Dan Baldwin 2013-09-04 23:18:41
A Boutique Business Litigation Law Firm “I have a business background. I have a business degree. I understand business. I’m a business owner myself and I understand how people run their businesses.” This experience in and understanding of the business world is one of the primary reasons for the continuing success of The Zoppoth Law Firm – “Louisville’s Business Litigation Law Firm,” says founder Scott P. Zoppoth. The Zoppoth Law Firm is a boutique law firm concentrating exclusively on business litigation and employment law litigation based in Louisville and serving clients throughout Kentucky. “I’ve always operated my law firm with a concentration on business and commercial litigation. The various fields of law are so complex and constantly changing, attorneys must specialize in specific areas if they are to become proficient and best serve their clients. Given our extensive business expertise and background, the Zoppoth Law Firm has concentrated its work on business litigation matters since its beginning in 1996,” Zoppoth says. The firm expanded into employment law litigation approximately two years ago due to the recent increased demand in this field. “I expanded into doing more employment law litigation, specifically on the plaintiff ’s side where I represent individuals who have been wrongly terminated or discriminated against and have a claim under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. “A few years ago, I hired Amanda Walker specifically to handle these type of cases. I have filed approximately 100 employment-related law suits in the past two years and currently have about 60 pending lawsuits throughout the entire state of Kentucky,” Zoppoth says. Twenty-Seven Years of Business Law Experience Zoppoth graduated law school in 1985 and found work immediately in Houston in the practice of business law. “It’s all I’ve ever done. I started in this area and for 27 years have done nothing else. When someone focuses so intently on a specialization for such a long time, he or she hopes to become very good at it. I’ve really enjoyed it and had some success and I’ve continued to grow my law firm in the field,” he says. Zoppoth was raised in Dallas and after practicing law for six years in Houston, Zoppoth and his family moved to Louisville, Ky. in 1991. He began work at a mid-size downtown firm where he was senior associate in the commercial litigation department. Within five years he acquired enough clients to form his own law firm in 1996. Zoppoth has successfully handled well in excess of a hundred jury and bench trials, injunction hearings and evidentiary hearings for both plaintiffs and defendants in federal and state courts and hearings before the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD – now known as FINRA) in Kentucky, Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, New York and Illinois. He has also served for approximately 10 years as an arbitrator for commercial arbitration matters with the American Arbitration Association (AAA). Zoppoth credits much of his firm’s growth to their attitude toward clients, the business community and even opposing counsel. “I treat people professionally and do my best to act in that manner at all times. I’m very keen on treating the legal profession as just that – a profession and not just a career or a job. I consider myself a professional. I treat other lawyers in a professional manner.” He also notes his focus on creating and maintaining relationships with clients and other lawyers as an important element of the firm’s success. “Much of my business comes by way of referrals from other lawyers. I’m an amicable person. I get along well with all types of people and can relate to lots of different types of people. I think clients appreciate that I can talk to them about their business and understand their business.” Zoppoth especially enjoys two facets of his business: meeting people and going to trial. “I represent and really get to know the individuals who are my clients and I get a real education and insight into their businesses. The diversity of the types of businesses that I represent is incredible. I have a really nice variety of clients and I learn a lot about many different businesses that otherwise I’d have no knowledge of or contact with. I find the diverse types of business ventures people are involved in and have been successful at to be fascinating. That’s certainly the number one thing I’ve enjoyed over my 27 years in practice.” “I also really enjoy the challenge of taking cases to trial. First and foremost, I consider myself a trial lawyer. In fact, just last week I was involved in a five-day jury trial on a breach of contract issue that involved forgery and fraud. My client was alleged to have signed a covenant not to compete and individual guarantee. My client came to me and said, ‘Scott, that’s my signature on these documents, but I didn’t put it there.’ I didn’t quite believe him at first, then he showed me how it was done. His former business partner had cut his signature off a check he had given his business partner and had pasted it onto these business agreements. The jury unanimously found that the documents were forged and that my client’s business partner committed fraud. My client received a large monetary judgment. Winning that case gave me a very satisfied feeling. It re-emphasized why I do this line of work. I’ve handled approximately 100 jury and bench trials and significant evidentiary hearings throughout my career in numerous states.” Prepared for Change Zoppoth sees two major changes in the near future that will have a significant impact on his business litigation practice. One is the increased use of the mediation or arbitration process. “That’s certainly true in Louisville where lawyers are required to participate in mediation before they can even go to trial. The process will increase in state and federal court as the volume of cases increase and the judges seek positive ways to reduce the number of cases on their dockets. “My background and my experience in participating in hundreds of mediations and arbitrations gives me a leg up and an insight over other lawyers who do not have such extensive experience or who have never served as an arbitrator,” Zoppoth says. The second major change is in use of technology. Zoppoth says he has always been “kind of old school” when cases require the use of documents. In the past he has had key documents blown up on poster boards to illustrate points to his juries. Recently, he has been using audio/visual presentations in court, including creative power point visuals. “For example, this past week during a jury trial this technique was very effective. The opposing party, the man who had forged my client’s signature changed his testimony on a very key fact. I had my expert, who was there with me every day operating his equipment, get a copy of the trial video from the clerk. We found and downloaded that client’s testimony and I used it in my closing argument to show the jury how he had changed his testimony during the trial on a very key piece of evidence. After seeing the value of this new technology, I’m going to continue to be creative in using this same technology in all my trials,” he says. The Reward is in Service to Clients Zoppoth says the best part of the law is in serving clients. His firm currently represents a 50-50 mix of plaintiff s and defendants. “When I defend clients who have been wrongfully sued and then we prevail, it’s very rewarding to be able to assist clients and to help them when they are in a crisis. Most of my clients are small business people and when they come to me because they have been sued or need to sue someone, it’s crisis time for them and it’s a huge decision and a big commitment for them. Normally, the legal system is completely foreign to them. To be able to be a mentor to them about the legal process and then for it to turn out to be successful for my client is very satisfying and rewarding,” Zoppoth says. The Personal Side of a Business Litigation Lawyer Zoppoth and his wife, Kitty have a son, Brad, who is in his third year of law school, and their daughter, Kate, is starting her sophomore year at Wake Forest University. He is a long time member of the board of directors of the Downtown YMCA and has served as chairman of the board. He has been the chairman of the parish council at the Catholic church he has attended for the past 12 years. He is a past member of the advisory board for the Kentucky Lawyer Referral Service Program, which is a part of the Louisville Bar Association. He enjoys reading books on the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. His “beach” reading preferences are for the novels of David Baldacci, John Grisham, Scott Turow and Dan Brown. He also enjoys running and exercising at the YMCA.
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