Attorney at Law Magazine Miami Publisher Rhenne Leon sat down with Garrett Biondo to discuss his firm and the mentors who have inspired him.
AALM: Do you have any mentors or professors that encouraged you along the way? What is the best lesson they taught you?
Biondo: Although I never practiced law with him, my father (a transactional real estate attorney) was and is my biggest mentor. He always tries to stay young – keeping his mind and body as fit and sharp as possible. He encouraged my brothers and me to challenge ourselves. Today, whether it is playing basketball against former professional and college athletes a decade or two younger or taking on difficult catastrophic cases that other firms have passed on, I try to push myself. Growth and progress requires hard work, discomfort and creative thinking.
AALM: What do you find particularly rewarding about your practice?
Biondo: The best part of my job is the ability to execute personal and societal change. I handle catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, so my clients need more than legal advice – they need someone to guide them through the legal process with a high level of compassion, patience and sensitivity. It is rewarding being able to help people, fight for their rights and obtain just compensation for them.
AALM: What do you find particularly challenging about your practice? How to you overcome these challenges?
Biondo: Trial work by its nature is adversarial. It is emotionally challenging and pressure-driven. However, I try not to lose sight of the fact that my clients are victims and did not choose the situation they find themselves in. They are victims of foreseeable and preventable mistakes; victims of corporations and companies who put profit over safety. It is my job to work hard on their behalf and be emotionally resilient when they often are unable to be.
AALM: What traits do you think make an attorney exceptional? What’s the difference between a good attorney and an outstanding one?
Biondo: I am passionate about justice and my clients’ cause. I am not afraid to turn down a case if I don’t believe it has merit. However, when I get involved in a case and a client put their trust and faith in me, it is an awesome responsibility and I will not be outworked. It sounds cliché but I think that success as a trial lawyer begins and ends with meticulous preparation and attention to detail. Finally, when you are in court, you need to know when to stop and sit down.
AALM: What compelled you to start your own practice?
Biondo: I started my own firm four years out of law school at the age of 28. As I look back 14 years later, it was the best decision I ever made. I owe a debt of gratitude to Estrella Gonzalez, Rob Graff and Jonathan Wald, my former bosses and mentors, for allowing me to try cases with them and on my own as an ambitious young lawyer at their firm. Coming out of law school, I remember that Judd Rosen and I were the first of our classmates to try civil cases on our own – 18 months out of school. We were on the phone daily talking strategy and learning on the go. Those experiences gave me the confidence to start my firm at a young age.
AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving?
Biondo: Professionally, it was an honor to serve as the president of both the Dade County Bar Association and Legal Services of Greater Miami Inc. My time leading both organizations was extremely exciting, challenging and rewarding. It was a blessing to work with great lawyers who were like-minded in their commitment to giving back to the profession and to the community in order to make it better. Personally, it was convincing my wife to marry me; she makes me a better person.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
Biondo: I am a basketball addict, I still play two to three times a week and attend all Miami Hurricane home basketball games. I have also practiced Pilates four to five times a week for the last several years in order to stay limber enough to continue playing basketball in my 40s. My wife and I also collect wine and contemporary art. We are particularly fond of works by Sara Cywnar, Karl Holmqvist, Jamian Juliano – Villani and Borna Sammak that are recent additions to our collection. I like the visceral reward from collecting art, the fact that you can appreciate the work in your home every day and continue to get renewed pleasure – it doesn’t wear off.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future? Where do you see yourself in five years? In 10?
Biondo: I want to continue trying lawsuits. My wife and I are in the process of starting a family. Hopefully someday I will have the opportunity to try cases with my children and some of my nephews. I would also like to continue to be involved in legal and community organizations. My father voluntarily helped run the youth, community basketball league at Temple Beth Am for a decade, my brothers are currently following in his footsteps and hopefully I will follow suit with my own children, someday.