At the law firm of Curry, Pearson & Wooten, PLC we understand that finding an enforcement action lawyer is not easy. Therefore, we have compiled a list of questions you should ask any aviation attorney you are thinking of hiring.
Looking for a lawyer to defend you in a matter with the FAA? Make sure you ask these six basic questions:
1. Do you have experience handling cases similar to mine?
Even if a lawyer advertises that he or she represents your type of case, it does not mean this person has a substantial amount of specialized experience. You need to ensure that the attorney you choose possesses the appropriate experience and skills to properly handle an aviation enforcement matter.
2. What is your background?
The more experience an attorney has, the better. A pilot's license is great yet the inquiry should not stop there. A lawyer with a unique background relevant to your situation could help your case outcome. For example, if you were under investigation, or being prosecuted, by the FAA, who would you rather have representing you? An attorney who has worked in the aviation industry for the FAA or one who has not? Make sure that the attorney has achieved an "AV" rating from the premier rating service, Martindale Hubbell or a "Superb" rating on AVVO.
3. Are you a member of any trial associations or other industry groups related to enforcement action cases?
Trial associations and other industry-related groups have strict requirements for membership. A lawyer with membership in such an organization usually has distinguished qualifications and a high level of expertise. At the very least, in your enforcement action case make sure that the attorney you select is a member of the National Transportation Safety Board Bar Association.
4. Will I work with you directly or will a staff member handle my case?
You should confirm that you would be working directly with the attorney. Many law firms will pass your case to a staff member. You deserve to be represented by a lawyer who will talk with you personally and answer your questions willingly.
5. Have you written any books or publications or taught courses in the area of enforcement action cases or aviation law?
When an attorney writes a publication, book, or teaches seminars or courses in his or her area of the law, especially at a major university, it indicates his or her depth of knowledge of the law. It is a sign of special knowledge and industry reliability. Be sure to ask if the lawyer has written any publications or taught in his or her area of the law, and if so, find out if you can get afree copy.
6. What's your plan regarding MY case?
Each case has distinct facts and circumstances. Cookie-cutter defense in enforcement matters simply will not work. Has the attorney looked at the actions of air traffic controllers or analyzed the specific airspace and procedures regarding your situation? Listened to the radio communications? Analyzed radar data? Make sure the lawyer you hire has experience in such matters.
Getting the answers to these important questions will put you on the track to finding the right lawyer for your case. Do not settle for second best.
For more information or a free case evaluation, contact our office today at 602.258.1000 or toll free at 1-877.732.2333 (1-877-7FAADEFENSE).
We stand for expertise and years of experience in aviation law.
Michael Pearson has been around, or directly involved in, aviation since his youth. Having grown up in Dayton, Ohio with a father who was in the Air Force, a pilot, and an FAA controller, he was engaged with many facets of aviation at a very young age.
Mike has worked as a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control specialist in the TRACON (approach control) and Tower environments (at several different high density facilities) for over 26 years. Mike also worked as a Quality Assurance Specialist for the FAA, where he gained intimate knowledge regarding the FAA’s enforcement action program and accident protocol. While working as a controller he was detailed to the FAA legal division for a period of time to assist FAA attorneys. He is a graduate of many FAA classes and courses including the Department of Transportation aviation accident investigation program where he gained valuable practical and technical insight into aviation accidents. Mike is a reviewer for the Journal of Air Transportation World Wide. He also wrote a monthly column for a national aviation magazine. He just finished an aviation law textbook “Foundations of Aviation Law," for a major academic publisher. Michael often appears on the NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS and Fox networks as an expert on aviation issues.
Michael completed his undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, at the University of Houston and also holds MBA and Juris Doctorate degrees, with high honors, from Arizona State University. While attending law school, Mr. Pearson was nominated as a Pedrick Scholar due to academic excellence, and awarded honors in legal writing and research. He graduated near the top of his class despite working full time for the FAA while attending law school.
Mike has taught aviation law, aviation regulations, as well as other legal subjects, at Arizona State University since 1993 and is currently an Associate Professor. Prior to accepting his academic appointment at Arizona State University, Mike taught aviation law at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Mr. Pearson often speaks at academic and professional conferences regarding aviation topics. Most recently, he spoke on the subject of human factors in air traffic control at the International Symposium on Aviation Psychology conference at Wright Patterson Air Force base at the invitation of the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Mr. Pearson has extensive civil litigation experience focusing his practice on trial law. Mike handles FAA enforcement action cases, aircraft and helicopter accident cases, and civil trials. He is currently a member at Curry, Pearson & Wooten, PLC. Martindale Hubbell, which contains profiles for over one million lawyers and firms in the United States, Canada and 160 other countries, rates Mike, and the firm, “AV” which is the highest rating possible. In addition, Michael Pearson is listed in the Bar Register as a Preeminent Lawyer. Avvo, the world's largest legal directory, rates Mr. Pearson as "superb." Michael is one of Arizona's Finest Lawyers, is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and been honored by the National Trial Lawyers Association and named as one of the "Top 100 Trial Attorneys" throughout the entire state of Arizona. Mr. Pearson serves as a panel attorney for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) legal services plan and is a member of the National Transportation Safety Board Bar Association.
Michael’s aviation clients are varied including airmen accused by the FAA of violating the Federal Aviation Regulations, family members who have lost loved ones in airplane and helicopter accidents, and those injured on domestic and international flights. He has handled litigation cases for international airlines such as Air France and Zest Airways. Michael is selective in the cases he accepts in order to provide unparalleled time, dedication, and focus to his clients and is often referred cases by other attorneys due to his extensive background in aviation matters.
Arizona; Colorado; District of Columbia; U.S. District Court; U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
NTSB Bar Association
AOPA Panel Attorney
Arizona, Colorado, and District of Columbia Bar Associations
The American Association For Justice
Arizona Trial Lawyers Association