Law firm bulks up, adds business practice

From left: Dan, Mike, Ross. (Amy DiPierro)

From left: Dan Wartell, Mike Keating and Ross Pulkrabek. (Amy DiPierro)

Ross Pulkrabek and Dan Wartell have noticed that business lawyers like them tend to cast a wide net.

“You look at their websites and you see everything from A to Z,” said Wartell, starting with agriculture, an industry specialty, or antitrust law, a legal specialty.

The pair, previously shareholders at Jones & Keller, today were named partners at Keating Wagner Polidori Free. Pulkrabek said he and Wartell have long focused more on learning to represent plaintiffs at trial than solely on developing specialties in industries or law subcategories.

And, he said, so has Keating Wagner.

“The philosophy of this firm puts the skillset of being a trial lawyer first and then the particular type of case second,” said Pulkrabek, a graduate of the University of Colorado School of Law. “That’s what’s different from other firms, where you have different practice groups.”

Besides naming Pulkrabek and Wartell as partners, Keating Wagner has also added Aaron Goldhamer and Lidiana Rios, also previously of Jones & Keller, as associates at the firm.

Prior to its most recent hires, Keating Wagner primarily represented plaintiffs in personal injury, workers’ compensation and insurance dispute cases.

Now it will also have a business practice. Mike Keating, a partner at the firm, said Keating Wagner was looking to hire lawyers with trial skills and experience working for plaintiffs, not to add a business law vertical specifically.

“You say to yourself, ‘I really want to work with those guys, because I think they’re creative and I think that they bring passion to what they do,'” said Keating, who first met Wartell at the University of Denver College of Law. “It just happened to be that they had a business tort, professional liability, trust and estates-type practice.”

Keating said the firm frequently uses contingency fees, advancing money to cover costs like a court reporter or expert witness and then receiving payment only if the client recovers money.

Similarly, Pulkrabek said, he and Wartell adjust their fee structure to suit each case and client. Sometimes they charge an hourly rate, but most of the time they either use a contingency fee or use a hybrid model in which they reduce their hourly fee and receive a lower contingency payment.

And he said investing firm money to bring a case is often attractive to clients.

“Our core market is small and mid-sized businesses and individuals, sometimes very wealthy individuals, who have a plaintiff’s business case and want a plaintiff’s business advocate,” said Pulkrabek. “A lot of our business clients really like the idea of having a lawyer who’s financially invested in their case.”

Keating Wagner has 14 lawyers and an office at 1290 Broadway St., across from the Colorado Judicial Center.

From left: Dan, Mike, Ross. (Amy DiPierro)

From left: Dan…

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