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Published by amenedjian
Yerevan Magazine - Article
Yerevan Magazine - Article

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Published by: amenedjian on Apr 15, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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When Tigan Matinian fit et foot in Lo Angele at16, he didn’t know whee he wa headed, no did heeak a wod of Englih. Bt, he knew one thing: howto tand  fo the ndedog with hi bae hand, whichoften got him in toble with chool athoitie back home in Yeevan, Amenia.
Lianna Zakharian
Tigran Tovmasyan
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oday, at 35, he looks likehe just stepped straightoff a Godfather movieset. But, upon closerexamination I find out,he leads a multi-milliondollar law firm in Los Angeles that provides a voicefor thousands of people caughtin the long arm of the UnitedStates justice system or wrongedby powerful defendants, suchas National Oilwell and City of Westminster, to name a few.His clients are colorful, diverse andhigh-powered and span the many layers of the American culturefrom celebrities to blue-collar workers. Other lawyers may have won greater verdicts or resolveda greater number of high profilecriminal cases, but I doubt anyonecan catch up with Martinian’s 777miles per hour success train as arainmaker, litigator and a zealousadvocate for his clients in and outof court, all at the same time.His fiery charm and persuasivenegotiation skills no doubt go along way in a courtroom, but whatsets him apart from other lawyers,I’m told by his peers, is the way heidentifies with clients, opponents, judges and jurors, alike. They likehim, because he comes off likehe’s one of them, but interestingly,Martinian credits being Armenianas the biggest factor of his successas a lawyer.Born in Armenia, Martinian comesfrom a close-knit family whose ties were put through the test of themany challenges that immigrantsface, when he migrated to Los Angeles with his parents and younger brother in 1990. But,through hard work and sheerdetermination, they were able tobuild everything they left behindin Armenia once again, includingtheir house. And, it is from thoseroots that Martinian inheritedhis strong sense of family values,commitment to hard work andpassion for helping people.Unlike most successful triallawyers, Martinian did not go toivy league schools, but he hit theground running as a paralegal for various boutique civil litigationand criminal defense law firms, where he flexed his legal musclesfor over 15 years. He completed hisundergraduate degree in BusinessManagement and Law Schooleducation by attending nightschool. But that only tells half thestory.I first met Martinian last summerat the Castle Bar of Chateau De LaMessardiere, a pink-turreted hotelin Saint-Tropez, South of France, where he was vacationing with his wife, an Eastern European versionof Charlize Theron and his closefriends from GAVATY INC., whereMartinian is a member as well.They were a good-looking couple,but my attention was drawn moretoward the language that they werespeaking, a mixture of Russian and Armenian. As we got acquainted, Ifound out that they were not only originally from the former Soviet
What was the hardest part of making it happen?
Juggling work and law schooland being patient and persistentdespite all the roadblocks.
What type of cases does yourfirm handle?
Catastrophic Personal injury casesand Criminal defense cases.
Do you remember your firstcase?
Of course! I settled my firstmajor civil case in the amount of $1,850,000.00 the same year thatI passed the California State BarExamination. Just a few monthsafter that, I successfully resolvedmy first criminal case with a fulldismissal of all the charges againstmy client who was accused of majorinsurance fraud. Subsequently,
armenians are known for be-ing hard-working, smarT andshrewd PeoPLe. in sPiTe of be-ing a reLaTiveLy smaLL naTion,we aLways Leave a big mark.
Union, like myself, but also virtualneighbors at home in Los Angeles.Their stories resembled the typicalstruggles of immigrants, but when Iasked Martinian about his practice,it suddenly uncovered a story that was definitely different, refreshingand at times exhilarating. I couldn’thelp but to ask him for an interviewupon our return to Los Angeles to which he graciously agreed.
Who or what inspired you tobecome a lawyer?
My parents. Back in Armenia,they were always so in control of everything in their lives. When wemoved here they had to let go of some of that control and dependon other people’s help to figuresimple things out because they didn’t speak English. So, when Ilearned the language, I becamethat person that figured thingsout and my parents would always volunteer my help to everyone.They really taught me how to takecare of people and speak for them, when they could not speak forthemselves. I guess, it was just anatural progression for me.I tried a very difficult case inOrange County and won close to$900,000.00 in damages againstthe City of Westminster, for a policeofficer’s negligent driving during achase.
Is it a help or a hindrance tobe an Armenian lawyer in acourtroom?
