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HIGH PROFILE WINNER

ERIC DUBIN’S RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF JUSTICE HAS MADE HIM THE PUBLIC FACE OF PLAINTIFFS ADVOCACY

Although he’s best known for winning the $30 million dollar jury verdict against actor Robert Blake for killing his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, after the state of California failed to prove his guilt; trial attorney Eric Dubin has been a powerhouse plaintiff’s attorney for more than 20 years. He’s been named “The Best Lawyer in Orange County,” one of the “Top 20 Lawyers in the State of California” and one of the “Top 100 Trial Attorneys in America.” He’s appeared on every major television news program, in virtually every newspaper in the world, and been invited to speak at legal functions from coast to coast. He’s hosted a legal radio show and written several books. His work and trial strategies have been cited time and again in studies and other cases. In other words; Eric Dubin is absolutely fearless when it comes to representing victims of life altering incidents, representing people with severe injuries from an accident, or representing the surviving family in wrongful death cases.

But what’s most striking when talking with Dubin, is that he’s one of the nicest guys in town. So much so that he has been named a “Great Guy of Orange County” by Orange Coast Magazine. Indeed, for a man known for taking on adversarial giants, and winning time after time, Dubin remains remarkably unaffected by the fame. In fact to hear him tell it, he’s just a kid from Detroit who first became interested in the law after a middle school field trip to a local courthouse.
“I watched two attorneys fiercely battling it out in court, but then get in an elevator and act very friendly to one another. How they could go from battle in the courthouse to being so cool with each other outside fascinated me,” he says. From that point on, Dubin knew that a career in law was to be his fate, and he would go after it with everything he had.

HANDS-ON TRAINING WITH THE BEST
For Dubin, there is simply no substitute for hands-on trial experience, which propelled him to accept a position in insurance defense after law school. “I was thrown into trial work quickly. I was able to get experience in depositions and in the courtroom early on. I did everything I could to go to trial,” he recalls. Dubin was a standout from the start, and he began capitalizing on the shortcomings of his opponents in court. “I saw so many victims leave money on the table that a better plaintiff’s lawyer would have grabbed [for them],” he recalls. In fact, after winning a particularly crucial case just a few years into his career, his former defense firm rewarded him with a trip to Napa, wherein nationally renowned trial attorney Gerry Spence was to serve as Keynote Speaker for the event. “I actually felt bad about that settlement.
The plaintiff really did deserve the money they were seeking. They didn’t get it because their lawyer was weak,” he recalls. The trip would soon change everything for Dubin.
“I met up with Gerry Spence at the conference. He told me about his trial college but he wouldn’t train defense attorneys.

He let me know that if I became a plaintiff’s attorney, he would train me,” Dubin says. So when Dubin resigned from defense work and opened his own plaintiff’s firm, he began training with Gerry Spence, and says that the mentorship he received proved invaluable.
“He taught me how important it is to expose your own flaws to a jury, in order for them to open up. It’s not about being perfect; it’s about moving the jury. People don’t go watch Shakespeare performed to see if the actor memorized his lines; they want to be moved by the story,” Dubin says. “It’s not about being a ‘perfect lawyer,’ it’s about being able to connect and demonstrate truthfulness,” he adds.

In addition to strong trial skills, Dubin believes it’s vital to be the most prepared person in the room, in order to be successful for his clients. Moreover, he made a commitment early in his career that he would always go to trial before he would accept a low offer. But before it got to that point, Dubin would put everything he had into maximizing depositions.
“Cases are won at deposition, and I need to be the one in the room asking the questions and gaining the ammunition I need to develop powerful cross examinations. Too often I see large firms make the mistake of using multiple or inexperienced lawyers to cover various aspects, including depositions,” Dubin says. “You can’t really understand how crucial the deposition process is until you’ve tried a lot of cases, and I was fortunate to try a lot of cases early on.” Therefore, when it comes to depositions, Dubin says he wastes no time getting to the core issues. “I never ask any kind of background questions. The first question is always the hardest question. Right off the bat, I start with the tough questions; there is no warm-up,” he says.

