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University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law - Summer 2014

Robert Buccola’s lifelong appetite for advocacy began in eighth grade with a moot court trial involving Miranda rights. In December 2013, he and partner Steven Campora, ‘83, along with attorney Eliot Reiner, obtained a $34.9 million verdict for a bus driver who was paralyzed from the waist down when a big rig hit her vehicle head-on. The verdict was Sacramento County’s largest personal injury award. A founding and co-managing partner of Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora LLP in Sacramento, Buccola was named the 2012–2013 California State Trial Lawyer of the Year by the American Board of Trial Advocates. He is also a member of The Inner Circle of Advocates, an exclusive invitation-only group of 100 of the nation’s top plaintiff lawyers. How did you prevail in trial? “One of the obstacles we had to overcome was the defense’s suggestion that Debra Hackett, the driver, was doing well in her current environment, a wellstaffed and attentive care facility. Mrs. Hackett was able to go home several days a week and to church on Sunday. But the defendant’s doctor admitted she could receive even better care at home with 24/7 nursing care. It’s not an easy pill for the jury to swallow asking for in excess of $500,000 annually for home care, a cost of more than five times her current care COURTING SUCCESS Litigator Robert Buccola, ’83, knows how to win big—and how to give back costs. The jury we had in this case was very bright and discerning and made the right decision.” What makes a stellar litigator? “The most skilled trial lawyers are those who can make complicated facts easily understandable to laypersons. If you simplify the facts in a way that will resonate with one’s common sense, you stand a much better chance of winning your case. We rarely try ideas out on mock juries, but instead see what appeals to regular nonlawyer types and then go with those themes.” Why do you continue to support McGeorge? “Its long-standing reputation for putting out really solid practicing lawyers is commendable. It’s tough when you go through law school because as a student, you might resent what seems to be a lack of flexibility in the curriculum and with the academic rules. But when you get to court, you appreciate the rigors of law school because courts are often inflexible. McGeorge has excellent hands-on practicing lawyer professors who provide practical guidance, as well as the right mix of respected academicians. Combine all of this with its excellent clinical programs, and it’s no surprise that McGeorge has produced so many accomplished practitioners.” 64 SUMMER 20 14 S T E V E Y E AT E R The Last Word


University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law - Summer 2014
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