Sean Claggett learned first-hand that health scares can change the course of your life. After surviving a near-death experience, he decided to take the leap into trial law. Sean has since built a successful career and now shares his skills and advice with newer lawyers.
Sean is the founder of Claggett & Sykes Law Firm, which has recovered over $300 million for their clients. In 2017, the Nevada Justice Association named him Trial Lawyer of the Year. He was also named a Mountain States Super Lawyer every year from 2014 to 2022. In addition to his work at Claggett & Sykes, Sean is an adjunct professor at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law.
On this week’s episode, we talk about how Sean’s remarkable career got started and how he prioritizes his wellbeing while maintaining a full trial schedule. He talks to us about the role music plays in helping him connect with juries. And we dive into parenting and how Sean is raising two remarkable kids.
- Prioritize your health. Sean survived a near-death experience that helped him shift his perspective on life and law. Learning to recognize signs of burnout and make time for recovery can help you avoid a similar lesson.
- Trust your skills. When you’re first starting out, you may feel like you just got lucky on a case or that you’re a one-hit wonder. Don’t let imposter syndrome ruin your confidence; instead, stay the course and let your work speak for itself.
- Find the emotional connection. Getting a jury to connect emotionally to a case can be extremely helpful in getting a win in your cases. Find creative ways to foster that connection, whether that be through music or another method.
Sean Claggett (00:00):
I was nonresponsive for a half an hour, completely out. And then the — My first memory that I had was the paramedic. I didn’t realize I had been unconscious and nonresponsive all this time. And I wake up, and all the — the whole golf tournament is standing around me. And I just remember I’m on the ground and I’m looking around like, “Oh my gosh.”
Maria Monroy (00:25):
Welcome to the Tip The Scales podcast, where we discuss running and growing your law firm. I’m your host, Maria Monroy, president and co-founder of LawRank. This week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sean Claggett. Um, he was kind enough to let me record at his house. Sean and I met a few months ago, and his story is so fascinating that I was like, “Can we please just stop talking, and can we do this on a podcast?” And thankfully, he, he agreed. We talked about so many things. But Sean had a near death experience, and it really helped him shift his perspective on life and law. We also talked about burnout, which I think we all go through this. We talked about trusting your skills. And when you’re first starting out, you may feel like you got lucky on a case or that you’re a one-hit wonder. And not letting that imposter syndrome ruin your confidence. And then we talked about — So Sean has a really interesting way that he connects to the jury, and just finding that creative way to foster that connection. I hope you guys enjoy this conversation as much as I did today. I am live with Sean Claggett. Thank you so much for taking the time, letting me do this at your house. I appreciate it.
Sean Claggett (01:45):
Thanks for coming to my house. It’s much appreciated that we could do it here.
Maria Monroy (01:48):
Of course. All right. So why don’t we start with just a little bit of history about you and the firm, and then I want to hear the spider man story.
Sean Claggett (01:57):
That, that — If that ends up being a nickname, it’ll be terrible.
Maria Monroy (01:59):
Sean Claggett (02:00):
All right. So I started my firm back in 2005 with one employee and one client and didn’t really start doing personal injury until 2011, around there. And then didn’t really start doing trials until about 2015.
Maria Monroy (02:20):
Sean Claggett (02:20):
And then over the last eight or nine years, I’ve been pretty consistent doing trials. And now the firm has got around seventy employees.
Maria Monroy (02:30):
Sean Claggett (02:31):
And, like, twenty-six or twenty-seven lawyers.
Maria Monroy (02:32):
Sean Claggett (02:33):
Yeah. It’s grown quite a bit.
Maria Monroy (02:35):
Sean Claggett (02:37):
Some people’s dreams, some people’s dreams. Everybody has different dreams.
Maria Monroy (02:42):
Yes. I would argue a lot of lawyers’ dreams.
Sean Claggett (02:45):
Yeah, I think so. I, you know, it’s, uh — I work at a really cool firm with a lot of cool people, which is — makes me happy.
Maria Monroy (02:54):
Sean Claggett (02:55):
Maria Monroy (02:56):
And you’ve had some big verdicts, right?
Sean Claggett (02:58):
I have. I’ve had some, uh — We’ve had a good run here for the last six or seven years where we’ve hit a bunch of big verdicts. So yeah. We’ve, we’ve done — I think we’ve got five now, over $10 million.
Maria Monroy (03:10):
Sean Claggett (03:11):
Maria Monroy (03:11):
Sean Claggett (03:12):
Yeah, thank you.
Maria Monroy (03:13):
So tell us the spider story.
Sean Claggett (03:16):
So the spider story. So, um, in 2015, prior to me getting any big verdicts, uh, I was, I had been working hard to become a better trial lawyer. And, but I had not tried any significant cases at that point in the personal injury arena. I had done some criminal cases and civil cases, but not personal injury. And so, uh, this story takes us to Lake Tahoe, and it was an annual golf tournament that I played in for many years. And it was a significant tournament, you know, from a financial standpoint, but more significant in the bragging right standpoint with all my friends. And so, we’re in Lake Tahoe. We’re in day two of the golf tournament, and I line up to putt the ball. And unbeknownst to me, I’m apparently bit by, like, a black widow. And the next thing I know, I wake up a half an hour later, and I had suffered a massive grand mal seizure.
Maria Monroy (04:20):
Sean Claggett (04:21):
And so —
Maria Monroy (04:22):
That must have been so scary.
Sean Claggett (04:23):
It, it, it was not scary for me, ‘cause I didn’t know it happened. It was really scary for the people around me.
Maria Monroy (04:30):
Oh my God.
