Mark R. Osherow always wanted to be in a position where he had the ability to control the outcome of situations. Not surprisingly, he found that being an attorney would allow him to do just that – more so than any other profession, says Osherow, of counsel to Broad and Cassel in the West Palm Beach office.
“I wanted to do something that would give me the ability to help other people solve problems they wouldn’t be able to solve on their own,” he says.
“I like to look at what motivates other people and figure out creative solutions to their situations. I think that’s what motivates me more than anything. People and businesses come to me with what they believe are insurmountable disputes and for me the key is discovering what motivates both sides and figuring out ways to resolve those disputes based on those motivations,” Osherow says. In doing so, he believes he brings a level of professionalism to the practice of law that he hopes others follow.
Osherow says it is critical to understand changes in the law, and being knowledgeable of new case law that changes the landscape virtually every day. He encourages all litigators and particularly those new to the profession to become experts in their fields by continuing to learn on a daily basis.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Osherow believes in leading by example, a philosophy he developed and carried over from the days when he ran his own law firm in Boca Raton, a firm he managed for 15 years.
“I believe in team effort and in leading in a way that makes other people want to perform for you as a team. My philosophy has come down to this – the way I define a problem is whether somebody is going to remember in a day, a week, a month, six months, a year or five years from now. If they’re not going to remember it in the long term, it’s really not a problem; it’s just a bump in the road. And 99.9 percent of things fall into that category, although at that moment they may seem like major issues. We work in a high pressure, stressful profession and it’s important that people know someone has his or her back,” he says.
The move from a boutique firm to a larger organization was not without its challenges, but it came with significant rewards. There was no better teacher than being “captain of the ship,” Osherow says.
“Part of my reason for moving to Broad and Cassel is the ability to concentrate on my legal work, to have a wide range of practice areas available to assist and refer matters, and not have to worry extensively about administration and management. I also love having all the resources of a big firm, as well as the camaraderie and the ability to work with very talented lawyers in multiple disciplines of the law,” he says.
GETTING CASES WHERE THEY NEED TO BE
“I’d say the biggest challenge is getting a case to the point that the client fully realizes how cases are resolved. It’s basically strategy. Most cases can ultimately be resolved. Finding those solutions that get the participants to a point where they are ready to resolve the case is for me one of the most interesting aspects of practicing law,” Osherow says.
He helps clients to see that sometimes they’re motivated more by hostility, anger, frustration or something else that interferes with their ability to focus on the practical business aspects of their situation. One of his primary goals is to motivate those clients to see their situation from a practical perspective rather than an emotional perspective, to see the situation as it really is – a purely business transaction.
“Sometimes clients don’t think as rationally as they believe they are and sometimes when they think rationally they don’t necessarily weigh all the different aspects of the case. It’s very important to help clients see the various motivations and causes that are influencing them to make a decision. Once we have done that analysis and we’ve gone through all of the specifics, then they can decide whether or not litigation is called for,” he says.
Osherow sometimes faces a client who initially only wants to litigate, someone who doesn’t want or doesn’t realize that one of the key aspects of a case is an attorney’s ability to resolve or at least attempt to resolve the case before the client gets involved in expensive, time-consuming and often emotionally-draining litigation. He says it is crucial for a lawyer to help a client assess his or her willingness to take a case through the litigation process and trial. The client must also feel comfortable that their law firm is providing advice that is in their best interests, whether they go the distance through trial or seek alternative dispute resolution.
“I always want our clients to understand the costs and risks of the decisions they’re making. For me, that’s critical. I’m always advising clients about the next step, about what they need to know, what we should be doing, and advising them constantly on pre-litigation, litigation, settlement and trial issues,” he says.
LISTEN AND RESPOND
Osherow says he works to be a good listener. That skill, combined with his experience as a board certified business litigator, allows him to respond quickly and effectively to client needs in diverse areas of the law. He believes in The Florida Bar board certification process. He says he is proud of his certification as a board certified business litigation specialist, and frequently encourages his colleagues to apply.
He is dedicated to professional excellence through the certification process which he says helps to lift the practice of law as a whole. Osherow has recently been appointed to serve on The Florida Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization and Education which oversees all of the 24 certification areas offered. Until 2006, his practice focused on business litigation and injury and medical malpractice work. In 1996, he and his partner at the time were one of the first firms in Florida to obtain a jury verdict against a health maintenance organization which was held liable for medical malpractice.
“That was the result of a very tenacious effort. Throughout my early career, I was involved in class action litigation, complex litigation for major clients and product liability cases. I was fortunate to be involved in complex cases and, through that experience, to develop expertise in a variety of areas,” he says. Osherow learned early on that success as a litigator requires a very high level of commitment and tenacity. After 2006, his practice focused almost exclusively on business litigation and related areas such as real estate, construction and employment litigation.
Osherow is also responsive to the needs of the legal community and has been very active in bar association work. For example, as incoming president of the South Palm Beach County Bar Association, one of his initiatives was to seek appointment of a board member as coordinator for community outreach to facilitate a number of ongoing charitable and community projects. That is a new step for the organization and one Osherow hopes to expand.
He has also developed an expertise in electronic discovery. Osherow has lectured on the topic. Currently, he and a former judge are developing an electronic discovery protocol for state and federal courts. This is a developing area of law, and he is using his knowledge to help clients and other lawyers avoid the pitfalls in this area.
KEEPING THINGS ON AN EVEN KEEL
Osherow says his life has had its share of challenges, but he credits his family for helping keep life in perspective and on an even keel. He and his wife of 25 years, Nancy, have two sons: Eric, 18, and Alex, 21.
Osherow says that whether cases are rewarding or difficult, an attorney has to have an even keel as a litigator. He upholds a philosophy of trust when it comes to his clients’ interests. “My father taught me to never give up and my first boss taught me how to think like a lawyer, to be precise, and to be articulate in my writing. From those mentors and others, I have come to believe strongly in creating an environment where people can do their best.”