How has your practice evolved in the last few years?
As with most things in life, with experience, I have learned to more quickly cut through the drama and sideshows of litigation and focus on what matters. For better or worse, litigation seems to be evolving into a more process-oriented discipline. I view practicing law as an art form that, in most instances, cannot be distilled into precise and neat processes.
As cumbersome as the traditional litigation processes can sometimes be, in my experience, they have a better chance of leading to a quality outcome (for both sides). An example of process-oriented practices seeping into my practice area of law are efforts at commoditizing single plaintiff employment-based litigation. Many law firms have begun to market programs to target these cases and offer “creative” ways to defend them at “reduced” costs. In my opinion and experience, these programs can lead to the opposite result.
If you could offer one piece of advice for young lawyers, what would it be?
Find a good mentor early in your career, one that has your best interests at heart. I was fortunate to clerk for the Honorable William J. Castagna, U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa, and he served as an incredible mentor to me. He taught me to be pragmatic and keep my ego in check. He continues to mentor me, and I was honored to recently speak at his 90th surprise birthday party at the courthouse. He is still on the bench and continues be active outside of work. He is a wonderful human being.
What is the one technological device you could not function without daily?
How has civility made a difference in your practice of law?
I have always believed that we are required to represent our clients zealously and to use our best efforts to achieve our clients’ goals. The manner in which we treat our colleagues can play an important role in this process. I think we as lawyers are at our best when we are professional and civil to each other. A few years ago, I had a lawyer refuse to move a trial date in response to my request, even though my family had recently experienced a tragic loss. A couple of weeks later, but before trial, that lawyer called me and requested to move the trial date because he and his spouse were called to Russia to adopt a child. He told me that he assumed I would oppose his request but was going through the process before approaching the Court. I told him that I would gladly agree to the request and wished him well (even though I had prepared and was ready for trial). When he returned, he called and apologized for his behavior and we have since became friends.
Craig Annunziata is the managing partner of Fisher & Phillips‘ Chicago office and a partner in the Tampa, Florida office. Since 2012, Mr. Annunziata has consistently been listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as an Illinois Super Lawyer in 2014. Additionally, Mr. Annunziata is a member of the Board of Directors for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.