Robert passed away following a long illness on September 3, 2020. Robert helped to found KNR 2005, along with attorneys Gary Kisling and Rob Nestico. Their vision was to build a law firm whose first and only goal would be, and remains today, to help injured people get the fairest settlements possible. During his time with the firm, Robert worked tirelessly to hold insurance companies accountable for their actions. He also managed daily financial operations and assisted with management functions. Robert retired in 2019.
“With his industry knowledge and experience, Robert was a tireless advocate for our clients and an invaluable resource for lawyers and staff at KNR,” said Rob Nestico, founding partner of KNR. “His willingness to mentor staff and attorneys has had an immeasurable impact on the firm. He is deeply missed already.”
Robert earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Miami University (Ohio). After college, he began his career at Motorists Insurance Company, later taking a position in the claims department of Agency Rent-a-Car, where he rose to the position of National Claims Director. His deep experience in the insurance industry gave him invaluable insight – and the inspiration – to embark upon his legal career.
After seeing firsthand the difficulties accident victims face, Robert entered law school, taking classes at night while working as a case manager for a law firm during the day. In 1999, he earned his law degree from the University of Akron School of Law.
“Robert truly loved the practice of law and the intellectual challenges it presents. And he loved a healthy debate,” said John Reagan, managing partner of KNR. “Most importantly, he loved serving his clients and worked tirelessly on their behalf. Robert was not only skilled at the practice of law, he was so talented at the business of law, helping Rob and Gary build the practice to what it is today.”
In 2005, Robert joined forces with Kisling and Nestico to launch KNR, where he helped build the firm in to what it is today, one of the state’s largest law firms. His dedication to KNR and perhaps more importantly, his clients, helped Robert earn recognition reserved for less than one percent of U.S. attorneys: named a life member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, granted only to those who have won multi-million-dollar cases for their clients.
“Although he had been very ill for the past few years, he faced it with such courage and humor that I kept believing that he would pull through,” said Gary Kisling, founding partner of KNR. “He loved his family and he loved the seas. He had a compassion for and appreciation of others which he tried to hide from the staff with his own humorous style. He is missed. He will always be missed.”
Robert was proud of KNR’s unwavering commitment to helping people in the community when they needed it the most and of his colleagues, whose dedication and hard work he admired. Prior to his retirement, Robert shared, “Mostly, I’ll miss the people. The people at KNR are the finest anywhere and their dedication and hard work has made us what we are today.”
Michael Maillis, a KNR partner, shared: “Robert was a kind soul. I don’t think I ever saw him without a smile on his face for longer than a minute. A great lawyer and a good friend.”
Robert also instilled a sense of camaraderie with his colleagues. “My favorite Robert memory was a week after my first day with the firm, we spent a long weekend in New Orleans,” said Josh Angelotta, senior partner at KNR. “I spent most of my time with Robert. I felt welcome and at home with him exploring the bars, restaurants and the music scene, all of which he and I both enjoyed immensely.”
He was known around the firm not only for his leadership but for his direct style of communication, which most times incorporated a sardonic wit and hearty sense of humor.
“We met professionally, we leave each other as dear friends,” said Ken Zerrusen, partner at KNR. “Your memory shall be eternal and will live vicariously through the endless stories I will share of all the great times we shared together.”
On the job, Robert served as a mentor for new attorneys and those rising through the ranks at KNR. “When I was selected as a new partner at KNR, Robert was extremely supportive,” said Thomas Vasvari, senior partner at KNR. “It meant so much when he expressed his support and his belief that the firm he worked so hard to help create, was in good hands. That expression of support fuels my determination to grow as a lawyer and partner and to build on what Robert and the other founding partners established.”
Nomiki Tsarnas, also a senior partner at KNR concurred: “He gave me great professional advice when I first started at KNR, and always took the time to walk me through issues that would arise.”
Robert, who was also named an Ohio Super Lawyer in 2011, was a member of the Akron Bar Association, serving on its Grievance Committee; the Stark County Bar Association, the America Association for Justice and was a Trustee of the Ohio Association for Justice.
“Robert was a man of integrity and was so proud to be a member of the legal community,” Reagan added. “He was well known and respected and was so proud of the firm he helped build. Even after he retired in 2019, Robert would call me to check in and see if there was anything I needed, or anything he could do for the firm.”