Attorney at Law Cleveland Publisher Jim Shultz sat down with Phil Ciano sat down to discuss his practice as well as the best and worst part of his job.
AALM: I know you come from a family of lawyers, tell us how you came to the practice of law?
CIANO: I told myself growing up that I would never become a lawyer. After college, I worked for a trading company in Michigan, started graduate school in Boston, then found myself back in Cleveland before I was about to start my MBA. I asked my father if I could help out at his law firm and make a few bucks before heading back to grad school. After a month of claims investigation, witness interviews and clerking, the law bug bit me. I ended up applying to law school in Chicago, then starting school the following spring. I guess that the old saying is true: “We make plans and God laughs.”
AALM: How has your practice evolved over the last 20 years?
CIANO: In Chicago and Cleveland, I was trained by some very special and accomplished mentors. I was exposed to all different types of litigation – from class actions to commercial litigation to political work, real estate, sports, entertainment and the like. When we launched C&G in 2000, my practice was probably 80-90 percent commercial litigation and 10-20 percent transactional. Now, I would say commercial litigation makes up less than a third of my practice, and the majority of my time is spent managing our health care and sports law practice. We represent a national network of physicians, physician practice groups, sports agents and agencies.
AALM: Tell us about Ciano & Goldwasser. What makes it unique? What sets it apart?
CIANO: As a boutique firm, we have the unique ability to pick and choose only those matters we feel will make a difference and enhance our practice. It is truly a blessing. As far as our differentiating factors, everybody likes to talk about client service. At our firm, we try to pay more than lip service to that mantra. We don’t believe in pushing problems down the chain or leveraging talent. Our founding partners provide day-to-day advice, counsel and communication to all our clients, and are supported by an amazing team of associates, paralegals and staff.
AALM: What is the best and worst part of your job?
CIANO: Well, the worst part of my job is the flipside of the coin I just answered above. If you are going to commit to providing exceptional service and unwavering attention to detail and work, there are going to be sacrifices. Those sacrifices make it very difficult on family, friends and associates. With technology, clients expect immediate answers to very complicated and time-consuming problems. If you’re going to commit to meeting those demands, you’re going to have to give something up on the back-end. The best part of my job sounds cliché, but it’s true. We make a difference in people’s lives. When they come to us, they realize from the very beginning they are not merely another file on our shelf. At any given time, we have a couple hundred matters rotating through the firm. We constantly remind ourselves that each one of those “matters” is the most important, pressing and imminent problem in that client’s life at that given moment. When you’re able to rise to that challenge, there is no greater satisfaction.
AALM: What big issues or projects are on your plate as wind down 2017 and head into 2018?
CIANO: In addition to our inventory of high-profile sports agent disputes, I have been devoting the majority of my time to the representation of over 20 physician-investors in the launch of a $30 million multispecialty private hospital in Beachwood, Ohio. We have been working on this project for over a year, and dirt just began moving a little over a month ago. It has been very humbling to be a part of something this exciting in health care. When the doors swing open in 2019, this hospital will change health care in northeast Ohio. Being a part of that leadership, vision and development has been a special privilege that I do not take for granted.
AALM: Tell us about your fellow attorneys at the firm? How do you work together?
CIANO: We are so blessed to have the partners, associates and support staff who work at C&G. Our support people have decades of experience with our law firm, and they have become more than family. My partners, Andy Goldwasser and Brent Silverman are brothers-in-arms. Andy and I have literally grown up in the law together, and Brent joined our firm less than a year ago. To his credit, he immediately assimilated into and improved our culture.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
CIANO: I have an amazing wife of almost 25 years and two boys, ages 16 and 11. When I’m not here at the office, I cherish spending time with them here or abroad. As far as hobbies go, I love golf, cycling, running and trekking with our 2-year-old lab, Cooper. Nonprofits like True Freedom Ministries, Mater Dei and Gesu Catholic Church have enriched my life beyond words.