Articles Posted in Firm News

Neil O’Donnell has been selected for inclusion in the 2009 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. The publication states that selection to Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey by the top attorneys in the country and is considered a singular honor.

Best Lawyers in America has now released its law firm rankings for 2009, and has ranked Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon #1 in the Products Liability category in both the Alaska and Anchorage surveys. The Alaska Personal Injury Law Group is the practice group within the firm of Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon handling claims in the specialty areas of law such as products liability, negligence, wrongful death, catastrophic injury, and insurance bad faith claims.

Benchmark: Litigation has released its 2009 rankings, as well. Reprising its 2008 listing by the organization, Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon was again listed as one of five law firms in Alaska selected for its premier “highly recommended” listing.

Both organizations utilize peer review surveys of practicing lawyers as an independent and objective means of determining which law firms are regarded by their peers as performing exceptional legal work.

Richard E. Vollertsen, one of the Alaska Personal Injury Law Group’s attorneys, has just been selected as “Lawyer Of The Year” by Best Lawyers In America. Mr. Vollertsen is one of three lawyers to be recognized from Alaska, and the only lawyer recognized in the specialty practice of Personal Injury Litigation. Another lawyer from his firm, Bruce E. Gagnon, was also selected by Best Lawyers as “Lawyer of the Year” in the specialty practice of Corporate Law.

Best Lawyers in America is one of the oldest publications rating lawyers in the United States, and is the gold standard for accuracy and integrity. Best Lawyers in American compiles its lists of outstanding attorneys by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. The lawyers being honored as “Lawyers of the Year” received particularly high ratings in their surveys by earning a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism, and integrity. Steven Naifeh, Managing Editor of Best Lawyers, says, “We continue to believe – as we have believed for more than 25 years – that recognition by one’s peers is the most meaningful form of praise in the legal profession. We would like to congratulate Richard E. Vollertsen on being selected as the ‘Alaska Best Lawyers Personal Injury Litigator of the Year’ for 2009.”

Richard E. Vollertsen of the Alaska Personal Injury Law Group has been selected for inclusion in the “Best Lawyers In America” 2009 publication. He is now in a distinguished group of attorneys listed in the publication for over 10 years. Selection to the “Best Lawyers In America” listing is based on exhaustive and rigorous peer-review evaluations by the top attorneys in the country.

Alaska Personal Injury Law Group member, Richard E. Vollertsen, has been selected for inclusion in the 2008 edition of America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys. Those selected are identified by Benchmark’s research team, which conducts extensive face-to-face and telephone interviews with the nation’s leading private practice lawyers and in-house counsel in the preceding 12 month period. The purpose of the ranking is to identify those firms and attorneys best able to handle complex litigation matters. The rankings include identification of “local litigation stars” for each state, reflecting only those individuals who were recommended consistently as incontrovertible stars by clients and peers. Mr. Vollertsen was identified in this ranking as a “local litigation star”.

The research results for law firms were also broken down into “highly recommended” and “recommended” categories. All listed firms were consistently mentioned by peers and clients, but the “highly recommended” firms received the most mentions, and were held up as being definitively dominant in their particular jurisdiction. Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon, Inc., of which the Alaska Personal Injury Law Group is a division, was identified as “highly recommended” in this ranking, as well. Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon, Inc. was one of only 3 firms in Alaska selected as “highly recommended.”

Source: Benchmark: Litigation, America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys, 2008,

Two attorneys with the Alaska Personal Injury Law Group, W. Michael Moody and Richard E. Vollertsen, were recently selected to be listed in Alaska Super Lawyers 2007, a publication of Washington Law & Politics magazine.

Mr. Moody received his law degree from the University of Arizona in 1972 where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review and received the academic award of Order of the Coif. He served as a law clerk to Judges Thomas Stewart and Victor Carlson in Juneau before moving to Anchorage. Mr. Moody has practiced law in Alaska since 1975 specializing in representing those injured by negligence or defective products, and claims against insurance companies for fraud and bad faith conduct against their policyholders.

Mr. Vollertsen was also selected as an Alaska Super Lawyer. Mr. Vollertsen has been a member of the Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon law firm since 1982. His practice includes complex litigation matters primarily involving products liability, wrongful death, and personal injury. He served as Law Clerk to Chief Justice Edmund Burke of the Alaska Supreme Court. Mr. Vollertsen was also editor-in-chief of University of San Francisco Law Review, 1980-81, and contributing editor to Alaska Court Review, 1983-2000.

While cargo barges may be “unmanned” while under tow, longshoremen and seamen often go aboard “unmanned” barges for loading, unloading and other purposes. Federal regulation 46 C.R.F. § 92.25-5 requires that cargo barges have a three-course perimeter safety railing. The Coast Guard, however, has failed to enforce that regulation, stating without explanation in its Marine Safety Manual that such barges are totally exempt from the railing requirement. In a lawsuit I am handling, a longshoreman working on a cargo barge equipped with only a two-course safety railing fell between the two courses (exactly where the third course should have been) and was crushed and badly injured when the barge surged back against the dock. In an important recent decision, the Ninth Circuit agreed with us that the Coast Guard’s manual is inconsistent with the regulation; that the express terms of the regulation controls; and that the barge was in violation of the regulation. Abruska v. Northland Vessel Leasing Co., 2007 WL 4328834. This is an important ruling, not only for my client, but for everyone who has to work aboard cargo barges, often in dark, rough or inclement conditions.

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