Matthew Passen shines when it matters most. Just ask the veteran attorneys who have opposed him in personal injury and wrongful death cases. They’ll tell you that no lawyer is more prepared than Passen, a partner at Chicago’s Passen Law Group.
“When you watch him in action, you get this feeling that you have a long way to go to catch up,” says James Wideikis, partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP. “He always seems prepared. And he always has this calmness about him. I have no doubt that Matt will be one of the leading trial attorneys in this city. He is already making his way.”
While Passen is only 35, he has already earned several notable results for his clients, most recently a $10.8 million jury verdict in a complex product liability case. He also secured a $1.4 million medical malpractice settlement in Winnebago County and, in his first trial, a $610,000 verdict for an elderly couple injured in a truck accident, which was recognized by the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter as the largest verdict ever reported in Illinois for a plaintiff over the age of 60 who suffered purely soft-tissue injuries.
Judge Lorna Propes, who presided over Passen’s last two jury trials, was struck by his preparation and ability. “What set Matt apart from so many others were his well prepared and persuasive witness examinations, sound tactical decisions, and easy and persuasive manner with the jury. I especially value creative and competent use of technology in the courtroom. Matt excelled in this area as well. Indeed, it is easy to say that Matt’s graphics, electronically displayed documents, demonstrative exhibits and use of video impeachment surpassed what I have seen in the hands of any other lawyer, bar none.”
In Passen’s most recent medical malpractice trial,he represented the estate of a man who died from complications following surgery. Passen took on the surgeon, gastroenterologist,hospital and primary care physician in this case, charging that these medical professionals were negligent in their duties, resulting in a preventable death. Passen settled with all defendants except for the surgeon, who was represented by Mark Smith, partner with Lowis & Gellen. The case proceeded to trial. “At closing argument, Matt was passionate and compelling,” Mr. Smith said. “I presented one of the better closing arguments that I’ve ever given, and when Matt got up to rebut, he stuck it. His ability to stay with his plan and his case, rather than allow me to distract him into chasing my theories, was a credit to his remarkable abilities and courage.” The jury returned a verdict in favor of Passen’s clients for $900,000, which resulted in a net recover of $1 million after set-offs of pre-trial settlements.
“With more experience and time, Matt will be one of the finest [trial lawyers] in our city. I have no doubt about that,” says Mr. Smith. “And it won’t be simply what he does in the courtroom that puts him there. It will be what is clear in the eyes of those he represents, as he guides them through the process of seeking answers and making some sense from the pain and loss they’ve endured.”
“He is a smart, effective communicator which makes him an excellent advocate and distinguishes him as a trial lawyer,” said Judge Thomas Mulroy, who has known Passen since he began his career at Jenner & Block, “where he was highly regarded as personable, intelligent, diligent and effective.”
Despite his busy career, Passen finds time to volunteer. He is currently chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section and is past-president of the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Young Professionals Board. He also serves on the associate board of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, as well as the board of managers of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. “Without hesitation, I can say that Matt is one of those few who embodies the soul of our profession, dedicating himself to the vulnerable by taking part in a number of organizations that exist to do good,” said Justice Michael Hyman of the First District appellate court.