APPRECIATION: Marty Levine and Lessons in the Law and in Life
My Fellow Bar Members, we lost a great colleague and friend this past July. My friend and law partner Marty Levine was one of a kind. As a lawyer, he was smart, shrewd and experienced. He had the proverbial silver tongue, and could win over virtually anyone he encountered. Marty started in private practice with the notable insurance defense firm of Donahue, Ehrmantraut & Montedonico, cutting his teeth on all types of liability defense cases. That defense firm spawned off an incredible number of excellent litigators and defense firms. Marty later switched to the plaintiff’s side and joined Shulman Rogers, where he helped build a department skilled in larger personal injury, medical malpractice and FTCA cases.
In the law, Marty was special. He was a great advocate, a leader in Firm management and a great mentor to all around him - a very hard combination to find in a partner. When I was a young lawyer, Marty was so generous and spent the time to share his experience and skills with me. He did the same with our paralegals, and even lawyers outside of our department. He was empathetic, and shared his own nightmare experiences during his own young lawyer’s learning curve. When an experienced trial lawyer shares that he lost his first trial, AND that is was for more than the policy limits, AND that he was so nervous he pulled over on the side of the road to “lose his breakfast,” it shows you that we are all in the same boat together. Those war stories were incredibly comforting and encouraging, and of course, Marty told them with his trademark sense of humor, and had no problem laughing at himself.
Marty loved to speak, and in preparation for trial, would write out his opening and closing statements, then dictate them onto a cassette. He would then drive around alone in his car, listening to the tape, and then revise the openings and closings to flow better or improve the content. He would repeat the process, driving and memorizing the final versions, so he could deliver them to a jury without notes. In or out of the courtroom, he had a charisma and persuasion to his spoken word, developed from years of hard work. Marty developed a keen ability to mentally organize quickly and effectively and was an excellent orator and negotiator. In the first 60 seconds of hearing a set of facts, he could laser in and assess whether the case had any jury appeal, or a hook or theme – whether it had potential or was not a case at all.
His clients loved and respected him because he could connect so well on a human level, and was a source of comfort for the families we represented. He was incredibly well-rounded; he read the Washington Post every day and was up on all of the topics of the day. Marty knew sports cold, loved history and biography, music and politics. His ability to connect with others on almost any level was amazing, allowing him to create a burgeoning law practice built on loyalty, friendship and excellent results for his clients. He prided himself as being a lawyer’s lawyer, where your word was your bond, no CYA letter required. Marty was definitely a gentleman lawyer and a credit to our profession.
In life, Marty cared more for others than he did himself. He performed acts of kindness and generosity without any expectation of return, and he did so for lawyers, staff, friends, family and clients. He mentored, promoted and supported our young lawyers, including me, towards partnership. Marty protected those whom he felt were receiving unfair treatment, and he was never afraid to speak his mind in meetings or other public forums, even at the risk of his own reputation or personal welfare.
Marty loved his family and friends, and had no hesitation in calling out the bad and lauding the good. He loved to laugh and had a unique zest for excellence in the law and in life. Despite all of his gifts, talents and success, he never took himself too seriously.
We could all do well to emulate Marty’s empathy, consideration and support for those around us, both personally and professionally. He would hate that there was an Appreciation published about him, as he preferred to fly under the radar. He loved to work hard and play hard. For those of you who knew Marty, raise a glass to him and his unique spirit. We will miss him dearly.