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PERSISTENCE Pays Off

Ted Wacker has built a booming personal injury practice and has earned himself a place amongst the most respected names in the Orange County legal community through perseverance and persistence.

Few attorneys in the Orange County legal community need to be introduced to Ted B. Wacker, founder of Law Offices of Ted B. Wacker (TBW Law). As past president of the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association and current member of the Executive Committee of OCTLA, Wacker is also incredibly active in Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) and a member of Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angles (CAALA). So it’s not surprising that he’s well known by fellow plaintiff’s attorneys. After all, he’s spent the last 16 years advocating for those who have suffered catastrophic injuries caused by automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, pharmaceutical or defective medical devices, along with other injuries from a variety of accidents.

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Yet Wacker isn’t only known by fellow plaintiff attorneys. His more than 25 years of litigation experience began with work in defense, for the first 9 years of his career. During that time, he says he was mentored by some of the best of the best in the defense bar.
Though his intimate involvement in the legal community is certainly a pillar of his tenured success in Orange County, it’s just one of four key prongs of persistence which have paid off for his clients, and his Newport Beach-based firm. Indeed, to say things are going well at TBW Law is a shameless understatement. (Aside from the fact that the competition-loving Wacker had just ruptured his hamstring and was facing surgery as of press time.)
“I started my own firm 2 years ago with only 4 cases and no employees. Now I have more than 125 cases and 8 full-time employees. I have settled 2 of the biggest cases in Orange County in the last twelve months,” Wacker says. “My dad always told me to ‘Keep up the hard work. Persistence pays off.’ It has been 25 years for me in this field so I would like to think my persistence is paying off in some small way to benefit my clients,” he adds humbly.
He is quick to explain though, that his success didn’t happen overnight. On the contrary, he credits his success to passion, experience, a lot of time spent building relationships, earning an honorable reputation, and of course, building a proven track record of success.

Passion & Experience As Essential
As a third generation attorney, Wacker’s passion for helping others was evident to those who knew the Washington State native as a young boy. “My grandfather was a Chaplain in the US Army. He was stationed in Germany after WWII and after the war, there were many orphaned children. He adopted three of those children. He really taught me about caring for people. He went on to become a minister in small town churches in Washington. I saw him help hundreds of people in my life, including many strangers he did not know,” says Wacker.
Continuing he adds, “I remember as a young boy my parents gave me $5 for the week while I stayed with my grandparents. A young man came to my grandfather’s parsonage looking for work to just get a meal. My grandfather had him mow the lawn and gave him food and clothes in exchange. I felt so much compassion for this man I gave him my $5 so that it would help him. It really felt good to be able to do that. I was only about 8 years old when that happened but I saw what helping others really felt like.”

In addition to learning that he found joy through helping others, Wacker’s father, a former plaintiff’s attorney who practiced in Seattle for 10 years before becoming a judge—a position he would hold for the next 30 years—also planted the seeds of service in Wacker. “He was my biggest influencer, by far,” he says.
Thus, after earning a soccer scholarship to San Diego State University, Wacker stayed in America’s Finest City to attend the University of San Diego School of Law, and begin getting hands-on legal experience. “I clerked all through law school including for one of the biggest plaintiff’s firms in San Diego—Casey Gerry—and got great experience as a judicial extern on the California Court of Appeal, as well as the San Diego District Attorney’s office while in law school. I also bartended at various restaurants and bars in San Diego to help pay my tuition. I guess I could say that what I lacked in sleep or free time, I made up for with work,” he says with a laugh.
Unfortunately, the plaintiff’s firm wasn’t hiring after Wacker graduated. Not one to be deterred, he instead took the opportunity to learn as much as he could about defense work. “I got great experience on the defense side early in my career with Carroll, Kelly & Trotter, where I was working with some of the best on the defense bar.”

