Butler is proud to highlight the diversity among our team of attorneys. Many come from different backgrounds and walks of life. These experiences both professionally and in life are what bring a powerful dynamic and impact to the legal services we provide to our clients. This month, we highlight Philadelphia attorney Michael Wolfer.
What type of legal work do you do, and how did you decide on a field?
I focus my practice on subrogation. Like most people, I never heard of subrogation growing up (or in law school). I discovered it shortly after graduation. I immediately realized that I enjoyed doing plaintiff’s work for the insurance industry and I’ve never looked back.
What are the toughest problems and decisions you handle?
Subrogation has many complex and nuanced legal issues that professionals address on a daily basis. But the toughest part of the job often is the personal aspect. We frequently meet people who have just lost everything in a fire or other catastrophe. Even with insurance, their lives likely won’t be the same. Investigating these losses can be very challenging; at the same time, it is very rewarding when we obtain a positive result on their behalf.
What type of professional and personal skills does it take to succeed at this type of work?
Being organized is a necessity. Subrogation is high-volume work because many claims do not result in a recovery. You must be organized to ensure each claim progresses in a timely and cost-effective manner. You must also have confidence, preferably gained through experience. Subrogation attorneys make hundreds of decisions in coordinating investigations and developing litigation strategies. You must be confident in making those decisions. Failing to be decisive can stall the investigation and destroy subrogation potential.
Thus far in your career, what are you most proud of accomplishing?
I am most proud of my work volunteering with Philadelphia VIP. Philadelphia VIP is a nonprofit organization providing volunteer legal services to low-income Philadelphians. Through my involvement with Philadelphia VIP I’ve had the opportunity to assist entrepreneurs in my community facing various legal challenges. It is both exciting and rewarding to be working with individuals in my neighborhood pursuing their business dreams.
What do you see as the major issues/trends in the field today?
The trend that I am most excited about right now is the increased usage of video-conferencing technology. Prior to the pandemic, most attorneys did not view video-conferencing as a reasonable means for conducting depositions, mediations, or hearings. The lockdowns forced everyone to adapt. Many attorneys now prefer, or at least do not object to, video-conferencing, which has saved a significant amount of time and money spent traveling. This has benefitted subrogation attorneys and their clients who handle cases around the country. Similar trends could make litigation more affordable and accessible generally.
What do you enjoy most about living in Philadelphia?
Tourists may know Philadelphia for cheesesteaks and soft pretzels but it has so much more! Philly embraces the area’s diversity with James Beard award-winning restaurants serving up a variety of cuisines. Trying out the latest neighborhood dining option is one of my favorite parts of living here.
You competed as a Division I wrestler for the Lions, what was your favorite part about wrestling?
The lifelong relationships that I made with my teammates…and winning!