In 1974, attorney Jim Schwebel founded a personal injury practice consisting of himself and two staff members. Schwebel had previously been working under the tutelage of William DeParcq, one of Minnesota’s leading personal injury litigators; and with his new firm, Schwebel sought to build a reputation of his own for helping injured victims and their families.
“Before setting up my firm, I worked for six years as a plaintiffs’ personal injury trial lawyer, assisting clients who had been injured through no fault of their own,” Schwebel says. “And in that time, I developed a passion for helping people recover from tragic circumstances as quickly and comprehensively as possible.”
With the addition of John Goetz and William Sieben as shareholders in 1979, the firm Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben has gone on to become one of the largest plaintiffs’ personal injury firms in Minnesota. Today, the firm comprises 18 lawyers and more than 75 total employees, and it is well known throughout the region for its preeminent track record in the personal injury field—in fact, the firm has recovered more than $750 million in damages for its clients.
“The most rewarding part about having established a firm of this size is realizing that over the past four decades we have acquired the skill set to get involved in the most complex, disastrous accidents and turn things around for the injured victims,” Schwebel says. “Our resources and expertise mean that we can provide our clients with the legal and financial solutions that few other law firms would be able to achieve for them.”
Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben has assisted more than 50,000 clients since its founding, handling the full gamut of personal injury litigation, from automobile, motorcycle, and truck collisions to construction accidents and medical malpractice. Its many high-profile cases include the Williams Pipeline explosion in Roseville and the MGM Hotel fire in Las Vegas, as well as the Galaxy Airlines crash in Reno and the Singapore Airlines crash in Taipei, Taiwan. Schwebel also obtained record post-trial settlements for victims of an accident involving a city-owned police van that crashed into a crowd of spectators during the seasonal Holidazzle Parade in downtown Minneapolis.
Most recently, Schwebel and his firm helped secure a $52.4 million settlement in a case brought on behalf of the victims of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse, in which 13 people were killed and 145 were injured. “That was a very protracted piece of litigation involving two and a half years of depositions, as well as an extensive analysis of the bridge failure by some of the world’s leading bridge experts and the review of millions of pages of documents,” Schwebel recalls. “But ultimately, we were able to help the victims of this disaster achieve closure in their battle for compensation.”
Schwebel credits these significant results to an emphasis on thoroughly preparing every case for trial and then aggressively presenting them to the insurance companies. This method of working up cases, along with the firm’s recognized trial expertise (many of its lawyers are nationally certified civil trial specialists), creates a high likelihood that cases will result in swift and positive resolutions, he notes.
“We understand that the vast majority of clients don’t want to gamble a huge amount of money on what a jury might decide; instead, they would rather see their cases concluded at the earliest realistic time,” he says. “Ultimately, insurance companies respect our track record and the fact that we know how to try lawsuits, so when they see the evidence that we’re prepared and willing to go to trial in a case, the result will likely be a mediated settlement in our client’s favor.”
Through this approach, Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben has been able to maintain a high level of client satisfaction, making client referrals the largest source of its new business. In addition, the firm is well regarded in the legal community, with a Tier 1 ranking in Minneapolis for both plaintiffs and defendants personal injury litigation by U.S. News – Best Lawyers
“Best Law Firms” and nine attorneys included in the 2014 edition of The Best Lawyers in America
; Schwebel was also selected this year by his peers as Best Lawyers’
Minneapolis Lawyer of the Year for personal injury litigation - plaintiffs for 2014, after having previously been named by Minnesota Law & Politics
as one of the 100 most influential attorneys in state history.