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Callahan Q&A, continued ...Published: August 01, 2012

OCM: It’s remarkable how much things have changed.
DC: Without question it has changed. I remember driving from San Clemente in 1981 to my first job interview. I took the “Beach Cities” turnoff from the I-5 and thought that Newport Beach was a few miles ahead. By the time I turned off Coast Highway and headed toward the airport, there was nothing but rolling hills. The airport was tiny. No toll roads. No Irvine Spectrum. And the law community was small. Some firms like Rutan & Tucker were here, but it was a very local industry.

OCM: And now?
DC: Orange County stands on its own, equal with any other metropolitan area in the country in terms of law expertise. Orange County firms like ours increasingly get recruited to handle cases in other states. Our legal community has a growing and strong reputation.

OCM: Does the legal industry outside Orange County, particularly Los Angeles, see it the same way?
DC: I think the law community there, if forced to admit it, would say that the Orange County powerhouse firms here are as good as or better than what exists in L.A. today. However, there is unwillingness on the part of L.A. to acknowledge that their younger brother can beat them in a fight. It’s competitive.

Your track record as a firm has been impressive, particularly in the past decade. What sets you apart?
DC: What I’ve been doing for my entire career is looking at things from a different angle. I don’t look at a challenge straight on. I try to turn it to the left and turn it to the right to see if I can find an opening to exploit and find the solution. As a result, we’ve had some of the biggest settlements and judgments ever: the largest business litigation jury verdict in O.C. history, at $934 million, which remains the largest verdict of any sort in Orange County history; the highest settlement in a personal injury case in U.S. history, at $50 million, and the highest employment settlement and judgment in O.C. history, at $38 million. We look at things differently. Orange County has grown because it is a community of innovators. We like to think we are, too.

OCM: So what drives you to be different?
DC: It’s just an unwillingness to accept defeat. We have a will to win. But, equally important, I hate to lose. So rather than concede, we continue to focus on finding a way to win. On your typical case, you just follow existing law and hope to persuade a judge or jury that your position is just. But on the tough cases, those that test the bounds of existing law, you have to look outside the box. You have to be inventive and willing to push yourself to think differently. What drives me is a desire to win and a desire to help my clients.

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