Before it became known as Raybin & Weissman P.C., David Raybin’s firm focused heavily on criminal defense. When Florida personal injury attorney David Weissman joined the firm, it became apparent the practice was going to expand. In almost a decade of partnership, the two men have created a symbiotic practice – simultaneously grooming their respective practices and finding true success.
The Roots of a Partnership
Weissman had just touched down in Tennessee with his young family when he set out to find the right firm for his practice. Having managed his own successful firm in Florida, Weissman had a list of requirements.
“I wanted an AV-rated firm with a topnotch litigation practice,” he says. “I knew finding the right fit was essential to growing my practice here in Nashville.”
The night before his interview with Raybin’s firm, Weissman spotted Raybin on the news show 20/20, discussing a recent successful case. “The next day, I walked in and discovered I was being interviewed by David himself.”
“Dave Weissman came to us with strong experience in personal injury,” Raybin says. In addition to Weissman’s extensive litigation background, Raybin was impressed that he had been managing partner of his own 10-attorney firm in Florida and thus knew what it took to run the business-end of a practice.
Weissman had found his firm.
“Over time, Dave Weissman’s practice blossomed here,” Raybin says. “In order to retain his partnership with us, we shifted the focus of the firm, bringing personal injury in under our umbrella.”
“Working with David Raybin is an honor,” Weissman says. “He is literally a superstar in his field. Even more important, he is honest, respectful and caring.”
Today, Raybin maintains the firm’s criminal defense practice while Weissman continues to build the firm’s niche in personal injury.
At 18, Raybin’s father handed him “My Life in Court,” New York trial attorney Louis Nizer’s autobiography. Raybin, an avid reader, raced through the recollections of criminal and civil cases and set his sights on a career in law.
At the University of Tennessee College of Law, he was immediately drawn into a focus on criminal law. Following graduation, he began working with the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office and then the DA’s Office. Beyond his courtroom practice, Raybin has been a prolific writer, authoring his own book, “Tennessee Criminal Law.”
“It seems criminal law was all I ever really knew how to do and all I ever loved,” Raybin laughs.
Weissman, on the other hand, followed his ambition of emulating the corporate watchdog Ralph Nader. “I wanted to help the ‘little guy.’ It was a gradual process, but eventually I found my way to the focus of my practice: people over profits. It is far more satisfying and sends the right message to those who harm my clients.”
His personal injury practice was born.
The Future of Raybin & Weissman
While the two practices are largely separate and distinct, there is a very important common denominator. This can be found in their excessive force civil rights litigation. This commonality keeps the two attorneys in step with each other as they continue to work in their respective fields, winning cases and awards along the way.
“We’re both fighting for justice,” Raybin says. “It’s the common thread that pervades our practice.”
Beyond the strong foundation they’ve created, the two attorneys each have plans for the future.
Raybin, a successful writer and commentator, hopes to write his legal memoirs – a reflection of the cases he’s represented as a teaching tool for future lawyers. This is perhaps a tribute to Nizer’s book, the inspiration that brought Raybin to the practice of law.
Today, he is passing that knowledge along to his son, Ben.
“Ben is an experienced criminal defense attorney,” Raybin says. “He’s already presented a case before the Tennessee Supreme Court. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
In working with his son and other associates, Raybin and Weissman hope to develop a second generation of lawyers to carry on the work of the firm.
“When I decide to leave practice, I want to pass it on to an attorney who shares my ideals – a young associate who will continue to fight for the rights of those who most need a champion,” Weissman says.
“It’s important to have mentors,” Raybin says. “Having respected attorneys in your corner can help you succeed. We constantly encourage our lawyers to roundtable cases. Dave Weissman and I try to be resources in our firm. One of the most important pieces of advice I have for young attorneys is to never take shortcuts – they often lead to disaster.”
Beyond impacting the future generations, Weissman hopes to effect change within his field. “I want people to recognize the value and merit of personal injury attorneys,” he says. “There’s all this garbage TV advertising that portrays personal injury attorneys as sleazy and shady. The reality is that we help those folks who wouldn’t have a chance without us. I’d like to do what I can to alter the image of personal injury practice so it is more positive. Maintaining a tradition of excellence is how we accomplish that goal.”
Looking ahead, the two attorneys intend to grow their firm organically to keep pace with the flourishing metropolitan of Nashville.
“We plan to take a ‘team approach,’” Raybin says. “Bringing on quality people so we can continue to serve our clients at a high level. As Nashville grows, so does the demand for our services. We need to be able to meet the needs of our clients and our community.”
According to Weissman, the firm will grow, but the principles that support it today will grow with it. “We will still focus on people over profits,” he says. “As profits grow, our good works will multiply.”