Top Lawyer 2022: Rachel Werner, Medical Malpractice Defense

Editorial StaffSeptember 2, 2022
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It’s time to lawyer up! Our inaugural list of the Valley’s most respected legal eagles spans 39 specialties, from personal injury attorneys to business litigators. And all of them are peer-selected, so you know they’ll do your case justice.

Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Photo by Mirelle Inglefield

Rachel Werner

Specialty: Medical Malpractice Defense
Law School/Year Graduated: DePaul College of Law, 2015
Years in Practice: 6

You spent some time in California working as an actress. What was it about the law that ultimately sold you on a new career?
I enjoyed the public speaking and storytelling aspect of acting, which translates well into being a trial attorney. Hollywood was a great experience and strengthened my communication skills. But I wanted stability.
I also wanted to make a difference in the world.

Does one need a working knowledge of health care and medicine to practice in your field? How does one obtain that, short of working in medicine?
Prior knowledge of health care or medicine is helpful, but it’s not required. We employ nurses and medical experts who teach us the pertinent areas of medicine in any given case. With their assistance, I can gain enough understanding of the medical issues to ask the right questions and then, by applying the law, determine if the physician or nurse acted reasonably under the circumstances.

You were voted a Top Lawyer for your work in medical malpractice defense, i.e. defending the doctors. Do you ever work the plaintiff side, too? Are the skillsets basically the same?
Where medical malpractice is concerned, I work exclusively for the defense, but I do represent plaintiffs in other kinds of cases. In any case, the skillset is the same whether you’re defending a medical provider or arguing that the medical provider made a mistake. For medical malpractice, both sides are asking the same question: “Did the medical provider act reasonably under the circumstance?” If you are a good listener and a good advocate, it doesn’t really matter which side of the “net” you’re playing on.

What are your hobbies and interests outside law?
I enjoy dance, yoga, weightlifting, hiking, the farmers market and meditation. I spend as much time as possible with my family, friends and three golden retrievers.

What are you watching on Netflix these days?
The Kominsky Method and Seinfeld.

“If I wasn’t a lawyer, I’d be…”
An entrepreneur in health care.

How we Picked our Top Lawyers

PHOENIX magazine generates its Top Lawyers list via an online survey of practicing attorneys in the Greater Phoenix area. Partnering with Colorado Springs-based information research firm Data Joe, PHOENIX disseminates emails to each of the roughly 16,000 active attorneys licensed with the State Bar of Arizona, directing them to an online portal managed by Data Joe. The survey, which takes place over six weeks, asks respondents to provide the names of up to three attorneys they deem the best in 39 legal specialties. To spread the votes democratically, respondents are asked to nominate at least one attorney in each category who works in a firm other than their own.

At the conclusion of the voting, Data Joe tallies the votes digitally and verifies that vote recipients are in good standing with the State Bar. PHOENIX editors then set the vote thresholds in a manner that ensures the top 10 to 20 percent of vote-getters in each category make the Top Lawyers list. Our fact-checkers then call each attorney on the final list to confirm their affiliation with a Valley-based firm and obtain accurate contact information.

PHOENIX does not give preference to attorneys who advertise. Top Lawyers earn their place on the list purely by virtue of the votes they receive, and our sales staff does not see the list until the lawyers have been confirmed by our fact-checkers. 2022 is the first year PHOENIX has conducted Top Lawyers.