A Founding Partner of Hach & Rose, LLP, Michael Rose has more than 20 years of experience fighting for his clients. We sat down with Michael to learn more about his career path, what inspires him, and hear about some of his largest cases.
What inspired you to become an attorney?
I always knew that I wanted to do something to help society, I just didn’t know exactly how I wanted to do it. Initially, I thought I wanted to do that was through environmental law. But as I went through law school, I realized I wanted to become a trial lawyer. I enjoy speaking in public and being in the courtroom. After law school, I was hired by a personal injury firm where I learned skills both as a trial lawyer and how to best serve clients. I was lucky to be put into the right situations where I was able to discover what I’m really passionate about. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to help people in need.
Tell us about one of your most interesting cases.
Our first seven-figure jury verdict was a really significant case for us, not solely because of the money we won but in confirming that we’re doing good for our clients. That was back when Greg Hach and I first started the practice, and things were very different back then. We had to be very conscientious about the amount of money we spent pursuing a case, because at the time our budgets weren’t anything like what they are now. We were representing a man who was involved in an auto accident. He was a union printer, and because of the nature of his job he had a history of back problems. The accident was truly the straw that broke the camel’s back, and he needed significant spinal surgery. He couldn’t return to work after the accident and he had a family to support, including a daughter in law school. The attorneys on the side of the defendant were arguing that they shouldn’t have to pay any significant amount of money because our client had a history of back issues. They said his disability wasn’t caused by the accident, it was caused by years of working in print shops. The trial was expensive, back at a time where the amount we spent on a case was something we needed to be very careful about. It was a big deal to us, but we knew we had to do the right thing by the client, no matter how much hardship it caused us.
Finally, the defendant offered to settle for $500,000. It would have been a huge amount of money at the time, and I think our client would have accepted it if we had advised it. But I really felt it wasn’t the right amount of money, considering the significance of the injuries our client will suffer with the rest of his life. So we rejected the offer and decided to take the case to trial. The trial took a month and cost us $50,000 at a time when we really didn’t have that kind of money. We were taking a huge risk, and we put the case into the jury’s hands.
There was a moment I’ll never forget, right before the jury gave their decision. The jury was out and during that time they have the opportunity to ask questions and write notes for the judge. They sent a note asking for a calculator. At that point, I knew we were in good shape! The jury settled on a number over $2,000,000. That was when I knew we were doing the right thing. If we stick to our convictions, we’ll be successful.
Tell us about the origin story of Hach & Rose, LLP. How did you decide to start the firm?
Greg and I met while working at a law firm in downtown Manhattan. We both started working there straight out of law school. We were around the same age and the firm was in the process of making us both partnership offers. We were only in our late 20s, and we would have been the youngest partners in the history of that firm. It was a very large, well respected firm, and becoming partners would have offered us very secure, stable careers. But even though we were young, Greg and I already had big dreams, and we knew how we’d want to run a business. We wanted to be in control of our own destinies. It was more important to take the risk of starting out on our own, rather than take the safe road.
We began our journey towards creating a firm by renting two small offices in Manhattan. The first employee we hired was Philomena, when she was only 19. She’s still with us, 20 years later, managing our office. Today we have 15 attorneys and more than 40 employees.
What are you most proud of?
Personally, my kids. They’re both teenagers now and I’m so proud of how they’re growing into young adults and how they’ve become kind, thoughtful people people who care about others and what’s going on in the world. I like to think that some of that came from watching me as they grew up.
Professionally, the fact that I grew a business from the ground up. It’s a business based on helping people, and that means a lot to me. Not only are we helping our clients, but we have 40 employees that support their families through their careers with us. I’m proud that people enjoy working here, and that they’re proud of our firm. You spend more time in your office than you do at home, so providing a place that people are happy to work in is important to me.
Do you have any hidden talents, hobbies or a fun fact?
Nope! I’m too self-absorbed to have any hidden talents, I would have talked about it already! (Honestly, what attorney isn’t? If your attorney isn’t at least a little self-absorbed, you might want to find a new one…)
But to answer the question, I do love to exercise. It’s a way that I reduce stress and clear my mind. I grew up playing soccer and tennis competitively. I still play tennis, and I share that hobby with my daughter. I also enjoy playing basketball with my son.
What is your favorite quote?
There are many that I like, but two come to mind. “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching,” is one I love by John Wooden. And then there’s the popular quote by the great Wayne Gretsky, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” As an attorney who has led his life choosing difficult paths, rather than the comfortable ones, that resonates with me.