Sean Claggett (04:31):
I was nonresponsive for a half an hour, completely out. And then the, my first memory that I had was the paramedic. I didn’t realize I had been unconscious and nonresponsive all this time. And I wake up, and all the — the whole golf tournament is standing around. And I just remember I’m on the ground, and I’m looking around like, “Oh my gosh, did I drink too much? Did I pass out?” And, uh, my buddy Rick Correlli, who’s the brother of Josh Correlli, who’s a great, uh, transactional attorney up in Reno, uh, was sitting down. I remember him laughing and I’m like, “I’m going to go finish the round.” And everybody’s like, “Oh, woah, woah.” And the paramedic was like, “Look, if you can answer three questions, I’ll let you finish your round.” I’m like, “Well, that’ll be easy.” I’m processing — I understand what he’s saying. Okay. So this is where the scary part comes in. “What year is it?” I didn’t know that it was a number.
Maria Monroy (05:34):
Sean Claggett (05:35):
There was no, nothing in my brain. My brain wasn’t working. I had no recall at all. I couldn’t remember any — I couldn’t — it was so scary. It scared me so bad ’cause I — I’m like, I’m like, “Yeah, let’s go.” My buddy, my best friend Lucas was with me. He was my partner in the tournament. He goes with me to the hospital, uh, and I’m like, “What happened?” And he starts filling me in that, you know, I just had this big seizure, and uh —
Maria Monroy (06:11):
And you had never had a seizure before?
Sean Claggett (06:13):
Or after. So, one and done. I mean, you know, it was, it was an expensive seizure, because back in 2015, I had just bought this really cool Tesla, and nobody had Teslas back then. And I’d had it for a week, and I lost my license because of the seizure. They take your license away from you for a while. And —
Maria Monroy (06:35):
That makes sense.
Sean Claggett (06:36):
Maria Monroy (06:37):
That’s crazy though.
Sean Claggett (06:37):
Yeah. And so my wife started driving my Tesla, and she fell in love, and she herself went and bought an SUV Tesla. So that was —
Maria Monroy (06:44):
Do you still have Teslas?
Sean Claggett (06:46):
We have them both in the garage. Yeah.
Maria Monroy (06:47):
We have two Teslas, too.
Sean Claggett (06:48):
Yeah. So —
Maria Monroy (06:49):
Sean Claggett (06:50):
Uh, so yeah, so that, that’s the, uh, and and — And ironically it was after that moment — You do a lot of self-reflecting, right? When you have that, um, near-death experience, there’s — You know, you’re going to all these doctors. You don’t, you — It was unclear to me whether I was going to get my memory back. I, I —
Maria Monroy (07:11):
How long did that last? The lack of memory?
Sean Claggett (07:15):
It, it came back relatively quickly, within a day or two. But what didn’t come back was I was exhausted, and I was sleeping the better part of sixteen, seventeen hours a day for about a month, because my brain was recovering, and I was using so much energy, I was just exhausted.
Maria Monroy (07:34):
And what caused the seizure?
Sean Claggett (07:35):
They don’t know. I mean, they, they — Maybe it was a spider bite, maybe it was a combination of the spider bite. I was drinking Monster Energy drinks back then.
Maria Monroy (07:43):
Sean Claggett (07:44):
Um, maybe it was a combination of being a little dehydrated. You know, it was kind of just one of — They don’t know. And they said, so — You know, believe it or not, it’s, like, 10 percent of the population will have a seizure in their lifetime.
Maria Monroy (07:56):
Sean Claggett (07:57):
So, one in ten.
Maria Monroy (07:58):
I was at, um, a concert this weekend or this — like, two weeks ago. And someone had a seizure during the concert.
Sean Claggett (08:06):
Mm-hmm. It’s actually a lot more common than I ever realized. Uh, and so yeah. That, that was, uh — It was after that, though, that I finally — I wasn’t a — I think what really happened is I — At that moment I’m like, “Well, I’ve already experienced what —“ You know, the worst thing that could happen to you is you die. And I kind of died, you know, in that moment. That was it.
Maria Monroy (08:29):
And you didn’t see a light or anything like that?
Sean Claggett (08:31):
Uh, no. No.
Maria Monroy (08:32):
That you remember?
Sean Claggett (08:33):
Maria Monroy (08:34):
You don’t remember anything. You were just, like, asleep basically.
Sean Claggett (08:36):
I remember putting the ball, and I remember waking up, and that time in between, there was nothing.
Maria Monroy (08:43):
That’s crazy. That’s so scary.
Sean Claggett (08:44):
Just lights out. Yeah.
Maria Monroy (08:45):
And then to not know was it going to happen again?
Sean Claggett (08:48):
Maybe I didn’t get the light ‘cause I wasn’t as close to death as I thought.
Maria Monroy (08:51):
Maybe you — You know —
Sean Claggett (08:52):
It felt pretty close though. Yeah, so, uh, but it was after that that I decided that I’m just going to go for it. You know, I’m just going to go do these trials. I’ve, I’ve been working so hard for, you know, five years on the craft and going to all these courses and practicing and doing focus groups. I’m like, “I’m just going for it.”
Maria Monroy (09:10):
Like, something, like, changed. You just felt like “Fuck it.”
Sean Claggett (09:14):
Well, yeah, that, and I, I, I honestly believe that my recall of information became better after the seizure.
Maria Monroy (09:21):
So the spider did have a Spiderman-type —
Sean Claggett (09:25):
I, I, it’s, I — I do think it improved my ability to recall information quite a bit. And so —
Maria Monroy (09:30):
That’s crazy, though. It’s like how they say the universe is always working for you.
Sean Claggett (09:35):
Yeah. It, it was, it was a bizarre time. But the, the, the fear was gone of lo— like, I was never really worried about losing a trial. ‘Cause I did criminal defense, and you lose doing criminal defense. But I was worried about losing personal injury cases, ’cause they’re so damn expensive.
Maria Monroy (09:52):
Sean Claggett (09:53):
You know, it’s a different — Criminal case, you’re, you’re, you — You’ve been paid.
