuing Education of the Bar, and he served as column editor for the Trial Bar News, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego’s legal magazine for more than a decade. Still, he says, “I’m not going to be the attorney who wins big awards like Trial Lawyer of the Year. That’s not what I do.”
But Robinson has certainly contributed to CaseyGerry’s ongoing standing in the legal community, where the firm has become synonymous with exhaustive research and careful investigation—both legally and factually—of all aspects of a case before taking a case, and during litigation.
For example, Robinson has been a key player in numerous landmark cases that CaseyGerry has been involved in, including representing former Governor Grey Davis in a private attorney general action against Big Tobacco, which recovered multi-billions. Robinson has also played an important role in CaseyGerry’s representation of Junior Seau’s family in their litigation against the NFL.

In addition, he counts the firm’s past representation of a young boy who was accused of conspiring to murder the sister of one of his friends as one of the cases that reaffirmed that he is doing exactly what he’s supposed to do, to help victims obtain justice.
In that case, the accusation against the boy was ultimately dropped, but was based almost entirely on wrongfully coerced confessions. “The confessions were obtained, in part from the use of a bogus lie detector device. We not only pursued the various law enforcement agencies involved, but we also went after the manufacturer of the lie detector device. After proving the lie detector was essentially worthless, and that the manufacturer had made all kinds of false representations about its capabilities, the manufacturer paid the full policy limits,” Robinson explains. “This case taught me that justice sometimes comes from unexpected places and that it is critical to never discount a hunch.”
As far as the future is concerned for Robinson, he has no plans nor desire to transition to a more public spotlight. The satisfaction that he gets from doing the job that he likes, and doing it well, is more than enough reward. “My parents were both teachers, which is probably why I enjoy the educational aspect of the law so much and I am motivated to help others in the community stay on top of emerging legal issues.” However, he does acknowledge that compliments and gratitude from his colleagues go a long way. “Recently a demanding San Diego Judge commented that he comes into court every Friday, hoping for an argument like the one I gave him, and thanked me for it. It was a very unexpected compliment,” he says simply.
As for when Robinson isn’t busy finding solutions to legal obstacles, researching the facts and applicable laws in a case, writing briefs that are often turning points in a case, or arguing for CaseyGerry’s victims in front of a judge? He’s devoted to his family, which includes his wife, four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son. He’s also an artist and musician “of sorts” who loves sketching, drawing, gardening with native plants, and learning how to play new musical instruments.
“I really like learning, I like figuring out how to do things, whether it’s solving a legal puzzle or learning to play the banjo.

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» EDUCATION

  • Rice University, B.A., 1993
  • University of Kentucky, J.D., 1996

»AFFILIATIONS

  • State Bar of California, Member
  • American Association for Justice, Member
  • Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, Member

» MISCELLANEOUS

  • Coauthored a chapter in "Litigating Tort Cases," a publication that seeks to expand the ideas of leading attorneys from around the country.
  • Tort Column Editor for the "Trial Bar News" from 2006-2015.
  • Board of Directors for the Consumer Attorneys of California, 2009.
  • Southern Calif. chair, featured speaker in the statewide legal education program "What's New in Trial and Tort" since 2007.
  • Presenter of CEB course on Personal Injury Claims and Defenses.
  • Author of several articles in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, including "Battles Expose Core Problems with Arbitration System," (November 9, 2015) and "'Rent A Tribe' Arrangements Coming Under Fire" (January 15, 2015).


Contact

Jeremy Robinson
Casey, Gerry, Schenk, Francavilla, Blatt & Penfield LLP
www.caseygerry.com
619.238.1811
jrobinson@gclaw.com
110 Laurel St. San Diego,
CA 92101-1486

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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