Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Monday, March 11, 2013

My first job out of law school was at Kelner & Kelner. Joseph Kelner was a remarkable person in many ways: one of them was that he was among the post WWII generation of lawyers that transformed torts by devising new liability arguments and new ways to quantify damages. I was there when he was involved in the Bernhard Goetz case (frankly, not his finest hour), and as I sit in my office I'm looking at his book about the Kent State lawsuit across the room on my shelf.

Kelner was among the first in the US to win a million dollar award for an injured plaintiff, and during my time there I saw him win quite a few more. (It is remarkable to think that $1 million was once like the four minute mile-- Joe Kelner wasn't the Roger Bannister of the seven figure award, but within my time practicing you used to be able to count the people who had done it on your fingers.) My time with the Kelners wasn't particularly long, although I still have occasion to reach out to Bob now and then. What was notable about it was that the work I was doing was almost exclusively high-end, sophisticated stuff. I learned a lot about how to work up a case there: those were big cases, and they spent the time necessary to see that all the pieces fit together.

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