Michael Cowen

Michael Cowen specializes in personal injury cases involving trucking, commercial motor vehicle, catastrophic injury, oil field accidents as well as product liability,

155 – Big Rig Bootcamp – Your Gateway to Mastering Trucking Litigation

For trial lawyers seeking to level up in their trucking law practice, Cowen’s Big Rig Bootcamp is an unmissable opportunity.

In this bonus episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, host Michael Cowen is joined by Isabella Santellan, marketing director at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock to preview Big Rig Bootcamp. At Big Rig Bootcamp, you’ll take a deep dive into the trucking industry’s intricacies, including how companies use telematics (Michael’s firm bought a telematics system and currently has an expert on the road using it now!).  

The seminar will also show Michael’s strategies for how to put on the most persuasive direct expert testimony from a liability expert, show how you can make the insurance company pay when they claim there’s no coverage (or find other sources of recovery), discuss when to do (or not do) an inspection of the vehicles, and more!  

Don’t miss out! Big Rig Bootcamp takes place on July 12, 2024 in San Antonio, Texas. Register at bigrigbootcamp.com.  

Michael’s firm is growing! Cowen Rodriguez Peacock is looking for 2 mid-level associates with 3-5 years of civil litigation experience.  Listen to the episode for more information on how to apply!

Featured Guest

Name: Isabella Santellan

About: Isabella Santellan is the Marketing Director at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock. She was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. Isabella earned her B.B.A in Business Management from the University of Texas at San Antonio and is currently working on her M.B.A at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. As the Marketing Director, Isabella runs the firm’s social media, helps plan events, and works to ensure they provide an unforgettable experience to everyone they work with. In her free time, Isabella enjoys traveling, golfing, and spending time with her family. 

Company: Cowen Rodriguez Peacock

Connect: LinkedIn

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In this popular and award-winning podcast for trial lawyers, noteworthy author, sought-after speaker, and renowned trial lawyer, Michael Cowen explores critical topics distinctive to the legal profession with some of the biggest names in the industry – specifically focused on developing extremely efficient law practices, securing a competitive edge in the industry, and wildly excelling in the courtroom.

Produced and Sponsored by LawPods.

154 – Lara Brock – Whether in Trial or Arbitration, Compete to Win

“In order to be a good trial lawyer, you have to have that innate sense of ‘let’s go, I’m ready to go.’”

In this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, host Michael Cowen talks to seasoned trial lawyer Lara Brock of Espinoza & Brock, PLLC about her sports-oriented, competitive mindset that has influenced both how she practices law and serves as a leader within her law firm. 

Tune in as Michael and Lara talk about why it’s important to shift from the “family” mindset to the “team” mindset within your law firm, how to find your own voice as a trial lawyer, and why Lara’s firm handles worker’s comp cases in Texas while few other law firms do. They also discuss the strategy behind her firm’s repeated success in arbitration, and what Lara looks for in third-party cases. 

Don’t miss out! Michael’s book, Big Rig Justice: A Comprehensive Guide to Maximizing Value in Truck Accident Cases is now available!

Featured Guest

Name: Lara Brock

About: Lara is a senior partner at Espinoza & Brock, PLLC in San Antonio, Texas. Lara has worked with the Espinoza Law Firm since March 2011 and has focused her practice on non-subscriber injury cases, third party injury cases, and employment discrimination and retaliation cases. In doing so, she has presented cases at trial, has presented cases to arbitrators with the American Arbitration Association and Judicial Workforce Arbitrations, and has presented written appeals and oral argument before the Fourth Court of Appeals. She serves as Treasurer of the San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association and President-Elect of the Bexar County Women’s Bar Association. In 2016, Lara founded the Women’s Caucus for the San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association and is a steering committee member of the Women’s Caucus of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. From 2021 through 2023, Lara served as the Vice President of Continuing Legal Education for the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.