Maria Monroy (09:56):
It’s your time. Yeah.
Sean Claggett (09:57):
You know, you’re getting paid up front, so you’re not out of pocket.
Maria Monroy (09:58):
Sean Claggett (09:59):
Personal injury is the other way around. But I just said, you know, “What the hell, just go for it.” And that was the first case that really kind of put me on the map was the Lowe’s case, which was a slip and fall case where my client slipped and fell and knocked down a yellow cone. And the jury returned a verdict of $16.4 million on that. And —
Maria Monroy (10:22):
Wow. What was the initial offer?
Sean Claggett (10:24):
Maria Monroy (10:26):
Sean Claggett (10:26):
Uh, during trial that the offers increased, uh, to the point that they had offered, uh, at one point a high-low of $1 million on the bottom and $25 million on the top. And we ended up, uh, wanting $2 million on the bottom and $25 million on the top. And they countered that with $400,000 on the bottom, $25 million on the top. And so we said no to everything and just took the verdict.
Maria Monroy (10:51):
Sean Claggett (10:51):
Which was, uh, it was funny, because when I got that verdict, I thought that was going to make me — there — it was going to make me, right? That that verdict was going to make me — That was the worst verdict I’ve ever got, as far as the way it made me feel.
Maria Monroy (11:08):
Sean Claggett (11:09):
’Cause I felt like a — I felt like a fraud.
Maria Monroy (11:11):
Sean Claggett (11:12):
Yeah. Oh yeah. Because people were saying — I heard people talking. “Oh, he got lucky. He got, you know, hit lightning in a bottle.” And I’m just like, “Oh no. Am I? You know, am I the one hit wonder?” I mean, I love Flagpole Sitta, but who I don’t want to be Harvey Danger in the —
Maria Monroy (11:34):
Sean Claggett (11:35):
In, in the legal world. So I now I’m starting to like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got, got to get another verdict.” And, and then I — Fortunately, I, I had the, the luck of defense attorneys also believing that I was an imposter. And then we peeled off just one big verdict after another, and it hasn’t really stopped. And so I think I’m finally at the point now where I’m not — I think for a long time, I was trying to prove to myself, and maybe being brutally honest, proving to other people that I was a good trial lawyer. And I’m finally really comfortable with where I’m at. Like, I don’t feel like that’s necessary anymore. There’s not — I used to brag a lot. I was — Part of the imposter syndrome is that you wanted to flex where you could. And I think I, I see a lot of younger attorneys do that. And some older attorneys.
Maria Monroy (12:35):
Some older, yeah. That’s what I was going to say.
Sean Claggett (12:36):
Um, and I think I’m just finally at a point where I’m happy enough with myself that I, I just — I don’t, I don’t talk about the — You know, I don’t go out of my way to talk about the results.
Maria Monroy (12:54):
And did this happen just because you’ve gotten so many great verdicts? Or did you have to do some sort of, like, self-work to, to feel this way?
Sean Claggett (13:06):
I, I think there’s probably a com— There’s definitely a combination. ‘Cause I’ve definitely done the self-work. I’ve gone and done therapy and other things to talk to other people about this. So, um, it’s a little bit of both. Um, I think there also comes a realization at some point that your desire to be, uh, in the courtroom maybe is not as important as it used to be. Uh, I, I’ve spent over a year — uh, it’s literally over 365 days of my life — in trial. Which is weird.
Maria Monroy (13:45):
That’s a lot.
Sean Claggett (13:46):
Yeah. So it’s weird to think that. And this year, you know, in the, in the fall, I’ll spend another sixty days in trial between three trials. Um, but when you, you know — I, I don’t — It’s not the place that where I feel like I have to be — Like, there’s times where I felt like “I need to go to trial. I, I have to go do a trial.” That was really part of where I was at in my life at one point where I —
Maria Monroy (14:12):
Well, your identity becomes attached to that. Are — Do you feel like you’re trying to undo that?
Sean Claggett (14:18):
I, I think that I’m, I’m realizing that I’m enjoying a lot of other things in life with more time not in trial. You know, trial is — The trial part of it is the fun part. That’s the fun part. I mean, if, if, if I were talented enough to simply go and do trial and not have to prep insanely for them, uh, that’d be kind of fun, I think. I’m not that talented. I’ve got to spend a lot of time preparing, and I’m obsessive about it, because I don’t want anybody to know something in trial that I don’t. So I have to be the most prepared. The prep time for a trial is intense. Um, and so that prep time burns you out. That’s what burns me out.
Maria Monroy (15:11):
Well, last time we spoke you were, like — I, I — You weren’t sleeping.
Sean Claggett (15:15):
Maria Monroy (15:16):
‘Cause you were prepping for trial.
Sean Claggett (15:17):
I think it was in March, and I had just finished a six-week trial, and I was going to do a two-week trial in Reno, followed by a six-week trial in Modesto. And so when you have that back-to-back-to-back trials, you’re constantly preparing. So even if you have a down day in one trial, you may be prepping for the other trial.
Maria Monroy (15:39):
Sean Claggett (15:40):
Because you’ve got to have them all ready to roll. And there’s so many moving pieces in a normal trial — just one trial. When you’ve got three going on, that’s pretty intense. And I don’t — By the way, if anybody’s watching or listening to this, I do not recommend ever doing it. It’s a bad idea. It’s a terrible idea. Do not do back-to-back trials. It’s not healthy, and you’re not going to be your best.
Maria Monroy (16:02):
What about the attorneys that you have? Do they go to trial?
Sean Claggett (16:05):
Maria Monroy (16:06):
Okay. So you are building that component so that you don’t have to try every single —
Sean Claggett (16:11):
That is the biggest thing I’m doing right now.
Maria Monroy (16:13):
Sean Claggett (16:14):
Is that, uh, we have a whole crew of great trial lawyers at my firm, and they’re going to trial, and they’re getting results. Um, Jordan Logan just got a $14 million verdict. Shannon Wise just got a $5 million, $5.5 million verdict.
