John Reilly: Interview with Vestnik Magazine

From John Reilly’s Interview with Vestnik Magazine of Rhode Island (November, 2008) in English and Russian:

Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your family history.
Like most Americans, my grandparents arrived as immigrants to this Country. Two came from Ireland and the others were from Scotland and Canada. My father and all of my uncles fought in World War II (the Patriotic War) and then came home to raise families. I was born in Maine (a cold place, but not quite as cold as Siberia). My father was an aviation electronics expert who worked for the government. He was transferred to Rhode Island and so this is where I went to High School and then the University of Rhode Island.

Q. Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I served in the Army during the Viet Nam War period and met some officers who had been lawyers before they joined the Army. They made a good impression on me and after I was discharged from this duty I worked for an insurance company and met more lawyers. The insurance case lawyers did not make such a good impression, but I knew that if they could go to law school and pass their bar examinations, I could do that, too. So I went to Suffolk University Law School in Boston and graduated near the top of my class.

Q. You started your career in Providence, then moved your law practice to Warwick for about 20 years. Why did you return to Providence?
Providence was much different 20 years ago and I had a wonderful opportunity in Warwick where I practiced out of the same office as several very talented lawyers. One of them is now an associate judge of the Rhode Island Supreme Court (the highest court in the state). But as time went by we had more and more clients from northern Rhode Island and from Massachusetts. A friend and client owned a building and made a very good offer for us to relocate to Providence. Returning has increased our visibility to clients and given us a more convenient location from which to meet and help people.

Q. You have 2 Russian-speaking people working with you in your office. How or why did this happen?
This began with the wonderful Irina – a Russian doctor who began using her specialized training to help us with medical cases. I had already met some but began meeting more people from the Russian-speaking community, started advertising in Vestnik of Rhode Island, and everything grew from there. So now with these and other Russian-speaking people around me, even I am learning to speak the Russian language little by little. But the cyrillic alphabet and I do not seem to see “eye to eye.”

Q. What has kept you in the practice of law for more than 30 years?
I have enjoyed studying the law and helping people every one of those years. It is my desire to continue this practice of law as long as that desire and joy continue.

Q. What type of services fo you offer the Russian-speaking community?
We offer many types of services and your readers can find these listed on our website. Anyone with a question should call or contact us. If we cannot help, we may be able to refer them to a competent specialist to help with their situation or problem.

Q. Do you take cases on a contingency fee basis?
Yes. These are usually personal injury or medical type cases. In fact, depending on the type of case, we sometimes reduce hourly rate fees and combine them with lower contingency fee which is another way of helping make legal services affordable.

Q. Can you talk about some difficult cases that you have won?
There have been so many! But I think my most difficult cases have usually involved criminal charges or civil cases in which our client had a criminal record or other past history that makes juries feel uncomfortable. Our webpage has a tab called Cases that gives the story of many, many of these cases. And when our clients have had no criminal background we have had verdicts that were among the highest in the State of Rhode Island.

Q. Clearly, it is impossible to win all the cases. If you lost some cases, what were the reasons? What is the percentage of cases you win?
When I have gone to trial I have always believed that my client’s case could be won. When this does not happen a lawyer searches his mind and sometimes his soul to understand why he or she lost. Sometimes it only takes one juror to convince the others to rule against you. Sometimes, the other side seems to have a better explanation or better appearing or sounding witnesses. Sometimes, judges make rulings that hurt your chances or your ability to put evidence before the jury. There can be many reasons for a loss and we try to learn from each one so to avoid this happening again. We have been fortunate to have won about 85% of our jury trials. But thinking about the other 15% is painful.

Q. Many lawyers advertise their services in the yellow pages. Why should our readers choose your firm?
We have never advertised in the Yellow Pages. In fact, Vestnik was the first publication in which we ever advertised. Your readers should compare us with other firms, look at the record of cases, the news and the history we publish on our webpage, and if they choose our firm they will find that they have selected excellent, hard working and affordable lawyers who will get the job done and do it correctly.

Q. What should a client know before hiring a lawyer?
That the quality of lawyers varies from poor to excellent, just as in any other profession or type of work. A client should try to investigate the lawyer’s record and reputation. And a client should remember that they are completely within their rights to get a second or even a third opinion and that they have the right to change lawyers if they are concerned that they are not getting the best legal representation.

Q. How may our readers contact you?
All they need to do is keep reading Vestnik and look for our advertisement on the back cover. It has all of our contact information, including our informative webpage.

Still have questions? Go to our Contact page and call or email us. You need to know and we will help!