Gladiator Law Marketing for Attorneys
Gladiator Law Marketing for Attorneys


Achieving Excellence in Personal Injury Law and Community Leadership With Michael Levine

April 24, 2024   |   Written by Gladiator Law Marketing
Michael Levine

Michael Levine

Michael Levine is a seasoned attorney with over three decades of legal experience and is a Managing Partner at Rappaport, Glass, Levine & Zullo LLP. His area of specialization is personal injury law, representing individuals and large unions, including the Transport Workers Union in New York. Michael has held prominent positions, such as the President of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and the Mayor of Oldfield, New York, for 12 years. His legal acumen has earned him recognition as a top personal injury attorney by prestigious publications and inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America list for personal injury litigation for plaintiffs. Beyond his legal career, Michael is actively involved in community service, including serving on the boards of several organizations, and pursues his passion for riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles under the moniker Motorcycle Mike Esq.


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • When and how Michael Levine knew he wanted to be an attorney
  • Why Michael prefers to go by Motorcycle Mike, Esq.
  • Building a personal brand as a lawyer
  • Michael talks about his shift from criminal defense to personal injury law
  • How the field of personal injury law changed over the past few decades
  • What motivates Michael to be involved in community service and leadership roles?

In this episode…

Is it possible to excel in both the high-stakes world of personal injury law and in the vital arena of community leadership? Can an individual truly make a significant impact in these two demanding fields?

According to Michael Levine, a distinguished authority in personal injury law and a seasoned community leader, the answer is a resounding yes. He emphasizes the importance of integrating professional expertise with genuine community engagement to achieve remarkable outcomes. Michael highlights the power of education, mentorship, and strategic branding in enhancing one’s professional impact while contributing meaningfully to the community. This holistic approach, he suggests, not only broadens one’s influence but also enriches personal and professional life.

In this episode of 15 Minutes, Chad Franzen and Michael Levine, Managing Partner at Rappaport, Glass, Levine & Zullo LLP, discuss how dedication to law and community can intersect to create a legacy of excellence. They dive into Michael’s strategic methods in personal injury law, his innovative approach to branding and client education, and his commitment to community leadership, offering insights into achieving success and fulfillment in both spheres.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. 

To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition. 

To learn more, go to or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01

You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t.

Chad Franzen  0:12

Hi. Chad Franzen here, one of the hosts of Share Your Voice where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI your firm, needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experienced outperform the competition. To learn more, go to where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. My guest today is Michael Levine, a practicing attorney with over 35 years of experience. He is a partner at Rappaport, Glass, Levine & Zullo LLP, where he specializes in personal injury cases. He also represents large unions in New York, including the Transport Workers Union. His leadership roles include serving as past president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, which boasts more than 4000 members, and he has a 12 year tenure as Mayor of Oldfield, New York. He is recognized as one of New York’s preeminent lawyers and has been named a top personal injury attorney by US News and World Report. In 2022, he was selected for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America publication for personal injury litigation plaintiffs with numerous seven figure verdicts and settlements, he generates significant cases as Motorcycle Mike Esq, and has plenty of time to pursue his passions and hobbies outside of work outside of work. Hey, Michael, it’s great to talk to you today. How are you?

Michael Levine  1:45

I’m doing well. Thank you very much.

Chad Franzen  1:47

Hey, when did you know when? And how did you know that you wanted to become an attorney.

Michael Levine  1:54

So I knew when I was an undergraduate school, I took a series of Political Science pre law courses with the professor, who I remember to this way to this day, Tom Middleton, and he just had such a positive influence on me that I decided, I think maybe in my sophomore year of college, and I want to become an attorney.

Chad Franzen  2:20

What, uh, what about your skills at that time? Did you think like this, this is going to translate well, into becoming an attorney.

Michael Levine  2:28

So you know, I, I don’t think I had any skills at that point in time, especially as a as a sophomore in college. But I was competitive. You know, I played the varsity sports in college. And I liked the I liked competition. And I thought that maybe going into law would be one way to feed my competitive spirits. So that’s probably where it came from.

Chad Franzen  2:57

So you, you applied to law school got in to kind of take us through your introductory stages into the legal industry.