Maria Monroy (16:30):
I like Jordan.
Sean Claggett (16:31):
Oh yeah, Jordan’s great.
Maria Monroy (16:32):
Sean Claggett (16:33):
Jor— Jordan’s another guy that — He works so hard. Uh, he needs to slow it down. We both do. Um —
Maria Monroy (16:38):
But I think it’s one of those things that you have to learn. Like, you have to live it to be like, “Oh shit, I am burnt out now.” Like, I don’t know that if it’s something, like —
Sean Claggett (16:48):
The problem is is that when you’re — I’ve grown up — Ever since I’ve been a kid, work ethic was bred. I grew up in Idaho. I mean it was just what it was. You would — You get the job done, and you don’t even think about it. It’s just you do it. The problem is, is that when you’re a workaholic, which a lot of lawyers are, you don’t even realize that everything around you could be crumbling, ’cause you’re so engaged in working and that’s — You see relationships fall apart all the time in our world, right?
Maria Monroy (17:28):
Sean Claggett (17:29):
And that happens because — Not because you’re a bad person. It happens because you’re focused so much on work and part of, part of — Obviously spouses to trial lawyers have to be the most understanding people in the world and, and have their own thing going on.
Maria Monroy (17:51):
Oh, right. Mm-hmm. .
Sean Claggett (17:52):
Because if a spouse of a trial lawyer doesn’t have some— their own thing, that relationship will not work because of how much time the lawyer will spend away from their spouse. But, uh, yeah, I think the — I, I think the, the, the goal for my firm and myself and, uh, is that I’m mentoring all the attorneys, and, and we’re creating — Well, we have a trial school, so we’re creating the, the format of the trial school at the firm. And so we’re putting the lawyers at the firm through the trial school, and then the trial school will be launched in, in earnest, uh, next year. So —
Maria Monroy (18:34):
That’s really cool.
Sean Claggett (18:34):
Yeah. So the — And I love teaching. Uh, that’s probably my number-one, probably even more so than trial. I enjoy teaching.
Maria Monroy (18:43):
Well, I mean, you have your own classroom.
Sean Claggett (18:45):
Yeah, I do. Yeah. Uh, I really enjoy teaching. I, I love teaching at the law school. Um, I’m working with the, the law school now to create a jury selection course, which I hope to teach in the spring.
Maria Monroy (18:59):
Here in Vegas?
Sean Claggett (18:59):
Yeah. At Boyd School of Law. Yeah. UNLV Boyd School of Law.
Maria Monroy (19:03):
Sean Claggett (19:04):
I’ve been an adjunct professor there for over a decade now. Yeah.
Maria Monroy (19:06):
I meant you have your own classroom at your law firm.
Sean Claggett (19:07):
Maria Monroy (19:08):
But it sounds like you actually have a classroom.
Sean Claggett (19:10):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I am. A lot, many, many lawyers in town call me Professor.
Maria Monroy (19:15):
Sean Claggett (19:16):
Which is funny.
Maria Monroy (19:16):
That is so cool.
Sean Claggett (19:17):
Yeah. Yeah. I’ve had probably about 200 students over the years.
Maria Monroy (19:22):
And do you ever end up hiring them later?
Sean Claggett (19:25):
Yeah. Shannon, Shannon Wise was my student.
Maria Monroy (19:26):
Sean Claggett (19:27):
And she’s now a partner at the firm. Funny — This is a great story. So, so Shannon is — Have you ever met Shannon?
Maria Monroy (19:36):
Maybe, but I don’t recall.
Sean Claggett (19:37):
She is a brilliant, beautiful woman. I mean, if your daughter could be like her.
Maria Monroy (19:45):
I need to have her on.
Sean Claggett (19:46):
Yeah. You would be so proud of your daughter, because that is Shannon. She is — So Shannon’s in my class. Now I don’t know her, right? She’s blonde hair, kind of like a pin-up type person. I mean, she’s really pretty. And you’re sitting there, you’re like, “She’s a student.” And she comes up to me. She goes, “I’d like to work for you.” No, not that “I’d like to,” “I want to work for you.” I’m like, “All right, well what? That’s pretty aggressive.”
Maria Monroy (20:14):
I like her already.
Sean Claggett (20:15):
Yeah. And I said, “Well, what do you do right now?” She goes, “I work for Allstate.” I’m like, “Not interested.” She goes, “I hate them.” I’m like, “I’m interested.” And I said, “All right, well, send me your CV.” She sends it over to me. She’s number-one in her class. And I felt at that moment, I’m like, “Man, did I judge this book totally wrong.” I completely prejudged her. Uh, ‘cause I’m not thinking — When I looked at her, I’m not thinking, “Oh, clearly, that’s the number-one student in the school.”
Maria Monroy (20:46):
Sean Claggett (20:47):
Um, and I felt bad about it, but then I was like, “This person is a rockstar. Like she —“ ‘Cause she was so unique. She — I like punk rock music. She likes punk rock, you know? And I’m like, “Oh, she’s cool. Like, she’s cool like that.” And so, uh, of course I hired her immediately, and she’s brilliant.
Sean Claggett (21:13):
And she — The trial — I’ve got to tell you the story. So this is, this is a cool story about her verdict. Uh, she did the trial with my other partner, Jen Morales. And Jen and I went to law school together. So Jen’s a great med mal trial lawyer. Um, Jen is, is my — Any med mal trial I do, Jen is by my side. Um, and so Jen and Shannon have this case, and Shannon’s running lead on it. And in our firm, we, it, it — Lead’s kind of a soft phrase, because it’s — You maybe have one A and one B, but we say whoever’s doing voir dire is lead. So that’s kind of the, what we’ll consider the lead trial lawyer, because that, to us, is the most important part of the case. So, um, she, Shannon, Shannon’s run lead doing voir dire. And I don’t like the case.