The above mentioned case againstthe City of Westminster tookplace in Orange County, which isknown for predominantly whiteconservative population. And Ithink being Armenian actually helped me in that case, becausethe Defense attorney made suchshocking references to “9/11” andthe American flag, insinuating thatI’m some kind of terrorist, that itbackfired to him. I asked the jurorsafter the trial, if they thought thefact that I looked different thanthe usual white male lawyer madea difference in their decision andthey all said, “Yes, it made a positivedifference, not a negative one.” It was very encouraging to hear that.But I’m also mindful of the fact that Armenians are known for beinghard-working, smart and shrewd
033suMMEr 2009
people in general and these qualitiestend to stand out in all social settings.So, in spite of being a relatively smallnation geographically, we alwaysleave a big mark and I’m very proudof that.
What’s the most rewardingpart of your work?
Providing a strong voice for people, who don’t have one otherwise.
Have you ever been givengood advice that you have kept with you?
Pay attention to every simple detailin every thing that you hear andsee, because everything happensfor a reason.
What are your strengths that you feel play an important rolein your success as a lawyer?
Theoretically speaking, believingin what I do is my biggest strength.I won’t take a case unless I believein it and when I do, I will doRussian version of the IRS in theformer Soviet Union and did somemodeling for high profile make-up companies. She’s an excellentmother, an extraordinary personand my best friend.
How old is your daughter?
She’s only three years old andshe’s so smart that she starts my MacBook Air all on her own andgoes online to play Charlie andLola games on the Disney website.
So you are a family guy.
I’m a family guy. My Sundaysare spent with my wife and my daughter from 7:00 a.m. all the way to 10:00 p.m. Unless I’m in trial, I will not interrupt my Sundays withmy family for anything or anyone.
How important is Armenianculture and art in your life?
I’m a big fan of Armenian art,literature and culture. I recently attended a poetry night dedicatedbe taken in each case. Everyonehas their role in the office. They know, who is supposed to do whatand when. And, at the end of theday, our biggest motivation isbeing able to make a difference insomebody’s life.
What’s your advice for otheraspiring lawyers who are tryingto achieve their dream?
 A lot of new lawyers think that inorder to be successful as a lawyer,they have to prove that they’remore aggressive than the opposingcounsel, when all they have todo is prove their case. There’sa difference between taking anaggressive approach on a case andbeing aggressive. I’m all for takingan aggressive approach on a case,if the circumstances of that case warrant so. But, nevertheless, oneshould always maintain a senseof civility and courtesy with allconcerned throughout every case,especially with opposing counsel,because ultimately they’re the ones you’re going to face at mediation,trial or on your next case. My advice is, always be prepared togo to war for your client on any case, against any opponent and atany time by making use of all theresources available to you, andremember that even in war wehave to follow specific protocols toprotect our enemies in defeat.
Do you have any majorupcoming plans for yourpractice or for the Armeniancommunity?
There’s a large population of  young Armenian males in jail oron their way to prison. Most of them fall into trouble becauseof lack of education or resourcesto pursue a career path. And,unfortunately often times whenthey come out, they fall into adeeper hole, because they don’thave the academic skills or workexperience to get decent jobs. Iam in the early stages of forminga nonprofit organization with allthe right resources and staff toassist Armenian youth out of highschool in getting admitted to theright colleges for their situation.When they have a goal and decenteducation they never turn to crime!So it is up to us, our community,to make sure that Armenian youthturns into the society elite.
one shouLd aLways mainTain asense of civiLiTy and courTesywiTh aLL concerned Through-ouT every case, esPeciaLLywiTh oPPosing counseL.
everything to win it. I will find asolution, or an exception to the lawor an exception to an exception tothe rule. Practically, multi-taskingis really the biggest key to my success. One moment I may betrying a case, and the next I may bestrategizing a marketing strategy for my practice, and then signingup a client in another city. Thereare very few lawyers out therethat successfully do everythingthemselves. I’m pretty well versedin all the different aspects of thepractice after having worked inthe field for over 15 years fromparalegal to now a trial lawyer.
 You seem very athletic. How do you stay so fit?
I’m a third degree black belt inKarate and have been trainingsince I was five years old. I workout at least 30 minutes per day,five-six days a week.
 Your wife is absolutely beautiful, is she an actress?
No, but people always ask herthat. She used to work for theto Parouyr Sevak, an art showexhibiting the works of an Armenian artist and also sponsoredthe Armenian Comedy Awards.Events like that allow us to connect with our culture and keep it alive.
What do you do for fun?
Hang out with my friends fromGAVATY INC., put together thegreatest parties where others arealways asking to be a part of. Andof course, I travel all over the world with my wife and my friends. Wetry to take at least three-four short vacations and once a year we takea trip to the South of France. This year we’re going to Sardinia, Italy.
 You must have a good team of people working for you for youto leave the office and travel allover the world.
 Yes, I’m extremely fortunate tohave a brilliant team of employeesand associates that I can rely on atany time for anything. But, we alsohave a very strict system of practiceand procedure in place where wehave a road map of the steps to
034suMMEr 2009

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