As the head of litigation at the Miami office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Edward Soto ’78 specializes in winning cases and serving his community
Ask Edward Soto ’78 how he balances his career as a distinguished commercial litigator with a busy family life and a laundry list of philanthropic activities, and he may tell you about the 2003 World Series.
That autumn, as the Florida Marlins made their historic playoff run, he found himself spending an inordinate amount of time in distant hotels, working on a drawn-out, high-stakes case. For Soto—a husband, father of four sons, and lifelong baseball fan—being away during that time was especially difficult.
“I had four boys who wanted to go to the games,” he says, “and we wanted to share that experience together as a family. So I was flying back and forth before and after every game. It meant early morning and overnight flights, but it was worth it to be with my family. I do it a lot. It doesn’t always work out, but it’s always worth it when it does.”
For Soto, the senior trial partner and head of litigation in the Miami office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, some things have changed since that World Series—his sons, for instance, have grown up and are on their own professional tracks. But Soto’s schedule has not slowed. While preparing for a work trip to Laguna Beach, Calif., he paused to reflect back on a 35-year career that is marked by a broad range of legal victories and an unflinching commitment to civic engagement. Soto may be an extremely accomplished litigator, but the trade he plies serves him equally well as a mechanism for giving back to society.
The range of high-profile cases he has handled is as varied as the philanthropic causes he champions. In 2006, Soto successfully helped defend UnitedHealth Group against a class-action lawsuit brought by 700,000 doctors. Two years later, he helped win a legal victory for ESPN by defending the company against a libel accusation levied by boxing promoter Don King. In 1999, Soto’s successful representation of Fiserv/Texas Data Control against False Claims Act charges brought by the Justice Department was recognized as the “Top Defense Victory of the Year” by The National Law Journal.
Soto’s public service commitments also run the gamut. He served as the chairman of the board for the Zoological Society of Florida and helped raise funds to rebuild ZooMiami after Hurricane Andrew. He has also served as the chairman of the board for both a local orphanage and for the Ransom Everglades School, the oldest independent, co-ed prep school in Miami. Currently, he is on the executive committee of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and is the chairman-elect for Catalyst Miami, a nonprofit that promotes civic engagement to help build a community and economy that benefits all Miami residents.
“I’ve matched some of the things that I am doing in my practice with [community endeavors] that matter to me,” Soto says. “More than anything else, I wanted to be involved in helping people meet real needs, and the law has [helped facilitate those connections].”
Seeds of his philanthropic interests were sown at Columbia Law School, Soto says. And that period of his life has made quite an impression on his sons, two of whom graduated from the Law School. His youngest son will be enrolling at Columbia University next fall to earn a graduate degree in social work. Like their father, Soto’s children are pursuing career paths that value public service and social responsibility.
And while Soto is still a loyal Marlins fan, his ties to New York City and Columbia Law School remain strong. One senses that a passion for the school, and the drive it instills in students, never really left him. “Thinking back, the cases that I enjoy most,” he says, “are always the ones where I feel like I was being challenged, where I was forced to learn something new and interesting.”