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR PLAINTIFFS
20Perhaps the most significant decision that Dubin made as a new plaintiff’s attorney was the decision to handle all of his cases personally. “I handle every single aspect of every case I accept. No case is ever dished off to a young associate to run with. I do have a large administrative staff, and I often work and consult with other top trial attorneys. There are some really amazing attorneys out there like Dan Callahan, Tom Mesereau and Steve Fink whom I’m extremely proud to call my good friends,” he says.
Indeed, when it comes to taking responsibility for his clients, Dubin carries the full weight, and he has found it to be an honor.

“Very early on I represented a 14 year old girl who was attacked in a bathroom of a McDonald’s. She had a rough life even before that, yet she always had an angelic smile and attitude. I took my fee and bought her everything she needed for school. She cried and told me that nobody had ever done something like that for her before. Watching her graduate from high school was a high point in my life. Winning justice for deserving people is what I live for, and I take justice very, very seriously,” he says.
To that end, Dubin has never shied away from the opportunity to share his passion for plaintiff’s work with others.
As such when the opportunity to teach courses at Whittier Law School earlier in his career arose, he took it and taught courses on ethics and legal remedies. He also leapt at the chance to host a radio show in Los Angeles, in spite of the fact that the show would air at 6:00 am on Saturday mornings.
“I would leave Orange County at 3:00 am, just to make sure I wasn’t late,” he laughs. Legally Speaking with Eric Dubin was a call-in show, airing on CBS Radio in which listeners would ask questions, and Dubin would answer. One day, thanks to one listener, Dubin unwittingly transitioned from becoming a public voice for victims to becoming the public face of justice for what would become Los Angeles’ most high profile case since the O.J. Simpson trial.

PUBLIC FACE OF JUSTICE
19

It was Bonny Lee Bakley’s sister who heard Dubin on the radio. Distraught over the fact that actor Robert Blake had killed her sister, coupled with the fact that his defense team had absolutely crucified Bakley’s character on a national scale, the family turned to Dubin for help. Thus began what Dubin today refers to as “5 years of craziness.”
“I had to succeed where the State of California fell short, which was in proving that Robert Blake killed Bonny Lee Bakley,” Dubin says. “It was my Mt. Everest. It was the largest investigation in LAPD history. The number of documents in the case totaled in the millions,” he says. But Dubin was determined to get justice for Bakley’s children. “After all of the horrible things that Robert Blake’s lawyers had said about Bonny Lee Bakley, I convinced the jury that Bonny was a loving mom, regardless of the massive media-trashing about her name and her life, who loved her children, was dead because of Robert Blake,” Dubin says.

Continuing he says, “I gave it 1000%, because that’s all I know how to do. Everything I’d learned had taught me to be fearless. I moved to Burbank for four months to be able to work 22 hour days, and went into hardcore trial mode. The opposing attorney’s record at trial was 170 wins and 3 losses.
He hadn’t lost a trial since 1970,” Dubin recalls. Yet Dubin prevailed, and the jury awarded the family of Bonny Lee Bakley $30 million dollars in general damages. “There were no special or punitive damages. I proved that Robert Blake killed his wife, and that she wasn’t some scam artist who “had it coming.”

18But winning the trial didn’t mean that Dubin would be enjoying any type of anonymity at the conclusion. He’d already become a household name appearing on programs such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Early Show, The Fox News Channel and CNN. He was quoted in countless newspapers, invited to speak at schools and functions throughout the nation, and even threw the ceremonial first pitch at Tiger Stadium. Along the way, he says that he learned a great deal about the way the media works, and how to properly utilize it to benefit or protect clients or others.