A native of Roanoke, Virginia, she graduated sixth in her class from St. Mary’s University School of Law in May 2014. She received her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Spanish from Carson-Newman University in Tennessee, graduating summa cum laude with honors.

Company: Espinoza & Brock, PLLC

Connect: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights 

[03:37] Getting to Know Lara Brock: Lara knew from a young age that she wanted to compete every day so becoming a trial lawyer seemed like a natural fit. Lara is thrilled that she’s found a career where she can make a difference in real people’s lives, all while having a lot of fun. 

[06:47] A Law Firm is Like a Sports Team: You have to perform if you want to be a part of the team. It’s hard to make the shift from thinking of your law firm as a “family” to a “team” but it really does pay off when you do it. 

[11:09] “I’m Not Going to Let You Win”: It was a roofing fall case. Lara’s client was working for a “sub of a sub” on a roof and walked right off the edge. It was a flat roof, no fall protection. “I don’t care that my client’s undocumented, he shouldn’t have fallen off that roof. You chose not to have these protections and we’re going to go tell a story,” says Lara about a case where she got a $4.5M verdict where defense pulled the offer. The case is currently up on appeal.  

[16:14] Ask “Why?”: Lara shares how she’s found her own voice as a trial lawyer. She learned early on that just imitating another’s lawyer’s way of doing things wasn’t the route to success. 

[22:53] There’s No Such Thing as “Work-Life Balance”: From building a great practice, to taking on leadership roles in the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, the San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association, and the Bexar County Women’s Bar Foundation, Lara shares that getting buy-in from everyone around her has been key to her success. 

[26:18] Few Firms Do Workers’ Comp Cases in Texas, But Lara’s Does: When asked how her firm is able to do worker’s comp cases in Texas despite the limited fees, Lara responds, “Because that’s our purpose, that’s our base. We also found that a lot of times people just think that it’s a workers’ comp case and it’s not, and we started learning that we could help people in more than one way.”

[31:26] Plaintiff Lawyers Have Success in Arbitration Too: Lara shares “Just as big box retailers or companies that are frequently in arbitration find success, so do plaintiff’s lawyers…We have such a large practice of these arbitration cases that we also have some power with arbitrators because they know that we can keep them from getting business too, if they want to screw our clients over.”

[35:46] Third-Party Cases: A third-party case is where you’re suing someone other than the employer for a workplace injury.  Lara explains the things she looks for when taking on these cases.   

Connect with Trial Lawyer Nation

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In this popular and award-winning podcast for trial lawyers, noteworthy author, sought-after speaker, and renowned trial lawyer, Michael Cowen explores critical topics distinctive to the legal profession with some of the biggest names in the industry – specifically focused on developing extremely efficient law practices, securing a competitive edge in the industry, and wildly excelling in the courtroom.

Produced and Sponsored by LawPods.

153 – Sach Oliver – Depositions Are Trial

The road to success is paved with failure, but if a trial lawyer can learn from those failures, they will ultimately become a more effective advocate.

In this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, host Michael Cowen sits down with trial lawyer Sach Oliver of Oliver Law Firm to discuss how lawyers can continually hone their skills by learning from their own failures, learning from other attorneys, and treating depositions as trial.

Sach also discusses his forthcoming book, Depositions are Trial, which will be released June 24, 2024 (Pre-orders May 1, 2024) and includes philosophies, strategies, methods, and techniques for pursuing the truth and zealously advocating for clients.

Don’t miss out! Michael’s book, Big Rig Justice: A Comprehensive Guide to Maximizing Value in Truck Accident Cases is now available!

Featured Guest

Name: Sach Oliver

About: Sach Oliver is an experienced trial attorney and CEO of Oliver Law Firm in Rogers, Arkansas.

Sach was raised in Viola, Arkansas, and attended Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, where he was a roper on the school’s rodeo team. After graduating from college, Sach attended the University of Arkansas School of Law, where he won “Best Oral Advocate” at the American College of Trial Lawyers’ National Trial Competition.

