Stephen Adams, Esq. Barton Gilman LLP, Providence
Jenna Pingitore, Esq.
Joe Cavanagh grew up in Cranston, one of his parents' nine children. He graduated from Cranston East High School, where he excelled at hockey. At that time, all the high school teams played at Rhode Island Auditorium. The Rhode Island Reds generally played on Fridays and Sundays, so the high school teams played on Thursdays and Saturdays. Five thousand people would sometimes pack the Auditorium to see Cranston East take on its rivals. Joe credits his hockey talent with helping him get accepted to Harvard, from where he graduated after being named an All-American for three straight years. He then went to Boston College Law School, becoming a member of the Rhode Island Bar in 1974. He gravitated to trial work because of the influence of his father, the legendary Joe Cavanagh of Higgins, Cavanagh &C Cooney. Joe credits his experiences in athletics with helping him achieve success in the law. We had the opportunity to speak with this veteran trial lawyer. Excerpts from our conversation follow.
How do the lessons from sports apply to being a trial lawyer?
I think learning to lose gracefully and to win gracefully, you learn that in sports; how to work with others; how to respect your opponent and never to be overconfident; how to have a long view; and the idea that it's not over until it's over helps you learn to live with the ups and downs of a case.
What was your most inventive or creative legal position or argument?
Well, I had a case where we won a dismissal of the case on its merits for fraud on the court. The case involved the plaintiffs' claims that the Journal had wrongfully associated the plaintiffs with organized crime figures. One of the plaintiffs claimed that he was too ill to attend trial. And we had the man under surveillance - turns out, the plaintiff got into a dispute at a racetrack and they barred him from the track over the weekend when our trial was going on. The Mass. Racing...