Mr. Sheff is the only attorney in Massachusetts who has served as President of the Massachusetts Bar Association, President of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, Governor of the American Association of Justice, and Trustee of the National College of Advocacy. He handles catastrophic and personal injury cases with a focus on traumatic brain injury, construction site cases, and wrongful death.
Q: Describe your practice. Who is your typical client?
A: Our clients are typically members of working families who are victims of traumatic brain injury, wrongful death, construction site injury, trucking accidents, explosions, burns and workplace accidents.
Q: New medical advances are reported every day. Are there developments that have made it easier or harder for you to pursue cases?
A: We have come from the Stone Age to the Space Age in terms of handling and presenting traumatic brain injury cases. We have been representing TBI clients since 1984. In the last few years, new technology and medical advances have allowed us to see things in the brain previously invisible. However, these advances are not easily integrated into a case. We have developed a network of expert neurologists, neurosurgeons, neruopsychologists and neuroradiologists around the country to properly evaluate, test and assist in brain injury cases. These injuries can be difficult to locate, identify or understand. You need to digest and analyze data from multiple tests, each with a different specific modality. With our experience and expert assistance, we can integrate these tests into our cases to present an insurmountable wall of evidence the defense simply cannot overcome.
Q: What do you see as the most important development in personal injury practice over the last five years?
A: After many years, the legislature has finally mandated attorney-conducted voir dire in Massachusetts. I was honored to recently be appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court to assist in drafting the new voir dire rule, a historical advancement in the law.
Q: What challenges to the practice do you foresee going forward?
A: Economics and resources are a real challenge. We litigate catastrophic injury cases that require significant time and money. We incorporate a true team approach. We assign four or five lawyers to these cases, who possess different strengths. For example, one may be an expert on evidence while another may excel regarding medical issues. It is expensive and tedious, but necessary to go toe-to-toe with huge corporate defendants.
Q: How is technology changing the practice of law?
A: In significant cases, we obtain a tremendous amount of documents. In a recent case we had millions of documents to review. Technology has advanced to enhance case management and tackle those big document productions. Technology also helps with one of the most important aspects of our cases: demonstrative evidence. Technology allows us to marshal demonstrative evidence in an impressive way, from animations to models to PowerPoints. Finally, enhanced communication and technology allow our team members to work more efficiently and effectively.
Q: What trends do you see as most likely to lead to substantive change in the legal profession?
A: As lawyers, we provide the greatest benefit when we help those whom we do represent. We are proud to handle cases that have an impact on countless other people, which is even more critical in this era of de-regulation. When a lawsuit costs a corporation vast amounts of money, you get through to them and make change. We had a products liability case that resulted in a major manufacturer changing the design of its automobiles around the world, ensuring greater public safety. In another case, a multi-million dollar recovery caused a global energy company to increase workplace safety in landing fuel tankers at oil facilities. Currently, we are fighting to get justice of Odin Lloyd’s family for his brutal murder by Aaron Hernandez, which has brought attention to victims of violent crimes everywhere. With the type of cases that our firm pursues, we are able to make changes that protect all of society.
Q: What advice do you have for new lawyers hoping to focus on a personal injury practice?
A: First, get ready for the fight of your life, which is likely to endure for years. Next, assemble a team of trusted attorneys and professionals with the expertise you’ll need to prevail.
Q: The local legal community is well known for its commitment to “giving back.” What pro bono work does your firm do that you are most proud of?
A: I have had the privilege to serve as President of the Massachusetts Bar Association, President of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, Governor of the American Association for Justice and Trustee of the National College of Advocacy. I have also been involved with many committees and groups within each organization and represented, pro bono, victims of the Boston Marathon bombings who suffered traumatic brain injuries. I founded the Workplace Safety Task force and the Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force. None of this work resulted in compensation to my firm or me. Yet, it is the most gratifying work of my life.
Reprinted with permission from Lawyers Weekly, 10 Milk Street, Boston, MA 02108 | (800) 444-5297 © 2018 #02372