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Humbling Beyond Belief 

Despite Nationally Recognized Accomplishments as Trial Attorney, Quinn Remembers Roots, Counts Blessings

Attorney Joseph Quinn - Top Ten PA Super Lawyer - HKQ Wilkes Barre PAAfter trying hundreds of cases over more than 40 years, when you ask Joe Quinn which case was most challenging, he replies without hesitation: "The case I have on my desk today."

That statement, perhaps more than any other, sums up Joe Quinn - the lawyer and the man: He is tireless in pursuit of justice for his clients. And, despite a stellar career as a trial lawyer that has brought him success and notoriety, he is nonetheless modest and self-effacing.

"My most important and challenging case is very simply the case I am working on at the moment," he says. "When someone's future is at stake, and that person is so dependent on your efforts in representing them, there is nothing more challenging and more satisfying."

Quinn has compiled a long list of huge jury verdicts on behalf of his clients. While the verdicts add up to tens of millions of dollars, Quinn insists trying cases is about much more than the money.

IT'S ABOUT JUSTICE

"What we do is all about seeking justice for our clients," he says. "So many people who ask us to represent them feel that the system and everyone they placed their trust in has failed them. Once they place their trust and confidence in you, you absolutely owe them whatever effort you are capable of in representing them in seeking fair compensation. I really believe that nobody works harder at representing their clients than we do. I don't say that because I am looking for a compliment; I say it because I believe that this is very simply what you owe every client you agree to represent."

Quinn's distinguished record of courtroom victories has won him the respect and admiration of his colleagues in the trial bar across the state and nation. He is the only Northeastern Pennsylvania trial lawyer, and one of only two in the state, who belongs to the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, a group limited to the top 100 trial lawyers in the country.

Each year since 1986 he has been named one of "The Best Lawyers in America." A year ago, he was the only lawyer in Northeastern Pennsylvania selected among the top 100 lawyers in the state. Among his many other professional memberships, he is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Advocates and the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has served as a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice and has twice served on the Board of Governors of the American Trial Lawyers Association.

COMPETITIVE BY NATURE

A graduate of Scranton Preparatory School, Quinn earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Scranton and a law degree from Dickinson School of Law. While in high school and college, Quinn says his life revolved around basketball, and believes his athletic experience provided invaluable training for the courtroom.

"I always tell people that one of my biggest advantages in life is that I never burned myself out too early," he says. "I am a very competitive guy by nature and I think that is why I like trial work so much. In fact, I think the competitive instinct that one learns while participating in competitive athletics is invaluable. When I interview people for employment, that is always something I am interested in: Have they been involved in competitive sports? I hate to generalize, but I think that experience gives people an edge."

While at Scranton Prep, he says, he was "extraordinarily lucky" to meet a few Jesuit educators who had a profound impact on his life: Father William Byron, Father Don Clifford and his former headmaster, Father Bernard Mcllhenny, who "continues to be an integral part of my life." Father Mcllhenny married him and his wife, Carole, baptized two of their three children and later officiated at all three of their weddings.

"Together, they taught me the intangible lessons of what is important in life - like always being mindful of the need to serve others and the responsibility to try to give back to those who are less fortunate," says Quinn. "I think they provided me with many of my compasses in life. I look back on my years at Prep as a very special time."

Fresh out of law school in 1966, Quinn joined the firm that would later become Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn. There, he began working with Attorney Allan Kluger, who has been his law partner and steadfast friend ever since.

"We really come from two different worlds and our practices are so entirely different, but I really cannot imagine a better human being to practice law with for almost 40 years than Allan," Quinn says. "He has so many good and fair instincts. I have also been extraordinarily lucky to practice law for a very long time with people like Art Piccone and Dick Goldberg who are just very special human beings."

Quinn also praised the work of the lawyers on the firm's Personal Injury Team.

"I have so much pride in the people I work with on our Personal Injury Team," he says. "I think they are some of the finest and hardest-working lawyers that you will find anywhere. It's an honor for me to be their partner."

