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Ed Susolik's Drive to Succeed Has Propelled Him to Become One of the Nation's Foremost Insurance Law Experts

Despite being born and spending his early childhood years in communist Czechoslovakia, Ed Susolik's dreams of becoming an attorney date back as far as he can remember. However, he had no idea he would eventually become one of the leading experts in insurance law in the Western United States, nor did he know that his dreams would lead him to be named a Top 100 Attorney in Southern California for the past six consecutive years.
By the time he arrived in the United States, he'd also lived in Switzerland, but didn't speak a word of English. "We were immigrants, and moved first to Ohio. I learned to appreciate the opportunities in the United States, and the day my parents and I became U.S. citizens was the happiest day of my life to that point," he recalls.


His family eventually moved to California, but it wasn't long before Susolik was back in Europe, after his father was transferred to Spain. Yet by this point, Susolik was not only an incredible athlete, but an academic star as well. He graduated from the American High School of Madrid, and earned academic scholarships to both Princeton and USC, ultimately choosing to return to the sunshine in Southern California. "On my first day of college in 1981, I met with my counselor and explained that although I had an engineering scholarship, I was going to be a lawyer, so I needed as many English and Philosophy classes as possible," he recalls. With his plan firmly set in motion, Susolik seemed well on his way.

For all of Susolik's success in high school studies and sports, he admits to losing focus, and thus taking a detour through what should have been a seamless progression through undergraduate work. "I underachieved academically. I was on the USC golf team, in a fraternity and enjoyed what can be referred to as an 'active social life.' Because I worked in the library all four years, I always loved to read books, though they frequently were not the books assigned in my classes," he laughs. "My academic scholarship ran out, so I decided to take a break."


Susolik still maintained dreams of becoming a lawyer, but experienced a rude awakening upon applying for jobs at law firms. "I applied to be a file clerk at three different law firms. They weren't in the market for a guy who was taking a year off from school," he says candidly. As a result, Susolik took a job as a door-to-door salesman, and spent the next year learning about life from the best teacher there is – the real world. "Through my experience in sales, I learned foundational lessons about life, including how to interact with people, deal with rejection, manage my time, and even simple things like how to balance a checkbook. Most importantly, I started reading a lot of books on sales and motivation, such as Norman Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie, Anthony Robbins, etc. The principles of positive attitude, working hard and setting goals resonated with me. I saw that in order to be successful, I needed to completely change my approach to life." Susolik did precisely that, and soon became the top salesman for his company, earning a promotion within three months, which included his own warehouse to manage. He hired 35 salespeople to work for him, and learned to motivate and lead others. "We ended up setting national sales records within the company every week."

During that time, he also earned a nickname that would stick with him for the next 30 years and counting. "Of all of the motivational books I read during that time, Rhinoceros Success by Scott Alexander was my favorite. The metaphor of the Rhino charging after his goals through the jungle of life, overcoming adversity and objections, with nothing stopping him, really hit home with me. It boiled down all of the theoretical principles into a powerful and straightforward image. In 1985, I became 'The Rhino.'"

After a year in sales, Susolik returned to USC with renewed vigor, earning straight A+'s for the remainder of his college tenure, and finishing with three majors – Philosophy, English and History. He was then accepted into USC Law School, and says, "For three years, all I did was study-attend class and read my law books. I set a goal to be the best student in law school. I focused on that goal and pictured myself as a 6,000 lb. rhino, charging through the jungle of law school." It paid off, as he was awarded a full scholarship his last two years, was a summer associate at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York and graduated second in his class.

Within 4 years of graduating from law school, and after working at the Newport Beach office of O'Melveny & Myers, Susolik landed with the Orange County law firm of Dan Callahan, who at that time had just hit a $58 Million judgment in an insurance bad faith case. Working with Callahan became a life-changer for Susolik, as Dan became his mentor, and eventually his law partner and great friend.
"There are many ways to learn. I realized the best way for me was to closely watch what Dan did, and try to do the same, and even improve upon it if possible. If I was going to learn, I was going to learn from the best, and I think Dan Callahan is one of the best attorneys in the country. Thus, I watched how Dan acted in court, how he wrote briefs. I watched how he handled business development, interacting with people, attending bar events, giving speeches, and writing articles. I even had tapes of seminars he had given, and I would listen to them as I drove in my car.
"After his big insurance win, Dan wanted to diversify into business litigation, so I took over his insurance practice," he says. Much like he'd gone after his previous goals, Susolik focused, and went directly after what he wanted.

