Clifford Bartlett is one of the original defenders of doctors and health-care institutions in the New York area, and in more than 40 years in practice he remains a formidable courtroom presence and a "huge personality" in the New York trial bar, peers say. Indeed, Bartlett possesses an original drive and spirit of competitiveness that's hardly diminished since his days as a professional football player for the Montreal Allouettes. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps, an association he identifies closely with to this day.
Bartlett went to law school, spurred by a friend, eager to move ahead, and out of his daytime job as a bank teller. "There was nothing very idealistic about it. I was trying to give myself a decent life." At first Bartlett considered tax law, but early on he recognized the ultra-competitive drama of litigation. Hungry to litigate, he joined Travelers Insurance and in 18 months defended 33 property-damage cases - and won 32 of them.
Even before the medical-malpractice explosion Bartlett was already focusing on defending such claims. He and J. Edward McDonough and Peter G. Monaghan had assembled teams of attorneys, with offices in Manhattan, White Plains, Mineola and Islip ("There's a lot of great talent in the suburbs, and it's simply less expensive operating there"). Bartlett steadily built his reputation as a tenacious litigator, and by the early 90s Bartlett, McDonough & Monaghan, LLP was representing more than 25 medical institutions throughout New York State. Increasingly Bartlett has handled only high-stakes cases, often obstetrics and neurological claims against doctors and hospitals. He continues to argue five or six cases to verdict each year. Having earned all he's achieved, Bartlett possesses an Ayn Rand-style individualism and conservatism - "some say I'm to the right of Attila the Hun" - yet admired by peers and rivals alike. Says one: "Cliff is a legend in our field."
Bartlett is no less competitive today; though slowed by an old knee injury, Bartlett hits the weight room three days a week and enjoys skiing (he maintains a property north of Montreal, driving up the NY Thruway with his two Akbash dogs in tow; he still follows the CFL.) Remarkably, Bartlett, himself an only child, is the father of ten children. He and his wife live in Upper Brookville, Nassau County, New York.