Steve Cornman, a shareholder in the Miami office, always knew he wanted to be a lawyer. His interest in the legal and analytical process and public policy made the law a natural fit. But it was not until a law school moot court class that Steve found his true passion and calling to be a litigator. He found that he both excelled at and enjoyed arguing before a judge and jury. His first year of law school, he and his class teammate ended up winning the University of Miami Law School’s moot court competition for their year, and Steve continued on with the moot court team throughout law school.
Steve was born and raised in Oklahoma City. His mom, the first in his family to go to college, worked her way through school at the University of Oklahoma, where she eventually became an associate professor of Latin. Steve followed in his mom’s footsteps and also attended the University of Oklahoma, where he earned his B.A. in "Letters," which is a traditional Ivy League major that focuses on the study of ancient and modern languages, history, philosophy, and logic, which Steve knew would provide him with a solid pre-law foundation.
Law school brought Steve to Miami, Florida, where he earned his J.D. Steve started his legal career as an associate for a well known, prominent plaintiffs’ lawyer, who trained Steve how to investigate, develop, and prepare a case to its fullest, before even filing suit. One of Steve’s first assignments was to investigate and develop a major toxic tort case. He investigated the affected area personally, making the trek into the woods on a four-wheeler. He called the expert who was involved in the Erin Brockovich case, and got him involved on his side of the case. At the end of the day, the other side had no choice but to settle for a favorable amount.
A few years’ later, Steve met Kubicki Draper’s Brad McCormick as opposing counsel in a case. Not long after that, Steve decided it was time to transition from working for a solo practitioner to working at a larger law firm, and Brad offered him a position at KD. Steve used the same in-depth, hands on preparation and litigation skills he had honed as a plaintiffs’ lawyer even after he transitioned to the defense. He soon discovered that most plaintiffs’ lawyers did not prepare their cases before filing suit, as he had been taught to do. Thus, by preparing his cases as a defense lawyer the same way he was trained to as a plaintiffs’ lawyer, Steve has found he is often able to stay at least a few steps ahead of the opposition.
One of Steve’s first cases at Kubicki Draper was also a toxic tort case, which, at its core, actually turned out to be more of a construction defects case. It was a multi-million dollar damages case following the carbon monoxide exposure to a father and son which resulted in severe brain damage and death, respectively. Steve defended the general contractor who built the hotel in Key West. This case laid the ground work for Steve to develop a specialty and expertise in defending complex cases involving construction defects, toxic torts, and products liability, to name a few. Recently, Steve obtained a favorable result in a complex construction case involving a Chinese Drywall claim. In the pre-trial phase, Steve and his team of KD attorneys persuaded the trial court that plaintiffs had failed to properly plead certain claims, and the trial court’s ruling effectively limited plaintiffs to claiming around $11 million, instead of the approximately $34 million plaintiffs were trying to seek. At the close of the trial, the jury returned a verdict rejecting a certain category of the damages sought and awarded only $1.4 million. Plaintiffs have appealed and will next have to face off against KD’s appellate team.
Outside of the law, the top priority in Steve’s life is his family. He and his wife have been married for 4 years, and they have an adorable 2-year-old son. Steve says he has found that being a dad is the most challenging, but also the most rewarding, of life’s great adventures.