Michael Levine  3:04

Yes. So when I was in law school, I took some criminal defense courses and clinics. And I really liked the thought of being a criminal defense attorney. So when I was in law school, I started applying for jobs with the legal aid societies here in New York, and was offered a job with the one of the local counties legal aid societies. So I started out my career, being a criminal defense attorney, legal defense attorney meeting, I was working for legal aid aside, so we were representing pretty much indigent defense who didn’t have the ability to pay for an attorney. And you have to do that for I don’t think even a year I realized that I didn’t want to hang out in jail cells for the rest of my life. So I moved on.

Chad Franzen  3:58

Very nice. Hey, I mentioned in your intro that you you go by Motorcycle Mike, Esquire. Can you tell us a little bit about how that came about?

Michael Levine  4:07

Yes, so it distresses me always having a fascination with motorcycle cops when I was a young kid. And most of them rode Harley Davidson Road kings, and I really just thought it was pretty cool. Being a motorcycle cop and riding a Harley Davidson broking on a day to day basis is as your career so early on. In my 30s I bought myself a Harley Davidson broking and really liked riding and kind of met an interesting segment of society through having a Harley Davidson and then I decide alright, what how can I take not advantage of this but how can I turn This into a business where I could possibly market myself and my legal practice to motorcyclists, and unfortunately, motorcyclists get hurt it just inevitable when you ride a motorcycle, and surely into having a motorcycle. I’ve met a lot of motorcyclists, and the word started getting around that microbeam was a personal injury attorney that was really good representing motorcyclists. And then I decided, okay, what do I do next? So I decided to brand my name, motorcycle mic. Because it’s easy to remember. And because it kind of flows off the tongue. And after a while, you know, it wasn’t something that happened overnight. But after several years of going to events, sponsoring charitable rides, or being connected at the hips, I speak with the motorcycle community. It kind of went almost viral. Everybody knew they got hurt, they need to retain the services of motorcycle, Mike, you know, and then I started advertising on TV, and it seems of a some of our household name. It was just easy to remember, you know? It doesn’t it’s not like a long with a private attorney name. It’s motorcycle Mike. You get her called motorcycle, Mike. And it just took on a life of its own after one. It’s led me to the point now my career.

Chad Franzen  6:36

Yeah, sounds sounds great. So what were the commercials? Like? Is that? Was that kind of your motto? If you get hurt call Motorcycle, Mike.

Michael Levine  6:42

You know? So? That’s a really good question. I’ll tell you what, my commercials were not a hard sell. I was not the guy saying, I’ll get you the money that you deserve. I just, I’m turned off by those forms of advertisements. So what I did and what I continue to do in my motorcycle commercials is I try to educate motorcyclists on how to protect themselves, not even not just in terms of what to look for when you’re on the road. But what you should have on your insurance policy and what kind of coverage you should have on your insurance policy, when insurance policies provide for and what they don’t provide for what’s the best insurance policy. So I tried to educate not just motorcyclists, because now I’ve taken into other segments of my practice I represent. God knows so many construction workers on construction sites, and obviously motor vehicle accidents as well. But I tried to make my advertisements not a soft sell, but rather an educational, so I try to educate my clients on what they need to do to protect themselves and the loved ones. And that’s the premise of most of my Motorcycle Mike commercials.

Chad Franzen  8:01

Sounds like you’re establishing yourself as a thought leader rather, as a, at least in the short term short go to guy like, I’m going to get your money as you deserve to feel like that, that kind of over the long term. Obviously, did it help you pay off it paid off for you rather than you know.

Michael Levine  8:19

So, you know, I don’t know if that you chat, but I’m personally offended by the attorneys who say, I’ve had millions and billions of dollars of recoveries, and this client got $750,000, that client got $1.6 million. You know, that’s not the way I advertise myself. I try to be humble, and I try to be sincere, and I try to make my commercials in informative. And that way, I become a somewhat of a recognized authority. And that has worked well for me. I’m frankly, turned off by a lot of my competitors, advertisements, and mine is very different. And I get feedback from a lot of clients that they just liked that. A soft sell, um, I come across as being sincere and humble and informative, and that’s how I’ve advertised over the last wasn’t 10 years now maybe 15 years.

Chad Franzen  9:28

As you look back over your career is there. I know this is probably hard to do. But is there a case that really stands out to you as as a challenging and be one that you’re particularly proud of?

