William Shernoff '62: "What I'm Doing with my Law Degree"

William Shernoff

During his September 2012 visit to campus, Distinguished Alumni Award recipient William Shernoff '62 discussed the passion that drives his work.

His approach to practicing law, he says, is not about just winning one case, but about how to reform a particular injustice: "I view these as crusades rather than cases."

Nearly 80 Law School students, faculty and staff attended "What I'm Doing with My Law Degree," an interview-style presentation, and took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions afterward.

Shernoff, whose legal career spans nearly five decades, is a pioneer in the field of bad-faith insurance law. The Crivitz, Wis., native told the audience that he attended UW Law School because he wanted to "represent the average person against what I call corporate America."

Some of the students at the presentation had watched a special showing of the documentary "On Moral Grounds," which tells the story of how Shernoff won insurance benefits for the families of thousands of Holocaust victims, despite difficulties with jurisdiction, international law, currency exchange rates and the statute of limitations.

"It doesn’t take a genius to win these cases," Shernoff said of his winning record. "The easiest thing is getting a [winning] verdict--the hardest is keeping it."

When asked how he was able to sway juries in his favor, Shernoff said, in effect, he tells the jurors that they have the ability to make a company better.

"What sells to the jury is to empower them," he said. "Nine votes can change the way an insurance company does business."

And, as the Law School audience discovered that day, a good attorney has the ability to make the world better, too.

Submitted by WAA and Law School staff on November 26, 2012

This article appears in the categories: Alumni, Articles

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