At Milestone Consulting, we have the honor and pleasure of working with many of the best trial lawyers in the country. We have decided to highlight some of these awesome attorneys whose work ethic and success have made them assets to the civil justice system.
Today, we’re featuring Karen Beyea-Schroeder of Schroeder Law Office PLLC in The Woodlands, TX. Karen focuses her legal career on product liability, personal injury, and complex commercial litigations. She has represented thousands of people who were harmed by dangerous drugs and medical devices including defective hip and knee implants, Essure, testosterone drugs, and many others. Karen is a leader in the trans-vaginal mesh litigation brought by thousands of injured women and their families.
Karen previously served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps in the Legal Assistance and Claims Departments. She was also a Military Prosecutor and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. While in the Army, she worked on various cases ranging from traffic investigations to prosecuting rape and homicides.
We asked Karen a few questions about her career and the civil justice system, which she answered below.
What is your favorite part about being a trial attorney?
I get to help people and educate the community. I get to be part of the system of checks and balances in our government to ensure that companies are doing the right thing. I get to help people who have been seen as an opportunity-cost by companies, and to help those people hold the companies accountable for that decision.
Trial attorneys can get a bad wrap. What do you think can be done (or is being done) to expel this stereotype?
I think three things can be done:
- Litigation attorneys help their communities so much, and it often goes unnoticed or unacknowledged. We need to publicize trial lawyers’ community involvement more to get the communities to understand we are there to help. I am co-chair for American Association for Justice’s Trial Lawyers Care and we are trying to publicize those positive actions to ensure people have the correct view of a trial attorney.
- Speak with the younger generations to educate. In the Houston Bar Association, they have a program where schools can contact HBA to have a speaker come to the classrooms. Explaining what a trial lawyer does can be difficult, especially for younger children. If in elementary or middle schools, I have the children separate between two sides of the room, one side who likes Oreos best and the other side likes chocolate chip cookies best. I then tell the children they need to state why their cookie is the best with a fact behind the reason for it being the superior cookie. Children grasp this, and in explaining that is what trial lawyers do — take a side and fight — they get excited in these lectures.
- Speak to people about what you do as a trial attorney instead of simply saying “lawyer.” I tell people I sue pharmaceutical and medical device companies, and sometimes manufacturing companies, for harming people. When I state this instead of stating I am an attorney or trial lawyer, I usually get a positive response. Therefore, perhaps if we all start to state why we do what we do, it obtains a more positive response when questioned what we do for a living.
What has been one of the greatest challenges you’ve faced as a lawyer?
I have issues with balancing family and work. I love my work, and I love to help people. However, sometimes that means I do not get to spend enough time at home or even for myself.
Tell us about a case that you’ve handled that you consider a success story.
The best success story actually came when I was an Army Judge Advocate General Corps prosecutor. A seven year old had to take the stand against her step-father. I prepared her for trial for days, which was simply placing her in the room and chair she was going to testify in and only asking her about the difference between the truth and a lie as well as positive things, like snow cones, games she liked to play, and dolls. I never asked her about what happened. Her time came to testify, and defense counsel had a government-paid psychology expert on their litigation team. I questioned the child the same as in our prep, but then I ended with asking her if there were “games” she did not like to play and to explain those “games.” She cried but told the courtroom about those “games”. Defense counsel took the psychologist’s questions and started asking them, inquiring if I had told her what to say, and if she was crying because I forced her to do this. This seven year old had such honesty and bravery, the little girl stated that she was crying because she did not want to play those “games” with the stepfather any longer and that is why she was crying. There were two other children in the home, both younger than her, and he was sentenced to prison long enough that all of the children will be adults before he is released.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).