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Eventually, Wacker’s longing to work on the plaintiff’s side won out, and he found himself thrilled to join Robinson, Calcagnie, & Robinson. “It is really important to obtain great experience. I worked with some of the best mentors in the field including Mark Robinson. He is literally the Muhammad Ali of the plaintiff’s bar. I was part of the trial team led by Mark that resulted in a $51 Million verdict in Federal Court in New Orleans in 2006 that ultimately led to a $4.6 Billion global settlement,” Wacker says. “It is so crucial to work with great mentors, gain tremendous experience and surround yourself with experienced attorneys with a solid reputation.”
By the time Wacker was invited to open and manage the Newport Beach office of Alder Law, he’d climbed his way to partner at Robinson Calcagnie, and was looking to try his hand at something new. But, he couldn’t shake the feeling that what he really wanted deep down, was the autonomy that would come with opening his own business. “Opening my own firm wasn’t specifically planned. It just happened on its own for a number of reasons, which were all good reasons, in hindsight,” he says

Reputation and Relationships As Indispensable
Obviously Wacker’s 25 years as a trial attorney, coupled with his dedication to the legal community, and devotion to community service, have helped Wacker to build countless, lasting relationships with both his clients and his colleagues.
“We bring experience as well as sincere passion for our clients to each case. We invest a tremendous amount of time on each case, we hire investigators and undertake significant investigation for each case. Our litigation skills, including deposition taking, are among the best, after receiving tremendous experience at Robinson, Calcagnie, handling some of the most difficult litigations around the country,” Wacker says.
Likewise, he adds, “We spend a lot of time getting to know our clients, including their families, friends and coworkers intimately. This really helps in order to humanize their condition [resulting from the injury]. We will spend hours at their home or attending doctor’s visits and talking to friends and family to understand their struggles. In many cases we also capture their lives on video by sorting through thousands of family pictures and videotaping their dayto- day lives to really capture how these significant injuries have impacted not only their lives, but their families’ lives in every way.”
In short, Wacker says, “I’m a people person. I love working with individuals rather than huge corporations or insurance companies where sometimes the human element is lost in the shuffle.”
As far as remaining active and of service to the local community as well as the legal community, during Wacker’s term as President of OCTLA, he selected Miracles for Kids, as the organization’s charity for the Top Gun Trial Lawyer’s event, which raised $100,000. “The funds were used to help support Miracle Manor, which is an apartment complex purchased to help families with children at Children’s Hospital of Orange County,” he says.
This was particularly rewarding, as Wacker recalls the days when the OCTLA was thrilled when they raised $25K for charity. “Hitting that $100,000 mark was significant and rewarding. It felt great to know that The Orange County Trial Lawyers Association was honored with a plaque in Miracle Manor, on July 19th of this year.”
As for TBW Law’s efforts to give back to the community? “We participate in the Adopt-A-Family program. Last year we adopted a family for Christmas whose daughter was diagnosed with cancer and the young girl lost her arm as a result. This and Miracles for Kids are both fabulous charities to be involved with,” Wacker says. Record of Success Paves the Way to a Strong Future For as down to earth as Wacker is, he’s not shy about the fact that—likely due to his life as an athlete—he loves to win, and is extremely competitive. Fortunately, his skills have proven that he and his clients deserve to win, and often times win by a landslide.
By way of example, Wacker recently settled not one but two motorcycle accidents for millions, which have been the highest settlements in Orange County in the last year. The case that settled for $7 Million originally seemed impossible to win, according to Wacker. “The police report concluded the accident was our client’s fault. Our client was adamant that the police got it wrong. We unearthed a dash cam video from another big right that showed that much of what the police concluded was wrong. We determined that the defendant driver had lied to the police and the police relied upon this false information for their conclusion. We found other mistakes in the report regarding what witnesses observed. Once we changed the dynamic of the liability picture, we had to also focus on the damages in which our client had a below the knee amputation. We hired the top orthopedic expert in the world to have him evaluated. Our expert was a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery specializing in amputations and had evaluated more amputees than anyone else in the world as he was appointed by the US Army to evaluate hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who lost limbs,” Wacker says.