Michael Levine  9:41

You know, I can tell you one case, this was a track worker, New York City track worker who was working in a tunnels in Manhattan and was electrocuted when he came The contact with the third rail and he Pepe perished. And his spouse, or Diane, just a lovely person, she went to a lot of law firms and was told that she didn’t have a case that the states saw recovery would have been workers compensation benefits. But since he died, there was no workers compensation available. Maybe a death benefit. That was it. But I understood the law at the time, and I understand the law well now. So I was able to identify a defendant that could be sued, in her fact pattern. And we were successful in bringing that matter to a significant resolution. And I guess the word spread among union officials that this guy had done a very good job for the wake of this deceit and I started getting significant cases from that union, led to other unions. And that case, really stands out in my mind, because here was a woman who lost her husband, and she was being told nothing was capable of being done for I hate hearing that and I was able to provide her at the conclusion of the case with financial security. And let me just say, Chad, I never say to my client, I want to get lots of money in your pocket. I always tell my clients, that my obligation to you is to provide you with money so that you’re financially secure. And so that you don’t ever have to worry, again, about how you’re going to feed your family, how you’re going to pay your bills, how you will look out for your loved ones, that’s my obligation to provide you with a source of income, where you don’t have to worry about money ever again, and worry about how you’re going to pay your bills and meet your overhead. And that is my overriding guidance footprints. But the idea as I get into this latter stages of my career, I would say.

Chad Franzen  12:15

In the beginning stages of your career, we talked a little bit about being a criminal defense attorney, and you quickly shifted. So you, I’m guessing you went right from that to personal injury law.

Michael Levine  12:26

Yeah, so I did. I went from hanging on the bullpens of the of the belly of the beast of a courthouse on going on. I mean, literally, I was down the basement in the dungeon beating with criminal defense. And I realized that I liked helping out people. I just didn’t like hanging out in bullpens. And I understood that another practice of law that might allow me to continue to help out people was going to personal injury work. So from my position as a legal aid attorney, I segue into the personal injury field. I initially started out as a defense attorney, working for the big defense firm in New York City. And what I realized is I couldn’t stand timesheets, everything had to be accounted for down to a point, a point one meaning six minutes. And you know, I just I really disliked that I disliked. Not, I don’t want to say helping out insurance carriers, but I dislike trying to minimize the exposure of insurance companies, to people who had been seriously hurt. And only I was only doing that for maybe two years before I said, I got to be a plaintiff’s attorney. This is back in I think 1989 Maybe. And I went to a plantas firm, which is where I am now the same firm. I joined this firm in 1990. And since 1990, I built the same firm, and we represent nothing but injured plaintiffs, victims of malpractice and so forth. And I just like helping out people, you know, yeah, I’ve done it personally. And I’ve done professionally I and I enjoy being able to make a change impact on people’s lives.

Chad Franzen  14:29

Has the field of personal injury law, I guess changed over the course of the past 30 plus years.

Michael Levine  14:36

Yeah, without a doubt Chad definitely has changed is much more paced, paper intensive, which you know, is a necessary evil, I call it right. And you know, insurance companies need to dot the i’s and cross your t’s and I understand that, but they just don’t throw money at your feet and everything. Bring money at our feet to begin with, but it’s harder now than it was 15, 20 years ago, I have a way of practice where I put every case, it’s a suit, every single case, you come into my door, and I’m retaining, I’m going to have your case in Sue within about two weeks, because I understand that I can’t get insurance companies to negotiate in good faith until I put pressure on them, until I put them in a position where the back is against the wall. And then my clients can get fair compensation. So that’s how I conduct my practice.

Chad Franzen  15:37

Now. Let’s talk about some of your your leadership experience. You are a past president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. What were what were some of the things you were really concerned about? Or were kind of working on during in that role?

Michael Levine  15:52

Yes. So here’s the thing about being the president of a big bar association. Your overriding objective as a president of such an organization is to make sure that nothing bad happens to your, your base, you’re the attorneys that you’re acting on behalf of, do you want to make sure that no bad laws are passed that are harmful to the practice of law, and that bad bills get defeated. So it wasn’t an overwhelming burden. But I just felt a huge responsibility to the 4000 Praesent attorneys in New York State to make sure to look out for them. They’re important, but it’s the clients that are even more important, okay, because they’re all representing clients. And you want to make sure that nothing bad happens in terms of legislation that is not just harmful to the attorneys, but rather to the clients that they represent it. So that was what I did for a year to year stint. In New York State with this New York State Trial Lawyers Association. I spent the whole year meeting with the legislators, senators, Assemblyman, the governor’s office lobbyists, and just making sure that nothing bad happened on my watch.

