Joy. It’s not a word you often hear from personal injury attorneys when discussing their practices. But joy is a word that pops up often in conversations with Chapel Hill attorney Adam Langino.
“If your lawyer takes joy in the practice of law, they’ll be a better advocate for you,” he said. “They’ll handle your case with enthusiasm, grace, and patience. They’ll feel inspired by the intellectual challenges of your case and will take pride in finding the appropriate legal avenues through which to resolve it.”
Langino handles cases involving catastrophic injuries and deaths, often involving children, in both North Carolina and Florida. From drowning incidents to faulty child safety seats to exploding cell phones to commercial truck crashes, Langino takes on clients who are often devastated emotionally, physically, and financially.
“I take joy in my practice not from distancing myself from my clients and their pain; rather, I believe I can only be a good advocate by connecting with them,” explained Langino. “I meet with clients at their homes and take time to get to know their families and their daily struggles in the wake of their injuries and grief. It helps me remember the importance of my work and the joy I can share with those clients when the case eventually resolves.”
When Langino left a national law firm to open Langino Law earlier this year, he put a lot of thought into the values of the firm which he calls his pillars: Joy, kindness, diplomacy, courage, and faith. Together, these pillars focus the way he approaches every aspect of his work – client intake calls, interactions with opposing counsel, expert witness depositions and the process of crafting jury arguments, and the last half hour he spends quietly reading “The Way of the Trial Lawyer.”
Adam Langino was born and raised on Long Island, NY, the son of a hospital pharmacist and a special ed teacher, both of whom he credits with instilling in him a firm sense of ethics. After college, Langino was hungry for a challenge and chose to attend law school at The University of Minnesota based on its proximity to a well-regarded boxing gym.
“I saw it as an opportunity not only to improve myself educationally, but emotionally and physically,” said Langino. “You have to train for a fight with the understanding that you’re only going to win if you have the discipline to work harder and can keep moving forward while being hit. If you don’t have that inner strength, you’re going to lose.” Langino won three out of four fights at the 152 lb. weight in Golden Gloves before retiring at the end of law school. He moved to Florida and quickly gained trial experience as a public defender in West Palm Beach.
“The discipline, the competition, the focus. Everything I loved about boxing I was finding in my career as a trial lawyer. You need the ability to be strategic. Sometimes you don’t land your best shot unless you put yourself open for a shot. That’s true in the practice of law and in the ring.”
A HANDFUL OF CASES
Langino lived in Florida for 12 years and worked for a high-profile national law firm with a Florida office focused on plaintiff’s work. He worked as lead attorney on many cases and spent a decade forging valuable connections with attorneys across the country as a member of the American Association for Justice.
In 2018, Langino and his wife, Tiffany, were eager for a change in lifestyle for their children, Truman, now 10, Arthur, 7 and Nelle, 5. They Googled ‘best places to raise kids’ which led them to Chapel Hill, a town neither had ever visited and where they knew no one.
“It just felt right,” Langino said. “The best decisions in my life have always meant taking a risk and following my intuition.”
Langino stayed with the national law firm, which had an office in Raleigh. “The pandemic prompted changes to the legal profession and opportunities for introspection. Our world became smaller – my family, my neighborhood, my town. There are a lot of big and terrible things I have no control over, but how can I do some good on a smaller scale,” said Langino.
“I try to limit my practice to a handful of cases helping good, hardworking people who are up against a company that’s really hurt them,” said Langino. “When you’re dealing with large corporations, they have the money and the resources to do everything they can to tip the scales a little in their favor. In most cases, they can’t defend their actions and they don’t try to. They try to attack the person, attack the family, attack the attorney or drag out the case as long as possible. It’s unfair and it’s cruel.”
Langino said he is not interested in cases with clients who are just looking for a quick settlement. “I want to believe in my clients and like them and respect them because we’re likely going to work together for two years to resolve their claim. It must be a good fit.”
“When I sign up a client, I personally give them a ‘what to expect’ letter in plain English explaining the process of what’s going to happen to them if we have to file a lawsuit or if we’re able to resolve the claim, and the timing to expect throughout the entire process.”
A FOCUS ON COMMUNITY
“One of my reasons for opening my law firm was to put money back into the communities and causes I care about,” said Langino. “Years ago, I attended an art exhibit by Lauren Greenfield called “Generation Wealth.” It helped shape my thinking on the power of greed and its debilitating force. Now that my law firm is running, I’m eager to share any success I have.
“It’s important to remember that this is the school, the neighborhood, the town and the people who will shape the experiences of my family,” he continued. “We’re indebted to this community and so full of gratitude, so it’s exciting and motivating to want to give back to it. We have a running list of, ‘if this case settles, this is where we want to put the money.’”
Earlier this year, Langino participated in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s “Dribble for Victory Over Cancer” program. “I really liked seeing my kids dribbling at the Carmichael Arena with all the other players and having a good time,” he said.
The program’s focus was to help raise awareness and funds supporting lifesaving research at the UNC’s Children’s Research Institute. “It reminded me of the work I do every day for people whose lives have been changed forever by a sudden catastrophe.”
“I see it in my profession all the time – life can change on a dime. You can’t be looking for the next best thing. You have to have gratitude for the moment and find joy in whatever you’re doing here and now.”