The Veen Firm, known for trying cases and taking on plaintiffs’ work, has been profiled in Daily Journal for its creativity and persistence in handling large personal injury, wrongful death and product liability cases that other firms turn down for being too complex.
Founded 40 years ago, the firm has transformed from a one-man team to a 12-attorney office split into three trial teams. Founder William L. Veen initially had no intention of forming a partnership, but his perspective began to change after seeing the commonalities of his group of attorneys and their affinity for trying cases. This winning dynamic led to the growth of the firm, and the addition of other highly skilled attorneys, which has brought cases in from sole practitioners and other plaintiffs’ firms looking for additional firepower.
Having had a background as deputy public defenders, Trial Team Leaders Elinor Leary and Craig Peters were able to easily transition into their new roles as plaintiff litigators against insurance companies and large corporations. “If you’re not taking cases to trial, then you’re allowing some other entity to decide what the value of your loss is and the same is true if you’re a criminal defendant,” said Leary.
Peters attributes his prior career as the catalyst that helped him get over the fear of losing. “There becomes this fear that, ‘Well if I lose a case, that says something about me as an attorney,’” added Peters. “It actually says more about you as an attorney if you’re not going to trial.”
Trial Team Leader Anthony Label came from a different background, as an attorney for a corporate defense firm which was known for its strong construction law practice. Unfulfilled by the work, Label changed his trajectory, which eventually led him to plaintiff work at The Veen Firm. “At the end of a case, if you’ve done a good job, you have a client that is hugging you in tears,” says Label. “That is the highest and best place to be in our profession.”
Daily Journal also points out that opponents know the firm comes up with creative legal theories that make defendants uneasy, driving up the value of settlements. Unlike a lot of firms that are only interested in getting a settlement without doing a lot of work, The Veen Firm takes on cases others would not take on and is known for being trustworthy, an important quality that aids them in making deals with their opponents.
The firm has been involved in a variety of lawsuits that have made headlines in the Bay Area, including balcony collapses, litigation about relationships between Uber Technologies Inc. and its drivers, a case about the negligent transmission of herpes and a case against the city of San Francisco, after a mother was struck and paralyzed by a falling tree branch. As the firm continues to grow, Veen notes that all the attorneys he has hired have continued to impress him and the nature of the organization will continue to change.