Sean Claggett (22:05):
I didn’t like the case at all. I’m like, “Can you guys just settle this thing, man? Just get rid of it.” ‘Cause I didn’t like the — I didn’t like the story that was told to me about the case. It was a, the case was a case with a little boy who had fallen off the monkey bars and broke his leg. Goes to the hospital. And the original story was the doctor chose to do an invasive surgery versus casting, setting and casting.
Maria Monroy (22:26):
Sean Claggett (22:27):
I’m like, “Who cares? I don’t care. Like that doesn’t move me on my emotional scale one, one point.”
Maria Monroy (22:37):
Yeah, I don’t, I don’t even — I don’t get it. So what did that cause? Like, what was the issue?
Sean Claggett (22:42):
Uh, the kid end up having a shorter leg. Like —
Maria Monroy (22:43):
Sean Claggett (22:44):
So the, that, that, that was it. Not, not greatly shorter, by the way. A little bit shorter. Um, but Shannon, by doing all these focus groups, figured out that wasn’t the story at all. The story was this little boy goes in with a compound fr— Like, a, a, a, a full fracture of the leg. And he has a — The doctor who’s on call, the orthopedic surgeon at the hospital who’s on call being paid, doesn’t show up for twenty-five hours. He’s supposed to be within thirty minutes. That became the case. And it turned out the doctor who was on call was also on call at, like, five other hospitals. And at the time, he wasn’t at any of the hospitals. He just was — Chose not to come in.
Maria Monroy (23:34):
Wow. That’s really fucked up.
Sean Claggett (23:37):
Maria Monroy (23:38):
I’d be livid.
Sean Claggett (23:39):
It — And so was the jury. And that is the dynamic of figuring out the story to tell to motivate people to move.
Maria Monroy (23:46):
Yeah. See that pisses me off.
Sean Claggett (23:48):
Right. Well and it pissed everybody off, ’cause you left that little boy in —
Maria Monroy (23:50):
Sean Claggett (23:51):
Crippling pain for twenty-five hours.
Maria Monroy (23:53):
Oh yeah. Definitely would be pissed.
Sean Claggett (23:56):
Yes. And that, that was — And so, and the best part of that trial was I went on vacation the day they were picked — started picking the jury, and I get back from vacation, and they got the verdict.
Maria Monroy (24:09):
What was it?
Sean Claggett (24:10):
Maria Monroy (24:11):
Sean Claggett (24:13):
Yeah. And it was such a — I was like — And, and even better, the case resolved that day. They got a settlement done at the courthouse before they walked out.
Maria Monroy (24:23):
Sean Claggett (24:24):
Which is pretty cool, especially at a med mal case, ’cause usually those go up, and you deal with those for three, four years.
Maria Monroy (24:33):
Now you brought up that Shannon likes music.
Sean Claggett (24:34):
Maria Monroy (24:35):
Let’s talk about music, ’cause I know you do something that I’ve never heard. I mean, maybe other lawyers do it. I had never heard of it. You, you love music.
Sean Claggett (24:46):
I love music.
Maria Monroy (24:47):
Who’s your favorite band or singer or whatever?
Sean Claggett (24:51):
Maria Monroy (24:53):
It’s such a loaded question for you.
Sean Claggett (24:54):
Yeah. I mean, depending on the genre. Uh, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band. Probably my go-to favorite bands. But, uh, I like OAR. I like Phish. Uh —
Maria Monroy (25:12):
There’s one song OAR has that I love.
Sean Claggett (25:13):
Maria Monroy (25:14):
It says something about “turn the car around.”
Sean Claggett (25:16):
Oh yeah, yeah.
Maria Monroy (25:17):
Do you know what I’m talking about?
Sean Claggett (25:18):
Maria Monroy (25:19):
Oh, I love it so much.
Sean Claggett (25:20):
They have a great song called “Black Rock.” Uh —
Maria Monroy (25:24):
I’m going to Google this or Spotify this.
Sean Claggett (25:27):
You, you — “Black Rock” is a wonderful song from OAR. And it and it, it — We all have our “Black Rock.” We all have it. It’s the place you go to, to reflect and think.
Maria Monroy (25:38):
It’s funny because for me, songs in English, I have a really hard time listening to the lyrics and, like, connecting with the lyrics. I think it’s because English is my second language, whereas it — I don’t know why my brain works this way, because I think in English. I dream in English. But if it’s a song in Spanish, I feel like I can, like, really hear the — Like, listen to the lyrics, like, understand the lyrics, take something away from it. Whereas in English, I just — Like, like, the melody or like the song as a whole. And my husband’s always like — We discovered a band this weekend called Medium Build, and he’s, like, obsessing over it and, like, listening to it. Like he’s like a teen, like, over and over again, because he loves the lyrics.
Sean Claggett (26:22):
Maria Monroy (26:23):
You should check them out. They’re actually —
Sean Claggett (26:24):
Medium Build? Yeah.
Maria Monroy (26:25):
You’ve heard of them?
Sean Claggett (26:26):
No, I have not. No, but I, I, I’ll tell you, I, I, I, I’m a big fan of Manchester Orchestra, if you’ve heard of them.
Maria Monroy (26:32):
Sean Claggett (26:32):
And my wife and I went and saw them in Seattle at the Grant Theater, which is this epic historical place that bands go and play in. Uh, there was a band called Foxing opening up for them. There was also the Michigander and two bands I’d never heard of either. And, uh, Foxing was just out-of-this-world great. And so I, I always loved going to live shows and listening to bands. Like I’m a huge fan of Lord Huron. Have you, have you heard the — They’re a great band. Uh, and I saw them because I went to the, uh, uh, I went to Doheny Beach where Eddie Vedder puts on the Ohana Festival, and it was a two-day music festival. And I went and just listened to all the bands, and Lord Huron was one of them. And it was just awesome.
