ROBB & ROBB
As a profession, the legal sector appeals to the social conscience of many a college student. In that sense, young Anita Porte Robb was no different from most other law school students, and the original calling still rings loud and clear. “The law combines philosophical principles, intellectually stimulating concepts, and the ability to help society both collectively and one person at a time,” she says. “In my opinion, no other profession offers this same opportunity.”
But this UMKC alumna wasn’t just any college student when she earned her J.D. from the law school at the University of Michigan in 1982. For one, she graduated cum laude. For another, she was just 23 years old.
She entered the profession defending medical malpractice cases, but went to work for plaintiffs not long after marrying Gary Robb in 1983. Since then, she’s been half of the team of Robb & Robb, earning hundreds of millions of dollars in damages awards and settlements on behalf of people killed or injured in plane and helicopter crashes, medical malpractice cases and injuries inflicted by vehicle failure.
Part of the reward from her work comes from a sense that financial justice has been done for those from whom much has been taken. Part of it, though, is the thrill of the chase. “Trial lawyers,” Robb says, “are in a sense actors on a stage, but the stakes are very real instead of fictional. The magic and excitement of what can happen in the court room cannot be surpassed.”
Among the work she cites as her most professionally rewarding were a pair of verdicts – for $70 million and for a then-record $350 million – stemming from helicopter crashes. That steered the small firm into a niche as specialists in the aviation field, particularly with helicopter failure.
There are accidents in this life, and then there are tragedies, the kind that leave grieving survivors because a company has been either negligent or unwilling to fully comprehend a cost-benefit analysis and correct flaws in aviation design and materials. Making those companies pay, Robb says, will lead to a greater good.