Glen Waldman ranks highly among peers for his superb work representing clients in high-value construction and real estate disputes.
Over more than three decades of litigation practice, Glen H Waldman has secured multimillion-dollar verdicts and defended claims of equal size in business, commercial, construction, land use and probate disputes. As the Best Lawyers 2020 “Lawyer of the Year” for litigation – construction in Miami, he excels at managing the complexity and scope of his cases; ones usually reserved for larger firms. Glen is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and a fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America.
What qualities make for an effective trial lawyer?
Confidence; poise; intuition; presence; the ability to communicate effectively with jurors at their level; passion; organisation; knowing your facts; and strong cross-examination skills. Everything that is done in front of a jury is under a microscope and you are always being judged, so you must look and talk the part.
What did you enjoy most about establishing your own firm?
Three things. One, the ability to take the cases I want at whatever rate structure I favour. Two, the ability to make a decision on the spot and then execute it without discussion or red tape. And, three, the ability to create a firm environment and set an example for our team that I always wanted when I worked for others, filled with a commitment to each team member, steeped in caring and family and community first. I want them to come to work every day happy to be there and ready to go, knowing we always have their backs.
What has been your most memorable case to date?
Two come to mind.
In the mid-1990s, when I was a young lawyer, I was hired to represent CEL, the El Salvadorean government-controlled power and light company. During the nation’s civil war in the 1980s, rebels had destroyed many power stations to turn the citizenry against the government. When the war ended, the government needed to rebuild them. One was in Acajutla, where CEL had contracted with General Electric (GE) for three combustion turbines and hired Black & Veatch (B&V) as project engineer. Within a year of completing the US$20 million project, all three combustion turbines failed. GE and B&V blamed the El Salvadoreans who were running the plant, inferring they were third-world operators. The GE case went to an International Chamber of Commerce arbitration. On the other side was a large firm out of Washington and New York. I had my five-person firm and no clue how a combustion turbine worked. I travelled to El Salvador, where we spoke with the Acajutla team mostly in Spanish – not my best language – and learned about the plant. I assembled a team of experts to make up for my lack of expertise, and put together a fantastic set of demonstratives and a plan of attack to show that GE and B&V were culpable for the failure. GE was very confident, but didn’t have the bench that I did and we rolled over them at the nine-day hearing. Every morning I kissed my pregnant wife’s stomach – the birth was imminent – and asked for a few more days to get through this trial. We routed GE, ultimately received an award of over $13 million, and two days later my beautiful daughter was born.
In late 2018, we were asked to evaluate a lawsuit that one of the Big Three Michigan automakers brought against the company that assembled and tested parts of one of its engines. In 2014, some moving vehicles started to experience intermittent stalling. Ultimately the automaker had to recall 88,000 vehicles at a cost of over $20 million. The automaker sued my client, claiming our faulty testing apparatus led to a sporadic loss of electrical connectivity, so we were responsible for the recall costs. A non-binding arbitration panel agreed and concluded my client should pay at least $12 million. I was called in to determine whether the case was winnable. If the company lost, it might have to pay a crippling $30 million. Again, though I had very limited expertise, I concluded it was winnable and was chosen as lead trial counsel. The trial ran from Monday 12 August to Friday 13 September. Counsel for the automaker was formidable. I opened, closed, picked the jury and handled virtually every key witness. I made several crucial strategic decisions, some risky. The jury was out two hours and found no liability for my client, leaving the automaker with a big goose egg. We are awaiting an award of attorney’s fees in the millions and the case is on appeal. The best Friday the 13th ever!
What advice would you give younger lawyers looking to specialise in litigation?
This is a gruelling area of the law. If you want to be good you really have to work at it. You have to find a place where you can get yourself into court often. Believe in yourself – you will get your butt kicked at first. Trust your gut, and watch and learn from other really good lawyers. Show up every day, on time and ready to roll. Be patient – it takes years to become really good at this, if you get there at all. However, if you do get there and a jury awards you north of $20 million (like they have for me twice in the last few years) or zeroes when you’re on defence, the feeling is incomparable.
Glen Waldman is a seasoned lawyer who receives commendation for his work in construction and real estate disputes, as well as trademark infringement and banking cases.
During more than 30 years of litigation practice, Glen H Waldman has secured multimillion-dollar verdicts and defended equally large claims in business, commercial, construction, land-use and probate disputes.
As the Best Lawyers (2020) “Lawyer of the Year” in Miami for litigation: construction, Waldman excels at managing the complexity and scope of his cases, ones usually reserved for larger firms.
In 2019, he defended auto parts assembler Android Industries against breach-of-contract and indemnification claims arising from the large-scale safety recall of the 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan that cost automaker Fiat-Chrysler $25 million. A jury in Oakland County, Michigan, agreed with Waldman that Android’s assembly process did not precipitate the recall and rendered a no-liability verdict after a five-week trial in Fiat-Chrysler’s backyard.
Recognised nine times over the past decade by Chambers USA, recent feedback identified Waldman as bringing “a unique sense of pragmatism to commercial litigation”. He is “able to find solutions that are in the interest of his client”.
Waldman also excels at arbitration, having achieved many international awards in the multimillion-dollar range in proceedings under International Chamber of Commerce and American Arbitration Association rules.
Waldman is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and a fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America.
Waldman Barnett, which he leads with Eleanor Barnett, is a boutique firm built on the experience and Big Law backgrounds of its lawyers. The team focuses on real estate and development; land-use trust and estates; corporate governance and dissolution actions; copyright and trademark infringement; fraud and unlawful trade; insurance claims; entrepreneurial initiatives; employment; and contracts.