Maria Monroy (27:30):
Yeah. That, that’s what happened to us. They opened for — We took the kids to see Louis Capaldi, who they just, like, love.
Sean Claggett (27:37):
I’m not familiar with him.
Maria Monroy (27:38):
He had, like, one hit song that was — Actually, he’s really, really, really big in, in the UK. But he had one hit song here in the States during COVID. And the boys started listening to it on, like, Apple. And then they started listening to his whole album, and they just became obsessed with him. And this is when we were, like, locked in California. You couldn’t go anywhere. So I was like, “When he comes to the States, I’m going to take them.” I almost took him to London to see him. But we had literally just gotten home from Europe, and it was, like, a week later and I was like, “I’m not going to do it.” So long story short, this was, like, their Christmas gift, ’cause that — We try to take him to concerts and, like, do, like, activities instead of buying them all sorts of crap all the time. And Medium Build opened up. And my husband was like, “This is way better than Louis Capaldi.” Although Louis Capaldi’s great, and we are fans, but he’s just became obsessed. But I do think that there’s something about seeing a band live, because I, I feel like they’re — They were better live than when I listened to their album. ‘Cause, like, you can see the emotion.
Sean Claggett (28:41):
Yeah, yeah. When the band’s really into it, it’s special.
Maria Monroy (28:44):
Yeah. And that’s how it was. Like, he was really good. But how do you tie in this passion you have for music with law?
Sean Claggett (28:53):
Yeah. So I, I started doing this a long time ago, but I just, I connect with the music. I, I can’t sing, I can’t play instruments, but I could write lyrics to a song.
Maria Monroy (29:06):
Interesting. Do you, do you ever?
Sean Claggett (29:09):
No, I don’t, but I mean, I, I write out stuff. I mean, I, I write stuff out, but I’ve never had it played. I should have my son — My son’s a very talented musician.
Maria Monroy (29:15):
Really? How come you don’t?
Sean Claggett (29:16):
I, I don’t know. Because he’d think it would probably be lame. Because, because he doesn’t, he, he doesn’t relate to a, a late 40-year-old male —
Maria Monroy (29:25):
Sean Claggett (29:26):
Uh, life feeling, right?
Maria Monroy (29:29):
I’m sure he thinks you’re not cool. Like —
Sean Claggett (29:31):
I think he thinks I’m cool. He’s —
Maria Monroy (29:32):
Sean Claggett (29:33):
My son — I — Let me answer your question, then I’m going to brag about my son.
Maria Monroy (29:35):
Sean Claggett (29:36):
For just a minute. But, uh, so the, I, I think where this all started — I remember when I was a kid, my older brother Seton had a project. My gosh, this had to be, like, in eighth grade. I, I was probably in fifth, sixth grade, something like this. But he put together a video. Now, back then, dubbing music into a video was, like, not easy. I mean, there was — This was a whole process. But he made this video and he, he tied in, uh, a Peter Gabriel’s song into, uh, this video. Um, “In Your Eyes” was the song. And it’s a beautiful song. And I connected with the video that he was showing at a hugely deep level because the music, and it was the music that was inspiring, and it let me — The way I was visually seeing things, I connected emotionally much tighter with the message that he was wanting to convey. And that, that’s why you see all these movies have soundtracks.
Maria Monroy (30:49):
Sean Claggett (30:50):
The, the music is there to help convey an emotion. That’s why they have the music.
Maria Monroy (30:56):
Oh, and it does an amazing job. Like —
Sean Claggett (30:59):
Yeah. And so knowing that, knowing how much music moves me, I’ve, I’ve always wanted to honor my clients by finding the right song that tells their story. It’s kind of — You know, I, I spend, I, I — This is a painstaking process, ’cause it’s not the same song. It’d be kind of easy to have a couple go-to songs and plug and play. But I want to get to know my clients and connect with them on a deeper level. And I, uh, you know, um, I, I remember I had this Filipino couple who, the wife was very injured as a result of a medical malpractice and, and suffered a ma— major brain injury. And during the trial, the husband explained and testified that his, uh, his feeling of his wife was he missed the small things like sitting down like we are, having coffee and taking drives and then seeing things and laughing about them, ’cause she doesn’t remember any of that. And so he wasn’t able to do that. And then there — So there’s this song from the musical Rent called “Seasons of Love”. And it’s — The, the, the song poses the question, “How do you measure a year in the life? Do you measure in sunsets and cups of coffee?” And then it, it ends with the answer being love. You, you, you measure a year in the life in love.
Maria Monroy (32:34):
How did you find it though?
Sean Claggett (32:36):
I had been to the — I went and saw Rent, and I thought it was a beautiful song. And so —
Maria Monroy (32:41):
So you remembered?
Sean Claggett (32:41):
I remembered. And then another, uh, case that I did, uh, our — We had a little girl that was run over by a garbage truck and killed.
Maria Monroy (32:51):
Oh my God. No, I’m going to cry.
Sean Claggett (32:53):
Yeah. Uh, and in that case, the family — The night before she died, there was a party for the aunt’s birthday. And so there, there the — And then the sister had testified that they were, she was singing this song, uh, “I Need You Right Now” by The Chainsmokers. Uh, I, I — That’s probably not the name of the song. It’s a different name, but the, that’s the lyric that stood out to me. So I listened to that song, and the sister testified to it. And this is — I’m actually having dinner tonight with this family.
Maria Monroy (33:32):
Sean Claggett (33:32):
Yeah. We’re all going over and having dinner together. So I’m really close to my clients, which is, makes it special. But the lyric, the, the haunting lyric from that was, “I need you right now. I need you right now.” And that’s the mom.
Maria Monroy (33:48):
I’m trying so hard not to cry right now.
