By: Jennifer M. Horn and Robert Ruggieri
Partner Evan A. Blaker recently joined Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. We sat down with him to discuss his background and his thoughts on the state of the construction industry. Keep reading to learn his interesting background and perspective on the industry.
Construction Law Signal: What is your background?
Evan A. Blaker: More recently, over the past 10 years or so, I have concentrated my practice in construction-related claims and disputes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with a particular emphasis in representing contractor supply houses. This represented somewhat of a change in my practice focus coinciding with my teaming up with a former associate, Anthony Byler. Tony and I had been at the same firm for several years and eventually left and went in separate directions. During that time, Tony developed a construction law practice that grew to the point where he needed help and called me and asked me join him in what would become Byler & Blaker LLC.
Overall, I have been practicing law as a trial litigator for more than 20 years. Going back to the time immediately after graduating from Temple Law School, I worked as a tax attorney at what was known at the time as Coopers & Lybrand. I started my career at Coopers, in large part, in order to obtain my CPA license, which was important to me as unfinished business since I majored in Accounting as an undergraduate at Drexel University. After getting my CPA license, I left Coopers and began working at a small firm in Cherry Hill, headed by a great trial attorney. It was at that small firm where I met Tony. Since that time, I have handled all types of cases and disputes, from wrongful death to oppressed shareholder claims.
CLS: What is your practice philosophy?
Blaker: My credo is to treat all of my clients as if they were members of my family. And the fact is that I have developed strong friendships with virtually all of my clients. Counseling folks that you consider your friends becomes easy as there is a deeply engrained mutual respect and understanding of the things that matter most in any given scenario. And while I am a proponent of litigation being a last resort, when it does become time to do battle, preparation is key because for me and my competitive nature, losing is simply not an option.
CLS: What strengths do you bring to Cohen Seglias?
Blaker: I have been actively engaged in litigation practice for over 20 years. I know the rules of procedure in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, both Federal and State Courts, like the back of my hand and can effectively utilize them to benefit my clients. There is no substitute for experience, which I bring to the firm.
CLS: What are you looking forward to with the move to the Cohen Seglias Commercial Litigation Group?
Blaker: The move to CSPG&F is exciting on several different fronts. First, I am eager to use the wider CSPG&F platform to provide my existing clients with expertise in areas in which I don’t practice, like transactional work and estate planning. I am also eager to provide my expertise to the firm’s clients as I have been quite successful in what I do.
CLS: If they were asked, what do you think your clients would say about you?
Blaker: My sense is that my clients would have very positive things to say. Things like, “he’s very responsive,”; “when we need him, he’s there and turns things around very timely and efficiently.” It’s funny because you never really know what your clients think or how they perceive you. I guess we assume that if we continue to get work and the bills are getting paid, the client is happy. That said, not too long ago I had the CFO of one of my clients tell me that I should charge more. I don’t think I ever had a client tell me that before that moment. This particular CFO said that my work ethic and work product were far superior to that which he received from the big firm attorneys that his company hired from time to time and whose rates were often double mine. He said that if those rates are the measuring stick, I am the best bargain around. Of course, I didn’t raise my rate or provide any lesser service. I can tell you that having a client tell you that you should increase your rate is something I don’t think I will ever forget.