The aspect I most enjoy about my job is that the people I work with are highly dedicated to helping our clients. Every lawyer, paralegal, researcher, mailroom clerk, and receptionist has, at one time or another, gone above and beyond to help a client with a personal matter or to help move their case closer to the finish line.
Having worked in other industries before moving to the legal field some 12 years ago, I can assure you that most companies suffer from a tremendous lack of interest on the part of their employees, which makes it all the more remarkable that we are blessed with such a dedicated team.
On a day where I was feeling particularly proud of our staff, I shared the above sentiment with my wife. This prompted her to ask the obvious question, "Why do you think they care so much?" The answer came easy: They care because our firm's owner, Michael Grossman, keeps everyone focused on our important mission.
The Big Picture
As long as I've known him, Michael Grossman has made it clear that he regards it as his mission in life to stop drunken driving by punishing the "bad apple" bars who grossly over-serve their customers. The way Mike has always seen it, suing bad bars is how you stop the problem at its source.
The data supports his position. It is exceedingly rare that someone drinks at home and then decides to go for a joyride. No, the overwhelming majority of drunken driving accidents occur when a drunk customer departs from a bar or restaurant. And our experience has shown that it's rare that someone leaves a bar and kills themselves or someone else when they've had one or two drinks too many. Instead, it's common to find that the bar or restaurant in question over-served the customer to an outrageous degree, and it's become fairly routine that our alcohol-involved cases feature a Blood Alcohol Content three times the legal limit. So, unquestionably, many bars out there are not just committing technical violations, but are instead tossing the rulebook out the window and serving customers to the point that they're falling-down drunk, and then cutting them loose onto our streets and highways.
Michael rightly understands that if you hit a bar in the nose hard enough and make them pay dearly for their contribution to the harm caused, they'll change their ways. It's a simple philosophy, but one that guides our overall firm strategy and one that inspires our team to be diligent.
It is precisely this mission which garnered the attention of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who have selected Michael to serve on their Advisory Board. As most people are well aware, MADD is the leading entity committed to stopping drunken driving. Their efforts consist primarily of counseling victims and lobbying state legislatures and Congress on their behalf. Given our firm's leadership role in pursing dram shop cases against negligent bars (we've handled more of them than any firm in Texas), an alliance with MADD makes good sense.
But it's worth pointing out that Mike's no idealistic crusader, nor is he a puritan or a demogogue. In other words, he doesn't think that selling alcohol is inherently bad. Likewise, he does not believe that all bars should be shut down, nor does he believe that they should be held to a standard of strict liability or that they should be answerable for injuries just because a customer drank alcohol at their bar. No, our position --as guided by our firm's leader-- is simply that the law, as written, should be enforced with greater regularity.
And the law makes it very clear that bars are not to be held liable for every single misstep. Rather they should only be forced to pay when their negligence is profound; if they've served someone when "...it was apparent to the provider that the individual being sold, served, or provided with an alcoholic beverage was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others..."
I believe that MADD selected Michael in part because of how sensible an advocate he is. And it is the combination of his sensibility, his leadership experience, and his effectiveness at taking the fight to the doorstep of bad bars, that makes Michael an ideal candidate to advise MADD and steer them in a direction that will do the most good.
Knowing Mike, you can rest assured he'll deliver.