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Edith R. Matthai

  Edith R. Matthai

EMatthai@romalaw.com
213-706-8000

Edith Matthai is a trial lawyer who has specialized in the representation of attorneys in malpractice actions for over thirty years, handling matters arising from nearly every field of practice including complex business transactions and litigation, probate and family law proceedings, securities litigation, intellectual property litigation, bankruptcy proceedings and complex family law cases. She regularly defends malicious prosecution actions.

For over ten years, Edith has represented judges and commissioners in disciplinary matters pending before the California Commission on Judicial Performance.

Since she regularly handles malpractice actions arising from complex business litigation, she is also frequently called upon to try business cases, often when a team is needed in light of the complexity and exposure in the case.

Edith has significant appellate experience, arguing many cases that have formed the legal principles setting the standards for attorney liability.

 
 

Throughout her career, Edith has contributed to the legal system, holding many positions of leadership in the bar. She sat on the CACI committee for over ten years developing the now standard jury instructions for California. The small committee of justices, judges and lawyers debated the law and then distilled their conclusions in new, plain English instructions.

She is a fellow of the American College of Trial lawyers and in 2008 was named by the Litigation Section of the California State Bar as the California Trial Lawyer of the Year.

She is a past president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the California Defense Counsel, The Association of Southern California Defense Counsel and the Los Angeles Chapter of ABOTA. She is a former chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers' Professional Liability and has been certified by the California State Bar as a specialist in Legal Malpractice law.

Edith is a past member of the California Judicial Council, the policy making body of the California courts, and was a member of its Executive and Planning committee which oversees the council's strategic planning process, sets the agendas for the council meetings, recommends candidates for appointment to the council and its advisory bodies and takes action on behalf of the council between meetings.

She is a member of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which reviews the qualifications of potential appointments to the federal bench, providing a pre-appointment rating to the White House.

Favorite cases

The claims against Robie & Matthai's client arose from the handling of litigation between shareholders of a closely-held corporation. The plaintiff alleged the attorneys failed to properly bring derivative claims, failed to vigorously pursue litigation, and failed to timely obtain information necessary to prove that one of the shareholders had commingled and improperly taken corporate funds. A multitude of issues were raised, including tax ramifications of various acts, corporate governance and dissolution questions, disputes over derivative versus individual rights, and accounting issues. Among other claims, the plaintiffs sought $12 Million as the alleged value of the contracts assigned to one of the shareholders in the settlement of the underlying action. Plaintiff also claimed to have been overcharged, and there were outstanding fees owed to the firm. The case was arbitrated before a panel of three extraordinarily sophisticated arbitrators, who ruled in favor of the attorneys, awarded the firm all of the unpaid fees, and awarded all fees and costs (including expert expense) incurred in the arbitration, for a total award in favor of the law firm of over one million dollars.

Edith recently joined the trial team defending an action brought by a franchisee alleging that the franchisor had breached its agreement to provide funding and to purchase the franchises when the franchisor went private in 2007. The franchisee had defaulted on a 35 million dollar loan, guaranteed by the franchisor, and claimed over 200 million dollars in damage as a result of the post-2007 loss in value of multiple franchises. Both sides in the hotly contested litigation were represented by teams of lawyers from multiple firms. The settlement was so favorable that it mollified Edith's disappointment that she would not get to use the wealth of impeaching evidence to cross-examine the plaintiff.

After Robie & Matthai's client defended a manufacturer at a trial, which resulted in a multi-million dollar verdict for a distributor terminated by the manufacturer, the manufacturer hired new counsel to try a nearly identical case brought by another distributor. The new counsel recognized that there was potential insurance coverage and tendered to the carrier, which agreed to defend the second action under a reservation of rights. The second trial resulted in another multi-million dollar verdict against the manufacturer. The manufacturer then asserted a malpractice claim against the first lawyer, alleging the failure to tender to the insurer, malpractice in advising the manufacturer to terminate the distributors, and a conflict of interest since the litigation resulted from the advice of the lawyer. Although the exposure far exceeded the available limits, a resolution below those limits was obtained in a mediation organized before the underlying judgments were final. The manufacturer, the distributor, the underlying insurance carrier and the lawyer all contributed to a discounted settlement with the two distributors.

