Michael Maggiano, Class of 1974
Regarded as one of the finest civil trial attorneys in New Jersey
Michael Maggiano is a senior partner at the New Jersey law firm Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi and is considered one of the top civil trial attorneys in the state. Specializing in medical malpractice, personal injury, products liability and workmen’s compensation cases, Maggiano has secured dozens of multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in New York and New Jersey. He has spoken at dozens of conventions and seminars around the country on topics ranging from the intricacies of legal techniques and strategies to specialized medical situations and has appeared on local and national television on various legal topics.
Maggiano has served as President of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America in New Jersey and is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He received the Trial Bar Award from the Trial Attorneys of New Jersey in 2004 and has been named one of the Top Trial Lawyers in Personal Injury Litigation and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in New Jersey by New Jersey Monthly Magazine. In 2010, Maggiano was named one of the Best Lawyers in America by a national poll of his peers.
Who was your favorite professor at Chicago-Kent? What was your favorite class?
This is tough because there were just so many fine professors. Certainly amongst the most dedicated and helpful to all was Professor Ralph Brill who taught me Constitutional Law. One of the most memorable by virtue of his ability to discuss the dry law of contracts in story form was Professor Walter H.E. Jaeger. Likewise Professor Lewis Collins made Corporate Law come alive. Professor Doppelt was a terrific Professor and left this world far too soon. In my last year I had Prof. Emerson Blue who made sense for me out of the tax courses that I took.
Who is our favorite US Supreme Court Justice?
Even with my Jersey bias aside, my vote is for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is the total package in my view. Her dissent in Shelby County was classic: “Throwing out the Voting Rights Act when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."
Describe your career path. What steps did you take to get to where you are currently?
Two days after being admitted to the New Jersey Bar I had my first municipal court trial, representing my younger brother on a garden variety stop sign case. To make a long story short, I told the prosecutor that I was clueless and he said that if I did not object to his questions, he would not object to mine. After a two hour trial (believe it or not) and losing because there was an independent eyewitness looking down from a telephone pole (you cannot make this up), I lost but was hired in two weeks to become the first Public Defender for Fort Lee, New Jersey. Some of my clients became involved in accidents and I was the only lawyer they knew. Then police who thought I was doing a good job swimming against the tide hired me when they suffered on the job and off the job injuries. At the same time, I was trying to build up a corporate and real estate practice. However, I was so taken by the excitement of courtroom battle and all the drama that goes with it, that I gradually turned completely to personal injury litigation by 1981. Early on I joined various trial bar groups and attended every seminar I could afford to attend. Before I knew it I was actively involved in political action for legislation impacting the rights of injury victims and lobbied for positive legislation. I testified before both the New Jersey Assembly and Senate on various legal issues. Before long I was President of our Trial Lawyers Association. There comes a point when I actually believe that a lawyer can develop a sense of euphoria by trying cases. I was trying them back to back and having a ball. Soon I was able to get my own building and law firm. I have not looked back since. I figure I have another good twenty years of trying cases and then will slow it down a bit.
What does it mean to you to be one of the Chicago – Kent’s 125 Alumni of Distinction?
It is the singular greatest professional honor that I can think of. My years at Chicago-Kent and living in Chicago had such a great and lasting impact on my life on many levels. To receive this honor leaves this lawyer of words almost speechless. Frankly, when I received the message I thought it must be a mistake and asked my wife to see if I was reading it right.
Most importantly with such a great honor comes great duty and responsibility. To do the right thing no matter what cost to you. This award inspires me to continue to be able to undertake representation of those who but for the contingency fee trial lawyer would be without a voice in the courtroom.