BY JOEL WARNER PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAUL WEDLAKE
Med-mal attorney Jim Leventhal
went from selling suits to winning them
The opposing counsel looked at Jim Leventhal
and told him he wasn’t going to win.
It was 1980, and Leventhal, then 32, was taking his first medical
malpractice case at his new firm to trial. The facts were in his favor:
His client had been prescribed an unnecessary hysterectomy. The
problem, his opponent suggested, was that Leventhal was out of his
league. He was a clothing salesman turned public defender. He had
no formal medical training and was facing off against two seasoned
attorneys: one was a doctor-turned-lawyer; the other had never lost
a case. Face it, the doctor-turned-lawyer told him at the start of the
trial: He had no chance.
“Actually,” replied Leventhal with one of the thousand-watt smiles he’d
perfected as a salesman, “I think my chances are less than that.”
The counsel’s tune changed after Leventhal’s blistering cross-examination of his client, and late that night, Leventhal’s opponent
called him at home. “You did better than I thought,” he told Leventhal.
“How about we settle?” Leventhal got the amount he demanded.
“And the other lawyer who never lost a case,” Leventhal adds, “I guess
that changed, because I won that verdict.”