Walter J. Lack

Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack

Specialty: Civil litigation

Law School: Loyola, 1973

When Los Angeles native Walter Lack first saw Spencer Tracy and Gregory Peck portraying impressive trial lawyers on the silver screen, he knew he wanted to be an attorney.

After 26 years in the field, he remains one of the busiest civil trial lawyers in town, specializing in major business disputes, mass toxic tort cases, insurance bad faith claims and construction defect cases. "During 1998, I spent 11 out of 12 months in trial before juries," Lack said.

He successfully represented the heirs of Vasek Polak, widely described as the world's largest Porsche dealer, in their dispute with executors of Polak's will. In a class-action suit, Lack successfully represented 1,100 victims of the 1994 Unocal refinery explosion. And he got a $7 million jury verdict in favor of his client Fightertown Inc. in its lawsuit against investment bank Robertson Stephens & Co. over a $40 million stock offering gone bad. (That case is currently on appeal.) He also was co-counsel in the $780 million verdict for 43 former Lockheed workers who sued for personal injuries they sustained as a result of chemicals they used in building the stealth fighter.

This year, Lack is slated to argue two of the largest toxic tort cases pending in the country. Both involve groundwater contamination. Lack is representing residents who drank the water and who are now said to suffer from a variety of ailments and diseases. Pacific Gas & Electric is the defendant in one of the cases, and Lockheed Aircraft Corp. is the defendant in the other.

Margot Carmichael Lester

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