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A Law Firm for Lawyers

Husband and wife team Keith and Angela Bruno make a formidable trial pair, particularly when their extended family of fellow attorneys meets experienced and relentless trial attorneys who know how to get results.

Other lawyers entrust us with their cases that they have worked hard on. To us, these are not just cases, they are clients—real people—that have formed deep bonds with the original attorney. When we are brought in for trial or mediation, we feel the weight of this responsibility to the client and to the referring lawyer, and we simply cannot allow these injured people to have uncertain futures,” says Keith Bruno, one half of the husband and wife team that comprise the personal injury law firm Bruno | Nalu. Together these two graduates of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College form a masterly duo, with a knack for transforming underdog cases into extraordinarily high-figured payouts for the victims they represent. Based in Newport Beach, the pair travels widely across the state to meet the considerable demand for their unique services.

13One of the characteristics that set the Brunos apart from the majority of plaintiff’s lawyers is how their clients find them. Instead of advertising or marketing to personal injury victims, the Brunos work organically with other law firms, adopting those firms and lawyers as part of their own trial team, and working closely with those lawyers to resolve or try a particular case. They are not so-called “last minute trial specialists;” they are full-time trial lawyers, available to help others at any point in a case. Typically, when a case cannot be settled easily and the stakes are high, that’s when the Brunos put their considerable trial experience to use.
“Very successful people told us our model would fail,” Keith remembers. “Most clients and lawyers look to avoid trial and settle as soon as possible, so there is little perceived need to bring in outside trial counsel.” Considering that narrow margin, the success the Brunos have achieved in this niche area is remarkable. “It wasn’t a marketing strategy; it was a belief that cases can and should be tried before juries who will do much more justice than a hardened insurance adjuster. We do not have 250 cases waiting in the pipeline, and we like it that way. We are fortunate and grateful that our referring attorneys see that we exponentially add value to those cases, so our fellow attorneys keep coming back,” says Angela. “Rather than settling your case for pennies on the dollar, we often quadruple the value of the case. Instead of settling for $250,000 we work to increase it to $1,000,000. It’s a win for the client, it’s a win for the firm who referred the client, and it’s a win for us. Attorneys in the past who have referred their cases to us can expect to see our level of dedication reflected in an increased settlement offer as well. Our community of plaintiff’s lawyers is tight-knit and extremely committed to helping people. Working with with these amazing lawyers toward a common goal is humbling and rewarding. It doesn’t feel like work.”

Recent Verdicts & Settlements:
a. Verdict: $40 million. Last offer before trial was $200K.
b. Settlement: $3.9 million commercial policy rear-ender.
c. Verdict: $1.03 million slip/fall in San Diego. Last offer before trial was $150K.
d. Verdict: $400K low-impact rear-ender. Last offer before trial was $65K.
e. Settlement: $395K. Last offer before our mediation, $100K.
f. Verdict: $350K low-impact rear-ender. Last offer before trial, $50K.
g. Verdict: $177K low-impact rear-ender. Last offer before trial, zero.
h. Verdict: $100K student on student inappropriate touching.

The Spark of an Idea
Keith and Angela Bruno each have their own respective set of strengths and experiences that coalesce into a powerful combination of skills. With over 100 jury trials under his belt, Keith worked for years building court experience as a criminal defense attorney and honing his trial skills. When he was first asked to take on a civil case—a typical rear-end vehicle accident—he worked with Angela, who possessed a wealth of skills in her own right. Now the managing partner at Bruno | Nalu, Angela spent the foundational years of her career amassing a reputation for communication and mediation, a proficiency that saw her work internationally in partnership with the European Union. Once stateside again, Angela continued to focus her abilities on negotiation and mediation, laying an important foundation that would serve clients well and bring unique ammunition to her arsenal as a courtroom advocate.
After their initial informal partnership on the rear-ender case resulted in success, the duo sensed they were onto something. Though the market for lawyer-to-lawyer trial work was considerably more limited, their repeated success was proof that their business model was not only working, it was also impacting the clients they served in a meaningful way. Taking every case that came along, then trying it successfully, Keith and Angela Bruno built a network of referrals and an industry reputation for pursuing hard-hitting valuations.
Much of Keith’s strategy in his criminal defense cases was to avoid pleading out a case, opting instead to take it to trial. While the court system would try to push cases to settlement, Keith fought for the underdog to the finish line. He believed firmly that trial by jury was much better than plea by prosecutor. Applying the same principles to their personal injury cases, the Bruno team’s goal is to advocate tirelessly on behalf of their clients, so that justice is awarded to those deserving. “We are conscious of winning every battle. We fight every single ruling and we are relentless, even on issues that other people do not think are that important,” Keith says. “We treat everything like it could kill the case, because it could.”
Another tenet of the Bruno team’s strategy draws upon Angela’s experience in the accounting and economics fields—professional pursuits in which she excelled prior to her law career. With pointed experience in both fields, Angela brings a keen eye to appropriately valuing cases, an indispensable skill in personal injury law, where an accurate number read can transform a case’s payout from modest to monumental.

