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 SOUTHFIELD, Mich., June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- With the widespread

coverage about the gloomy financial picture at many of the nation's law firms in recent months, there has been no shortage of stories citing the conventional wisdom of such legal consultants as Hildebrandt, Inc., and identifying a national trend of associate layoffs and limited growth.
 The midwestern law offices of Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C., in Southfield, conspicuously contradict the national trend.
 The firm had gross revenues in excess of $30 million in 1991 with a staff of 60 attorneys, up some 20 percent from $25 million in 1990. Moreover, the firm has hired an additional 12 attorneys in the past 16 months, and presently employs a total of 72. Senior Partner Stanley S. Schwartz, named by Forbes magazine in 1989 as one of the 10 highest- paid trial lawyers in the country, stated that pay for new associates is about $35,000 to $40,000 a year, but the potential for growth is quite extraordinary. This acknowledged conservative starting salary is enhanced dramatically as the associate grows with the firm. Attendance is mandatory at in-house training sessions and bonus incentives for new business and business worked are part of the compensation package.
 Besides being one of the most financially successful law firms in the country, Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C. is also one of the most academic in terms of articles and books written by members of the firm. Stanley Schwartz, who specializes in birth trauma cases, has written five books himself, including a two-volume treatise, "How To Handle Birth Trauma Cases." In addition, lectures by the firm's lawyers number into the hundreds every year and take its members into every community and business/medical/governmental arena in the area.
 Charitable work is also rewarded annually to those members of the firm who work for and contribute to philanthropic organizations. In fact, the firm has established its own foundation for such endeavors.
 Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C. is a highly successful law practice positioned for further growth now and well into the year 2000. Why does this growth contradict the national trend? What are the firm's philosophies? It is all in the management style, the attention to detail, the team efforts, and the unlimited spectrum of the firm's capabilities.
 Why is a midwestern law firm so successful in today's arduous economic times, while 86 percent of large law firms throughout the United States are planning layoffs? According to an article published by the American Bar Association Journal in March of this year, 59 percent of the 105 largest law firms surveyed in the country reported that they had terminated not only associates, but also longstanding partners. Moreover, the same survey reported that well over half of the law firms expect to continue to discharge named partners and associates with the goal being corporate survival.
 In a related story that appeared in The Wall Street Journal on March 9, 1992, influential legal consultant Bradford Hildebrandt, Inc. declared that many law firms have experienced very low revenues in 1991, and that the firing of associates has become quite commonplace during the last 18 months.
 In addition, The Detroit News in April of 1992 reported that the declining market for new attorneys has been recognized by prospective law school applicants. The Detroit News further cited dimmer job prospects have pushed down law school applications by 1.5 percent nationwide, a figure confirmed by the Law School Admission Service.
 In contrast to this national trend, the suburban Detroit law firm of Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C. posted gross revenues in excess of $25 million in each of the past three years with an attorney staff force during those years of between 40 and 55 attorneys. Last year, the firm posted gross revenues in excess of $30 million with approximately 60 attorneys on staff. This has occurred while many top- flight law firms across the country are dissolving, eliminating staff member positions, and enforcing a hiring freeze. Over the last few years, Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C. has expanded its roster and presently has 72 attorneys and a support staff of more than 150 individuals. This support staff includes paralegals, secretaries, registered nurses, and even a physician. This expertly trained team assists the personal injury department in preparing and pursuing the medical aspects of cases that include, but are not limited to: medical malpractice, product liability, construction accidents, slip and fall, automobile accidents and highway design accidents.
 Unique among large successful personal injury firms is the fact that Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C. does not limit itself to personal injury. The law firm includes, and is divided into separate departments: labor and employment law, environmental law, business law, taxation, civil rights, criminal law, family practice, commercial litigation, real estate, plaintiff personal injury, bankruptcy, and, uniquely, insurance defense.
 "Growth -- both physically and economically -- is the natural bonus of working hard and conscientiously on behalf of your clients," said senior partner Stanley S. Schwartz, who is often the spokesman on behalf of the firm and the architect of its philosophy. A a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Law, he has reaped the rewards of an illustrious legal career that has included a national reputation as one of the preeminent trial lawyers in the field of tort litigation. Throughout the United States, Schwartz has consistently obtained record- breaking verdicts and settlements for his clients.
 In addition to being actively engaged in the practice of law, Stanley Schwartz is a prolific writer. He has written countless articles that have been published in local, state, and national professional journals. As an author, he has had published five highly acclaimed law books. Two of these books, "How to Handle Birth Trauma Cases, Volume I and II," are considered, within the profession, to be the definitive authorities on cases with brain-damaged children due to obstetrical negligence. Recently, he received a professorship at his alma mater and will return to the law school this fall to teach a seminar on medicine and the law. He is annually listed in "The Best Lawyers of America" and has been nationally recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the country's most successful attorneys.