Chad Franzen  17:19

Okay, so you spent a year doing that, and you spent 12 years as a mayor of Oldfield, New York. Yeah. How did your How did your skills experience whatever as a as an attorney to your job as mayor and vice versa? Yeah, how did being a mayor influence your legal practice.

Michael Levine  17:39

So two things that stick out my mind. When I was running for election, the first time around, it was a hotly contested election. And I had two thought processes. One thought process was was you want to get a job done, give it to the business person in the room, and it’ll get done. And I was a busy guy, you know, but I knew how to get right to the heart of the matter, and to get things done, because I didn’t have time to celebrate about something for months and months and months. So I was able to identify the problem right away, and come to a solution to resolve the problem. So that was one thought process I had you want a job done, give it to the business person in the room, in order to get done, and the other thought processes. As a as an attorney. I wish I knew how to commence a lawsuit. But it wasn’t how to avoid a lawsuit. And before I took over the village, the village was always practically stuck in litigation. There was a lot of lawsuits against the village for whatever reasons. And it was frankly, very classy to not only the Insurance Committee for the village, but also to the taxpayers. And being in a tree who would who’s in court every day of the week, practically. For many years. I knew how to not only connect the lawsuit, but I knew how to avoid a lawsuit. And the thing that I was proudest about the most, in my 12 years as mayor was that not a single lawsuit was brought against my village was one lawsuit. It was a person injury case where one of our code enforcement guys hit a bicyclist that was covered by insurance but otherwise, for 12 years, not a single lawsuit against my village because I knew how to avoid litigation. So it worked out well for me. And then you know, every I mean, I went out really good standing. I thought the residents really liked me. I was doing a good job. I was also mindful the fact that it was time to give somebody else the opportunity to be mayor of the village. I didn’t want to wear out my welcome and there’s no other reasons whatsoever why I left other than than I just felt time to get somebody else an opportunity to represent the residence. And let’s go out on a high note. That’s what I did.

Chad Franzen  20:12

Sure what what kind of has motivated you to be involved, you know, as more than attorney maybe in community service and these types of leadership roles.

Michael Levine  20:21

Yeah, just, frankly. It’s very simple. There are people who complain, incessantly, but they’re always on the outside looking in. All right. And then there are people who might complain, but they’re on the inside. And they can do something about the complaint when they’re on the inside. All right. And I didn’t want to be president, I didn’t want to be somebody that was complaining about a Trial Lawyers Association. On the outside looking in, I wanted to be on the inside, where I can resolve the problems, and didn’t want to be a person who complained about the village, from the outside looking in, I wanted to be in the inside. And if there was a problem, I wanted to resolve it. So that was my thought process. You can complain and remain on the outside and always look in, or you can be a part of the solution. I always want to be a part of the solution. That’s why not I was the president of the Trial Lawyers Association. But that was also the reason why I decided to come and bear my village for 12 years.

Chad Franzen  21:27

As someone who has been in the legal industry for more than three decades, how do you kind of stay current with maybe some legal trends or changes?

Michael Levine  21:35

Yeah, so I go, I go to a lot of seminars, I go to retreats. I’ve attended retreats, frankly, all over the country. I get decisions, caseload decisions every couple of days a week, I upload them to Dropbox, depending on the nature of the case that I’m reading about. And I tried to read a lot without overwhelming myself. And I tried to just stay current by looking at the decisions by attending seminars by going to I even go to track them to try practice skills. Now. I’ve tried lots of cases, but I still go to trial practice skills courses all the time, because I want to be on top of the cutting edge technology. And I want to make sure that my skills are continuing to be productive. That’s my thought process.

Chad Franzen  22:36

What kind of a role has mentorship either, you know, either receiving mentorship or giving mentorship? What kind of a role has mentorship played in your career?

Michael Levine  22:45

Yeah, so one thing that I’m really enjoyed doing right now is we have a lot of new younger associates in my office. I’ve been not stealing them. But I’ve been getting taking talent away from some local district attorney’s offices, because, frankly, they can do better financially in the private arena. And because they’re really good on their feet. And they’re comfortable in courtrooms in their group of judges. And they’re personable, and they’re marketable. So I’ve brought in over the last several years, a fair number of young Associates, and I’m teaching them the things that I’ve learned over the course of my three decades plus career, hoping that, you know, a lot of it, and I think it has wears off on them. And that the things that they see that I’ve done that I’ve done successfully, are things that they start to implement themselves.