Susolik also credits an inherent competitive streak for one reason he's become synonymous with success in the Southern California legal community. Having played golf professionally for three years, Susolik learned years ago that he simply loved to win, in whatever endeavor he was engaged.
"I'm very driven to succeed, and that was reinforced by my earlier setbacks. From having been a top student and athlete in high school, and then having to take a year off from college, I learned what it was like to not be successful. I prefer to be an overachiever," he chuckles. "Law is competitive, and I'm very aggressive in court, in mediation, etc. I'm always professional, but I do not want to lose."

When it comes to his work as an attorney, Susolik works as efficiently and effectively as possible. "I start my day at 4:00 or 5:00am, in my home office. I get two or three hours of work in before my youngest children wake up. I want to work harder than everyone else," he says.
Indeed, his days start early and often end late because Susolik works hard not just for his clients, but for the legal community as a whole. Within 6 years of joining Callahan & Blaine he became a shareholder in the firm. He has taught at USC Law School as an adjunct on 5 occasions since 2001. He gives roughly 25 speeches and seminars on insurance law and litigation each year, including his annual presentation at the State Bar Convention entitled "Insurance Law for Litigators." He has been a contributing editor to the Rutter Guide treatise on Insurance Litigation since the early 2000s. He chaired the OCBA Insurance Law Section for 14 years. Today he serves on the OCBA Education Committee and the OCBA Judiciary Committee, and on the Board of Directors of Robert Banyard Inn of Court.
Susolik is also still ranked as a top amateur golfer in Southern California. "Even though I am 52 years old, I am still competitive in amateur tournaments. For example, last year I qualified for the California Amateur, where 90% of the golfers are in college or high school. I also shot 64, 65 and 67 in tournaments last year. I have played in many of the top tournaments over the years, including the US Amateur, US Mid-Amateur, Southern California Amateur and many others. Golf is my biggest passion, after my family and my work."

The results that Susolik has achieved are impressive, to say the least. Since 1994, he has resolved more than 1,000 complex insurance disputes, and has obtained more than $1 Billion in insurance proceeds for clients. Likewise, he's retained frequently as an expert witness on insurance law issues by both insurance companies and policyholders.
Susolik's corporate policyholder clients range from Fortune 500 companies to small business entities, as well as a broad spectrum of professionals and businesspeople. His expertise is renowned in both first-party and third-party disputes. To boot, he's earned a second nickname as the "King of Cumis," for his national expertise in Cumis Counsel.
If there is any secret to Susolik's success in insurance law, it is that he is first and foremost a trial attorney and litigator. It is an atypical combination in the insurance world, where lawyers are frequently skilled with the papers and briefs, but not in the courtroom. "Being able to enforce my client's rights to insurance policy proceeds in court is a significant advantage," explains Susolik.
Susolik also conducts as many mediations in a year as any attorney in California. He has successfully resolved more than 500 complex litigation matters in mediation, and conducts approximately 40 mediations and other settlement conferences each year. Susolik explains, "Being an insurance expert is a very powerful tool in mediation." For example, last year Susolik assisted Dan Callahan and his trial team in conducting a 5-day complex mediation involving 6 insurers and a public entity defendant, which resulted in the settlement of a bicycle accident case for $16.9 Million.
"My partners and colleagues at Callahan & Blaine have a tremendous track record in trial, which facilitates extraordinary settlements, both on the plaintiff and defense side. As plaintiffs, these results are evidenced by our firm obtaining the largest jury verdict in Orange County history (a $934 Million verdict obtained by Dan Callahan in a complex business litigation case), the largest personal injury settlement in the history of the United States ($50 Million), and the largest class action settlement in Orange County history, among others. On the defense side, we represent many large corporations in worldwide complex litigation matters."

