Most people want to put the memory of an auto accident behind him Joseph Brown put his to work.
The Ahwatukee lawyer in two years has built up his own law firm, Accident Law Group, specializing in personal injury cases.
“I was in a serious accident and I know firsthand what my clients experience both with pain and frustration in dealing with the insurance company,” the 15-year Ahwatukee resident said.
Besides, he added, “I enjoy helping people and fighting the insurance company. People need help fighting billion-dollar insurance companies.”
The Pennsylvania native had a good start learning how insurance companies operate.
“Prior to law school I was an insurance adjuster, which helps me as a personal injury attorney,” he said.
That started during his years at Arizona State University, where he graduated in 1997, and continued while he studied at the Catholic University Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C.
And when he completed law school, he returned to Arizona, joining the firm of Hastings & Hastings in 2002, the same year he was admitted to the bar.
Within five years, he became a managing attorney for the firm, and a leader in online reviews and settlements all 13 years that he worked there.
But after spending his last eight years at Hastings as a supervising lawyer, Brown decided it was time to hang up a shingle on his own office because “it was time to do something for me and my family.”
“My experience and skills had helped me reach as high as I could at Hastings & Hastings, so it was time for a new goal and challenge,” he explained. “It is always better being the boss and knowing all your hard work benefits you and your family.”
But he recalled his early few months as more than a little anxious.
“Working on a contingency fee means I don’t get paid until the case settles,” he said. “So, I had to be prepared to pay my staff and all expenses until we settled our first case. Typically, it takes several months to settle a case, sometimes over a year in serious injury cases. So, a very scary time to start and not know when client #1 was going to walk through the door.”
But his past work at Hastings served him well.
“To my delight my reputation in the area and with my prior clients provided and continues to provide clients’ referrals,” Brown said.
Though he initially relied on word of mouth to market his firm, “after four months we had grown and we began to market on TV – commercials and live interviews – newspaper, internet, and billboards.”
And success followed.
“We exceeded every first-year goal I had,” he said. “In fact, we grew so fast we purchased and opened up a second location in North Phoenix. We went from a firm of two attorneys and one paralegal with one location to three attorneys and eight staff member) and two locations all within the first year,” he said. “ The number of clients we were able to help was 100 percent greater than my first-year goals.”
Brown’s partner, Rick DePonte of Ahwatukee, also is the firm’s litigator.
Brown himself doesn’t try cases, preferring to “utilize my experience as an adjuster to settle the case.”
“Accident Law Group will try a case and currently is trying several cases, just not me personally,” he added.
While he counts numerous wins in his career, Brown said one of his most memorable involved a multi-million-dollar settlement he reached on behalf of a client who suffered permanent injuries in an explosion.
“I helped set him up for the rest of his life since he was unable to return to work,” Brown said. “He and his family will not have to worry about money.”
Though he has always had an interest in the law, Brown at one point wanted to be an FBI agent, but decided against it because “the travel would not have been conducive to being an involved father who helps coach my kids’ sports.”
He and his wife Bethany have two sons and a daughter.
When he’s not wrangling with insurance companies, Brown also is a board member of the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA and on the board of the Phoenix Dance Cooperative.
Brown said that unlike some personal injury law firms, he makes sure his clients have their first meeting with a lawyer rather than a paralegal.
“The meeting should be free,” he added. “Personal injury attorneys typically wait to be paid so there should be no out of pocket expenses.”