Harold M. Goldner [hgoldner]
What did you study? What did you specialize in?
B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania with majors in English and Politicial Science. Spent a lot of my undergraduate time studying Shakespeare's works and their sources (in original Latin and Italian); Maoist China and bureaucracy.
J.D. from Boston University
LL.M. from Temple University in Trial Advocacy
What has been your professional experience in the arena of law? How long have you been in the profession?
30 years. First in a general practice for about a year, then in two personal injury practices for about 17 years. For the last 12-14 years either solo or in a firm handling mostly employment law disputes.
Are there any links we can follow to see something more about you?
What types of cases interest you most?
Employment law matters, whether employee or employer originated. I may spend the morning drafting an employment discrimination charge for an employee of one company while spending the afternoon assisting a different employer ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
I also help disputes arising under employment contracts, non-compete agreements, and severance packages.
How do clients find you? Why do you think they choose you?
Almost half of my practice is referred by other lawyers. The rest come from referrals by former clients, some networking, and occasionally even via the internet.
How do you sell a client on the strategy you develop for litigation?
I don't "sell a client" on strategy. That would imply I am a salesman. As I said in answer to another question, my job is to accomplish what the client wants, so my task is to develop a strategy that is most likely to secure for the client what they want. If I need to "sell" a strategy to a client, there's a disconnect somewhere between what I think the client wants and what they *really* want.
Clients can sometimes be emotionally upset. How do you get them to adopt a realistic and rational attitude?
I expect clients to be emotionally involved in their matters. If they're not, something's wrong. The task is to manage the emotional level and ensure it does not impair the case going forward.
Many judges hate employment disputes because they are so emotionally charged. (Some federal judges even cynically refer to employment work as the "domestic relations" cases of the system). The emotional angle can be both a weapon and a shield. It's a question of when and how it is involved in the case, and each case is different that way.
What reasons would you have for not taking on a case? How would you justify it?
Clients come to lawyers without a vision of what "type" of case they have or what steps are required to address their concerns. They have a problem, and they need a lawyer to identify the problem and suggest solutions. I try to make sure that I learn what the client wants (I ask what I call the "Harry Potter" question --- if I were a wizard and not a lawyer, what would I accomplish for them?).
Taking good care of a client is all about managing expectations. If the client's expectations are unreasonable, I won't take the case.
What strategy is usually effective, an aggressive and intimidating one, or one that seeks a reasonable compromise?
It depends upon the situation. When I have a client still employed who is trying to improve their situation but not risk their job, my approach is very conciliatory. When I have an employer who feels that they are being taken advantage of, I might be more hostile. Again, the focus is not on the approach, but rather how best to secure what the client wants in a resolution of their problem.
Is it important to know beforehand the personality and habits of the judge that is going to decide the case?
It is certainly helpful, and something we call "silent advocacy," to know as much as you can about the venue where a dispute is going to be resolved. In so doing, you remove many of the "uncertainties" and can focus on the actual issues in the case.
What is justice? Is there a way to measure it, or is it only a sentiment?
Justice is a process; not a result. (That's not original). Life is not fair. Bad things happen to good people, like cancer, accidents, tragedies. The same thing happens to careers, to businesses, to institutions.
An ideal system of justice levels the playing field so that disputes are resolved based upon their merits, and not upon someone's ignorant prejudices.
But justice does not guarantee a "just result," because that's just not how life works.
What continuing education do you receive in order to keep up-to-date?
Frankly, I probably get most of my continuing legal education credits by teaching. I speak about once a month on employment law matters, law and social media, human resources issues, ethics issues, and so forth. I also attend programs as well, and typically find I have more CLE hours than I can possibly keep over a year.
Harold M. Goldner
Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, USA