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Martin Stern, Louis LaCour and Raymond Ward are among the inaugural class of six attorneys certified in appellate law by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization in 2016

Adams and Reese appellate attorneys Martin A. Stern, Louis C. LaCour, Jr. and Raymond P. Ward are among the inaugural class of Louisiana lawyers to be certified as appellate-practice specialists by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization. The LBLS began accepting applications for board certification in appellate practice in early 2016. Stern, LaCour and Ward, all based in the firm’s New Orleans office, are among just six attorneys statewide to receive LBLS certification in the first year of the program.

Board-certified appellate-practice specialists undergo a stringent application process, which requires a lawyer to have handled a significant number of appeals, pass a written exam, obtain a favorable evaluation in an intensive peer review process, and annually complete 18 hours of Continuing Legal Education in appellate law.

“We are excited to be among a small number of certified appellate practice specialists in the state of Louisiana,” Stern said. “This certification will help the continued growth and success of our Appellate Practice Team.”

“This is a well-deserved accomplishment for Martin, Louis and Ray that collectively highlights their demonstrated proficiency and experience in appellate law,” said Paige Sensenbrenner, senior partner in charge of the Adams and Reese New Orleans office. “We are among a few firms in Louisiana that have this expertise, and the only law firm in the state with so many certified appellate specialists. By any objective standard, they have compiled an impressive record.”

Stern, a litigation partner, leads the Adams and Reese Appellate Practice Team. In recent years, he has represented a major oil and gas company in the appeal of a $1 billion punitive-damage award and represented a defendant sentenced to death, both of which resulted in grants of certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court. Stern successfully argued the reversal of a $337 million award from the Louisiana Supreme Court in its first case on the Medical Assistance Program Integrity Law. He also argued the appeal of the single largest personal injury award in Louisiana history. Stern serves as co-chair of the New Orleans Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Committee; as chair of the Louisiana State Bar Association Appellate Section Specialization Committee; and on the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Advisory Commission to the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization.

LaCour, also a litigation partner, is a founding member of the firm’s Appellate Practice Team. His practice is devoted solely to appeals at the state and federal level. In 2004, LaCour argued the reversal of a $158 million punitive damage judgment against the French parent company of an American-based subsidiary after it was held accountable for the explosion and fire of an oxygen pipeline that killed one employee and injured two others of the subsidiary. In 2006, LaCour and Ward successfully argued an appeal that lead to the reversal of an $88.75 million judgment against an electrical products manufacturer arising from a massive explosion at an industrial plant. LaCour currently serves as chair of the Appellate Practice Advisory Commission to the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization, as well as the Louisiana State Bar Association Appellate Section.

Ward, a litigation special counsel with the firm, represents defendants in products liability, toxic exposure and other tort cases, often in complex litigation. In recent years, Ward argued an appellate court’s reduction of an $8 million punitive-damage award to $2.37 million, followed by the Louisiana Supreme Court’s complete reversal of punitive damages. He also argued the Louisiana Supreme Court’s reversal of a $1.2 million judgment for breach of fiduciary duty against the liquidator of a failed insurance company. Ward is active in both the American Bar Association Council of Appellate Lawyers and the Defense Research Institute’s Appellate Advocacy Committee. He is the author and editor of Louisiana Civil Appeals, a blog focused on Louisiana appellate practice.

All three attorneys are recognized as leaders in appellate law in national attorney rankings.