Sean Claggett (33:49):
Yeah. The mom — You can’t lose your kid, right? And so, and so when a mother and a child — And, and the lyrics — And it was just this, I don’t know. That’s not my — The Chainsmokers aren’t — I, I know who they are. I listen to some of that music, but not connecting. But that song connected with me because of the —
Maria Monroy (34:12):
Sean Claggett (34:13):
The case. And so, um, I really try to honor my clients by, by by finding their song.
Maria Monroy (34:22):
And do you run it by them?
Sean Claggett (34:25):
Um, sometimes yes. Sometimes no. Um, sometimes it’s, uh, you know, I want to talk to them. I mean, sometimes they have a, a song, or if it’s somebody has passed away, they had their song. And that song usually has some really important meaning. And I’ll try to understand what the, their, their meaning is so that I can then tell the story. And then when you, you know, these, these artists that create these songs, oftentimes they, they, they pain over them. Sometimes they come out very quickly, but other times these lyrics take a long time to write. And it’s a beautiful thing to use that in trial.
Maria Monroy (35:06):
I think it’s a beautiful thing that you are doing. And I, if I’m a juror, I feel like you’re, like, a lawyer that actually gives a shit, versus the idea that sometimes some jurors might have about a lawyer, right? And it’s like, “Oh, this — He cares.”
Sean Claggett (35:23):
Yeah. Uh, I mean it’s, it’s, it’s the one thing I can do to honor my client that is, is special, I think.
Maria Monroy (35:30):
And meaningful to you.
Sean Claggett (35:31):
And to them. You know, I, like, I’ll — Depending on the situation, right? If I know I’m going to use it and it’s going to be really emotional, I’m not going to do that to the client. I’m not going to try to bring back that pain. So I’ll hold it back. Um, but I always tell them, I go, “I want you to know that in my closing, I’m going to honor you or honor your loved one.”
Maria Monroy (36:03):
And you play the song.
Sean Claggett (36:05):
I don’t play the song. I read the lyrics of the song.
Maria Monroy (36:07):
Sean Claggett (36:10):
I read the lyrics.
Maria Monroy (36:10):
Have you ever played it, played a song or no?
Sean Claggett (36:13):
No, because oftentimes like the lyrics may be almost perfect, but I can change a word or two and make it perfect. Um, and I also — There’s something about telling the story, ’cause if the people know the song, they’ll then hear it in their own voice.
Maria Monroy (36:32):
Sean Claggett (36:34):
I, I think there’s a lot of power in the jury hearing and telling themselves the story in their own voice.
Maria Monroy (36:42):
Well, if I just heard the song, me personally, I would not be able to process it the way that I would process it if you read it.
Sean Claggett (36:46):
Maria Monroy (36:47):
And again, I don’t know if it’s because English is my second — Like, it takes a lot of, — Like, I literally have to, like — If my husband’s, like, obsessed with the song and he is like, “The lyrics are beautiful,” I literally have to, like, pull it up on my phone, pause it, start over, play it again, and, like, really try to comprehend.
Sean Claggett (37:04):
Yeah. Well that, that’s what happens with sometimes the music, right? Because you can slow it down. You can add emphasis. You can do things that you, you as the presenter want to draw to. And so I think, yeah, that’s — I, I’ve always thought about “Should I play it?” And then I just — Every time I do my focus groups, it’s better to read it than to play the song. And so we don’t play the song and, but they understand.
Maria Monroy (32:26):
Sean Claggett (32:27):
You know, because you’re on the verge. It’s emotional when you’re telling the story.
Maria Monroy (37:32):
Well, and it’s what Joe Fried talks about. This whole idea of, like, getting people to an emotional state and you’re doing this via this, these lyrics.
Sean Claggett (37:42):
Maria Monroy (37:43):
Yeah. I think it’s be— I — When you told me, I was like, “That is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Sean Claggett (37:47):
Yeah, no, I — It’s, it’s something I enjoy doing, for sure. So, but I, but — Oh, to switch gears and brag about my son.
Maria Monroy (37:56):
Sean Claggett (37:58):
So my son is, uh, in the — He goes to Faith Lutheran, which is a local school here in town.
Maria Monroy (38:01):
Sean Claggett (38:02):
And he is in the Film and Broadcast Academy. He’s happens to be in film, and it’s a, it’s a very difficult program to go through because of all the extra work that’s required to graduate from the academy. So I don’t know how many kids started the academy. Only two graduated from the academy.
Maria Monroy (38:23):
Sean Claggett (38:24):
Um, and you know, one of the things you have to do is a fifty-hour internship in a film-based company. So it’s a lot of work. I mean, you’re putting in a lot of time.
Maria Monroy (38:37):
But how, how do you do that from Vegas? Are there —
Sean Claggett (38:41):
Uh, well, Reed’s fortunate that, uh, his godfather is in the industry, and so, uh, Jargon Entertainment and Action Figure Entertainment are his companies. And so he went interned with Action Figure Entertainment.
Maria Monroy (39:00):
Sean Claggett (39:01):
Uh, yeah, in Burbank area. Valencia, yeah. In the Valley. That’s —
Maria Monroy (39:06):
Yeah, that is the Valley.
Sean Claggett (39:07):
Yeah. So, um, yeah, so he did that. He loved it. My son has done tons of extra film. He’s done so much at the school. So we’re at this award ceremony on the ninth, two, two days ago. And the, the teacher of the film academy is there saying, “Hey, look, last year, Reed Claggett got best cinematographer, and this year he’s done this, this, this, this, this, this and this. And oh, by the way, he was homecoming king. So we’re not giving him another award tonight. We’re not going to do that. But what we are going to do is pass the baton, so to speak.” And they literally named the Outstanding Film Student of the Year at Faith Lutheran the Reed Claggett Outstanding Film Student.
