Question 1: First, thank you for participating in this Interview. Then, could you please tell us about yourself?
Bob Katz: I am 63 years old. I am a proud father of two children. My son is a 32 year old lawyer who works for me. My daughter is a 29 year old teacher who is getting married this year. I have been married 40 years. I head up one of the biggest and most successful personal injury law practices in the area. We represent people who are not at-fault and who are injured in accidents.
Question 2: At what point did you decide to become a lawyer and further focus on personal injuries?
Bob Katz: I decided to attend law school in my junior year of college. I was attending Tulane University in Louisiana. I felt that I had an aggressive personality and was street smart and logical, so that I would be suited to be a lawyer.
I graduated from Georgetown University Law School in 1973. After a few years of practicing law, I went to work as a trial lawyer at the Justice Department. I was involved in handling personal injury cases, including medical malpractice claims, and my client was the United States of America. I defended U.S. Post Office employees involved in auto accidents and doctors that worked for the United States such as doctors at Veterans’ Hospitals. I also was involved in air crash litigation. One of my biggest cases involved 200 passengers who died while being transported out of Vietnam during the war in a U.S. military aircraft.
After a few years of working on the defense side, I decided to change to the other side. I started representing innocent victims who were injured in accidents in Maryland, DC and Virginia. I have been doing so for over 25 years and have successfully concluded over 100,000 cases for clients injured in accidents.
Question 3: What are your memories as a young lawyer?
Bob Katz: As a young lawyer, I spent almost all of my working life in a court room. I tried personal injury cases for the United States Justice Department all over the country. I was away from home 200 days a year. Then, I went into the private practice of law in the law firm I am in now. We have four offices in DC, Tyson’s Corner, VA; Bethesda, MD; and Baltimore, MD. I prided myself as a young lawyer being a very hard worker for my clients. At times, I worked 80 hours in a single week, defending the rights and seeking justice for my clients.
Question 4: In preparation for a trial, what is the biggest task or responsibility?
Bob Katz: You have to work very hard and long hours learning every fact. You have to make sure that you can tell the jury or judge your client’s account of what took place in a way that is simple, convincing, and understandable. In the type of personal injury cases we handle, clients have been injured, have medical bills to pay, and often have been out of work. This places tremendous financial strain on our clients’ families. Our goal is to win every case; to protect the interests of every client; and to attain compensation for our clients and their families so that they can put back together the pieces of their lives, and move forward with a better life after the case is over.
Question 5: Explain to us briefly about your law firm and its progress over the years?
Bob Katz: My law firm has 75 lawyers. While the firm practices all types of law, my law practice only represents people injured in accidents. When I first started representing accident victims, I had one employee working with me. Now, I have 30 employees working with me, including 5 lawyers, 10 paralegals, and 4 translators. We have helped obtain justice for over 100,000 clients over the years and we have collected tens of millions of dollars in compensation for clients, and have prevailed most of the time in obtaining compensation for them.
Question 6: What is the level of your business relationship with the Korean Community here in the Washington DC Metropolitan?
Bob Katz: I represented my first Korean client over thirty seven years ago. By word of mouth in the community, I was referred from satisfied Korean clients more and more cases. I became not only the lawyer for, but also a “friend,” of each client because I cared about making sure that each client won his or her case, and received full compensation for their damages.
Slowly, I met leaders in the Korean Community; doctors, lawyers, and leaders in religious circles. I am proud that I have had the opportunity to represent the Korean Community. Its members are hard working, honest people, each trying to do better in this country for themselves and their families.
Question 7: Through your many years of working relationships, what have you learned about the Korean people, their country and their culture?
Bob Katz: The community is composed of very intelligent and kind people, who come to the United States to make a better life for themselves and their families. My family’s experience is similar. My grandparents came from Russia. My grandfather sold newspapers, put himself through medical school; had two sons, who both became physicians. They wanted to do well, so that the next generation could do better. My Korean clients share these values. It has been a real honor for me personally to have had the privilege to therefore represent so many in the Korean Community who seek justice.
Question 8: What piece of advice can you give someone who faces legal issues?
Bob Katz: Our legal system is not balanced evenly. Big insurance companies and corporations have hundreds of lawyers trying to protect their interests. That is why, to have a fair chance, someone who faces legal issues, should retain an attorney. Also, if you are injured in an accident, some people think they will have to pay legal fees from their own pocket to lawyers to represent them. THAT IS NOT TRUE. Accident lawyers only get paid if they successfully recover for a client, and their legal fee is paid from the compensation obtained by the insurance company of the at-fault driver.
Question 9: During the last 37 years as a legal attorney, what is the best and worst point in your career?
Bob Katz: Most of my career has been great. The practice has grown. Most clients are satisfied and have returned when they needed help again and refer friends and family to us. We recover compensation for our clients in almost all our cases. On very rare occasions, we have lost cases. That is a very a very bad time for us, as we care about client.
I guess the best time in my legal career is when my son, Justin Katz, also a personal injury lawyer, joined my law practice.