Source: Danny Jacobs, Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer
Patience is a necessity for the consumer class-action lawyer. Cases lasting years are the norm, and discovery can involve a warehouse full of documents. Then there are the defendants, who can be the biggest names in industry.
Towson lawyer Martin E. Wolf quotes his senior partner, Kieron F. Quinn, to describe the job — always running uphill, on your knees, in the snow.
This month, the lawyers at Quinn, Gordon & Wolf Chtd. received a bit of a push when they were named consumer attorneys of the year by the National Association of Consumer Advocates, a consumer lawyers group.
“When an organization like NACA recognizes what you’ve done has made a difference, that’s a nice affirmation that a little hard work has some meaning,” Wolf said.
The 10-year-old firm of six lawyers handles class-action lawsuits across the country, focusing on financing, real estate lending and wrongful repossessions.
“That fills our entire calendar of work,” Wolf said. “There’s no shortage of anything in those areas.” The firm returns around $20 million a year to its clients through its lawsuits, according to Wolf. It has won or settled cases against cable television companies, mortgage lenders, title companies and health maintenance organizations.
“They’ve been one of the leading law firms in the nation in bringing consumer cases and changing consumer law,” said Ira Rheingold, executive director of NACA, which has 1,700 members nationwide. “They’re known nationally for being effective consumer advocates.”
Members of NACA nominate candidates for the organization’s awards. Wolf, in fact, had submitted the name of his partner, Richard S. Gordon, for this year’s award. But Rheingold e-mailed Wolf a week before NACA’s annual meeting in Boston informing him the entire firm had won.
“They were aware of Richard’s work, but the committee felt it should be a firm award,” Wolf said.
A typical Quinn Gordon case involves a plaintiff class of between 5,000 and 10,000 people, Gordon said, although there have been classes composed of hundreds of thousands and even one with a million individuals. The cases can last from a year-and-a-half to a decade. As a result, the firm relies heavily on technology to manage the cases and accompanying documents.
“I don’t think our practice would’ve been possible 20 years ago,” Gordon said. “But because of advances in technology, we can do a lot more for a lot less.”
The firm also relies on local counsel to grasp the nuances of local law. Rheingold said out-of-state counsel coming to Maryland use Quinn Gordon for the same purpose.
“A [NACA] member told me, ‘If I am in Maryland, I need to know their cases,’” Rheingold said. Congress also held hearings several years ago based on some of the mortgage cases Quinn Gordon brought.
“We felt, way back in 2002, that the mortgage crisis was going to happen based on what we had seen,” Gordon said. “What happened now just didn’t pop up. It’s been happening for a long time.”
All the firm’s members made it up to Boston to accept the award, which now sits in the large conference room of their newly expanded office a short walk from Baltimore County Circuit Court. Then they went back to walking uphill.
“It’s a very nice award, but we continue to push forward,” Gordon said.