It was January of 1993 when attorney Robert E. Markel first brought his talents to the law firm of Franklin D. Azar & Associates. The Internet was not yet a thing, a guy named Bill Clinton was moving into the White House, and the hit song was Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You,” from her hit movie The Bodyguard.
Twenty-eight years later, Bob Markel is celebrating the longest tenure of any attorney at the firm other than Frank Azar himself. It’s been an eventful journey, during which FDA has grown into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado — and Markel has become a respected senior attorney whose guidance and mentorship is sought out by his colleagues.
A graduate of Colorado College and the University of Colorado’s law school, Markel had nearly a decade of experience in commercial law, from securities and bankruptcy cases to real estate transactions, before joining Azar & Associates. He continued to handle bankruptcy cases in his first few months, but Frank Azar encouraged him to get involved in trying personal-injury cases.
“I had tried big cases in bankruptcy court before a judge, but I had limited experience with jury trials,” Markel recalls. “It was an opportunity to become more of a litigator, and that was something I’d always wanted to do.”
Over the years Markel has obtained more than $60 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients at the firm. He served as co-counsel in one case that recovered over $4 million on behalf of a client who’d been seriously injured as a result of a defective seat belt that failed in a collision caused by a drunk driver. But in many of the cases Markel remembers most fondly, it wasn’t the size of the verdict so much as the impact the resolution had on the client that stands out. For example, one memorable case involved a window washer who had suffered a closed head injury in an accident and decided to go to trial rather than accept a settlement offer that fell short of his needs. The total recovery on the case after the jury entered its verdict, including the award of interest and costs, was over $189,000.
“The jury didn’t give us everything we asked for, but the verdict did beat the offer of settlement significantly,” Markel says.
Frank Azar notes that his friendship with Markel was forged many years before they started working together. “Bob is one of my oldest friends and one of the top attorneys in the office,” he says. “He’s helped to build the firm into what it is today.”
The legal landscape has changed dramatically over the past 28 years, along with the technology and the hitmakers. But Bob Markel still finds his work challenging and gratifying.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction in getting people compensation for serious injury,” he says.