“The media can be an amazing tool, but it can be brutal. Trial lawyers are definitely fair game. I learned that the more you say to the media, the less power you have. The key is to have a plan and purpose, and anticipate the media’s angle before you speak.
I have talked to the world, and especially at press conferences, I have learned to emphasis my message over and over again, no matter what questions the reporters are asking me. That way you limit their ability to stray,” he explains. By way of example, he tells of recently phoning GM after a family of four test drove an SUV which exploded. “I called, and let them know who I am and if they didn’t recall this deadly truck by Friday, that I was going to file an injunction and make them the Pinto of the SUV world,” Dubin says. “Safety must always come first,” he adds. Suffice to say, Dubin was thrilled when Friday came and 2 million GM SUVS were recalled. “It was a bucket-list moment. I was proud to contribute to keeping American families safe, and making it clear that corporate profits can never come before children’s and families’ safety,” Dubin says.

Dubin also capitalized on the high profile case to further educate others about injustices he’s found throughout the course of his legal career. In the years following the Blake case, he wrote two books, Beyond Reasonable Doubt, which he co-authored with Larry King, and The Star Chamber: How Celebrities Go Free and Their Lawyers Become Famous. To this day, Dubin remains a legal expert for ABC News.
But what the publicity hasn’t done, is prompt him to take other high profile cases, just for the sake of his own publicity. He admits to turning down the opportunity to work on the Michael Jackson Estate case against AEG. On the other hand, he has taken on some other highly visible cases in and around Orange County, including the Kelly Thomas/Slidebar civil case, the Rose Hills wrongful burial case, and the Larry H. Parker Inc. malpractice/fraud case. He’s also currently representing a rescue worker, who suffered spinal injuries resulting from a fall, while searching for the lost hikers in Trabuco Canyon in 2013.

FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
Today, Dubin remains as busy as ever, and shows no signs of slowing down. “Eventually, down the road, I’d love to get back into teaching, and I’d love to write more books, but for now my passion and focus remains on helping deserving victims. I don’t like seeing people hurt. Insurance companies act like it’s no big deal, and like these aren’t real people,” he says. “I win because I care.” This is further evidenced by the time Dubin volunteers with Tom Mesereau at the Mesereau Free Legal Clinic where he provides free legal services alongside Michael Jackson’s former attorney.

Clearly, Dubin’s career is on fire, and he is more in-demand than ever. “I have amazing clients and amazing cases, and I will always maintain the exact level of excellence. The best lawyers in the state send me cases, as they know their client will get incredible representation, plus they will get a prompt and large referral fee. And they know I will be the one handling their client’s case,” he says. “I consider being a trial lawyer a tremendous honor and a great responsibility. The people I represent suffer and survive life altering incidents, and to be able to get them justice; that’s what I live for. ”

17» AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Top 20 Lawyer in California - Los Angeles Daily Journal
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyer in America - National Trial Lawyers Association
  • The Best Lawyer in Orange County - OC Weekly Magazine
  • Top Lawyers of Orange County - OC Metro Magazine
  • Super Lawyer - Los Angeles Magazine
  • Super Lawyer Rising Star - Los Angeles Magazine
  • Top 10 Verdict California - Los Angeles Daily Journal
  • Top 100 Verdict in America - Verdicts and Settlements
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocate Forum - Life Member
  • Certificate of Recognition for Exemplary Leadership in Business -California Legislature Assembly

» AFFILIATIONS

  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocate Forum
  • William P. Gray Inn of Court
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Los Angeles Bar Association
  • National Trial Lawyers Association Top 100

Contact:
Eric Dubin
Dubin Law Firm
www.dubinlaw.com
949-477-8040
edubin@dubinlaw.com
19200 Von Karman Ave. Sixth Floor
Irvine, CA 92612

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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Filed Under: Featured StoriesPractice Management

About the Author: Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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  1. You never know the plans of the Lord. Had I not been sleepless that night and heard the Eric Dubin Hour things could have been so different. Thank-you GOD and I also thank Eric wife . She is his backbone and held on tight too throughout it all. They are both winners in my eyes. Congratulations Eric Dubin on all your accomplishments. I look forward to sharing some Opus One again sometime.

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