As part of his Legal Beagle podcast, Jonathan Negretti talks about the culture of Negretti & Associates and highlights the contributions made by the great team of people who comprise Negretti & Associates.
This is the second in a series of articles designed to help new and prospective clients become acquainted with Negretti & Associates. We offer this “peek behind the curtain” to showcase the inner workings of our firm — who we are, how we work, and what we believe in. Last week, we covered the three core values that are the foundation of what we do. Other articles in this series explore the types of cases that we handle and the states in which we practice law; and how we charge for representation and what our tagline “Simplifying Personal Injury” means.
By Jonathan Negretti
The people of Negretti & Associates are the reason why we’re successful in the practice of law. I have surrounded myself with terrific human beings. Not only are they very smart and capable at what they do, but they’re people who I can call friends beyond the boundaries of the law firm.
It’s unique to have a work environment where the people that you work with are fun to be around, and that feeling goes beyond the work that we do together. That is the common bond that brings us together, and we share a care and concern for one another.
To illustrate, I’d like to tell you a quick story.
In the early part of 2020, when everything started to shut down due to COVID-19, and the business that we were used to seeing was starting to contract, our staff rallied together. Rather than furloughing people temporarily, or possibly lay people off, we decided as a team that we would all take pay cuts, so that everyone could remain on staff. This was the consensus among all of our employees. There wasn’t one person who didn’t agree with that idea. This was such a great example of the way that our staff members view one another.
Our culture is a key reason why our staff turnover has been minimal over the past seven-and-a-half-years. In fact, we currently don’t have anyone on staff who has been with us for fewer than two years. To me, this reflects that we not only really enjoy our work, but we enjoy who we work with.
With that said, I’d like to profile each employee on our staff: how they became involved with Negretti & Associates, and the talents and skills that they bring to the firm.
Dylan McGurk is our lead litigation attorney. Dylan joined our firm about two years ago. He is beyond talented. He is smart. He is compassionate. And he is a really good attorney.
I had the pleasure of going to law school with Dylan. We met early in law school, and we’ve remained friends ever since. Although he went on his own journey after school and I went on mine, we eventually linked up and began to work together.
It’s just such a joy to spend time with Dylan — to watch him with clients and opposing attorneys alike, and see the way he works to try to get cases resolved. It’s really fun to witness.
Kaivan Mangouri probably has had the longest active role as an attorney with our firm. He joined us about five years ago, and he didn’t come to us with personal injury experience. Rather, he worked in different areas of estate planning and provided document review.
I remember I first meeting Kaivan. He was very inquisitive, asking lots of questions about what we were going to be doing if he joined us. He has never lost this inquisitive quality. He can dig and find information that the rest of the world just isn’t capable of finding. Yet, at the same time, Kaivan is incredible for seeing the big picture. Kaivan is an great attorney in the sense that he cares about the clients that he gets to work with, but he also cares about the other attorneys at the firm. He’s really always willing to help them.
In his role, Kaivan does things like mock depositions with clients to prepare them for their actual depositions. He understands the medical side of cases, and he has become so proficient at personal injury that he might know more about this area of law than I even do! That’s pretty impressive from someone who didn’t start in this area of practice right out of law school.
Carissa Dixon joined Negretti & Associates more than five years ago — but not as an attorney. Actually, she started out with us as a law clerk. She was in California, where we have an office, so it made sense to have her join us there. Carissa worked part-time with us for quite a while, and later became a case manager. She had been an attorney in Maryland, but she wasn’t licensed in one of the three states that we practice in: California, Arizona, and Colorado.
Eventually, Carissa approached me and said, “Look, I’d like to get licensed in Arizona. That’s where our corporate office is. I’ll even sit for the bar exam if I need to.” At first, she applied to be licensed in Arizona thinking that her number of years of practice would allow her to be admitted through a paper application. Unfortunately, the State Bar of Arizona said no, that if she wanted to practice in Arizona, she would need to sit and take the bar exam in Arizona. During her pregnancy, she studied for the bar exam. When exam time came, she flew out to Arizona with her newborn, and passed the bar exam. So, she’s our newly minted attorney at Negretti & Associates!
Carissa is fantastic at what she does. She brings a completely different perspective on client interaction. Because she has had experience working on the defense side, she understands some of those dynamics, and how that might interplay with the work that we do. She is just a terrific human being, overall.
Now, I’d like to pivot and introduce you to our support staff: the people that help us to get cases focused, positioned, and ultimately resolved.
