Attorney Robert Eddy takes client relations to a whole new level.
Eddy’s firm, Cleveland-based Gallagher Sharp, has been representing paint and surface manufacturer Sherwin-Williams for more than 20 years. The company recently decided to choose Gallagher Sharp as its sole national counsel for a group of related cases. “When they decided that, the next step was to bring us closer to the company,” says Eddy. And that meant getting a crash course in the company's products.
Eddy trained with NACE International, an association for the corrosion control industry, during a weeklong, eight-and-a-half-hours-a-day boot camp for coating technicians. The litigator and partner in charge of Gallagher Sharp’s Toledo office learned the intricacies of electrolysis, hydrolysis, and the chemical reactions between substrates and coatings. “They thought it would be easier and more effective [for lawyers] to be able to handle all of the cases related to the technical side of coatings,” he says.
Eddy also had to hit the books. He studied corrosion and application, and learned which combinations of environment, temperatures, humidity, and lighting led to a successful job. “All of these things, in the big picture, go toward the analysis of why a coating succeeds and why it sometimes fails,” he says.
The training also required him to get his hands dirty. Eddy sandblasted surfaces to eliminate rust, and performed spray paint experiments. He also went on a field trip to Cleveland to observe light post sand blasting. “There’s a lot [that goes into] figuring out what makes for a good application of paint,” he says.
Eddy’s crash course in coating gave him a new appreciation for his corporate clients and the work that they do. “It was fun, and it was a good experience for me as a lawyer,” he says. “It’s important because you’re not just going to be dealing with lawyers, but you’ll also be dealing with the management team and a variety of people within the company.”
Eddy says that experiences like this can benefit clients by having lawyers who have hands-on knowledge about their products and processes. "If you can educate lawyers and utilize lawyers in a variety of different circumstances, this is a great way to have confidence that the lawyer is going to deliver first-rate services."
And Eddy came away with more than just technical expertise from his experience. He now sees the world through a different lens. “You can’t go outside without seeing coatings all over the place,” he says.