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2016 Forty Attorneys Under 40 Presentation

Michael  Kasdin
Michael Kasdin
Michelman & Robinson, LLP
▶Commercial litigation
40 Under Class – 2016

How well-regarded is attorney Michael Kasdin by his peers and clients? He’s developed a reputation as the go to lawyer in insurance/reinsurance law who can win cases and put together transactions that almost look impossible.

“Mike has developed a reputation as the lawyer that law firms and sophisticated private equity funds call when they need to find a way to do something that no one knows how to do in the insurance space,” said Scott Kapp with the Chicago office of Dentons. “Mike tries to find a way to say ‘yes’ when others say ‘no.’”

Carl Poedtke with Chicago’s DLA Piper refers to Kasdin as a “specialist’s specialist.” He says that his clients present Kasdin with complex problems because this attorney has a track record of repeatedly devising solutions to even the most challenging of them.

Poedtke points to one case in particular. Two parties in a post-closing dispute became embroiled in a heated piece of litigation. Kasdin’s opponent suggested that a counter-claim exceeding the significant sum sought by Kasdin’s client would result in an embarrassing outcome for the client and the firm. It was basically a threat to extort a walk away.

Kasdin did not fall for this strategy. Instead, he diligently fought for, and won, the review of relevant electronic information on an expedited basis to determine what additional facts were available to support the client’s claims. Employing this harvested data, Kasdin steered the case back in the favor of his client. A hard-nosed negotiation followed, resulting in a highly favorable and lucrative settlement for Kasdin’s client.

Poedtke said that such results, while impressive, are not surprising. Kasdin is simply that good, he said.

“Even when he was a mid-level associate, a major firm client allowed Michael to first-chair important pieces of litigation,” Poedtke said. “In my experience, nothing speaks louder than a client’s trust.”

On the transaction side, Michael has managed to design and obtain approval for new insurance products, where regulators had previously rejected efforts by others. He constantly seeks to find the angle that makes his case, or his transaction, the exception to the rule – that allows regulators or counterparties to say yes when they had previously said no.

Kasdin has been so successful in his specialty, that law firm Michelman & Robinson, a well-known West Coast insurance powerhouse, targeted the attorney to open and run a new Chicago office as part of its national expansion.

Kasdin’s brother, Chad Kasdin, and prior 40 under 40 recipient, that he’s not surprised with Michelman’s decision.

“My brother has an excellent feel for the business side, which is reflected in his growing book of business and list of clients,” Chad Kasdin said. “What sets him apart on the legal side is his ability to be affable and, when the situation requires, being able to unleash a relentless assault on his opponent, all conducted with the utmost integrity and civility.”

Kasdin also donates a significant amount of time to pro bono clients. One good example? He recently won a long-running criminal matter on behalf of a juvenile who had been wrongfully jailed in a sexual-assault case. The matter involved two appeals and a full-blown trial on the underlying issues.

Kasdin’s peers say that they expect big things from him in the future. After all, he’s already accomplished much at a young age.

Kenneth Schmetterer, partner with DLA Piper, said that he worked with Kasdin in the earliest days of the young attorney’s career. And even then, Schmetterer said, he could tell that Kasdin had great potential.

“Mike displayed not just great intelligence, ability and diligence, but a level of proactive professionalism very rare for someone of his then-limited experience,” Schmetterer said. “He always relished the chance to take on new and increasingly challenging tasks.”

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