Quinn says one of his early law partners taught him a valuable lesson that has guided his approach to the law and helped him mold his work ethic.

"He told me, "If you sit here as a young man and try to figure out how or why you might be successful, it will never come from sources you would expect or predict. It will come from entirely unpredictable sources,'" Quinn recalls. "But," he said, "the one common denominator is that you take whatever case you have on your desk and work as hard as possible to achieve the best results you can. If you devote yourself to simply representing your client to the best of your abilities, your future will fall into place' And that is exactly what I have tried to do throughout my years of practice."

That is why, says Quinn, he never prepares a case to settle.

"I prepare every case with the goal of trying that case," he says. "There are a lot of cases I've settled over the last couple years that I would have loved to have tried. And, I believe in many instances, I would have achieved better results by verdict. But in so many instances, it is important for your client and his or her family to see some finality. Ultimately, you have to do what your client wants you to do, and so sometimes you are forced to settle a case that you would very much like to try."

"Looking back at his many cases, Quinn takes special pride in having broken down some of the barriers that prevented families from securing fair and just compensation in the deaths of children, elderly people and others who were non-wage earners.

HELPING PROTECT THE PUBLIC

He is also proud of the many cases that have resulted in protecting the public from dangerous products and practices. They include the only verdict ever rendered in the country against an automobile manufacturer for failure to install an air bag; many malpractice cases that have resulted in new safety procedures in hospitals; and a case against a big hotel that resulted in the establishment of a policy against serving visibly intoxicated patrons. He also takes pride in having won a number of punitive damage verdicts, which are rare, against corporations for reckless disregard for public safety.

“The reality is that sometimes it's a lawsuit, and only a lawsuit, that will prompt that kind of change,” Quinn says. “Jurors possess a power that no judge, no legislator, no President of the United States has. When they sit in judgment and see conduct that is totally unacceptable, they have a chance to say, ‘Enough is enough. That conduct is simply unacceptable in our community.’ Jurors in the appropriate case have an opportunity to send a message to a large corporation or industry saying, ‘We just won't tolerate that conduct anymore. You must change your practices.’ It is tremendously satisfying to be part of that process and, as I so frequently tell jurors, I am always proud to play a small part in such a process.”

When asked what sets him apart from other trial lawyers, Quinn says modestly, "I'll leave that up to others." When pressed, however, he stresses the importance of credibility in the courtroom, hard work and an abiding commitment to do the best job possible for his clients. In addition to being at the office at least 50 hours a week, he takes work home every night and works most weekends. He reads and studies constantly, and is always looking for new and better ways to present cases in the courtroom.

LEARNING NEVER STOPS

"The learning curve never stops," says Quinn. "I believe the moment you stop trying to learn, the moment you stop trying to grow, you're done."

Quinn also stresses the great support he receives from members of the firm's Personal Injury Team, including lawyers, paralegals, nurses, investigators and administrative assistants.

"We have some incredibly dedicated and talented people who make me look good when I enter a courtroom," he says.

In his spare time, Quinn enjoys spending time with his wife and high school sweetheart, Carole, his three daughters, Kathy, Michelle and Kim, and his six grandchildren. Kathy is a lawyer who works part-time for the firm. Michelle, also a lawyer, is her dad's right hand in the courtroom. Kim "was the one who decided there were too many lawyers at the table," Quinn says, and passed on law school for a career in fashion. After working in the fashion industry, she returned home and spent a number of years working as a paralegal in the firm's Kingston office. She is now a full-time mom.

"I am so proud of each of them and their accomplishments," he says. "I am so proud to be their father and am so lucky to have been associated with each of them in representing so many injured people throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania."

All things considered, Quinn is quick to count his blessings.

"I enjoy my work immensely," he says. "I once said that I am one of life's lucky people who really does enjoy his work. It is humbling beyond belief just how lucky I have been and I hope that I can live a life that is consistent with the blessings that I have been given."