January 23-29, 2015
Rudy Lucero, President and Managing Director of Miller Stratvert P.A. shares how he keeps the law firm humming.
Rudy Lucero has spent the last 30 years working as a lawyer for the same Albuquerque firm, Miller Stratvert. He’s a 1975 graduate of UNM and a 1985 graduate of Stanford Law School. Lucero, set to retire later this year at age 61, spoke with Albuquerque Business First about his career.
What initially drew you to law school and a career in law? After I graduated UNM I served in the Navy for six years. I used that time in the Navy to search my mind for a good career, and the idea of a professional career, either lawyer or doctor, appealed to me. Looking at my skill set, I thought I would be best suited for law.
Your areas of practice include construction law, insurance and product liability. How did you come to focus in those areas? For me it was a matter of chance. I clerked at Miller Stratvert between my first and second year of law school, and when I graduated I knew I wanted to join the firm. When I joined in 1985 I started working with partners who worked in the areas you mentioned.
Today I have a very limited practice since I took over as managing partner and president of the firm. But before that my main concentration was insurance work, and again, that developed because there were existing clients in the firm who trusted me with matters and liked how I handled them, and started sending me cases. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice on my part, honestly. When you join a firm of some size, like this one, you often take advantage of the opportunities within the firm.
As managing partner and president, what is your day-to-day job? A lot of it is trying to steer the firm in the direction that the directors and I have talked about. Maintaining our client base, keeping our current clients happy, looking for areas we can cultivate to develop new clients – things like that. I do a lot of mentoring of our younger lawyers. I work on establishing policies, too. For example, I recognized a while ago that we needed to shift to a more paperless practice, rather than the huge paper-based practice we have been. And I focus on other things like personnel issues and client concerns.
Have you seen changes in your profession during the span of your career? The core practices of being a lawyer haven’t changed too much over time, in my opinion, but the way cases are handled and the way counsel deals with each other, I have seen an evolution. When I first started practicing I found it to be a very congenial profession in terms of the relationship with opposing counsel. Unfortunately, I have seen that become not so much the case today as it was back then. Things have gotten more contentious. I can’t tell you why that has happened, but I have seen, in the last 10 years, that there seems to be a lot more animosity and attorneys are taking a lot more aggressive approach to the litigation.
To some extent, perhaps it’s posturing for the client, and perhaps to some extent it’s because those tactics work. An attack on the other attorney and a claim to the court that the other attorney is not sharing all information, sometimes that can get you into an advantageous position.
Do you know any good lawyer jokes? (Laughing) I’ve heard a few, but I’m sorry, I’m not very good at retaining jokes. You’ll have to forgive me.
- Mike English l Albuquerque Business First
The firm represented the Defendant Las Cruces Garden Hotel, LLC. Plaintiff was a guest at the Hilton Garden Inn located in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She alleged that she woke up covered with ants and suffered multiple ant bites. She developed an allergic reaction to some of the ant bites and also alleged (PTSD). Plaintiff sued both the franchisor and the franchisee for negligence. Plaintiff abandoned her claims for past and future medical expenses and past and future lost wages prior to trial. Plaintiff demanded $1 million to settle prior to trial. The jury returned a defense verdict. The 12 person Jury Trial was tried on December 1-3, 2014.
This firm represented the Defendant in a car accident case. Plaintiff pulled out of an alley onto Indian School Road, as Defendant was proceeding west on Indian School Road, the two vehicles collided just west of the intersection. Palintiff alleged soft tissue neck and back injuries. She treated at Vicotria Medical LLC. She sought to recover her medical bills and lost wages from her job as a home health aide. The 12 Person Jury Trial ws tried September 15-17, 2014. The jury rendered a defense verdict, finding that the Defendant was not negligent.
This firm represented the Defendants. Plaintiff tripped and fell while stepping off of a back porch of an apartment she was renting from the Defendants, fracturing her left ankle. Plaintiff alleged that her shoe got caught in a chip or hold in the tile grout, causing her to lose her balance and fall. Plaintiff sued the apartments' owners, a retired dentist and his wife, for negligent failure to maintain their rental property. Plaintiff's medical bills totaled approximately $40,000. The 12 Person Jury Trial began on September 15, 2014. The Jury was out less than 30 minutes deliberating before returning a defense verdict on September 16, 2014.