 Norman D. Tucker, also a senior partner with the firm, and who works closely with Stanley Schwartz and his team of attorneys and nurses, sketches the firm's growth strategy ... "We may be one of the larger law firms in the state, but we pride ourselves on handling each case as if it was the only one in the office. Once we determine that a viable cause of action exists, the file is assigned to litigation attorneys, a research attorney, a nurse and a paralegal," explained Tucker, who like Schwartz, is a nationally recognized expert in the field of medical malpractice and medical legal problems. "In other words, every client has a personal team working on his or her behalf. Sometimes as many as three attorneys will work on one file. Cases are won through preparation and meticulous attention to detail."
 Given the firm's overall reputation for professional excellence, it should come as no surprise that Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C. is an extremely academic law firm. Members regularly author comprehensive law texts (over 16 to date), contribute thought-provoking articles to professional journals, and continually speak for continuing legal education programs. Many of the firm's members are recognized as experts in their fields and chair committees for the Michigan Bar Association, the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, and the American Trial Lawyers Association.
 As Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C. has grown over the years, the firm has consistently adhered to the philosophy of close personal attention to every client. It is a philosophy that is rooted in humanism and payback to the community. The firm has created scholarships for law students as well as a foundation which regularly contributes generous amounts of time and money to a variety of charitable, community, and civic organizations and endeavors. The firm encourages such activity and financially rewards charitable initiatives by its employees. Consistent with the adopted maxim, "From those to whom much is given, much will be asked," the firm's civil rights department is served by three outstanding and dedicated lawyers. These attorneys daily provide a commitment and expertise that far exceeds the normally expected remuneration.
 While associate firings and layoffs will undoubtably continue at a majority of the nation's law firms, according to the American Bar Association Journal, Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C. continues to move against this trend with continued financial growth and expansion.
 "To begin, we're very selective in our hiring," said Stanley Schwartz. "In addition, we have continuous in-house training programs and mandatory motivational seminars." He also stated that "Growth can't be measured in terms of dollars or the number of names on the letterhead. If we attorneys cannot grow in terms of understanding the human condition and doing what we can through our efforts to improve it, we have not accomplished anything."
 While Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C. is recognized as one of America's foremost personal-injury litigation firms, it should be noted that its growth is an across-the-board event with gains realized in every one of its specialties. "If recent events have proved anything, it's that nothing in today's world is static," said Stanley Schwartz. "The 1990s will continue to bring about changes in our personal and business lives but as the law continues to change, our law firm will continue to provide fresh and innovative legal solutions that work."
 The above philosophy and work ethic is quite important, but the financial framework of the law firm, in tandem with the ability and character of its members, is the keystone for its success.
 According to Stanley Schwartz, "Many law firms operate on a traditional civil service basis. Under such a system, when attorneys reach their mid-50s or 60s, their productivity may diminish, yet they feel, at least psychologically, that they have put in their allotted time and now have the right to participate in the profits without generating work or revenue. Not at Sommers, Schwartz."
 "The Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz key to economic growth and stability is: 'You eat only what you kill.' The problem with too many law firms today is they forget that this is still a service industry. When an attorney ceases to provide services, or to produce work for such services, that person immediately begins to sap strength from the rest of the firm," said Stanley Schwartz. "The problem with the traditional approach is: When times are good, or easy, for law firms, there's plenty for everyone to eat; when times become tough, those who don't produce will be asked to leave the table."
 In line with this pragmatic fiscal approach to the practice of law, new hiree salaries at Somers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz do not parallel those at other large corporate firms. Starting salaries for newly graduated attorneys average approximately $35,000 to $40,000, plus a bonus at the end of the year. This is below the national average for large law firms. However, with a smile for emphasis, Stanley Schwartz challenged that he would match the salaries of any of its attorneys after three years with any law firm in the United States. In fact, it is not unusual to find a third-year lawyer at Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, P.C. earning $200,000. After five to seven years at Sommers, Schwartz, the attorneys never look back as they are unquestionably some of the highest paid in the nation.
 It has been this consistent drive for excellence, coupled with a commitment to pay those who produce, that has made Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz a paragon for law firms in the 1990s.
 -0- 6/9/92
 /CONTACT: Angie Bournias of Creative Services, 313-964-4670, for Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz/ CO: Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz ST: Michigan IN: SU:

ML -- DE001 -- 8204 06/09/92 08:28 EDT
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