Haley Freeman 2014-05-06 23:28:08
THE RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES Almost two years after creating his own law firm, Adam Feldman comments, “I feel absolutely blessed with the life choice I made to open my own law firm. That decision has had a profound and positive effect on my legal skills, my professional successes, my home life and my overall level of happiness. I love what I do and I love my family. Opening the law firm allowed me to maximize my ability to dedicate myself to both.” Adam Feldman has happy memories of his childhood in Buffalo Grove, Ill. “I consider myself one of those Midwest boys with a strong background,” Feldman said. “I lived with both parents and my siblings where good values, morals and a strong work ethic were instilled from a young age. I think that was one of the biggest driving forces that shaped my path to becoming a lawyer.” In his initial scholastic endeavors, Feldman thought his path was to become a teacher or to become involved in the medical field. As Feldman advanced through his undergraduate work in psychology at the University of Michigan, he began to rethink these aspirations. “My classes were interesting, but I did not feel the passion,” he said. “I always spoke with my father about my future, but he never pushed me toward his career as an attorney,” Feldman said. “My father told me that if I was confused about what I wanted to do, I should consider law since there are so many things you can do with that degree to help people.” This made sense to Feldman. In retrospect, litigation was a natural career choice for him. Growing up, Feldman participated in competitive sports. Now, he channels his competitive nature into his practice. “I don’t see myself as a typical competitor. In a field fueled by big egos, I like to fly under the radar. I’m that silent, calculated competitor that takes you by surprise. I don’t boast about it,” he said. “I just win quietly and then people wonder afterward how it happened.” While Feldman tends to work alone, he always utilizes the assistance of his wife, Stacey Feldman. Feldman met his wife while they were both attending the University of Miami School of Law. “She always knew she wanted to go into criminal law,” Feldman said. “I had to feel it out. The first paid internship I received was with a criminal defense firm.” That internship led Feldman to accept a position with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. The incremental system of learning at the county attorney’s office provided Feldman with a solid foundation for becoming a criminal defense attorney. “The most important skill for any defense attorney, in my opinion, is truly understanding how a case is prosecuted,” Feldman said. “They start you off with misdemeanors and low-level felonies – non-victim cases. You learn how to interact with other attorneys, how to handle multiple cases at the same time, how to spot issues within the case, how to interact with judges, how to present your case and yourself to a jury. By the time you’re prosecuting serious felony crimes, you have enough experience to do so effectively.” “The transition from prosecution to defense was easy for me,” Feldman continued. “When I was a prosecutor, I intentionally tried to think like a defense attorney to spot the issues before the other party. Therefore, when I entered the criminal defense field, I had several years of analyzing cases from a defense perspective. Now, ironically, I find that the best way to be an effective defense attorney is to think like a prosecutor. It is within this quiet confidence that I always aim to be a few steps ahead of my adversary.” During his career as a prosecutor, Feldman developed a good relationship and reputation with judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys. “I get in, do my work, and do it well,” he said. “I think the defense attorneys liked me because I was reasonable and willing to listen.” His relationships and reputation, along with his skill in the courtroom, earned Feldman a position with a large Arizona criminal defense firm, where he was quickly promoted to lead counsel for the criminal defense division. Eventually, Feldman made the decision to begin his own practice. Opening his own firm gave him the discretion to handle fewer cases and dedicate himself to a higher level of service for his clients. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from – everybody has the right to a trial and to be represented well,” Feldman said. “I focus most heavily on high-level felony murders and sexual assaults – cases where the public wants to tear the client apart. I try to make sure they get a fair shake at the law. It is not about winning. It should never be about winning. My goal is to be successful with each case. Sometimes, this is an outright dismissal or a full acquittal. Other times, success is a plea agreement that greatly improves that individual’s original legal circumstances and ability to be successful later in life.” Many of Feldman’s cases are tried in the media before ever reaching the courtroom. “These make the most rewarding cases,” he said. “Many of the real facts only come out through the trial process. I hate it when people comment on high-profile cases before they know all the facts. The more high profile the case, the less the public knows. This is often why a favorable verdict for the defendant is so frustrating for the public because they assumed guilt based off the limited, yet inflammatory, information they obtained from the media. The bottom line is that everybody deserves a defense.” Feldman knows firsthand that prosecutors often resolve cases with one-size-fits-all policies due to high workloads, limited resources and dogmatic policies. Feldman strives to craft more individualized remedies, which are appropriate to his clients’ circumstances. “The most challenging part of what I do in criminal defense is trying to get a prosecutor to step outside the bureaucracy and find a solution that fits the crime,” Feldman explained. “I am always against a standard resolution. Anyone who has an understanding of psychology, sociology or life in general should recognize that standard solutions are only good on paper.” Such individual representation requires that Feldman take the time to get to know his clients and their families right from the beginning of his representation. “In the initial consultation, I get as much information as possible,” he said. “Only then can I assess what the true value of the case is. You can take two cases that have identical charges and their value in terms of the amount of service required can be drastically different.” Feldman never charges for his initial consultation. He considers this an important opportunity for discussion with the family and the accused. Jail visits with the client are also considered a part of the initial consultation and crucial to understanding the case and crafting strategies from the earliest stage of the process. Feldman benefits from the assistance of his wife, Stacey, who is an accomplished criminal attorney in her own right. She previously worked for the Arizona Supreme Court, The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and as the managing attorney for a large criminal defense firm. Today, her primary occupation is caring for their two young children, ages 1 and 6. She is also a valued partner at work. “We were engaged in the last year of law school and married our first year in Arizona,” Feldman said. “She assists when needed but is always used for brainstorming sessions on my cases. She is super understanding about the demands of my practice and my clients.” Spending time with his family is Feldman’s top priority away from the office. “I don’t live to work, I work to live,” he said. “The most important thing to me is my wife and children and my extended family, most of whom are in Arizona, which is great. I would always rather head home at the end of the day instead of grabbing drinks with my colleagues.” Feldman is still active in athletics and trains in jiujitsu. “It clears my mind,” Feldman said. “When I am sparring, I am not thinking about cases or business. It helps to ground me and directs my focus on cases when it’s needed. Getting away from cases is as important as the time you spend with them if you want to be effective.” According to Feldman, “Starting my own practice has been liberating for me. When I went out on my own it was such an amazing revelation that there is plenty of business out there to share. I love referring to other attorneys because I am too busy or because that attorney may be a better fit. When I was thinking about going out on my own, I imagined that the sole practitioners wouldn’t want me out there because it would be more competition for them. Javier Sedillo, a colleague who recently passed away, was so welcoming. He knew the secret that we can all do a great job and all be successful. He is part of the reason I decided to go out on my own. I think the best part of practicing while fighting individual cases is that it still feels like you’re fighting as a group of attorneys for what you feel is right.”
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