Brian D. Malkmus
Malkmus Law Firm
Some lawyers like to dwell on their victories. Not Brian Malkmus.
“I remember the losses really well. I can tell you the facts of every case I have ever lost,” he said. “Those are what teach you the most. Why did I lose? Is there something I could have done better?”
Malkmus may strive to learn from failure, but much of what he can see in the rearview mirror is a track record of success as a civil trial attorney primarily defending medical-malpractice clients.
A native of Little Rock and graduate of the University of Arkansas, Malkmus began his career with Hinshaw & Culbertson before moving to Springfield for stints at Daniel, Clampett, Powell & Cunningham, and Shughart, Thomson & Kilroy. Later, he spent four years as a partner at Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin.
For the past decade and a half, he’s been a founding member of the firm that bears his name and which he runs with his wife. As its trial leader, he’s recently earned a fellowship with the American College of Trial Lawyers. In 2018, he served as lead counsel in multiple trials resulting in defense verdicts.
Malkmus still recalls advice he received from an attorney at Blackwell Sanders who told others never to rely on the franchise value of the firm. In short, don’t believe too much of your own good press.
“If you start winning and thinking you are something special, you lose sight of what you are doing, why you are doing it and who is important here,” he said.
“When you lose a case, it makes you concentrate and focus on your craft and recognize that it is not a given to win. There is a very competent and skilled trial attorney across the table from you who is in many cases better than you are.”
Today, he helps to mold a five-attorney enterprise in what he describes as “a culture of service.”
“To lead a law firm or to lead anyone and to do it well is to recognize that it is a position of service versus a position of power,” he said. “Power over someone else, the ability to tell someone to go do X, Y or Z, is not something you have. It is something they give you.”
He sees it as a gift you must earn from those you lead.
“I affirm to myself every day that it is my personal responsibility that they have a job, that they do well, that their kids go to school, that they have a nice house, that they have health care,” he noted. “When you do that, it colors the decisions you make about how you staff your firm, how you use your time, how you spend the firm’s money.”
He also believes in the importance of proper preparation.
“The one thing about the law, especially trial practice, is you can’t get bored because every case is a completely different thing that you have to learn so deeply,” he said.
“I’ve got to go tell 12 people on a jury everything about what you did and then I’ve got to go fight an expert witness who is a surgeon on this level, so I have to know it that well.”
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