As a trial attorney, Sach has obtained numerous large verdicts for his clients in personal injury cases involving everything from 18-wheelers to environmental accidents. The Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association selected him as an Outstanding Trial Lawyer in 2015, and Sach was voted president of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association for the 2022 – 2023 term. He currently sits on the board of regents for the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys. He is one of only two board certified members of the ATAA in Arkansas.

Sach Oliver’s book, Depositions are Trial, will be released June 24, 2024, and will accept pre-orders beginning May 1, 2024. For more information about his upcoming book, visit depositionsaretrial.com

Company: Oliver Law Firm

Connect: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights 

[03:07]  Learning from Failure and Staying Humble: Experience is the best way to get better as a trial lawyer, and with experience comes failure. Learning from failure, staying humble, and always searching for the truth have allowed Sach to become successful as he zealously advocates for his clients.

[06:15] “Prepare to Confidence”: Confident attorneys are more effective, and confidence comes from being well-prepared. The more an attorney prepares for trial, the more confident they will be the in the courtroom, and the more confident they are in the courtroom, the more they are able to effectively represent their client.

[07:48] The 2×4 Timeline: Being creative with visual aids at trial will get the jury more engaged and more knowledgeable about the facts. Sach describes how he uses a 2×4 and wooden dowels to establish a timeline in his case in a way that is easily digestible for the jury.

[14:47] Learning from Others: One way to improve as a trial attorney is to learn from others in the field, whether it is another attorney or an outside consultant such as Phillip Miller. Watching more experienced attorneys work and discussing cases with colleagues will allow you to grow as a trial attorney so you can represent your clients more effectively.

[22:33] Depositions are Trial: Sach discusses his upcoming book, Depositions are Trial, and how his first jury trial helped him develop a philosophy that he continues to use to this day.

[24:32] Winning the Unwinnable and Losing the Unloseable: Sometimes small details such as an attorney’s talking speed can be the difference between winning an unwinnable case and losing an unloseable case.

[26:07] The Cowboy Way: Being patient, never giving up, and applying time-tested techniques allow a trial attorney to pull information from difficult witnesses and establish clear timelines that can be used to persuade a jury.

[34:37] A New Way of Thinking: Treat every deposition as if it were a trial. By using trial strategies such as visual aids, an attorney taking a deposition can become more prepared for trial and determine the best way to present evidence to a jury.

[36:54] Visual Culture, Five Senses, and Positive Repetition: Address the visual culture of a case through dynamic visual aids. For jurors who might not be visual learners, describe situations in such a way that all five of a juror’s senses are engaged. Bring home a point by using positive repetition, which means presenting the same or similar arguments in different ways to ensure all jurors are engaged.

[47:14] Preparing for a Truce: Diligently prepare for trial, but also be forthright with the insurance company. By allowing the opportunity for an insurance company to fairly compensate your client through a pretrial settlement, a trial attorney can get justice for their client without the need of a grueling trial.

Connect with Trial Lawyer Nation

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☑️ Subscribe to Trial Lawyer Nation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.

In this popular and award-winning podcast for trial lawyers, noteworthy author, sought-after speaker, and renowned trial lawyer, Michael Cowen explores critical topics distinctive to the legal profession with some of the biggest names in the industry – specifically focused on developing extremely efficient law practices, securing a competitive edge in the industry, and wildly excelling in the courtroom.

Produced and Sponsored by LawPods.

152 – Odalys Lopez – How to Develop Attorney Skills and Mindset in Your Law Firm

Once you start getting big results, then people give you more opportunities to do bigger cases. But as a new lawyer, how do you begin getting big results?

In this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, host Michael Cowen welcomes Odalys Lopez, an up-and-coming lawyer at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock, who shares insights on being a new lawyer. 

