Mark Cantor's Story: The Last Two Decades of Law Practice in Missouri

Mark Cantor's Story: The Last Two Decades of Law Practice in Missouri

By: Mark A. Cantor

My first job as an attorney was in the summer of 1991. I worked as a clerk for Alan Mandel and his law firm Davidson, Schlueter, Mandel & Mandel. I was hired without a resume because Alan was my father's neighbor. My interview was an informal dinner and a request for a job.

I was asked to do everything from running errands and getting coffee to helping to research and write memorandums. In those days, to research a memo you would have to go to the library on the top floor of the civil circuit court building and show a membership card that your library dues were paid up. I took my boss's library card because I did not have a card. I would gather the research and then I would make a copy, at the time I think the copies were a few cents a page and those were also charged to the law firm.

I would return to the office and begin writing the memorandum and be interrupted to go pick up a client and drive them to another destination. For my hard labors I was paid $8.00 an hour, but I did a good job and I was hired to work for them again the following summer. I continued with my law school at Loyola in New Orleans and I began to practice law full time in late 1993.

Because I had done a good job as a clerk, my old firm, Alan Mandel, Andrew Mandel and John Schlueter, (may he rest in peace) decided to hire me on as full time. The deal was that I would earn a portion of the cases I brought in and that I would get paid $10.00 an hour. That first year of work, I worked incredibly hard. I would get to work at 7:00 a.m. and I would not leave until after the bosses left. I met clients and went to court nearly daily, but they were not my files. I did whatever it took to be successful and by the year end I had one small case for a friend of the family's named Gladys Macintosh. Gladys at the time was in her late fifties and suffered a small injury for which I fought like hell and recovered a disproportionately large amount of money for her. At the end of the first year, my wife and I had had our first child and I had earned a total of $17,400.00.

The next year my practice grew. I met a friend of my father's who had the misfortune of having a child with disabilities. My father is a pediatric neurologist and handled the family with great love and kindness for a child that never developed. She was severely physically and mentally handicapped and could not talk or move even at the age of seventeen. As a result of my father's kindness to that family, the father of this child wanted to help me. He was a union worker at the Chrysler minivan plant and had a lot of friends having been there for many, many years. He started to hand out my cards and was in fact my first union client. He had an injury for which I represented him and took to trial and won. I had the assistance of the firm where I was at time, but the labor was mine and the result was a good one. The next thing you knew, I had very many Chrysler (later Daimler Chrysler) clients and was filing a lot of Missouri workers' compensation claims. I attribute my father's kindness to a nice man who sent me business for a large part of my success. Because my father had been kind to everybody in his medical practice dealing with mentally retarded children and other severe disabilities, and because he is so well respected, his strong recommendations were effective and I felt I had an obligation to live up to the standard he set. My father also mailed a letter to many professional and personal contacts of his that stated my father's pride in my work ethic and abilities and asked people if they should unfortunately have a problem to please send them my direction. The letter was extremely effective and my practice by my third year had gone from one client to over sixty. I still was not making a lot of money, but I could see that my hard work was paying off.

I approached my law firm and I asked for a small percentage of the practice. At the time, Jack Schlueter (who I greatly respected) joked that I should be paying him for teaching me how to practice personal injury law. This joke was common for him, and although funny, it was only half a joke because I did learn invaluable lessons from Mr. Schlueter. The firm didn't want to make me partner, so I decided to go out on my own and start a law firm. (I also worked with Todd Baker, who recently passed away, Dan Marsh, Mike Schlueter, along with his father John Schlueter, Alan and Andrew Mandel).

In June 1998, I opened The Cantor Law Firm, LLC. The practice was opened in my father's pediatric neurology office and my mentor, Alan Mandel, was "of counsel" to me - meaning he would advise me if I needed help. My father had changed his practice by not employing other medical doctors or psychologists so I simply took over one of two open offices in his suite. It made for a unique combination, a pediatric neurologist and a personal injury attorney in the same office, but the combination worked. Soon I was getting more and more cases, both workers' compensation and civil lawsuits. I had handled many civil claims before but I was still only about five years out and the civil cases can be very difficult, require a lot of strategy, hard work and experience. I thought I was over my head with some of the cases and I went to searched for a partner. I had an old friend who was also friends with my older brother in middle school, Brent Cantor, while we were growing up.

