Milwaukee Talks: Attorney David Gruber
Podcast: "One Call, That's All"
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OMC: So, do you counter whatever issues, lawyer jokes, being called an ambulance chaser, with being yourself and having fun?
DG: I'd say that 98 percent of the feedback I've gotten has been positive. Literally, 98 percent.
I don't have to tell you, I mean, there are haters everywhere. We try to put a positive spin on everything. What I do is, I meet a lot of very nice people under very unfortunate circumstances, and we're dealing with peoples' misery.
We're just trying to make them think positive. Make their lives a little easier. Some of these people lose their job. It's just difficult, so, we try to be ourselves. We honestly try to be ourselves and bring a little positivity to what is not a very pleasant circumstance.
I'm talking about people losing limbs, people having surgeries ... often times I have to deliver a speech when somebody's very badly hurt, and there's no insurance and there's nothing we can do. That's one of the things that separates us. We try to be upfront with our clients. One of the few mottos I have is that we don't tell people what they want to hear. We are very candid with them and sometimes it's very difficult.
OMC: Obviously the work stands for itself.
DG: Well, going back ... there are 11 attorneys here, and the people who work with me are very, very good, and they buy into it. We have really good relationships with our clients, where we're tremendously involved in the community.
We sponsor dozens of basketball teams because I'm there. We're involved. Susan Komen because it's personal to us. We're involved in the MACC Fund because it's the greatest thing there is. We're involved in the festivals because we want them to continue. We don't want them to fold. And, we truly understand – the majority of our clients are blue collar, but our demographics have changed drastically over the past few years as our success rate and our reputation have gotten better.
OMC: Can you talk a little bit about the typical types of clients and cases? Is the majority still accident victims?
DG: The majority of what we're doing is car accidents. We're not cute. We're very, very good at what we do. The vast majority of what we're involved in are auto accidents.
OMC: Now, this is a tough question for anyone to answer, but what's a typical day for you?
DG: Well, let me put it this way. I pride myself in being a serial tasker. You know, when I interview people or I talk to people, or I prepare lawyers ... I tell them that multitasking is for the weak, and we are serial taskers, as attorneys.
I'm a problem solver. I prefer to be a problem-preventer, but we become a problem solver, because when somebody comes in here in the span of a few minutes their car has been wiped out, they can't go to work, they hurt and they have absolutely no idea where to turn or what to do, and we're able to guide them through every step of the way.
Sometimes they're fine in a couple of weeks, sometimes a couple of months, sometimes they're never back to where they were. So over the last few years, I used to spend all of my time in court. I'm not in court as much as I was, but I'm literally involved in hundreds and hundreds of cases, and when I say ... spend a lot of time teaching and mentoring, and a lot of time helping people get their lives back together.
That's what we do. We are lawyers. We are doctors. We are counselors. We are shrinks. We take a team approach, and you might understand ... much of what I've learned involves sports. I don't think there are any shortcuts. We're about hard work. We're about long hours. We're about discipline. An unusual amount of people that work in my office and for me are college athletes or have been athletes. It's a bias I have. We don't take shortcuts.
Again, you've asked me what time it is and I've told you how to make a clock. I apologize, but every one of my days is different, because I may have the three most important things I have to do that day, and by 9:30, two or three things may have come up involving clients, change of circumstances, so I do whatever needs to be done. I'll repeat, I'd much rather be a problem preventer than a problem solver, and it's not that easy.
OMC: Let's talk about the community a little bit. What are your thoughts on Milwaukee today?
DG: That's a good question. I love Milwaukee. I have taken Milwaukee to my heart. I travel all over the nation because my son plays basketball all over the country, my daughter's played tennis all over the country – I go to see them whenever possible. My friends coach, my kids play. I figured it out the other day – I've been to about 120 campuses just over the past six years, and I've been all over the country. The more places I go, the more I can't wait to come home to Milwaukee. I love the restaurants. I love the feeling. I still have trouble with our seven-month winter, but I do disappear for long weekends to Vegas, South Beach – my favorite spot – and I go to New York City.
Those are three of my and my wife's spots, but Milwaukee is a unique place and I have a very, very strong comfort level here. My parents moved here – neither of them are alive anymore, but when my son was born and I was the baby, I was a mamma's boy and my mother was clearly the biggest influence of my life – it's why I'm a lawyer. She moved here and they loved Milwaukee and these are New York / New Jersey people.
Of course we're suffering some of the problems that all big cities are, but I think a lot of people are trying to do their very best to fight through tough times.
OMC: Anything you'd change about the community if you could?
DG: I'd like there to be a little more positivity, a little less divisiveness. Politics has become a dirty business. I know all of these politicians and I like them very much and respect most of them, but I think the current leaders around Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are terrific. Well-intentioned, but there's a little bit of divisiveness, and this is a tough time to be so divisive.
Even TV coverage. People don't like to watch the news. There are a lot of good things going on out there. There are many good people doing good things. If I had a magic wand, yeah, I'd like to see a few more people look at the cup three-quarters full instead of three-quarters empty.
OMC: Let's talk a little bit about the Aaron Rodgers relationship and how you met him, and how the spots came about.
DG: Well, I guess we met Aaron a couple of years ago. Initially through the MACC (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) Fund. After a couple of outings, he was good enough to come to my office and talk to and meet some of the people here.
I developed a very good relationship with him and a great relationship with his business partners, H. Koal and Carla Cossy (RBSH Enterprises, Inc.). They're really good folks, and again, of course, this was before Aaron got big.
We knew that Aaron was a winner – very positive. A role model, and that's something that we wanted to be associated with. The fit was natural, and of course I get hundreds of questions from people about how this happened, and it happened pretty naturally and I'm happy about it because they did their homework.
A lot of people ask why you would want to be involved with a personal injury lawyer, and it just became personal. They did their homework, and I think they really liked what we and I do in the community and really what we're about. That being said, Aaron is a tremendous college basketball fan, and an enormous fan of Wisconsin, an enormous fan of the Wisconsin people.
He's a big wrestling fan, too (as am I), and people ask me all the time, is he really as nice and sincere as he comes across? He's the real deal. He's never been spoiled. He had to work his way up. He's not arrogant, he's quietly confident, because he's extremely prepared and he's a hard worker. So, that's my thoughts on him and pleased as punch with the relationship and everyone is very proud of the relationship.
OMC: Are there new spots coming there?
DG: Of course! There will always be new spots. In the near future, in the coming months, and there will be spots in the years to come because it's a pretty solid relationship and we have a lot of respect for each other.
Stay tuned, but more importantly, what we agreed on is what we're going to emphasize – education and the consumer. And without making this a commercial, Nov. 1 all of our automobile insurance laws change which is a very, very bad thing, and we're trying to educate the consumer so that they are protected, and they understand things. Without being political, it's extremely important for the consumers to realize it.
OMC: Back to sports for a little bit. You're around town at many games.
DG: It's my life!
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I've heard he was a nice guy and after reading this article...he appears to be a nice guy...I just hate his ambulance-chasing advertising...much like I don't like most law firms advertising. I really like that he's involved in the community.
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