After graduating from George Mason University School of Law, Elizabeth Zwibel went to work at a defense firm in the D.C. metro area, but after several years she began to realize that her passion tended more toward the plaintiff side of litigation. Her ‘Road to Damascus’ moment came during a particularly heartbreaking case involving a sick child. “I was midway through depositions for the defense in a case involving a severely disabled child who needed 24-hour care and suddenly the plaintiff (the child’s mother) started crying. I got back to my office after that deposition and thought to myself ‘Who am I doing this for? This is just a numbers game to the insurance company.’”
As a plaintiff trial lawyer she soon found her true calling. “Whenever I get a good verdict, I feel immediate relief and happiness for the family of the plaintiff. My clients are all real people and I have the responsibility of making sure that they get the justice that they deserve.”
When reflecting on what it means to be a female trial attorney, she comments that she feels there are certain advantages to being a woman in this male-dominated area of law. “I feel like women are natural storytellers, which certainly helps you when communicating with the jury.” She also points out that with so many trial attorneys being men, jurors tend to pay special attention when she presents her case because she breaks up the monotony of the ubiquitous image of ‘the man in a suit.’
Elizabeth Zwibel Original painting 2020. In collection of Elizabeth Zwibel Tampa Florida
Elizabeth recounts a specific instance of blatant sexism during a noteworthy trial. She was representing a former computer engineer with top-secret government clearance as a programmer for the U.S. military. Her client had suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of being attacked and was left with permanent brain damage and a neurological disorder.
During trial, defense counsel called the plaintiff’s expert to the stand and attempted to allude to an inappropriate meeting between Elizabeth and the expert in an effort to distract the jury from the facts of the case. “Opposing counsel kept asking my expert where we had met to review the case and repeated the words ‘hotel room, hotel room, hotel room’ as if I had something to hide. I saw what he was doing so I walked up to the stand, looked right at the jury and asked ‘What was in that hotel room? Were we alone?’ The expert answered unequivocally, ‘There was a conference table and no we were not alone.’” . She and her co-counsel went on to win a $28.5 million verdict for their client in that case.
Elizabeth has a wealth of experience defending the rights of the seriously injured and those who have been mistreated by insurance companies. During her legal career she has led a solo practice firm and built an impressive record co-counseling with firms throughout Florida to obtain multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Two of her jury trials were in the top 100 jury verdicts in the United States.
Elizabeth Zwibel…not the sort of woman to let anyone push her around.