14

A Dynamic Approach
Two is better than one. Together, Keith and Angela Bruno combine their skills to create an advantageous balance between them, and it translates to success in the courtroom. “It is teamwork throughout the trial,” Angela says. “If Keith is speaking, I am feeding him questions the whole time, and vice versa.” Though Keith generally operates as lead counsel during the trial, the jury hears from both Brunos, while Angela operates as something of a second chair and master of communication: selecting jurors, prepping witnesses, and developing themes and narratives to best frame their cases.
Much of the pair’s work begins in the narrow window when settlement negotiations and mediation have failed and a court trial is soon inevitable—a delicate stage wherein a client has already been through the ebbs, flows, and stresses of drawn-out legal proceedings and is perhaps hesitant to go through the arduousness of a court trial. However, it is in this pitfall-laden period that the Brunos particularly shine. Even if the client has worked with another attorney for years, Keith and Angela are practiced and adroit at transitioning the case and putting client minds at ease. From there, the Brunos’ particular brand of lawyering has its moment in the sun: comprehensive assessment and preparation, an eye towards interpersonal detail, and years of developing strategies that hold at-fault parties accountable for damage done.
Once inside the courtroom, the Brunos are quick to clarify their distinct dynamic as husband and wife, and legal team. “We let them know very early on that we are married,” the Brunos recount. “We are a family, the most basic unit or group in a society. A jury is the most basic group in the American Democratic process. There is an identity there. We want to invite them into our group, into our family. We all want to belong to something greater than ourselves.” In this way, the couple surmises that perhaps their unique pairing of the marital and the professional provides a point by which juries can connect.

Lightning in a Bottle
Because trial work is the foundational basis of Bruno | Nalu, the pair have routinely transformed personal injury cases of all kinds, from stilted cases on the verge of implosion, to those that had been consistently rebuffed by insurance lawyers and corporations tirelessly denying fault. One recent verdict resulted in a $40 million ruling. When a thirty-three-year-old man was stabbed to death at a TGI Fridays by an underage drinker, the Brunos took on the case on behalf of the victim’s father. The resulting verdict held the restaurant’s operator responsible and ensured that the victim’s family did not have to suffer any financial worry, in addition to their loved one’s tragic and untimely passing.

From the outset, Keith and Angela Bruno’s professional goal has been to take cases that could not be settled out of court and ensure that justice was still delivered. Even when a settlement is possible, what makes the Brunos both effective and valuable is their profound ability to recognize the difference between an adequate monetary amount and a fair one. Using their tailored network of experts and their aptitude for framing evidence for a specific jury, Keith and Angela Bruno make aggressive valuations that result in greater financial security for plaintiffs and their families. Their research and willingness to mine each case for new details or angles is indicative of the pair’s commitment to the work they do. As a self-described “Lawyer’s Law Firm,” Bruno | Nalu hold themselves accountable not only to their clients, but to a high professional standard in service of fellow representatives of the law. The bottom line is that the Brunos add considerable value to each case they take on, and with that value comes financial comfort, opportunity, and freedom for those that have unjustly suffered as a result of another’s wrongdoing or negligence.

Efficiency and Effectiveness
Their specialized approach to trying cases has led them to a variety of partnerships with firms across the state of California. “We have enjoyed unbelievable opportunities to work with firms we respect,” Angela says. “There is no greater honor than being asked to try a case by firms that are filled with people we look up to. When those firms reach out to us, it truly bolsters our energy and enthusiasm for what we do.”
As for the judges who preside over the cases that Keith and Angela Bruno take on, it can be said that the pair employs a comprehensive yet efficient methodology in their work.“We do not waste anyone’s time,” recount the Brunos. If we tell the judge it will take seven days, it will take seven days. Courts are packed and we will not waste a court’s time. We keep it tight, and we do not have witnesses being grilled for six hour stretches.”
Unquestionably, the Brunos know how to bring a case to trial and they continue to impress fellow colleagues with their results. As the old adage goes, people do not always remember what a person says, or what they did, but they always remember how they make us feel. There is an energy to the Brunos. It is an energy of confidence and conviction, and good old fashioned teamwork. At the end of the day, that dynamism leads to a job well done.

15KEITH J. BRUNO

» EDUCATION

  • University of San Diego School of Law, San Diego, California J.D. – 2002
  • University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
    B.A. – 1998
    Honors: With Distinction
    Major: Government and Politics
    Major: English

» HONORS AND AWARDS

  • Superlawyers, Rising Stars, 2009 – 2014
  • Superlawyers, 2015
  • National Trial Lawyers Top 100
  • AVVO Rated 10 "Superb"
  • Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer's College, Graduate September 2015

» PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND MEMBERSHIPS

  • The California State Bar Association, Member, 2002
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), Member
  • California Public Defenders Association (CPDA), Member
  • California DUI Lawyers Association (CDLA), Member
  • American Bar Association (ABA), Member
  • Orange County Bar Association (OCBA), Member
  • American Inns of Court, William P. Gray Inn, Member
  • OCCCB

ANGELA E. BRUNO

» EDUCATION

  • University of California, Hastings College of the Law J.D. – 2007
  • University of California, Los Angeles
    (UCLA) B.A. – 2001
    Honors: Summa Cum Laude
    Major: Economics

» HONORS AND AWARDS

  • National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 in 2015
  • Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer's College, Graduate September 2015

» PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND MEMBERSHIPS

  • The California State Bar Association, Member, 2008
  • Orange County Bar Association (OCBA)
  • Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA)
  • Consumer Attorneys of San Diego (CASD)

Contact
BRUNO|NALU
4675 MacArthur Court
Suite 1270
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Phone: 949-988-0932
www.brunonalu.com

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