Name: Michael Cardamone
Firm: The Cardamone Law Firm
Practice Areas: Workers Compensation
Location: Blue Bell, Pa.
Law School: Villanova University School of Law, 1999
Undergraduate: Boston College, 1996
Lawdragon: Let’s start out with a general overview of your practice. How do you describe to recruits or family what it is you do?
Michael Cardamone: My practice consists of 100% Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation for injured workers. I am a Certified Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Specialist and spend my time litigating workers’ compensation matters before workers’ comp judges across Pennsylvania. I have four offices and work primarily out of our Blue Bell, Pa., office, a suburb of Philadelphia and only about twelve miles from downtown Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law is based on lost earning capacity unlike some other states. In this sense, our law is quite fair and favorable for injured workers. I am on the go most weeks, attending hearings, depositions, and mediations. My practice also involves a significant amount of writing, whether it’s correspondence to clients or my opponents, or writing briefs when cases don’t settle.
LD: What do you like about your practice? What is professionally satisfying?
MC: Helping injured workers is quite satisfying. I spent a year and a half representing insurance companies earlier in my career and found out quickly that it wasn’t for me. I find it gratifying to help level the playing field for injured workers. Due to the contingent fee structure in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation, a client does not have to send me cash or a check. We only get paid a percentage of their weekly or bi-weekly indemnity checks if we are successful in litigation – in either procuring their checks in a denied claim context, or preventing them from being reduced in the context of a petition by the insurer or employer to reduce their benefits. The Workers’ Compensation system is contentious and very stressful for many injured workers and it feels great to help them navigate the complexities and reach a fair resolution so that they can move their lives forward.
LD: What is a common problem area for your clients?
MC: Communication, Communication, Communication! Once a work injury takes place, or once an injured worker believes their injury or condition may be related to their work activities, they must report it within 120 days or they are forever barred from pursuing benefits under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Many injured workers are intimidated by their employers and do not report the injuries right away, or if they do, they frequently do not make it clear that the injury is related to the work activities. This will lead to a notice defense by the insurer’s counsel once litigation is initiated. I see clients struggling with clear, concise communication skills, which can leave the door open for the employers and insurers to fight claims. It is not enough to tell a supervisor or owner that you are hurting. You must tell them how it’s related to the work activities, whether a traumatic injury or a repetitive work injury. While there is no requirement that notice be in writing, it is the best option so as to avoid any ambiguity or misunderstanding.
LD: Did you have a professor that was particularly influential in your studies or career?
MC: I enjoyed my Civil Procedure professor at Villanova Law, as difficult as the class was. He didn’t like students making “arguments” and was very concrete – always reminding us to read the rules as they contained the answers to his hypotheticals. He had a way of keeping us very fundamental in our approach. When it came down to exam time, he would really stress reading the table of contents as a great roadmap. I’ve been able to utilize his common sense approach to many facets of life, legal or otherwise.
LD: Is there anything in particular in your career that you consider key to arriving at your current level of excellence?
MC: One thing that helped me was not being afraid to change firms. It can be valuable to have an experience, even if a negative one, as it ultimately helps you figure out which path you will carve out. I worked at four different firms before starting my own firm in 2013. I learned important lessons at every place of employment. I was also fortunate to work for a small firm right out of law school where I met my mentor who is still a mentor and a friend who practices the same type of law as me. This attorney showed me how to handle difficult situations and always did so with honor, sound legal grounds, and professionalism. I still consult with him from time to time to help analyze complicated issues.
LD: Tell us about your career path. What made you want to start your own law firm?
MC: The last firm I had worked for was a great firm. However, I wanted to be involved in the management of the firm and they weren’t seeing eye to eye with me regarding this. I was bringing in many cases through my own marketing ideas and decided that it was time to move in another direction as we were unable to work things out. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and really enjoy being my own boss. The experiences I had before starting my own firm were invaluable and helped shape me both legally and on a personal level.
LD: What do you do for fun when you’re outside the office?
MC: I enjoy spending time with my wife and three daughters. I practice mixed martial arts and enjoy all types of athletic endeavors. I play the drums for stress release a few times per week. I love traveling, especially to Bosnia (my wife grew up here) and Croatia in the summers, and to Ocean City, N.J. I love going to Philadelphia Union games as a member of the Sons of Ben, and relaxing on a summer night at Citizen’s Bank Park to take in a Phillies game. I am known to frequent many restaurants and enjoy Indian and Thai cuisine immensely.
LD: If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be doing now professionally?
MC: I really enjoy marketing so I’d probably own a marketing company. Another possible career would be writing or teaching philosophy. I was a philosophy major at Boston College before heading to law school.