"Being in the courtroom is a place where I will always want to be. It's a place where I never feel better psychologically. It's always been this way. To me, it's what I was put on this earth to do." -Robert Habush
This new addition to the acclaimed ABA Lawyer Biography Series is a profile of Robert Habush, a prolific and esteemed trial lawyer based in Milwaukee. Habush, a lawyer whose name would probably appear on any top-ten list in the country, is recognized by his peers as a lawyer who fights for the little guy against the big pocket. Habush has been honored by every bar association in his state and by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America on numerous occasions. In the state of Wisconsin, an award was established in his name, the Robert Habush Trial Lawyer of the Year Award.
Each chapter of this compelling book covers a significant trial in his career, with analysis of trial strategy and commentary from Habush himself, interwoven with biographical information. From the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries trial, where he represented the widows of three ironworkers who had been killed during the construction of Miller Park stadium in Milwaukee, to representing the survivors of the World Trade Center attack, this book is filled with stories that will educate and inspire you.
In addition, Robert Habush shares his personal visions for the future of the legal profession and the law. Read this compelling story of a man who wasn't afraid to fight for the common man and make a difference in the legal profession.
- CHAPTER ONE - The Avenger
- CHAPTER TWO - Breaking Out
- CHAPTER THREE - A Fire in the Belly
- CHAPTER FOUR - Civil Justice
- CHAPTER FIVE - The Activist
- CHAPTER SIX - Landmarks
- CHAPTER SEVEN - Altruistic Warrior
- CHAPTER EIGHT - A Plaintiff's Heart
- CHAPTER NINE - Big Blue
- CHAPTER TEN - The Courtroom Avenger Looks Back Index
A Book Review by Marshall S. Shapo, Vose Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law
Courtroom Avenger is the story of an American original, the trial lawyer Robert Habush, whose work in representing injured clients has constructed a reputation that has spread far beyond his native Wisconsin. The avenger of the title is a lawyer who, as author Kurt Chandler says, has even in the later stages of a long career, continued to have a “burning desire to represent the downtrodden and victims against the giants” and in his own words has “still got a big bite.”
The book weaves together several strands of Habush’s ability to win. These include his obsession with the facts and his talent for dredging out admissions on cross-examination. They also include the rhetoric of his down-to-earth arguments to juries and his sense of courtroom drama generally.
Habush’s energies, and his passions, have extended into areas beyond litigation, although sometimes he has employed the specter of his legal prowess to achieve results outside the courthouse. Examples of these results include battles against anti-Semitism—the vileness of which he first encountered as a child—and a battle for special education programs, an outgrowth of events going back to brain damage to his first child from a vaccine. Another illustration is his counterattack on a radio commentator who accused him of dishonesty.
Habush has a record of overcoming the optimistic expectations of his opponents, including one lawyer who invited media representatives to a courtroom for what he was sure would be a victory against Habush and was proved wrong. That case, one of my favorites in teaching products liability law, involved a healthcare worker’s severe allergic reaction to latex gloves. The Wisconsin Supreme Court eventually upheld a verdict for Habush’s client. The case also provides a nice example of how Habush’s technical mastery extends beyond the facts to the law. One of his legal arguments centered on the use of a “consumer expectations” test, an idea to which the state supreme court referred in its decision.
One big lesson that Habush has taught is that often you can stand up to bullies and defeat them: not a bad teaching for life as well as law. Here is an avenger in the best tradition of his profession.
Praise for Courtroom Avenger...
“Bob Habush’s story, as compellingly set forth in “Courtroom Avenger,” is a validation for those like me who believe the law is a noble profession. Bob Habush is legendary, the kind of lawyer that draws other lawyers to the courthouse to watch and learn. The cases recounted in this book reveal much more than just an outstanding practitioner. They show us a man with an unwavering devotion to justice and a willingness to stand up for the little guy. When I wanted the very best lawyer to represent the people of Wisconsin in the largest piece of litigation in state history against the massive force of Big Tobacco, I chose Bob. In that case, as in so many others, Bob came through. Not only individual clients, but generations of people have, and will, benefit from Bob’s great work.”
—Jim Doyle, Governor of Wisconsin, 2003-2011; Attorney General of Wisconsin, 1991-2003
“This book rings true reflecting the guts and drive of a man I have appreciated being allied with.”
—Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
“Courtroom Avenger is enthralling, the story of superstar lawyer Robert Habush, an iron-fisted, fearless, imaginative advocate with a big heart for his injured clients, with the determination to surmount every obstacle to assure they are compensated in the courts.”
—Joan B. Claybrook, Past President of Public Citizen, former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
“Courtroom Avenger is a riveting biography of Bob Habush, a brilliant trial lawyer who was a pioneer in developing products liability law. The recounting of the cases that he tried will keep you on the edge of your seat. More important is the portrayal of a man who brings to every aspect of his professional life passion for his clients and moral indignation against those who treat them with wanton disregard. Not everyone can match Habush’s brilliance. But everyone, lawyer and non-lawyers alike, can learn what it means to be truly dedicated to others.”
—Aaron D. Twerski, Irwin and Jill Cohen Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School
“I’ve known Bob Habush and marveled at his accomplishments for over 35 years. This informative and entertaining book reflects his enormous courage and dedication to his clients. His impressive list of trial victories for deserving clients have resulted in preventing harm to many others. Bob is
a plain speaking trial lawyer who has shown total determination for justice for his clients. This is a man I would want standing next to me in any worthwhile fight for justice.”
—Paul N. Luvera, Past president of the Inner Circle of Advocates, Member of the National Trial Lawyer’s Hall of Fame
“Bob Habush pulls punches neither in the courtroom nor in his book. Anyone interested in the work of the trial lawyer—the work at the heart of our justice system—will want to read this engaging and forthright account of his career and life.”
—Joseph D. Kearney, Dean, Marquette University Law School
"Mandatory reading for all attorneys at WAJ and AAJ, especially the younger attorneys. Someone needs to let young attorneys know that its about substance not marketing and advertising. I’m keeping it at my office for when I need inspiration."
--William “Buck" Strifert, Strifert Law Firm, L.L.C.
"I had no idea that (the book) would be as great as it is and such a fantastic read. (Robert Habush) truly has had a phenomenal career and impact on making it a safer world for consumers/workers alike."
--David Weil, The ABA Journal