Monday, June 25, 2018

Remembering Kevin Ruby

The following is the eulogy given by Mr. Portner, in remembrance of our partner and friend, Mr. Kevin Ruby:           
I am Kevin’s law partner.  I hired him 19 years ago when our firm was in a very different place.  We are now one of the more successful personal injury firms in both Maryland and Virginia.  Kevin Ruby, as the head of the litigation department, had a lot to do with our success, as well as the respect we have obtained with the defense law firms. 
          The letters and calls our firm has received from our colleagues over the last several weeks makes you feel a little better about humanity.  Lora kept a file folder of them from the different firms.  They read like this: GEICO Staff Counsel - I am very sorry to hear about Kevin, he was highly respected by all in our office.  He will be missed.  Such a worthy adversary.  State Farm Staff Counsel - He was always a pleasure to work with and a great contribution to the legal community. Co-Counsel for our D.C. Cases - Kevin was always a gentleman to work with and an excellent litigator.  Finally, Allstate Staff Counsel sent a card - one attorney wrote, Kevin was my scuba advisor anywhere in the world I wanted to dive, there was a good chance he had already done it and knew all the secrets.   He loved Cozumel.  He introduced me to Bonaire.  I always smiled when we had a case together.  Another attorney wrote, when I started working for State Farm, the first trial I saw was between my co-worker and Kevin.  Everyone knew of him and the firm of Portner & Shure.  I was impressed by their legal skills, even more so impressed with how both of them were so professional throughout the trial, and could talk as friends outside of the presence of the jury.  Kevin was always a gentleman. P.S. He won that trial. 
            Kevin didn’t start out as a terrific litigator.  He had only a year of experience when I met him.  I was handling Circuit Court felony criminal cases and had civil jury trials every 2 weeks. I told him all of this, told him I would train him, and it would be trial by fire.
            He answered that all he ever wanted to do was be in court. Now when a young attorney tells you that, you doubt he understands what that means.  I needed Kevin to take some of these cases, even though he was only 26 or 27 years old.  Based on what he said, I hired Kevin and another young litigator.  Those 2 became my young army and the 3 of us were in court constantly. Our styles were different, but we played off each other. They advised on strategy in the larger cases, and were taught the rules of the game. They learned to be result oriented and at all times focus on making the Judge or Jury cry.
            Kevin loved to deliberate about the pros and cons of all of our cases.  Every stone was turned over in these discussions.  That’s how he was for the past 19 years.  He would walk through my office, on purpose, under the guise of getting a drink from the fridge in the conference room, always after lunch when he knew I would talk.  Then I would routinely be asked what I thought about this argument, or this legal position.  When he did this, he had already run the arguments through many people in every corner of the building.  I told him long ago, I ran cases by the office cleaning lady, my wife’s mom, my tennis partners, secretaries and paralegals.  Kevin, with his slow, deliberate way of bringing in all of us, did the same.  I am going to miss that.
            During this process we would invariably drift to conversations about ourselves, and our families. I heard about dance recitals, driving lessons and of course the problems with young girls with cell phones.  I also learned a little about shark cages, what it’s like to hike with your dad, the streets of Cuba and the loyalty of Cleveland Browns fans.  Recently, after we talked for awhile, he said - you know there are side effects from what we do.  He said our kids, friends, etc. say we talk too much or are annoying.  I said I get that. My family even has a name for it. Then I said, and this was just a month ago, something else that I had never told him before.  It was that he needs to keep in mind that of course there are side effects of what we do, but his results show that he is one of the top litigators in the region, and in my eyes there could never be another one like him. 
            He was brilliant, he was respected inside the firm and out; he was humble, ethical and his results closing 5 cases at over a million dollars, were statistically better than 1% of all of USA injury attorneys.  Kevin, of course, was invited to join the elite group of attorneys in The Million Dollar Advocacy Club. He refused because that required him to fill out a 3 page application.
            His habit of marching to his own tune, working towards crazy vacations, and bucking bureaucracy worked to my advantage.  Years ago, Piper and Marbury, currently one of the largest law firms in the nation asked Kevin to join their D.C. office.  I told him I’ve worked for a large firm, my wife still was, and that it was a place for people who bill by the hour and worry every month about making those hours — not people who are willing to bet on themselves to knock out tremendous awards.   He stayed with me, and like me, bet on himself. We both benefitted.
            You can’t pick the family you are born into.  Yet you can pick the family you choose to work with.  Inside of a firm that has 50 people lives a small family.  We play off each other.   In that role, Kevin had independent relationships with all of the family members.  He was our ethical advisor.  What Kevin said, I listened to.  He was a mediator and go to person with difficult clients. He was a teacher and a friend to many.
            Someone called me the other day and said I’m sorry to hear about Kevin, he was like your little brother. That is true.  Fortunately, not long ago, I learned that when someone is extremely close to you, you taught or they taught you, befriended, respected and you battled with, that they are never really gone.  They are part of you.  As I said, my job early on was to teach Kevin how to make others cry.  He learned that and did a fine job of doing that to all of us here.  But also, he made us smile, made us think, made us deliberate and see more sides of different personal and case issues.  He changed me, he’s a part of me, and I will continue to ask him, outside of other’s ear shot, what he thinks about certain issues.  And I believe he will continue to give me answers.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. He was so very kind. My sincere condolences to Kevin's family and also his Portner & Shore family. What a loss.