Maria Monroy (39:59):
Sean Claggett (40:00):
They named the award after him.
Maria Monroy (40:03):
Sean Claggett (40:05):
And so we are just beyond proud, and he’s, uh, he’s headed to Chapman Dodge School of Film, which is rated among the best in the world film schools. So he’ll do great things. And my daughter who, uh, I love spending time with and off-roading, she’s a soccer player, but she wants to be a lawyer. So she’s going to follow, uh, she’s going to follow in my footsteps.
Maria Monroy (40:29):
Sean Claggett (40:30):
So yeah, I’m very excited to see —
Maria Monroy (40:31):
Oh, I bet.
Sean Claggett (40:32):
She’s a very strong woman, and I absolutely plan to have Shannon Wise and Jen Morales and Mia Mallette at the firm mentor my daughter to be a strong, powerful trial lawyer.
Maria Monroy (40:48):
Now while we’re on the parenting subject — and I’m, like, genuinely curious about this — how — So it sounds like your kids are driven. How, how do you think you contributed to that? Because I, um, I sometimes worry that privileged kids won’t be driven. And I struggle with this with my own kids, and I have that fear.
Sean Claggett (41:12):
Mm-hmm. Yeah. My wife and I have — My wife and I both grew up very similar, right? We didn’t have what we have. We certainly didn’t have this.
Maria Monroy (41:22):
This house. So same. Like, I grew up poor, and my husband grew up poor, so we don’t know how — No one taught us how to raise privileged children.
Sean Claggett (41:32):
So my wife and I have — I was very fortunate growing up. Even though we didn’t have a lot of extra money, my family always gave back. Always. Um, we were constantly, uh, whether it be through Boy Scouts or when I would do, uh — When I went to college, I was in a fraternity. We did a lot of philanthropy. I always have been exposed to giving back. Always. And we take our kids, and my daughter — more brag on my kids. My daughter was recognized by Help of Southern Nevada as the Young Philanthropist of the Year, uh, for all of her volunteer work. My daughter would go out and raise money from doing bake sales over and over and over again. Baking cookies and cakes and selling them to people and raising all this money where she could have kept for herself as a kid. She would give all the money to Help.
Maria Monroy (42:35):
But how did you instill that in them?
Sean Claggett (42:38):
We took them with us. ‘Cause my wife and I volunteer a lot, and we go to the mission. We go to Help. We go to Just One Project. We go to Three Square, and we always take the kids, and we’re like, “You need to see how everybody else lives to appreciate what you have.”
Maria Monroy (42:58):
This is why I took my kids to Mexico for a while.
Sean Claggett (42:59):
Maria Monroy (43:00):
Because I really did want them to see, like, not everything — like, you’re lucky. Like —
Sean Claggett (43:07):
We are — Our kids are beyond fortunate, you know, and so my kids are, they’re, they’re great, and I’m really proud of both my kids. They’ve both received the presidential award for volunteering, which is the highest level of award you can get as a high school student for volunteer work. I think they put in over 400 hours a year into volunteering.
Maria Monroy (43:30):
God, I need to start doing this with my kids. Were you guys strict or are you — I guess you’re still parents.
Sean Claggett (43:36):
We’re not, we’re we’re not strict. We just lead by example. And it’s just what we do. Like tomorrow morning, we’re going to the farm. We — The law firm underwrites, uh, a farmer’s market for the Just One Project.
Maria Monroy (43:53):
What is the Just One Project?
Sean Claggett (43:54):
The Just One Project is an organization that is primarily food, but also has wraparound social services for families. So they, um, help people that have needs.
Maria Monroy (44:07):
Um, is there anything coming up in the next week that I could take my kids to?
Sean Claggett (44:10):
If you want to come tomorrow morning, the farmer’s market, it will be one of the greatest mornings you’ve ever had.
Maria Monroy (44:16):
It —They have school though, no?
Sean Claggett (44:18):
Yeah. We take our kids — Our kids sometimes miss school for this stuff. There are things more important than school. Like we’re — Tomorrow night, my wife and I are going to an event for, uh, another charity. I’m going to think of it in a second. The Candle Lighters.
Maria Monroy (44:29):
Sean Claggett (44:30):
Which is a children’s cancer organization. They help families that have kids with cancer. And so we just make it a big part of our, our lives that, that giving back matters, and we have the money. And that’s always good to give money. Organizations need money, but more importantly is our time.
Maria Monroy (44:53):
No, I want the kids to see this.
Sean Claggett (44:54):
Maria Monroy (44:55):
Because to them money is, like — They don’t really conceptualize it the way that, like, you and I do. I want them to see it.
Sean Claggett (45:04):
Maria Monroy (45:05):
I want them to feel like they did something kind.
Sean Claggett (45:07):
Maria Monroy (45:08):
Does that make sense?
Sean Claggett (45:09):
Well, and, and — So this farmer’s market’s amazing. So the Just One Project, uh, sets up this farmer’s market, and it’s all free. The people get in line, and there’s fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, fresh poultry, fresh dairy. They get fresh foods, and there, there’s times when people have never seen the type of vegetable they’re getting. They’ve never — Because they don’t have the money to go to fresh. You don’t buy fresh food when you don’t —
Maria Monroy (45:36):
Yeah. That must be so hard. I, I can’t, I’m like struggling —
Sean Claggett (45:38):
No, but it’s great. And you, and you get to — You, you, you get to do this. And my wife, once a week, delivers food for the Just One Project.
Maria Monroy (45:47):
Well, thank you so much for joining me today.
Sean Claggett (45:49):
Yeah. Thanks for coming.
Maria Monroy (45:50):
Thank you so much to Sean Claggett for everything he shared with us today. If you found the story valuable, you know what I’m going to ask you to do. Share it with someone you want to see succeed, subscribe so you never miss an episode, and leave a five star review. It goes a long way in helping others find the show. Thank you.