Tune in as Michael and Odalys discuss the firm’s strategies to develop lawyers, including doing “workdays” on cases, attorney development meetings, and 3pm trainings on Fridays. The conversation also covers how to alleviate clients’ nerves before defending depositions, why you should treat the truck driver on the other side of the case with respect (rather than hostility) to serve your case better, and why Michael started the tradition of having a celebratory dinner at trial the night before closing.  

Don’t miss out! Michael’s book, Big Rig Justice: A Comprehensive Guide to Maximizing Value in Truck Accident Cases is now available!

Featured Guest

Name: Odalys Lopez

About: Odalys is an associate attorney at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock. She joined the firm in December of 2021.

Odalys was born and raised in Mission, Texas. She first moved to San Antonio to obtain her undergraduate degree in Philosophy from St. Mary’s University in December of 2017. Odalys chose to stay at St. Mary’s to attend St. Mary’s School of Law, graduating Cum Laude in May of 2021.

While in law school, Odalys interned at an insurance defense firm, giving her a unique and valuable perspective on Cowen Rodriguez Peacock cases. She also served as a student attorney for the Criminal Justice Clinic at the Center for Legal and Social Justice, where she provided pro bono representation to community members.

Company: Cowen Rodriguez Peacock

Connect: LinkedIn  

Episode Highlights 

[01:45] Getting to know Odalys: Odalys graduated from law school in 2021 and shares what it was like to work on her first trial as a “baby lawyer” a few months after starting at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock.

[05:13] Celebratory dinner at trial the night before closing: So many lawyers get burned out with trial work. The hard part is that while we can control what we put in–preparation, skillset–we don’t control the outcome. That’s why Michael likes to celebrate “the fact that we are blessed with being able to do this, that we’re going to have fun, we’re going to enjoy it, and then we’re going to let the jury take care of the rest.” 

[09:48] Takeaways from defending depositions: Odalys shares that clients tend to be very nervous in these depositions, so confidence is key. Prepare clients to take pauses, focus on understanding the questions, and take breaks.

[18:58] Previewing the Big Rig Bootcamp: From telematics to working with a real expert and putting on a direct exam, the Big Rig Bootcamp is not just talking about theory. Michael and the team will show you what visuals to use, how to prep the expert, how to get the expert to testify, and more. 

[26:05] First lawyer in the family: Odalys credits her parents, discipline, and hard work for allowing her to graduate college, law school, and become a lawyer. 

[29:00] Respect the truck driver on the other side of the case: Most truck drivers are good people just trying to make a living in difficult circumstances. Empathy, rather than hostility, towards the truck driver will serve your case better. If you want to get behind the wheel of a truck, there’s a program through the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys.

[32:03] Dive deep into the case: The firm does a “workday” on some cases. It’s a time to turn off your ringer, turn off your email, and get into a room with a group of people and brainstorm each other’s cases to help one another. 

[35:00] Have attorney development meetings to stay on track: These professional development meetings are a chance to go through goals with attorneys, give feedback, and are also a chance for the attorneys to give feedback as well.

Connect with Trial Lawyer Nation

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☑️ Subscribe to Trial Lawyer Nation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.

In this popular and award-winning podcast for trial lawyers, noteworthy author, sought-after speaker, and renowned trial lawyer, Michael Cowen explores critical topics distinctive to the legal profession with some of the biggest names in the industry – specifically focused on developing extremely efficient law practices, securing a competitive edge in the industry, and wildly excelling in the courtroom.

Produced and Sponsored by LawPods.

151 – Alex Begum – $2.1 Million Verdict in a Tough Case

Build “top mind awareness” for your law firm to get the PI cases you actually want. Then focus on what’s-in-it-for-the-jury to win them. 

In this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, host Michael Cowen welcomes Alex Begum, the founding shareholder of Begum Law Group Injury Lawyers. Alex shares his journey towards mastering the business side of law, emphasizing the importance of financial acumen and creating a strong brand presence for law firm success. 

