In twenty-four years of representing injured people, I do my best to treat each person’s case as the most important one I’ve ever handled. My goal is to treat each client as I would expect to be treated.
I became a trial lawyer to help make a positive change in people’s lives.
As a boy, my parents stressed the importance of living life by basic, universal truths. To name a few —Treat others as you want to be treated. When you make a mistake, accept responsibility. Actions speak louder than words. When you take on a job, do it right. It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry.
I try to live by those “universal truths”, and hope that others will try to do the same. I believe most people want to do the right thing. Unfortunately, many people and corporations have either lost sight of, neglected, or intentionally ignored the protection of fundamental human values in order to avoid accountability and gain profit.
The end result of a refusal to accept corporate or personal accountability, is that I meet people every day who suffer from physical and emotional injuries that could have and should have been prevented. For the past 23 years, I’ve worked to help people recover compensation from those that have caused their life-changing injuries. Real people that suffer from preventable medical neglect, car crashes, dangerous conditions of property, defective products, corporate wrongdoing, and the like.
I grew up with the law. My grandfather, father, and uncles were all trial lawyers. As a boy, I would often spend Saturday mornings with my dad at my family’s law practice on Bangs Avenue in Asbury Park, learning about peoples’ problems. When my dad, Thomas F. Shebell, Jr., became a judge in Monmouth County Superior Court, I would go to the Court House in Freehold with him on many Saturday mornings. I felt at home in the halls of the court house and the courtroom. In the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to be a trial lawyer.
When I attended Providence College, I buried my thoughts of being a lawyer in the recesses of my mind, perhaps because I feared living in my father’s shadow. Instead, I developed an interest in creative writing and poetry. By my senior year, I fell in love with my wife, Michelle, and knew I would never be able to support us as a writer. By the time we got engaged eight months later, I made the decision to attend law school at the Dickinson School of Law, in Pennsylvania. I graduated law school in 1991, and moved back to Monmouth County with Michelle, and our first daughter, Mackie.
I then had the privilege to Clerk for Justice Daniel J. O’Hern, of the New Jersey Supreme Court, for one year. Within one week of finishing my clerkship with Justice O’Hern, I tried my first jury trial as an associate at Drazin & Warsaw, in Red Bank, New Jersey. Over the course of the next three years, I tried over fifty jury trials to verdict, mostly in Monmouth, Middlesex, Hudson, and Ocean Counties. Since that time, I’ve continued to try cases throughout the State.
My goal in each case is to do the best job that I can for every client. Each client is a human being who needs help, and I truly care about each person that I represent. I actively and reflectively listen when people talk with me. I often try to reverse roles with clients, and even defendants, to better understand how things for their perspective.
I also know what it’s like, first-hand, to have times in our life when we are vulnerable, weak, and fearful. I know what it’s like to suffer the long-term effects of life-long injuries after being struck by a car back in 2000. I know what it is like to spend weeks in a hospital bed, to have operation after operation — to literally count the seconds, minutes, and hours for waves of pain to pass… to stare at the clock on the wall waiting for night to become morning.
I’ve walked in many of my clients’ shoes and taken the difficult journey back to what I call “the new normal”. To me, the new normal, is a recognition that after 30 orthopedic operations over 15 years, my body will never be the same. I don’t move as well, I wake up with some degree of pain every day, I don’t sleep too well on most nights, and often wonder what it will be like as I get older.
I am thankful to be alive and am able to work full-time. I am a lot more fortunate than many of the people that I represent, who have jobs that require physical labor, or those who can’t get the medical care they need, or have physical or emotional injuries that cannot be fixed by modern medicine.
We fight to preserve your right to be compensated for injuries caused by the neglect of others. The insurance companies and most corporations have one goal — to make money. Every corporate decision is a cost-benefit-risk analysis, designed to maximize profits for their executives and shareholders.
The lawyers that I’ve chosen to join the fight at my firm are thoughtful battlers. We fight for core human rights and values that include human happiness, enjoyment, and emotional and physical well-being.
We see plaintiff’s trial lawyers as the last resistance fighters against the insurance industry and corporate power structure. My greatest fear is the indifference of good people — jurors chosen from our community — who do nothing in the face of injustice. When jurors’ side with insurance companies and the corporations — giving them a free pass — then I have truly failed my client.
At the end of the day, I ask myself these questions — Did I give my client 100% of my best? Did I fight for a cause that I believe will further my client’s interests? Did I bring a safety issue caused by dangerous conduct or a harmful product to the public’s awareness? Did I give the jurors the evidence and guidance they need to deliver a meaningful verdict for my client for the right reason?
If I can say yes to those questions, then I’ve had a good day. Although I have helped thousands of clients over the years, I have also lost cases. Justice was denied to good, honest, and deserving people injured through no fault of their own. Every day, I strive to improve as a human being and trial lawyer.
After trying over 80 jury trials to verdict, I wanted to improve as a trial lawyer, father, husband, and human being. In the summer of 2014, I was invited to spend three weeks in Wyoming, learning different trial skills from one of the best trial lawyers of our time — Gerry Spence. At Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College, Spence and a special group of trial lawyers reinforce what many lawyers have forgotten — what it means to be a human being, caring for another human being.
Trials are not about the lawyer and his or her ego. A trial is about giving jurors the true story of what happened to our client — a regular human being. It is about honoring, respecting, and trusting in the incredible power of ordinary people — jurors — to do the right thing. Before trial, I always go to a client’s home, sometimes several times, to better understand who that person really is, and how their injuries have effected their lives.