Newmark Storms Dworak LLC is a small firm making a big impact. Their uncommon approach is yielding superior results, and that’s just how partners, Eric Newmark, Jeff Storms and Paul Dworak like it. All law school honors graduates who earned accolades early in their law careers, they have continued to distinguish themselves both as legal scholars and crusaders. These criminal and civil trial lawyers are smart, fierce and in fighting shape, and they are taking and winning some of the region’s biggest cases.
“We’ve positioned ourselves to take cases that matter, and we have the dedication and ability to make sure they count,” says Storms. Eric Newmark founded the firm seven years ago as a solo practitioner. He was joined first by Storms, then by Dworak, both former colleagues with whom he had a battle-tested rapport.
Newmark is a Minnesota State Bar Association Certified Criminal Law Specialist. He frequently shares his expertise with colleagues at legal seminars and CLE events, and he is a regular Minnesota legal contributor to television media outlets. He is one of the youngest attorneys to be recognized as a Super Lawyer by “Super Lawyers” magazine, a distinction he has earned every year since 2000. Newmark is the co-author of “Defense Strategies for Drug Crimes,” 2013 edition, and the “MN DWI Deskbook,” 2013 edition.
Newmark has established his reputation as a keen advocate in criminal cases spanning violent crimes, drug crimes, sex crimes, white collar/fraud offenses and driving offenses including DUI/DWI.
Growing up, Newmark was a champion for the underdog. He knew early on that he wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer. “I’m still a big believer in standing up for the little guy,” he says, “and I like the fact that I’m the one person who can stand up to be an ally and friend of a person accused of a crime and be their advocate. It’s an honorable profession, and it makes me proud to do it.”
Newmark takes a somewhat unorthodox approach to practice and describes himself as a guy who “doesn’t like structure and meetings. For me, it’s a better fit to have a smaller place where everybody can do their own thing.”
According to Newmark, he and his colleagues work well together, in part, because of their different but complementary lawyering styles. “Paul and I tried a criminal case together recently in South Dakota. He’s meticulous in preparation, while I lean heavier into my improvisational skills. We were able to look at the witness list and determine whose style would work better. Anybody in a tie was Paul’s witness, while anybody in a jumpsuit was mine. That approach works well for us.”
The partners are also bound by a common ethos. “We listen to each other and trust each other. If somebody comes to me and tells me I’m wrong about something, I listen. We believe in our cases, but we also believe in our clients. I think that level of empathy is not common among lawyers. Our clients trust us because we’re not just there to make a buck or get into the news. We want justice for them, and we care about the outcome for them. I do more representation for lawyers on professional responsibility matters before the board, and for judges before the board of judicial standards because everybody trusts that we have a steady hand at the wheel to see them through one of most difficult times in their lives.”
Jeff Storms is the son of a New Jersey police officer whose family predicted in childhood that he would become a lawyer. He was raised in a tough neighborhood where he gained an early disdain for bullies, which he channeled into becoming a Prep National Wrestling Champion for the number one-ranked high school wrestling team in the country. These lessons have served him well as a civil trial lawyer who has built his formidable legal reputation by taking big institutions to the mat, be they government or corporate.
A University of St. Thomas School of Law graduate, he never shied from the big cases. Before the age of 40, he was twice named Attorney of the Year by “Minnesota Lawyer” for his work on the David C. Smith police brutality killing, one of the largest police brutality settlements in Minnesota history at $3.075 million, and on the Kendrea Johnson foster child suicide case, which resulted in a settlement of $1.5 million. Named a Super Lawyer every year since 2015, Storms serves on Super Lawyer’s Blue Ribbon Panel, peer-reviewing other attorneys for the Super Lawyer distinction.
Storms has obtained seven-figure recoveries for plaintiffs in matters involving sexual assault, civil rights violations and medical malpractice. He brings his same fiery advocacy to high-stakes corporate matters, and has represented clients in shareholder buyouts, non-compete violations, RICO violations, fraud and other business torts.
In his diverse practice, Paul Dworak defends and prosecutes cases from complex business matters to highly charged social justice issues. For example, he currently represents a group of landowners in an easement dispute, a rodeo operator in an enforcement action, a professional athlete, a vulnerable adult, a CEO, a farmer and a foster child. Dworak’s clients seek him out for his legal acumen, strategy and tenacity. “I pride myself on taking complicated cases, often through uncharted waters, and winning.”
And win he does. In 2016, Dworak was named Attorney of the Year by “Minnesota Lawyer” for his work on a high-profile free speech case in which he represented a high school student who was unconstitutionally expelled for responding to a Twitter post about his gym teacher.
Prior to law school, Dworak worked as a financial analyst for four years and became a part-time firefighter to help people in dire situations. While handling emergencies for the public, he learned to think fast on his feet and remain level-headed during tense circumstances, skills that prepared him for his true calling in the courtroom. He earned his law degree from the University of Minnesota, where he dominated his adversaries in moot court competitions, signaling his future as a trial advocate. Dworak is now an adjunct law professor for his alma mater’s civil rights moot court program, and has won numerous awards for his legal writing.
After practicing with both Newmark and Storms at a prior law firm, Dworak says, “I saw what they were creating and I wanted to be part of it. I also wanted a firm where I could put my name on the door and help grow for the long term. These guys provided me that opportunity. We met at the St. Paul Grill and scratched a deal on a napkin, and I haven’t looked back since. It’s the best professional decision I’ve ever made. This firm is set up for long-term success.”