When I discuss our support staff, the person I have to start out with is Aaray McKeen, our firm manager. She is who we call “Mama Bear” at the firm. We’re all her cubs! She is very protective, caring, and nurturing for everyone at the firm.
Aaray’s story is pretty incredible. She started out as a part-time administrative assistant with us years ago. As her role evolved, she continued to get promotions year after year, until eventually everyone recognized her importance to the firm. The work that she does is so much more than just focused in one area of our practice. Eventually, she was promoted to firm manager. Essentially, she runs the firm today.
Aaray does everything behind the scenes that people normally wouldn’t see on the client-facing side of things. She’s very involved with our clients. In fact, I don’t think there is one client at the firm that doesn’t know who Aaray is. That’s done by design. At one point, she was solely working with clients as a client coordinator, and just really making sure clients were well taken care of. She has never lost that passion and ability.
Now, she manages not only all the employees, but really everything under the umbrella of Negretti & Associates. She is a key part of what we do, and it’s been amazing to watch her progression of the last few years.
As our firm paralegal, Stephanie Kilner is my “Day One.” When I graduated law school, I started our firm right away — right out of law school — with a dear friend, Brian Holmes. Brian and I practiced in all different areas of law, and I naturally gravitated to personal injury. That’s all I wanted to do. We realized we were getting busier and busier, and we needed to bring on a paralegal. We were fortunate to find Stephanie and bring her on. We had a normal office environment. We all worked in an office together.
When Brian and I split — because there was another opportunity that Brian couldn’t pass up and, frankly, all I wanted to do was personal injury, so it worked out well for both of us — I went to a remote environment. It was the only way to make the firm survive, so I asked Stephanie to join me. It was my Jerry Maguire moment. (I didn’t have a goldfish, so I didn’t pick up a goldfish!) I was worried that Stephanie would say no, because she would have to work from home. Some people just like going to an office. But she responded, “Absolutely, I’ll come with you.” So, from our first day as Negretti & Associates, she’s been by my side every step of the way.
Stephanie has been a key component of what we’ve done and the growth that we’ve seen over the last seven-and-a-half years. Considering how it was just the two of us originally, it’s been fun to watch Stephanie’s family grow, watching her grow personally, and becoming her a friend and a colleague alongside all the people who have joined Negretti & Associates.
Carissa Johnson has got a really great story, which we have featured in a blog post and podcast before. She’s been featured internationally because of her work in the fitness community. Yet, she also suffered a really horrifying accident, and fought her way back. I would urge you to kind of read a little bit more about her story, just because it is so unique.
There’s actually two people on our staff named Carissa — which is very odd, since Carissa is not a very common name! Thankfully, Carissa Johnson agreed to allow us to call her by her initials: CJ.
Carissa works in Colorado, and is a really smart part of our staff. She originally started as an administrative assistant. Over time, she promoted to a law clerk. Today, she has a lot more interaction with clients, providing a lot of tangible case work — writing drafts and getting cases where they need to go. She really smart and amazing human being. And she’s got a terrific husband and beautiful kids.
This takes us to Rosalva Loza — or “Rolo,” as we call her. Rolo has been with us for a few years, and she’s probably the funniest person on our staff. She is always willing to crack a joke. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, and certainly doesn’t take anything we do too seriously, with the caveat that we understand we’re dealing with really serious things at times. She always is willing to keep things light when people are extremely stressed out. She is really, really engaging, and easy to talk to. Because she is bilingual, Rolo is the go-to contact for our Spanish-speaking clients.
Last, but certainly not least important, Wendi Bravman is our client coordinator. Wendy started with us just doing intake work — handling new cases, getting information from potential clients and talking with them about their cases, and then bringing that information to one of the attorneys to talk about, whether it was a case that we could help with.
Wendi has since been promoted to client coordinator, and she works in a role that Aaray once had years ago. Wendi remains very focused on intakes to this day, but does so much more than that. She’s one of those people who is always willing to raise her hand and say: “How can I help? How can I help with different aspects of the firm, whether it’s obtaining medical records, managing social media, or being more involved in the work that we do?” Wendi is always willing to support others and give others her admiration. It’s unique to have someone like that on the staff who really does care about everyone else, and really does want to see them do well.
If you have questions about your personal injury case, give Negretti & Associates a call. We’ll talk through your questions and make sure you walk away fully informed. For a free consultation with our legal team, contact us online, call us at 1-833-827-3535, or send us a text.