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Meet Jeff Rudman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeff Rudman.

Jeff, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles. My parents were Fairfax High School sweet hearts that actually met while working together at the Fairfax Theater. My father, Barry Rudman, was an usher, and my mother, Sherry Rudman (Madow) the “candy girl”. They were married at Hollywood Beth-El Temple on Crescent Heights and Fountain. My mother worked as a legal secretary and put my father through law school. After he graduated, he worked as an attorney at the same firm as my mom. She ultimately left the practice when she became pregnant with me, their first and only child. They moved to The Valley, in a house in Granada Hills that I lived in from the day I came home from the hospital until I left for college at age 18.

As I attended Granada Hills High School, my father would bring home depositions from his cases for me to read. I loved how the questioning elicited answers causing the true story to unfold. I was enamored by how my father would always get to the truth, no matter how a witness would try to evade, withhold or misrepresent.

When I graduated High School, I went to the University of California at Santa Barbara and for my first two years, I believed I wanted to practice medicine, and concentrated my studies on Biology, Organic Chemistry, and Calculus along with other pre-requisites to graduating with a degree in Biology.

My sophomore year of college, I accompanied my roommate to an informational seminar about the University of California Education Abroad Program (EAP). He was interested in studying his junior year in India. Not having any intention or interest in studying abroad myself, I just went with him to keep him company. By the end of the presentation, I was absolutely certain that I wanted to study abroad the following year. As an American Jew, I chose Israel as my destination.

There was an intensive interview process to be accepted into the EAP program. One requirement was that you had to show how education in your field of study would be enriched by your participation in the program. However, the only classes offered in English at the American school where we would be studying in Israel did not include any that supported my major of Biology. To compensate for this, I researched and found that there was another university not far from the one that I would be attending, that had a student biology laboratory. I told my interviewers that I would seek an internship there. I was ultimately accepted into the program.

Upon arriving in Jerusalem in 1993, I visited the laboratory and expressed my interest in an internship. They sent me back to my dormitory with some literature concerning the project I would be working on. As I read the paperwork regarding chick embryology, I was struck by how little interest I had in it, and in biology for that matter. Practicing medicine had been what I had always told myself I wanted to do, but suddenly I was clear as can be that I did not want to become a doctor.

I panicked. I was in my junior year of college, just beginning my year abroad, and I didn’t know what I wanted to study, much less do with my life. How many more years of college would it now take to graduate with a degree in a new discipline? I called my parents and they calmed me down telling me that there was nothing I could do now, so just enjoy my year abroad. And I did.

When I returned, I still had no idea what I wanted to study. I visited a former religious studies professor of mine. He was one of the faculty that interviewed me for the EAP program. He was then serving as an interim head of the religious studies department, and showed me how I could apply courses I took during my year in Israel to the major of Religious Studies. I ultimately graduated with a B.S. in the subject the following year.

After graduating from UCSB, I still had little interest, much less passion, for any particular potential career. My friends and family always said I had an analytical mind and loved to argue, so maybe I should think about being a lawyer.

I went to the same law school that my father did, Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. In the summers I clerked for my dad’s law firm. When I graduated and passed the bar, my father gave me my first job as an associate attorney. He trained me. He trusted me. He gave me experiences that most attorneys as fresh out of law school as I was rarely had. He taught me about the business of the practice of law. He taught me civility. He taught me the importance of the work we did. He gave me the legal skills to succeed.

In my first year, my father and his partner, brought me to an annual continuing legal education convention in Las Vegas held by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA). I had not yet caught the passion for the field of practice that I found myself in, that being personal injury. At the conference which was attended by thousands, I watched live presentations by some of the most courageous, skillful, and inspiring trial attorneys in our State, and I transformed into a believer in civil justice. I watched these great lawyers explain their stories, the stories of the injured clients or families of those that lost a loved one they represented, the challenges they had to overcome posed by greedy insurance companies who would stop at nothing to prevent a victim of negligence from recovering full compensation for their losses, the battles in the courtroom before juries, and the significant difference they made in the lives of their clients by fighting for what is right. It was a sudden adrenaline rush that over 20 years later still has not gone away.

I practiced for my father’s firm for five years before I joined my father-in-law’s firm where I worked as an associate attorney for three years before becoming partner. During that time, I continued to attend CAALA’s local educational events, as well as its annual Las Vegas convention. I also took advantage of its resources, such as its monthly magazine, “Advocate”, and its listserve which gave me access to all of its members, at the time over 2000 strong. In 2006, I volunteered for its membership committee, and soon became its chair. I was appointed to the organization’s Board of Governors in 2008, and became an elected member in 2010. The following year, I opened The Rudman Law Firm, APC. We represent very deserving hard working people who have either suffered serious or catastrophic injuries, or lost a loved one to wrongful death caused by a defective product, dangerous condition of a property, or a motor vehicle collision, to name a few of the areas in which we practice. We help people get full justice and compensation to help them in their greatest times of need. We are skilled litigators and trial lawyers and take great pride in fighting against insurance companies and large corporations who put profits and bottom lines over safety and the needs of their victims. I think of both my law practice and involvement in CAALA as dual careers.

