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Peter Merani has built a high-volume insurance practice on one core principle: “Never stop learning.” Since 1993, his New York–based firm of 22 lawyers has defended or prosecuted more than 70,000 litigation matters, primarily for insurance companies. The firm has achieved a high success rate in cases it has taken to verdict, and has negotiated favorable settlements yielding compensation or savings worth millions of dollars. The practice has flourished, Merani adds, because every attorney shares his commitment to “to work harder and smarter than our opponents.”
Every case presents nuanced issues, and to gain an edge, Merani is unapologetic about obsessively tracking the most minute developments in the law. That’s particularly important in defending insurers—a niche that Merani says demands an up-to-the-minute understanding of a constantly changing regulatory framework. That’s why he spends considerable time reading advance and slip opinions, and is always watching for new bills and any advisory that’s coming out of the legislative history.
This dedication to learning and staying on top of one’s craft is something Merani emphasizes to all up-and-coming trial attorneys. “You can’t wing it,” he says. “You’ve got to constantly be learning and reading and researching so that when you walk into court you’re fully prepared and really understand what you’re doing,” he says. “Your education doesn’t end when you graduate from law school. It’s continuous. Every day.”
For Merani, that constant learning also means keeping up with the latest technology for running his firm and managing cases. “To survive in the industry and to have a good quality of life, you really need to integrate your technology into your practice,” he says.
Merani gives his litigators the tools necessary to manage their cases remotely. For instance, he provides resources to allow attorneys to add case notes from mobile devices while in court and enjoy secure access to the firm’s document management system via email.
For all the learning Merani does, ultimately what he has learned is that he truly loves litigating. While he enjoys vacationing with his wife and often works from a branch office on Long Island, he’s gratified that he found his true calling as a trial lawyer who spends most of his days in court.
“I do love representing individuals and corporations and providing the service of protecting their legal rights,” Merani says.” Corporations really do have rights, and they need to be protected just like everybody else.”
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