Suffice it to say, Callahan & Blaine as a firm is successful by any measure. "I am blessed to have four fantastic partners, all of whom are great trial attorneys in their own right. All of my partners—Dan Callahan, Michael Sachs, Brian McCormack and Marc Miles—are terrific lawyers, and our firm would not be what it is without them."
"In fact, all 35 of our attorneys are excellent trial lawyers/litigators. Every Callahan & Blaine attorney has at least 10 years of legal experience, the majority have at least 15 years and many have 25 to 30 or more. Many also trained at some of the biggest firms in the world prior to joining us. It is extremely unique to have a litigation firm this large comprised of only highly experienced attorneys," he says.

20In addition to his busy litigation practice, Susolik is significantly involved in the business development and marketing side of the firm. Susolik explains, "We have seven websites, numerous blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and other social media, in addition to our traditional marketing. I spend a good amount of time involved in that aspect of the firm I also write many articles and give numerous speeches and seminars."
"One of the most important lessons I learned from Dan was that a large portion of business comes from referrals from other attorneys, even those we would consider competitors. Thus, it is important to hold leadership positions in the Bar, attend networking events several times a week and be involved in the legal community. In reality, the second part of the workday begins at 5:30PM, when the business development practice begins."

Even with many career accolades and successes, Susolik insists that his most important accomplishment is his family. "I have an amazing wife, who supports me in everything that I do, and is my rock and foundation at home. I have five beautiful children, ranging in age from 5 to 20, all of whom are extraordinary in their own way. They are a joy, and make life fulfilling in so many ways. Last year I had one child in college, one in high school, one in middle school, one in elementary school, and one in pre-school. My oldest daughter is a softball star at Kenyon College, another daughter is in competitive cheerleading, and a son who hopes to play lacrosse at Yale. I love going to watch them compete."
As for his youngest children, two boys who are 7 and 5? "They are just starting their sports career, and their innocence and youthfulness is beautiful to behold. We love going on family vacations with all the kids. We have done multiple Disney cruises and love traveling to places like Spain, France and Italy, as well as our annual 4th of July tradition, Catalina Island. All of our travel centers on the children, and in fact we will at times include my ex-wife on our family trips, so the kids have their entire blended family and parents together."
Continuing, he says, "I definitely don't take anything for granted. I know that to be successful with anything, whether it is as an attorney, or as a father, I have to continue to set goals, focus, and work hard."




  • University of Southern California, 1986
  • Degrees in Philosophy, English and History
  • Law School: University of Southern California Gould School of Law, 1990 (Order of the Coif)


  • Named one of the "Top 100 Attorneys in Southern California"
  • Super Lawyer Magazine; Best Lawyers of America, 2009-2015
  • Articles Editor, USC Law Review, 2012-2015


  • Chair, OCBA Insurance Law Section, 1998-2012
  • Member, OCBA Judiciary Committee Member
  • OCBA Education Committee Board Member
  • Robert Banyard Inn of Court, 1998 - 2015.


  • Adjunct Professor, USC Law School, 5 times since 2001 (Insurance Law; the "Plaintiff Lawyer")
  • Contributing Editor, Rutter Guide Insurance Litigation treatise, 2002-2015
  • Contributing Editor, CEB, Insurance Coverage for Trade Secrets
  • Annual Presentation at State Bar Convention, "Insurance Law for Litigators," 2003-2015
  • Over 200 speeches and seminars on insurance law and litigation subjects
  • Authored over 50 articles on insurance law and litigation subjects


  • Recovered over $1.0 Billion in insurance benefits on behalf of policyholders
  • Handled over 1000 complex insurance disputes
  • Represented over 100 HOA's in complex litigation matters and obtained settlements of $8 Million and $6 Million
  • Litigated truck accident case which resulted in $28 Million settlement for client
  • Recent settlement of $16.9 Million for bicycle accident case


Ed Susolik
Callahan & Blaine
(714) 241-4444
3 Hutton Centre Drive
Ninth Floor
Santa Ana, CA 92707

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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

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