He also recounts the challenges behind a personal injury case he tried and the strategies he used to win a $2.17M judgment, highlighting the use of “judo law” to turn weaknesses into strengths, and the critical role of visual aids in demonstrating injuries to the jury in a low property damage case.  Additionally, Alex shares how he motivates the jury to do justice, tapping into what really matters to them. 

Don’t miss out! Michael’s book, Big Rig Justice: A Comprehensive Guide to Maximizing Value in Truck Accident Cases is now available!

Featured Guest

Name:  Alex Begum

About:  Alex Begum is the founding shareholder of Begum Law Group Injury Lawyers, which has offices in San Antonio, Brownsville, Dallas, McAllen, Laredo, and Albuquerque. A licensed attorney in Texas and New Mexico, his career in law began in 2003 – born from a desire to help others. This desire has not abated. The art of giving is something that Alex practices so routinely that it has become an integral part of his professional and personal life. His special interest in pro bono cases has been put to good use. His willingness to serve others, along with his knowledge and experience, saved an entire Texas community when they faced the probable loss of their homes.

Company: Begum Law Group Injury Lawyers | LinkedIn

Connect: LinkedIn | Email

Episode Highlights 

[04:41] Balancing both the business of law and trying cases: Alex runs multiple PI law firms and also tries cases himself. There aren’t many people that can do both. Alex shares that it’s taken a lot of time and effort to get the balance right, and the journey still continues. 

[07:43] How to develop as a trial lawyer: “You learn more from your losses than you do from your wins.” Go try as many cases as you can, realize that the learning never stops, and while you can get “beautiful nuggets” from what other trial lawyers do, in the end you have to use strategies in a way that is authentic to you. 

[11:35] From running a traditional law firm to creating a sustainable business: The key is understanding financials: a business plan, projections, budgeting, establishing financial patterns, how to use debt effectively. Many lawyers don’t have those financial skills, but you need to develop basic financial acumen to succeed.

[13:42] Your law firm needs “top mind awareness” to get the cases you want: It doesn’t matter whether it’s a law firm or soda, when marketing to consumers, familiarity is always going to win out when you look at the studies. 

[18:09] Background of the Michelle Gibbons case: Alex shares background information about his personal injury case that resulted in a $2.17M judgment. It was a three vehicle crash. But it was a more difficult case because you couldn’t see any damage to his client’s vehicle and his client didn’t go to the hospital or report any pain the day of the crash. 

[21:59] Frame weaknesses into strengths: You have to find a way to frame your worst points into your strengths, or find another person to try the case, or settle. Alex credits Gary Johnson’s Winning the Unwinnable Case for teaching him the technique of “judo law” which he and his team use on every trial. He shares how he applied this technique to the Michelle Gibbons case. 

[24:29] Overcoming minimal vehicle damage: Using visual aids and expert testimony can help jurors visualize how injuries occur, even in a low property damage case. 

[34:00] Future damages: Alex talks about the potential risks associated with using life care planners, sharing that “our new policy is unless there is an actual fusion surgery or larger, we will not use a life care planner anymore.” 

[39:50] Motivating the jury to do justice: Juries are powerful. Alex shares how he was inspired by Carl Bettinger’s Twelve Heroes, One Voice.  Make the jurors the heroes, and encourage them to see their verdict as a heroic act for the community’s safety and well-being. 

Connect with Trial Lawyer Nation

☑️ Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn.

☑️ Subscribe to Trial Lawyer Nation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.

In this popular and award-winning podcast for trial lawyers, noteworthy author, sought-after speaker, and renowned trial lawyer, Michael Cowen explores critical topics distinctive to the legal profession with some of the biggest names in the industry – specifically focused on developing extremely efficient law practices, securing a competitive edge in the industry, and wildly excelling in the courtroom.

Produced and Sponsored by LawPods.