As a soon to be Penn State graduate looking to make a leap into law, Bob Silverman was not quite clear about what was involved. “I did not know what a lawyer did, but I knew that it would provide me an opportunity to support my family while at the same time, helping others.”
And he has helped many others – more than 80,000 distressed drivers to be exact – as one of the founding partners of Kimmel & Silverman, the oldest and largest lemon law and automotive consumer advocacy firm in the Northeast. Perhaps best known for its catchy jingle and phone number 1-800 LEMON LAW, the firm has helped its clients recover more than $160 million from car manufacturers throughout the last 26 years.
Over the years, Silverman has become a noted resource in lemon law, and was most recently named a 2017 Leader in Litigation by the New Jersey Law Journal. We sat down with him to find out what has “driven” him over the years.
AALM: How did you get involved in lemon law?
Silverman: As young lawyers, my partner Craig Kimmel and I searched for a niche where we could really help people. We came across our first lemon law case, and realized the laws provide fee-shifting provisions where we could offer our clients completely cost-free legal representation. We have tremendous pride in helping people battle against the big car manufacturers. All these years later, I still get excited when I tell a client they are getting a repurchase or a replacement. We have leveled the playing field. It’s no longer David v. Goliath. Now it’s Goliath v. Goliath and it makes me very proud.
AALM: What do you enjoy most about your practice?
Silverman: I love helping folks at no cost to them. The fee shifting provisions in the law mean that if we prevail, the manufacturer must pay all attorneys’ fees and legal costs in addition to the client’s recovery. We take it a step further – if we take a case, win or lose, we are never going to charge a client. Having a problematic car is a very stressful situation and people take great comfort in knowing that someone is working hard on their side and they are never going to be charged.
AALM: What do you consider when opening a case for a client?
Silverman: I always want to make sure our clients know the lemon law is not black and white and there are never guaranteed outcomes. I want to understand their expectations and then I counsel them to the best of my ability to meet their goal. We do this by reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the case, strategizing how to make the case stronger, and reviewing the expert’s numbers regarding the claim. To my knowledge we are the only firm of our kind with an in-house team of three ASE certified experts who put together an objective review of the case. We use their findings to understand the value of the case. I believe a client is most effective when they are educated.
AALM: What events are you looking forward to in the coming year?
Silverman: This year is a big one for me personally and professionally. My son, Stephen, has joined our firm after practicing law for two years in New York. Craig and I have both made our families our top priority – that is one of the guiding forces behind working so hard. I cannot put into words how thrilled I am to have Stephen join our team.
AALM: What are some of your interests?
Silverman: If you look around my office, it is clear I am an adamant flea marketer and collector of clocks and antique watches. Most kids don’t know a watch ticks; their sense of time comes from phones. The clocks I collect are mechanical and unique. Each piece has a story, a rich history that I love to share. Obtaining a new piece is almost as fulfilling as winning a case. Almost.