In a separate motorcycle injury case within the last year, TBW’s client received an $8 Million settlement. “Although the police report in this case was in our client’s favor, the defense claimed our client was speeding and alleged comparative negligence. The damages portion of the case was also tricky. The plaintiff in that case had a number of surgeries to salvage his leg and had not had an amputation. However, our expert felt that he would likely need an amputation in the future and most likely, it would need to be an above the knee amputation. The difficulty was that we were faced with a jury trial in which our client had not yet decided to undergo the amputation. His injuries were therefore much less apparent with his leg still intact. So we had a huge hurdle to prove and argue his lifetime prosthetic damages,” Wacker explains.
According to Wacker, both of these cases were referrals from fellow attorneys, as are a full 75% of the cases TBW Law takes. As the result, the firm is known for paying generous referral fees. The remaining 25% of TBW’s caseload tends to come from referrals from past clients, friends, or other professionals.
As for upcoming cases to keep Wacker busy? There’s no shortage of cases coming in, and Wacker is honest when he says that his firm—which includes fellow attorney Whit Bertch, multiple contract attorneys, full-time paralegals and legal assistants, an office manager, along with a clerk and of course, a summer intern—is well positioned to continue taking tough cases and winning.
“We have a very significant brain injury case in which a 25-year-old man was struck by a big rig on the freeway and nearly died. His life as he knew it has been shattered to pieces. This is a very tragic case and we hope to help significantly in this case,” Wacker says.
If his firm’s past success is any indication of its future success, the future is going to be very bright for TBW Law. “I hope this success continues. I feel completely blessed for the success we have had,” he says. In fact, to celebrate the firm’s anniversary, TBW Law recently hosted more than 150 guests at their office, catered by Turnip Rose, featuring DJ Richard Blade (formerly KROQ, presently with Sirius XM Radio). “It was a great celebration with many colleagues, friends and family.”
Things are clearly going well not only for his firm, but for himself personally, Wacker acknowledges. He admits he’s in a bit of a “sweet spot” with his personal and professional life, aside from the recent waterskiing/hamstring injury. “Although I am over 50, I still play on a few soccer teams for fun including the Barry Turner Football Club (BTFC) whom I have played with for 25 years,” he says. “Well, I did before this hamstring injury, so we’ll see. And Father Time is starting to take its toll, so I will likely need to move on to golf and tennis,” he jokes.
He’s also thrilled to be able to spend more time with his family, with his new office starting off on such a firm footing. “I have an incredibly supportive wife, Erin who I met in the legal field over 20 years ago. She is a paralegal and understands this often hectic legal profession. We also have three incredible children Kelly, John and Danny, who are healthy and we are very involved in their lives, and their sports activities,” he says.
And although Wacker’s father passed away in 2003, Wacker still counts him as the best example he could have hoped for. “When he passed away, King County renamed the courthouse building in his name, the Robert A.Wacker Memorial Building, which was a tremendous honor,” he says.
Clearly, his father’s guidance to keep up the hard work was something Wacker took to heart, as persistence has certainly paid off, in ways Wacker never could have expected. “I love helping people, I enjoy the challenges of practicing law, and I love building relationships.” Plus, he adds a bit sheepishly, “I really thrive on the competition that advocacy for my clients brings out in me.”

18» EDUCATION

  • San Diego State University – 1988
  • University of San Diego School of Law – 1991

» AWARDS

  • Super Lawyers, 2013-2015
  • National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers, 2011
  • Past President of OCTLA
  • $8 Million and $7 Million Settlements in 2015-2016 – Largest settlements in Orange County in the last 12 months
  • American Jurisprudence Awards in Products Liability and Creditors Remedies

» MEMBER

  • American Bar Association, California Bar Association
  • American Association of Justice (AAJ), Consumer Attorneys' Of California (CAOC)
  • Consumer Attorneys' of Los Angeles (CAALA)
  • Orange County Bar Association (OCBA)
  • Board of Directors of the Orange County Trial Lawyers' Association (OCTLA), 2007-Present
  • Executive Committee Member for Orange County Trial Lawyers, 2012-Present

Contact:
Ted B. Wacker
TBW LAW
1000 Newport Center Drive,
Newport Beach, California 92660
949-706-7100
twacker@tbwlawfirm.com
www.tbwlawfirm.com

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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