For several years, I had the privilege of being a co-chair of the annual Las Vegas convention. Later, I became a co-chair of CAALA’s Education Committee that creates a year long calendar of educational events, and oversees the Las Vegas Convention. During my time serving on the Board of Governors, I spearheaded projects such as the creation of online document banks for our members to access for free, and which include sample pleadings, motions, discovery, closing argument transcripts, and other documents that lawyers generate in their practices. I also took on the task of revising the organization’s bylaws. CAALA provided me with so much in my career in terms of education, resources and support, that it was a pleasure for me to give back. Further, I shared a strong camaraderie with my fellow members and leaders. I have made some of my best friends in this organization.

In 2014, I decided to run for CAALA’s Executive Committee. There is a ladder to the Presidency, where each year there is an election for Secretary, then the winner moves through the ladder of Officers through five chairs before becoming President. As such, every President served as Secretary, Treasurer, Second Vice-President, First Vice-President, and President-Elect. Further, one remains on the Executive Committee for three years as a Past President before ending his or her nine year term.

My election was the first in recent history, where there were five candidates, and I was not favored to win. However, my colleagues on the Board of Governors appreciated the commitment I showed to the organization, and elected me as Secretary that night.

This year, I was installed as CAALA’s President. The same organization whose convention my father brought me to my first year out of law school. The same that created my career long passion for the profession I happened to find myself in after years of uncertainty over what I wanted to do with my life. I could not have felt prouder.

I have looked forward to this year for a very long time. I had ideas and plans to improve our great association during my term as President. I had served as an officer with five other Presidents, and now it was finally my year. And then the novel Coronavirus happened.

All of our in person events for the entire year cannot and will not proceed, including, for the first time in CAALA history, the annual Las Vegas convention. There have been logistical and financial challenges presented to the organization as a result. However, rather than let the air out of my balloon, I have taken on the challenge of leading the organization, along with my fellow officers and board members, through these difficult times, which have included a total closure of the civil courts in which our entire membership practices, due to COVID-19.

I have had the privilege of being appointed to a small working group selected by the Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Hon. Kevin C. Brazile, to work with, and assist, the court in adapting to the times in which we find ourselves. Brainstorming and creating ideas and plans to keep our civil justice system moving so that the people of Los Angeles may not lose access to justice. Together we navigate the issues arising from re-opening the courts after three months of closure, into a world where we must rely further on technology, and implement social distancing, in order to keep court employees, judges, litigants, attorneys, jurors and all people who play a vital role in our civil justice system, safe and healthy. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to play my part.

I have also had the opportunity as President of CAALA to work with my fellow leaders in having our organization do its part to help the victims of racism, and protect the rights of those that peacefully protest for much needed change. We have big plans to educate our members about the practice of civil rights law, and how systemic racism affects the public, and those we represent. As well as the opportunity to work along side other organizations in these efforts.

I am fortunate to have a voice, and lend it to a monthly column in the Advocate magazine, during these trying times. The same magazine I read as a young lawyer just starting my career. I am fortunate to have my own law firm, where I work with amazing people, fighting on behalf of victims of injustice. I am fortunate for my family who has always supported and loved me. I am fortunate to have two sons that light up my life. I am just very fortunate. Sure, this is not the year I, or anyone else, expected. However, I take comfort in the fact that although not in the way I had been planning, I have this opportunity to be a leader and a positive role model for my two sons. These are but a few of the unanticipated moments.

The Rudman Law Firm, APC – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I represent plaintiffs in catastrophic injury and wrongful death claims. The majority of the cases I handle are product liability cases where a worker has been injured due to defectively designed industrial machinery that did not incorporate adequate safety mechanisms. I also represent people injured, or the families of wrongful death victims, in motor vehicle collision cases, premises liability cases, and cases involving dangerous conditions of public property.

I keep my case load small and manageable so that every client gets the full attention he or she deserves. I have lectured at continuing legal conferences and written articles for legal periodicals for over a decade. I am the President of the largest local trial lawyer’s association in the country.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I care about my clients and their causes. Fighting for what is right is what drives me, rather than financial success. I am fully accessible to my clients and take pleasure in educating and explaining the law to my clients, and being there to support them.

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