Honors

  • Association of Southern California Defense Counsel - Hall of Fame Award, 2015
  • LACBA Shattuck-Price Outstanding Lawyer Award, 2014
  • CAL-ABOTA Trial Lawyer of the Year, 2013
  • Recipient: Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles Ernestine Stahlhut Award, 2010
  • Loyola Law School Champion of Justice Award, 2008
  • California State Bar Litigation Section Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame, 2008.
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association Outstanding Committee Service Award, 2008
  • Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles Distinguished Service Award, 2005
  • Daily Journal Top 100 Lawyers in California, 2006,2007
  • Daily Journal Top Women Lawyers, 2002-2010
  • Super Lawyer, inception of the listing to present
  • Super Lawyers Top 100 in Southern California, 2007-2014

Memberships

  • Chancery Club
    • President, 2015
  • ABOTA Advocate (2013)
  • American Business Bank Board Member (2013)
  • Judicial Council of California (2010-2013)
    • Policy Coordination and Liaison Committee (2010-2011)
    • Executive & Planning Committee (2011-2013)
    • CCMS Internal Committee (2010-2012)
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
    • Judiciary Committee
  • American Bar Association
    • Member, Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary (2010-2014)
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
    • Member, Board of Trustees 1998-2000
    • President, 2005
  • American Board of Trial Advocates
    • Member Executive Committee, 2000-present
    • President, Los Angeles Chapter, 2008
  • Judicial Council Task Force on Jury Instructions, 1996-2010
  • Los Angeles Superior Court Bench-Bar Coalition, 2000-
  • Ex-Officio Member, CJA, CJP Deposition Rule Committee, 2007-2008
  • ABA Standing Committee Lawyers Professional Liability Committee, Chair, 2007-2010
  • Faculty Member, Hastings College of Advocacy, 1983-1999
  • Member, Advisory Board, 1991-1994
  • Faculty Member and Past Co-Chair, Personal Injury Institute, Business Litigation Institute, 1993-2000
  • Faculty, The Association of Trial Lawyers of America Trial College, Hastings College of Law, Summer 2001
  • Faculty, ABOTA Trial College, 1997-2004
  • Panel of Arbitrators, Los Angeles Superior Court, 1983-1995
  • Los Angeles Court AB 3820 Committee, 1995-2002
  • Los Angeles Superior Court ADR Committee, 1999-2002

