COMM alumnus flourishes as one of nation’s top trial lawyers

Eric Policastro (B.S. '06)
Eric Policastro (B.S. ’06)

Eric Policastro arrived at Florida State University’s School of Communication with the goal of attending law school one day. What he didn’t know was what kind of law he wanted to practice.

Then, Policastro took a Persuasion class with Professor Davis Houck, who piqued his interest in trial law.

Houck certainly pushed Policastro in the right direction. At just 28 years old and only five years following graduation from Baylor University Law School, Policastro has recovered over 100 million dollars in verdicts and settlements in complex civil lawsuits involving fraud, death, significant personal injury and breach of various legal duties.

Last October, Policastro and his trial team were recognized in the National Law Journal’s Big Money Wins publication for the ninth largest verdict in the nation in 2013—a near $49 million jury verdict in a complex civil trial involving issues of breach of contract, conversion, gross negligence and fraud. The National Trial Lawyers named Policastro on the association’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers list in both 2013 and 2014, and they honored him as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyers in 2014.

“I’ve been lucky that I have been put in a position where I’ve had a lot of trial experience, which doesn’t happen a lot anymore,” Policastro said.  “I’ve had some pretty good success with it.  The big verdict last year was awesome.  It’s been pretty great to be recognized by the National Trial Lawyers twice now as one of the best in the nation.”

Dr. Davis Houck
Dr. Davis Houck

Policastro, a 2006 graduate of the School of Communication, credits Professor Houck with motivating him to go to law school, and recently wrote his mentor a thank you letter for his efforts.

“I attribute much of the success in my five years’ of practice to the way you always preached outside-the-box type analysis and truly inward reflection prior to taking a stance,” Policastro wrote. “I use those ideals constantly.”

Houck’s influence was not the only aspect of the program Policastro felt made an impression.

“The way the program was run I thought was important,” Policastro said.  “There were smaller classes, it was a fairly difficult college to be accepted to and the classes were more of a discussion.  It wasn’t just Power Points that walked you through the material so you could take notes and regurgitate the information.

“It was more of a discussion on certain topics and forced me to think about arguments for or against certain topics you may or may not agree with.  That led to freethinking and independent thinking and a few debates along the way.  It helped you get passionate about the material – when you get passionate is when you get the best results.”

Policastro was a member of the Pre-Law Society and the Mock Trial team at Florida State, winning an individual award for Mock Trial in his senior year.  Florida State College of Law third-year students advise undergraduates in Mock Trial.

“They did a great job of teaching a bunch of college kids who knew nothing about the law or trial practice enough to get us by and compete,” Policastro said.

Interested in a career as a trial attorney?  A bachelor’s degree from School of Communication will give you the educational foundation to get you started.