“When I was 65, I told all my clients not to send me any new cases,” he said. “I tried all the cases I had open, saw them to their conclusion and that was the end of my trial work.”
Today, Rosenthal is of counsel at Brown & James in St. Louis, the practice he helped establish in 1981. His firm calls him the go-to expert for attorneys on legal questions and trial strategy, and he has found a rewarding niche for the twilight years of his career.
For nearly 50 years, Rosenthal has focused his practice on defending medical malpractice cases and is widely considered one of the preeminent medical malpractice defense lawyers in the country. He has tried over 100 cases to jury verdict and has prevailed in most of them.
Rosenthal describes a “normal childhood,” growing up in St. Louis and except for his college years, he never strayed far from home. He received both his bachelor’s and law degree from the University of Missouri. In law school, Rosenthal became interested in representing health care providers in litigation, and to better understand the subject matter, he studied various sciences.
“In law school, I took extra classes in biology, genetics, chemistry and physics,” he said. “And then I received a National Institutes of Health fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh where I got a master’s degree in healthcare law.”
Not long ago, a federal court appointed Rosenthal as the attorney for a criminal plaintiff suing the St. Louis Police Department for police brutality. It was his first and only time representing a plaintiff.
The case involved a convicted burglar who claimed several police officers had chased him until he fell and then beat him with their batons as he lay on the ground, Rosenthal recalled.
“This guy had sued the police department on his own, and I’m assuming that the judge felt he had a case, so rather than assign it to a new lawyer, he wanted to get somebody with experience,” Rosenthal said. “We were able to get a verdict for him, and he received punitive damages for violation of his civil rights.
Rosenthal is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He lectures fourth year medical students at Washington University on malpractice lawsuits and trial proceedings.
When he’s not working, Rosenthal enjoys fitness activities. A runner most of his life, he participated in all types of races, including two marathons. A hip replacement has converted his running to long walks, and he enjoys gym workouts to stay fit.
“I’ve managed to stay in pretty good shape,” he said.