Trial Lawyers Successful Into Their 70s: A New Generation of Old Warriors

by Gary Gwilliam on October 1, 2009

warriorOne of the most hotly debated questions in our society remains age versus youth. Can age, experience, and wisdom overcome youth, enthusiasm, and stamina? I thought I would explore that question, as it relates to trying cases to a jury, in a multi-part series based on interviews with some of California’s best plaintiff trial lawyers. The catch? I interviewed some of the most successful plaintiff trial lawyers over the age of 70: Old warriors.

This is the first interview in the series:

Disadvantaged Youth

It’s a well known fact that trial lawyers do not try as many cases now as we used to in the past-mediation has become the norm. Younger lawyers, therefore, never get as much trial experience as those of us who were trying cases in the 1960s and 1970s when most litigation was settled before a jury. Jury trials can be grueling and most lawyers a generation ahead of me frequently quit trying cases by age 65.

Changing Times

There is a whole group of trial lawyers in California who are still actively and effectively trying cases as they move into their 70s. I interviewed 7 of these “Old warriors” and explored such questions:

  • When, if ever, are we too old to try jury trials?
  • What about retirement?
  • Are you as effective as you used to be?
  • Are stamina, energy, memory, and concentration issues?

Browne Greene: Keys to Career Longevity

Browne Greene

Browne is a former president of the Consumers Attorneys of California and Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles. He has a reputation as one of the best trial lawyers in the country; he is 73 and still vigorously and actively trying cases. Browne’s answer to the question of retirement: “No way–it’s not in the picture. . . I will try cases as long as I can go into the office.”  The keys to Browne’s longevity and continued career:

  • “I’ve always invested in good health.” This is important in keeping up energy
  • Always exercise
  • Avoid excess drinking
  • Watch diet and “the kind of foods I eat”
  • My active, young, intelligent  wife and children help keep me young

Youth vs. Age: Sage Advice

With respect to the value of youth versus experience, Browne responded with a quote from Basketball Hall of Famer, Julius Irving, who said. “I lost a step below (legs) but gained two up here (head). Browne’s experience has made him a better trial lawyer than ever, given his staying power and resilience. Some people have it, others don’t: “I feel I am more dangerous than ever and I’m ready to go into battle at anytime.”

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Trial Lawyers Successful Into Their 70s: Stan Jacobs
October 14, 2009 at 10:35 am

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LA Lawyer June 15, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Browne Greene remains one of the most compassionate, skilled and hard working trial lawyers in the country. He is certainly more dangerous than ever and has more talent than anyone else I’ve ever seen try cases.

Gary Gwilliam June 17, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Well said.

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