Panelist

  • Panelist, American Board of Trial Advocates, "A Trial Demonstration from Opening Statement through Jury Deliberations," 2015
  • Panelist, American Bar Association Section of Family Law, "The Ethics of Billing," 2015
  • Panelist, Association of Business Trial Lawyers, "Titans of the Bar Demonstrate the Art of Voir Dire," 2015
  • Panelist, Los Angeles County Bar Association, "The Zealous (But Ethical) Advocate," 2015
  • Panelist, California Judges Association, "FPPC Form 700 Filing Requirement," 2015
  • Panelist, DRI Professional Responsibility, "Ask the Trial Experts," 2014
  • Panelist, Judicial Council Presiding Judges Conference, "Surviving a CJP Proceeding," 2014
  • Panelist, American Bar Association Lawyers Professional Liability, "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word: When to Admit Liability at Trial," 2014
  • Panelist, Legal Malpractice and Risk Management Conference, "Standing to Sue and Privity," 2014
  • Panelist, AON Law Firm Symposium, "Expert Witnesses in Lawyer Liability Litigation," 2013
  • Panelist, American Bar Association Lawyers Professional Liability, "The Opening Statement and Closing Argument in a High-Stakes Legal Malpractice Case," 2013
  • Panelist, Legal Malpractice and Risk Management Conference, "Developments in Litigating Legal Malpractice Claims 2015," 2013
  • Panelist, LASC Judicial Services, "Preparing Form 700 Disclosures; Avoid the Perils," 2013
  • Panelist, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, "Rethinking Bias in the Firm" and "Ethical Pitfalls in Everyday Practice," 2013
  • Panelist, AIM Risk Management Program, "Co-Counsel, Joint Counsel and Local Counsel Arrangements-Traps for the Unwary,"  2013
  • Panelist, California Judges Association, "Interactive CJP Ethics Class,"  2012
  • Panelist, CAALA, "Voir Dire Demonstration," Las Vegas Convention," 2011
  • Panelist, CJA Conference "What to do When You Get a Letter From the CJP" 2011
  • Panelist, "Settle and Sue: Is Legal Malpractice a Remedy for an Inappropriate Settlement or for the Settlement That Did Not Happen?"  Legal Malpractice and Risk Management Conference, 2011
  • Panelist, "Perspectives on Civil Litigation," Loyola Law School, 2010
  • Panelist, "The Witness Reality Check: Steering Wayward Clients Toward the Truth," American Bar Association Lawyers Professional Liability, 2010
  • Panelist, Masters Session: "My Most Memorable Trial Moments," Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles 28th Las Vegas Annual Convention, 2010
  • Panelist, "How the Courts Failed Germany: Law, Justice, and the Holocaust," Administrative Office of the Courts, 2010
  • Panelist, "Avoiding Legal Malpractice, " Association of Defense Counsel, 2009
  • Panelist, "Conflicts, Screening and Waivers: Are You Really Protected?", U.C. Hastings 2009
  • Panelist, "Handling Litigation," Superior Court Judges CJA Midyear Conference, 2008
  • Speaker, "Elimination of Bias," Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, Annual Las Vegas Convention; 2008
  • Panelist, "Masters on Jury Selection," American Board of Trial Advocates, 2008
  • Panelist, "Let's Arbitrate! It's Fast, Cheap and Fair.. Right?", PLUS 20th Annual International Conference. 2007
  • Panelist, "Litigating the Legal Malpractice Claim," Legal Malpractice and Risk Management Conference, 2007
  • Panelist, "A Closer Look at the CJP: 'With All Due Respect' is Not the Correct Response," California Judges Association Mid-Year Conference 2007
  • Panelist, "The Importance of the Civil Justice System," Loyola Journalist Law School Presentation 2007
  • Panelist, "Professional Negligence Legal Malpractice Cases," Consumers Attorneys of Los Angeles 25th Annual Las Vegas Convention 2007
  • Panelist, "Just When You Thought It Was Settled," discussion of Settle and Sue cases, ABA National Legal Malpractice Conference, 2007
  • Panelist, Risk Management for Attorneys, 2007, Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles Annual Seminar.
  • Speaker, Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference: "Proving or Disproving Causation in a Transaction Legal Malpractice Claim - Examining the Trial", 2006
  • Panelist, "When Things Go Wrong," Panel on Expert Witness Selection, Preparation and Presentation, Association of Business Trial Lawyers, 2006
  • Supervising Judge's Management Conference, Los Angeles Superior Court, 2006
  • Panelist, Effective Trial Presentation, 2006
  • Panelist: Case Law Updates, Legal Malpractice Risk Management Conference, 2005, 2006, 2007
  • Defense Counsel for Mock Trial, 2005,
  • Member, Defense Trial Team, American Board of Trial Lawyers Annual Seminar, 2005
  • Keynote Speaker, Legal Tech, 2005
  • "Secrets of Highly Effective Litigators," Annual Conference on Legal Malpractice and Risk Management, Chicago, 2004
  • "The Habits of Highly Effective Litigators," American Bar Association National Legal Malpractice Conference, Miami 2004
  • "Commission on Judicial Performance: Lessons and Recent Trends," California Judge's Association Mid-Year Conference, 2004
  • "Insurance Litigation, 2004," California Judges Association and the Rutter Group Insurance Litigation Seminar, 2004
  • "When Things go Wrong," Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, 2003
  • "Ethics and Professional Responsibility for the Employment Law Attorney," Los Angeles County Bar Association, 2003
  • ABOTA Masters in Trial, 2003, 2002
  • Lead Trial Counsel, ABA Mock Trial of a Legal Malpractice Case, Chicago 2002
  • "The New Civil Jury Instructions: Are You Ready?" Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles and the Association of Southern Defense Counsel, 2002
  • "The Shernoff Bad Faith Seminar," The Rutter Group, 2002
  • Fall Judges Conference, Judicial Council of California and the Administrative Offices of the Courts, 2002
  • Moderator on the Tri-Partite Relationship, Association of Southern California Defense Counsel and DRI Northwest/Pacific Regional Defense Leaders Conference, 2002
  • "The Tri-Partite Relationship," Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, 2002
  • "CAALA Trial Demonstration," Las Vegas 2001
  • "Audits of Legal Costs," Association of California Insurance Companies Annual General Counsel Seminar, 1999
  • "The Nuts and Bolts in Litigation: How to Plan and Shape a Coherent Civil Case," Los Angeles County Bar Association, 1999
  • "Products Liability from Air Bags to Zippers," Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, 1999
  • "Do's and Don'ts in Mediation," California Judges Association Conference for Retired Judges, 1998
  • "Ethics for Litigators," CEB, 1998
  • Judicial Training Session, Los Angeles Superior Court, 1997
  • "National Women Defense Attorney Seminar," DRI, 1996
  • Bad Faith and Punitive Damages in Insurance Claims," American Conference Institute, 1995, 1998
  • "Ethics for Litigators," CEB, 1995-1998
  • "Trial: The Law and the Art," Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles, 1995
  • "Handling Products Liability Cases," CEB, 1994
  • "Arguments by the Masters," Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Association and California Trial Lawyers Association, 1994
  • "Litigation, Theory Through Trial," Association of Souther California Defense Counsel, 1993
  • "Deposition Skills," CEB, 1993;
  • "The Quintessential Trial," UCLA, 1993;
  • "Law and Motion Practice," The Rutter Group, 1987, 1997

Publications

Author: Matthew Bender Practice Guides, 2003
California Civil Discovery, Vol. 1 and 2,
California Pretrial Procedure, Vol. 1-3
Co-Author: CEB California Civil Discovery Practice Vol. 1 and 2

Education

  • University of California, Hastings College of Law, J.D., 1975
  • University of California, Santa Barbara, B.A., cum laude, 1971

Admissions

  • California, 1975
  • U.S. District Court: Northern, 1975, Southern, 1997, Eastern, 1997 and Central Districts of California, 1977
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 1975
  • U.S. Tax Court, 1976
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1989
 


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