As managing attorney of the asbestos section at The Lanier Law Firm’s Houston office, Sam Taylor fights on behalf of those who have suffered serious diseases due to asbestos exposure. The firm is known for their commitment to asbestos litigation; they have been taking major companies to task for their roles in asbestos-caused illnesses since 1998. The firm has achieved precedent-setting victories in the area, including a verdict of $4.69B against Johnson & Johnson in the first trial linking asbestos in the company’s talc-based powders to ovarian cancer.
Though he may specialize in asbestos matters, Taylor’s caseload is far from a single track. Taylor has served as lead counsel in a wide variety of plaintiffs’ personal injury matters, including medical malpractice, automobile accidents and construction site injuries – and even a class action certification hearing against tech giant IBM.
The Texas-born Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyer continues to serve his community outside of work. His public service efforts are as well-rounded as his legal practice. He has served on his livestock association board of directors and the local planning and zoning commission, has acted as a mentor for local youth parks and recreation programs and was twice elected to the city council.
Lawdragon: Can you describe the mix of work you do in your practice at The Lanier Law Firm?
Sam Taylor: I am the managing attorney of the asbestos section in the Houston office. My practice not only involves managing cases, but also managing staff and other attorneys on our team. I am also one of the National Trial Counsels, so I am involved in preparing and getting cases ready for trial as well as trying the cases.
LD: What trends are you seeing in your practice?
ST: We handle a lot of asbestos-related disease cases, representing victims of asbestos exposure who get mesothelioma – a cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure. We have seen a trend recently where a company such as Johnson & Johnson is trying to use the bankruptcy process to avoid responsibility for these claims even though the company has significant financial assets. That strategy, commonly known as the Texas Two-Step, makes it even more difficult for these well-deserving clients to secure justice.
LD: What is the most interesting matter or case you have handled in your career?
ST: One of the most interesting cases I have handled was a few years ago when I represented two teenage girls whose father had been shot and killed at a bar in Mingus, Texas. The father was in an argument over the female bartender with another guy in the bar, who ended up shooting my client’s father. We ended up working on that case and were able to settle the claim in exchange for a tract of land in Strawn, Texas which is now known as Palo Pinto Mountain State Park – a Texas state park. It was definitely an interesting case!
LD: Was there an early experience or mentor who really helped shape the course of your professional life?
ST: Yes, my father-in-law, who is a lawyer and was in the Texas Senate for 13 years, really helped shape the course of my legal career. I began working for him in the Texas Legislature in 1985 and worked as an administrative aide in the capitol. This experience really confirmed my desire to be an attorney, so I went to law school and then went back and began my practice with him in my hometown.
That strategy, commonly known as the Texas Two-Step, makes it even more difficult for these well-deserving clients to secure justice.
LD: Can you share a lawyer you have come up against in a case or a negotiation that you admire and why?
ST: Yes, I admire Ken Rhodes. He has represented several defendants in asbestos litigation, so I have come up against him several times. I have always found him to be very honest, forthcoming and honorable in all of our dealings.
LD: How would you describe your style as a lawyer? Or how do you think others would describe it?
ST: I think people would see me as being very level-headed, fair and honest. I don’t think I am particularly combative – however, there is a time and place for that, and I can be aggressive when I need to be. But generally, I believe people find me to be fair and pretty easy to work with.
LD: What do you enjoy about your practice at The Lanier Law Firm – what makes the firm unique?
ST: Mark Lanier is the absolute best trial attorney in the world. So, Mark is the selling point of this firm as he is not only an effective trial lawyer, but he operates in the highest of standards and that permeates through the firm. He not only has a reputation of excellent and unending dedication to pursue justice for our clients, but he equips us with all the necessary resources, expertise, and tools to fully and effectively represent our clients. He is truly what makes this law firm go.
LD: What do you do for fun when you are outside of the office?
ST: I like to spend time with family, play golf, I like to try and stay active – like working out – and I am a huge sports fan. I love to watch the Dallas Cowboys – they’re my team!
LD: Do you have a favorite book or movie about the justice system?
ST: “A Few Good Men” is one of my favorite movies, with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson.
LD: If you weren’t a lawyer, what do you think you would be doing now?
ST: I would probably be a football coach.