Chad Franzen  23:41

What is maybe like a key piece of advice that you can that you can share with them that they wouldn’t have, that they would only learn through experience.

Michael Levine  23:49

Yes. So here’s a key piece of advice in terms of cases, okay, because our business, my practice, my first practice, we have over 25 employees here. It doesn’t survive. We don’t bring in cases, you know, so I’ve told attorneys over the years, and I tell them now, I said what what do you like to do outside of work? What if What brings you pleasure? How can you turn what you enjoy doing when you’re not in the office into something that can definitely generate business? And I think I’m a prime example. I love riding motorcycles. Right? And that took me into the motorcycle community. And that led to cases from the motorcycle community. So I tell my young associates, you have to identify what brings you passion, outside of work, and then you have to identify how that passion can possibly be turned into It benefits you in terms of bringing cases to the office. And that’s what I’ve been trying to focus on with my attorneys. Taking that passion, and figuring out what you need to do, to take it to the next level and bring cases to the firm.

Chad Franzen  25:22

I have one more question for you. But first, tell me how people can find out more about your firm.

Michael Levine  25:31

So if you would just go to, you’ll find out about me and my firm, my firm has got along with the name Rappaport, Glass, Levine & Zullo. That’s why branding is so important. Because if I was advertising on TV, and I said, I’m Michael Levine from Rappaport, Glass, Levine & Zullo, it’s gonna go in one year and a half the other year because it just doesn’t fall off the tongue. But I will say I’m That’s easy to remember. Right? So if you want to speak to me about any matter me, we, we, fortunately, have literally hundreds of referring attorneys to our firm, and they’re the heart and soul of our practice. If you haven’t mattered that you think my firm might be capable of handling in the New York area, metropolitan New York area, we try not to go too far upstate. Be happy to represent you. We’ve learned a long time ago to make our referring attorneys happy. Because if you keep referring to the attorney happy, then that’s, that’s called you know, so what we’ve done that for many years, and I never ever, ever, ever have the unhappy refer an attorney, so Thanks for asking.

Chad Franzen  26:54

Perfect, yeah, perfect. Hey, last question for you. You You mentioned your you’ve kind of pursued your your passion you love you love motorcycling. I know you probably have other other things going on in your life. How have you learned? Or how do you balance your present professional and personal life? To, you know, kind of pursue your personal passions and also be a successful attorney?

Michael Levine  27:18

Yes, so listen, I mean, I’m like you and like anybody else, I take my work on every single day of the week. I’m on my computer, every evening during work. But when I am away on vacation, I have really good staff here. I don’t call incessantly I don’t check my emails incessantly on my vacation, they know to leave me alone. And I mean, I was just bicycle riding in Italy a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t call my friend once, the whole eight days I was in Europe. So the key is to get away from the office, if you got a good if you got good staff and I have amazing support staff. I don’t need to worry. They’re taking care of the problems. They’re taking care of the issues, the court appearances, the judges, my emails, so have really good support staff. That’s Lesson number one. And if you do take vacations see the world and it’s a big world. And we’re here for such a short period of time. There’s so much out there to see I just working on a trip right now going hiking in Patagonia, in December of next year. So I’m not shy about taking vacations because I trust my staff. And I also realize it’s important for my not only my mental health, but my physical health to get away from the office as much as I possibly can. And I I really believe that I practice what I preach.

Chad Franzen  28:53

Yeah, that’s great. Is there a place that you visited that particularly stands out that you would recommend?

Michael Levine  28:58

So I’ll tell you, not really a risk taker, but maybe a little bit? So I go helicopter skiing every year. I go up to British Columbia, to now fit way up in British Columbia. It’s two days to get up there and two days to get back. And I go helicopter you people say you jump out of helicopters. No, the helicopter lands, and then you get out nicely, easily. And then you mount his skis and you ski down a slope. And I had been helicopter skiing for years. It’s one of my passions. British Columbia is one of the most spectacular parts of the world and I never get tired of being up there. It’s majestic. It’s mountainous. The wildlife is incredible. And Sunday is very special place in the world.

Chad Franzen  29:53

Wow. Sounds amazing. Hey, Michael, it’s been really great to talk to you. Thank you so much for all of your insights, your your experiences. Always, really appreciate your time. Thank you.

Michael Levine  30:02

Thanks, Chad. I really appreciate the invite and good luck with yourself.

Chad Franzen  30:05

Thank you so much.

Outro  30:09

Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes. Be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.


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