NexGen Committee Interview

Bryan Werley, Shareholder, Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy 

  1. If you could give your 25-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be? Be mindful. When you are an inexperienced lawyer trying to impress clients and your partners, there is a natural inclination to overwork a file, overwork a case and overwork a client. Clients want the right answer and they want the confidence that you are able to give them that with ease. Toiling away and trying to make work for yourself by over motioning a file may generate billable hours, but it does not generate the confidence of the client or an insurance carrier. Being mindful of the ultimate interests of your client go a long way. At the end of the day, a client wants the case to be over. By being just an aggressive advocate, you might win the case in two or three years, but by being a mindful counselor, you may serve your client better by finding a way to end the case much earlier. Being mindful in your practice and mindful in your personal life leads to a much more balanced practice and life.
  2. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? Flight. Who doesn’t wish they could fly? It comes with the added benefit of avoiding wasted time at the airport.
  3. What has been your most notable career accomplishment so far? A number of years ago, I was lead counsel for one of the primary defendants in a massive construction accident matter in Philadelphia that gained regional and national attention. It involved over 20 plaintiffs, seven of which were fatality claims. The case ultimately tried in Philadelphia over the course of five months and is still considered the longest civil trial in Pennsylvania history. My client went into the case already convicted of manslaughter charges with a determination that liability was determined as a matter of law. At the end of the trial, the jury returned a verdict assessing my client with 1% liability, the lowest percentage which the Judge instructed the jury they could assess.
  4. What is a secret skill/talent you have? I have a photographic memory and a passion for baseball (and statistics) which guarantee a fun time at the ballpark for whomever joins me for a Phillies game.
  5. What is the biggest goal you have for yourself in the next five years? In the next five years, I see the practice of law changing dramatically with the continued rise of AI and integration of AI into the lives of most people. I want to be on the leading edge of where this is going in the law not just from a professional perspective, but personally. It’s an exciting time fraught with new iterations of old perils and as a lawyer, my goal in the next five years is to plan for the next ten and twenty.
  6. What is the biggest value you receive from being a member of Themis? Many law firms in the post-covid world have touted the benefits of having lawyers working side by side. The collaborative benefit of having colleagues at arms-reach is undeniable. With Themis though, I have a network of some of the most talented lawyers throughout the country at arm’s length as though they were in the office with me. Always accessible and quick to respond to a question about an expert or about another jurisdiction, Themis is such a resource. To be honest, I interact with Themis lawyers on a daily or weekly basis.
  7. What is your favorite event Themis hosts? Include info about a specific year if you’d like. While the world was thawing from COVID, but before carriers were cleared again to travel for conferences and educational opportunities, Themis held a series of “Curbside” type conferences where they travelled and held regional conferences for carriers, lawyers and others who would not otherwise be able to travel. The conferences were amazing and the courses ranged from discovery issues to experts to ethical concerns. It was an impressive meeting of law firms, carriers, experts and vendors. At one conference, I made contacts and started lasting business relationships.
  8. What is your favorite thing to do outside of work? It’s actually three things. Baseball, baseball and baseball. I love watching baseball, playing baseball and coaching baseball. Nearly every free moment out of work, is spent doing one of these three things.
  9. What made you want to pursue a career in the legal field? In fifth grade, I interviewed my state representative for a career project, thinking that I wanted to be a politician. The subject of my interview thought I was relentless (or more likely, annoying) with my questions and told me I should be a lawyer with the number of questions I asked him.
  10. What piece of advice would you offer young lawyers wanting to advance in their careers? I would remind young lawyers that our profession is a business and businesses are about relationships. Relationships with your client, relationships with your business partners and carriers, and relationships with your adversary all affect how people see you and the value they see in you. This is a service industry. Just like in the restaurant business, good service usually leads to repeat business. Return telephone calls. Respond to emails. Do the small things that show people you see the big picture.
  11. What piece of advice would you offer young lawyers wanting to get involved in Themis? The hardest part about being involved is deciding to be involved. If you are interested in Themis and want to participate, it really is just as easy as asking what you can do. Themis has such a big footprint and provides so many opportunities to speak and to be published that the only real impediment to it is sending an email or making the call.
  12. When did you get involved with Themis? I’m lucky in that my involvement with Themis started as my firm is one of the founding members. For us, Themis is part of our culture.
  13. Where did you go to college and law school? I graduated from American University in Washington, D.C. for my undergraduate degree and Temple University in Philadelphia for my J.D.
  14. Who do you look up to the most? I really looked up to my maternal grandfather. When he served during World War II, he was a Master Sgt. in the Army and would train soldiers in anti-aircraft techniques. When soldiers would return from their combat theaters, they returned initially to their base where they were assigned and trained and then could go home from there. My grandfather would drive them home, no matter where they lived. He drove from his base in Texas to homes throughout the country. He saw a responsibility to the men that he trained to make sure they made it home. I like to think that my sense of responsibility comes from him.
  15. Why did you get involved with Themis? To me, Themis is a value-add. It’s an impressive network of carriers, adjusters, lawyers, law firms, experts and vendors that I can reach out to someone in Themis and get an answer to a question I have about an area of law or jurisdiction that I’m not 100% comfortable with or to get an outside opinion about an expert. As a trial lawyer handling complex and high value cases, Themis gives me the type of national colleagues that only 1000+ lawyer law firms might otherwise have.