“I feel like my whole life has prepared me to take the case that
can’t be won, for the family who can’t afford to lose.”
John Uustal’s story is an inspiring one. The day after he began law
school at the University of Miami, Hurricane Andrew tore through the city.
The school was shut down, and parts of Miami were completely destroyed.
It took some time for the school to reopen, and when it did, John had
no choice but to complete a full year of law school in much less time.
Without electricity or phone service, John studied at a furious pace under
an enormous amount of pressure, all while doing his best to help those
still in need.
Instead of succumbing to this pressure, John excelled and rose to the top
of his class. Despite the tremendous difficulties he faced, he was ranked
first in the entire student body at the end of the year, He also earned
the Book Award for achieving the highest grade in each of his classes.
He then focused his attention on trial skills, and began prosecuting criminals
in courtrooms throughout Miami before he even graduated from law school.
After earning his J.D., he passed the Florida Bar Examination with flying
colors – in fact, he earned what was reportedly the highest score
in the state. He then began trying cases. During his first few years of
practice, he tried a car accident case himself, obtaining a verdict of
$51 million. The case made national news when he discovered a massive
General Motors cover-up scheme, and proceeded to try similar cases around
A decade after graduation, he co-founded the Kelley/Uustal with Bob Kelley.
He now handles a wide range of even the most complex personal injury and
medical malpractice cases against some of the world’s most accomplished
defense attorneys. Thanks to his efforts, we have safer equipment for
firefighters and paramedics, safer medical care, safer seat belts, and
safer fuel tanks. These successes have made him some enormous adversaries.
He had been attacked by Big Tobacco, a car company promised to bankrupt
him, and he faced threats from angry government officials in Argentina
who had been involved in the country’s dirty war. Clarence Darrow’s
words of wisdom speak to him in such trials: “I have lived my life,
and I have fought my battles, against power. I have asked no odds from
them, and I never will.”
Today, Mr. Uustal focuses his legal practice on complex (or what many consider
“unwinnable”) catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases.
He believes he is at his best when handling a challenging case, and is
committed to helping change the lives of those he serves. He knows that
the difference between a good recovery and a great one can mean everything
to a desperate family. He thrives on incredible responsibility and impossible
demands, just as he did in law school in the aftermath of the storm.
Coach and Teacher
A Florida native, John Uustal grew up in Fort Lauderdale. His father was
a coach and his mother was a teacher. After seeing the impact they had
on the lives of young people, he knew that he too wanted a career that
could make a difference. He loves kids, and coaches competitive soccer
for Fort Lauderdale Select. He was also one of the few Americans selected
to play soccer in Washington, D.C. for the Italian Embassy Soccer team.
Outside of coaching soccer, he also enjoys opportunities to coach in the
law. He teaches trial skills and gives lectures throughout the U.S., and
freely fives his time teaching, assisting, and advising other attorneys.