If you know Gary, you know that he is a tough and smart guy. Unfortunately, he was working on the wrong side of the law. He was doing railroad defense. But I knew Gary was truly for the underdog and I thought that he would make a good fit for me and my practice. Gary and I were able to sit down and negotiate a deal that would lead to success for the both of us. In January of 2000, my law practice joined with Cantor and Associate and we became Cantor and Associate. My wife, Amy Cantor, who I met in law school, was ready to return to the practice of law after our second child was four years old and she eventually took over the practices of The Cantor Law Firm, LLC which now only practices family and domestic law.

Cantor and Associate thrived. We grew and we hired Gary's friend and my brother, Brent Cantor, who was a successful fit for us for six years. We also hired many other lawyers to assist us in what was a consumer class action or two which we successfully resolved.

After awhile and many years of success, Cantor and Associate decided that we needed to change locations. We had been on television, the front and the back of the yellow pages and the yellow book, had a website, but had poor street visibility and wanted to move. In 2008, we moved one block from Woodcrest to Olive, where we are now at 12283 Olive Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri 63141.

In the course of our practice and prior to our move we had a lot of fun at the Woodcrest building. We would frequently have happy hours and social gatherings. We were playful, but hard working and began a steady stream of successful verdicts and settlements.

The law firm of Cantor Injury Law, LLC is proud of our beginnings and the humble start that we had adjacent to my father and Gary's close friend, Dr. Harvey Cantor's pediatric neurology practice. As a result, we continue to share offices with Dr. Cantor who still works full time and about fifty hours per week but also volunteers his professional time to underprivileged children in need of good medical care for free. I am proud that my father, Dr. Cantor, gives two days a month to charity and enjoys coming in to be with his friend his son Mark Cantor, and his daughter -in-law Amy Cantor where we all still practice in one building at 12283 Olive Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63141. (I am still proud to be his son even though he has a conservative view and usually is against any potential medical malpractice claim we discuss). This combination also provides us immediate access to a qualified, brilliant medical opinion as well as an entire resource for experts and other opinions from a man who has practiced medicine for longer than most people have been alive.

The future is bright for the law firm of Cantor Injury Law, LLC. We have been practicing together now for nearly twelve years and we are just beginning our success. Our law firm is on a roll now both with trying and resolving personal injury cases, medical malpractice cases, workers' compensation hearings and large settlements, consumer class actions, railroad injuries and the like. This year alone we have recovered millions of dollars for our top cases and 2011 is not over yet. The quality of our cases has improved and at our firm when we handle your case, we personally handle your case because we do not have an option of anyone other than Mark Gary or Jade all of whom are very competent, qualified lawyers. On the large files we work as an effective team and are battle tested. This core arrangement of close friends practicing law together provides a unique advantage for our clients. Unlike some other law firms that market significantly and hire many other lawyers to do the actual work, it is us that must decide whether or not to accept your case and if we do it is our names on the line as we try and push the case. I have always said that no one likes a loser and in addition to not being able to satisfy our clients, if we lose a case we don't get paid.

At Cantor Injury Law, LLC, there is a direct result between our successes in cases and our financial success unlike other firms where lawyers are hired at a salary and simply put to work on files without it really mattering if they win or lose – they are going to get paid either way. At Cantor Injury Law, LLC, we fight to win and if we lose you don't owe us any money and we don't get paid. As a result, we win most of the time.

When we moved to the Olive location in 2008, we had the ability to design the area and put a nice aquarium in the front and center. We invite you to come by and talk with us at Cantor Injury Law, LLC at any time. (Bring your kids and they can feed the fish.) Gary and I are very personable as well as our lawyer associate, Jade Wandell. Jade joined us in 2010 and is a prestigious graduate of Washington University School of Law, one of the best schools in the country. We would love to catch up with you. We are well versed in the laws of the states of Missouri & Illinois and can discussed nearly any topic with you. As you know, we do not charge a fee unless we win. Call us at (314) 542-9999.

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