By CHRIS HARRIS, CJ Staff Writer Commonwealth Journal
One local member of the legal community received a very exclusive distinction — gaining membership into “The National Trial Lawyers Top 100” fold.
Mark Stanziano was chosen for The National Trial Lawyers organization Top 100 for Kentucky, a prestigious group of some of the top attorneys in the Commonwealth. It’s part of a larger directory recognizing the best of the best from all over the United States.
“It’s membership by invitation only,” said Stanziano, of Stanziano & Stanziano, PSC. “You have to be nominated for it by your peers.”
The National Trial Lawyers bills themselves on their website (www.thenationaltriallawyers.org) as “a professional organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from across the country who exemplify superior qualifications as civil plaintiff or criminal defense trial lawyers. This national organization provides networking opportunities, advocacy training, and the highest quality educational programs for trial lawyers.”
Once a candidate is nominated by other lawyers from his or her state, the organization does research into the attorney’s background and the trials they’ve been a part of. If selected, the candidate is sent an invitation by the National Trial Lawyers. New members are inducted annually.
“It’s a national thing; they do it for each state,” said Stanziano. “The idea that they don’t just send you a letter and say, ‘Hey, join up,’ they do the work first and then send the invitation ... It’s real nice.”
Stanziano received notice of the selection in mid-March, and it officially came through in April. He anticipates it to be published in the organization’s periodical later this year.
“I looked through the list,” he said. “There were some pretty good lawyers from Kentucky, so it was pretty cool (to be a part of the list).”
Stanziano said he hopes that his career as a whole was the key to his nomination, rather than being known for one or two particular cases, noting that being recognized for the body of work would “mean more to” him.
Among the perks that go with the honor are a decorative plaque and a leg up in networking, as well as an impressive calling card of sorts for potential clients who want to know they’re in good legal hands.
“People want to be confidence in the lawyer they get to go into court for them,” said Stanziano. “It’s important to show clients that other lawyers recognize your body of work.”
Stanziano — who, with partner Beth Catron Stanziano, has offices in both Somerset and Columbia, Ky. — practiced law for eight years in Columbus Ohio before first coming to Somerset, where he stayed for another 15. In 2005, he left his successful private criminal defense practice to take a position with the Minnesota Public Defender system, and left in 2008 to come back to Kentucky and form the consulting company he now runs, Persuasion Consultants. He opened Stanziano & Catron, PSC in April of 2010.
Stanziano — who has a Bachelor of Arts in Economic from the Ohio State University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Louisville — is a former president and life member of the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (KACDL), and a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. For his contributions, contributions to the practice of criminal defense law in Kentucky, he was awarded the Frank E. Haddad, Jr. Award, by the KACDL, in 2000, the group’s highest honor. Stanziano has been involved in numerous high-profile cases locally and throughout the state — including the proceedings connected to the death of former Pulaski County Sheriff Sam Catron — and has handled 18 death penalty cases, with seven of them going to verdict.
”I am truly honored by my selection,” said Stanziano. “To have peers, many of whom I have a great regard for as trial lawyers in their own right, nominate me for inclusion in their ranks is honor enough. But, to also know that the organization has looked past the nomination and into the body of my life's work in order to determine whether I should actually be invited, makes the invitation an affirmation of what I have been trying to do for the last 30-plus years.
“It is a great honor to me, personally, as well as to our firm, and I hope it provides some measure of confidence to our clients, both present and prospective.”