BREAKING THE MOLD
Newmark’s original vision for the firm was to assemble a group of ethical and aggressive lawyers with excellent peer and judicial relationships, and he has succeeded. By reputation, Newmark and his colleagues receive a high number of referrals, and their inflow of flat fee and hourly work makes it possible to take on contingency cases for plaintiffs in civil rights, personal injury, sexual assault and other matters.
And the big cases keep coming. Storms says the focus on taking those cases was one of the things that prompted him to join Newmark more than five years ago. “Over those five years, we’ve resolved a number of seven-figure cases and have created important local and national strategic relationships. Currently, I’m working on behalf of the Floyd family, meaning that our firm is invested in one of the most important and high-profile civil rights cases in history. While firms our size may shy away from the risk associated with larger contingency cases, we have faith in our legal abilities and business model. Our criminal and business work bring in a steady stream of revenue so we can support large civil rights and personal injury cases. And a lot of times, there are criminal elements because of the nature of civil rights cases, and we have the expertise to navigate that.”
The firm is also committed to providing advocacy for children who have been hurt in a variety of circumstances, including privacy matters, sexual abuse, wrongful death and civil rights violations. “We take pride in doing this work and continue to grow this area of practice,” Newmark says. “Often, children don’t have a voice other than the lawyers who are fighting for them in litigation.”
Recently, Dworak prevailed in an unprecedented case that resulted in a settlement of $450,000, the largest known payout in a Minnesota Government Data Practices Act case and perhaps the only successful civil lawsuit against a sitting Minnesota county attorney.
Dworak explains, “Archer Amorosi was sixteen years old and in the throes of a mental health crisis when he was shot and killed by law enforcement. While the family was grieving the sudden and tragic loss of their son, Carver County flooded the media with Archer’s police records that were private and protected from public dissemination in Minnesota. It was a blatant attempt to exonerate the deputies that killed Archer by painting him in the worst possible light. A few months later, the county attorney’s office released more private records when it declined to press charges against the deputies. The Amorosi family wanted to keep their son’s records private to protect his reputation and not cause unnecessary anguish throughout the community.”
Dworak was on the scene the day Archer was killed and spent the next two years fighting for Archer and his family. He convinced the Data Practices Act to issue an Advisory Opinion in the Amorosis’ favor, preventing the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension from releasing even more private data than Carver County had released. Dworak sued Carver County, including its sheriff and county attorney, for violating the Minnesota Data Practice Act. The case settled after Dworak prevailed on motion practice.
Dworak says this case “helped protect Archer’s reputation and prevent further damage to an already devastated family. Perhaps now, the next family whose child dies at the hands of law enforcement will be treated with more humanity.”
This is just one example of the success the firm has had in representing children. “We hope to continue to do so,” Dworak says. “In the near future, I foresee our firm being the go-to law firm for hurt children.”
POISED FOR GROWTH
As the firm perseveres in its unique strategy, its partners believe the opportunities to work on cases big and small will continue to present themselves.
In fact, they are expecting a bigger case load than ever. Newmark, Storms and Dworak recently hired two young associate attorneys to support the firm’s strategic growth.
“We value people who are committed to the bigger mission of work that often is tilting against the government or big corporations, David versus Goliath-type fights,” Storms says. “We’re looking for people who want to help grow a business and find clients, who want to interact with the community and not just be chained to a desk. We want colleagues who live up to our mantra of ‘where street smart meets book smart.’ Our associates need to be prepared to work diligently and aggressively on any matter, whether small or big, but here they will have the opportunity for real experience. We’re bursting at the seams in terms of really good personal injury, criminal and civil rights cases. This is a place where you can be part of something meaningful and receive mentoring from lawyers who have been there before and a clear vision of where they are going.”
“Some of the cases we handle are typically handled by bigger law firms” Newmark says, “and younger lawyers never have the chance to get their hands on them. Here, they can learn with us and hit the ground running. They don’t have to wait seven years to take their first deposition. We offer a dynamic set of cases with lawyers that have experience and an interest in mentoring young lawyers.”
All three partners have worked as adjunct law professors or are currently doing so. Sharing their expertise with colleagues and up-and-coming lawyers is a uniform practice among them. Storms is a regular contributor to AALM, with his “On Your Own” series that shares his perspective on entrepreneurialism in the legal profession. “One of reasons I like it do it is that I love to teach,” he says. “We all do. It gives me a chance to share some thoughts and experiences with anyone interested in hearing it. Since I don’t have the opportunity to get into the classroom right now, this column gives me a chance to do that.”
BIG THINGS AHEAD
As the tumultuous days of 2020 draw to a close, Newmark, Storms and Dworak are hoping for a return to normalcy in the coming year, allowing them to work more closely with their new associates. They anticipate that the firm’s growth will continue as it has year over year, creating opportunities for more attorneys who are seeking a place to do high-impact work and build a thriving practice.
The firm will continue to provide excellent legal counsel and advocacy to its clients, while also taking a stand for those who can’t afford to pay for legal services.
“If someone is looking to refer a family member, friend or client to a firm that can handle their biggest problem, we’re here to do that in a way that the client will feel cared about while also receiving the highest level of representation possible,” Storms says. “We’re a growing law firm intent on handling really meaningful cases and those that impact the community at large. We’re focused on building a legacy that will help people in Minnesota and even across the country.”