Christopher Sheffield, Staff writer - Memphis Business Journal
Daniel Law Firm has almost doubled the size of its growing personal injury practice and moved to newly renovated space in the former Welcome Wagon Building at Court Square.
The law firm made the move after the building's owner, Finard Properties Finard Properties invested about $175,000 and Daniel Law Firm pitched in another $25,000 to build out the second floor, says Ben Daniel, a partner in the firm originally founded by his father Lundy Daniel in 1968.
It joins a growing list of law firms that focus their practice on personal injury and worker's compensation cases that have grown, in part, from the challenging economy.
However, it's not easy to pigeonhole the trend, says partner Elizabeth Daniel.
"The number of personal injury cases fluctuates independently of the economy," she says. "Insurance companies have always dragged cases out in hopes that people who were hurt can't afford to wait for their day in court. That problem does increase in bad economic times."
Ben Daniel says the firm, which abhors advertising like some counterparts in the industry, works strictly on a referral basis, relying on its track record to speak for itself, he says,
"That's how we've grown the practice," he says.
Law firm consultant Bob Denney, president of Robert Denney Associates Robert Denney Associates Law firms turn to lateral hiring for growth with mixed successMeyer Darragh lawyers break away to form JonesPassodelis in Downtown PittsburghSeeing 'a lot of opportunity,' Eckert Seamans adds dozen lawyersFollow this company , says firms handling both commercial litigation and tort litigation, which includes personal injury, typically see lawsuits increase when the economy is poor.
However, those lines of business also tend to have fewer peaks and valleys than some other areas, such as corporate transaction work.
"Also, to save litigation costs, companies tend to fight them for a while, but then try to settle before going to trial," Denney says.
That wasn't the case in one of Daniel Law Firm's most recent significant cases that it was tackling while preparing to move into their new office.
The firm won a $2.5 million judgment in July against Best Brakes of Tennessee Inc. d/b/a Value Brakes, in a jury trial for a 36-year-old Memphis woman injured in a one-vehicle accident.
The case is indicative of the type of personal injury, motor vehicle accident and workers compensation cases it has tackled the last 40 years, Ben Daniel says.
The firm was officially named the Daniel Law Firm in 1993 after the younger Daniel graduated from University of Memphis University of Memphis Cohen touts Memphis for Big East inclusionMemphis architects, engineers weigh in on state of the industry, future projectsFour honored with CFO of the Year awardsFollow this company' Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Ben Daniel's wife, Elizabeth Daniel, also a Cecil C. Humphreys graduate, joined when she finished law school in 1995.
The firm has grown steadily since then and simply overwhelmed its space a 8 S. Third St. in the Winchester Building, Ben Daniel says.
In addition to the Daniels, litigator Jim Curry also shares office space in the firm along with five full-time employees.
Elizabeth Daniel was largely charged with seeking out a new office. A native of New Orleans, she says she fell in love with the architecture of the 104-year-old building and its location across from Court Square.
Though the Daniels' initially thought it was too large, they quickly realized it was "the best solution" especially given its location just two blocks from the courthouse.
"This is obviously a big step up," she says.
Daniel Law Firm is only the second tenant to occupy the historic property since Finard Properties purchased the 31,000-square-foot building in 2007 for $932,000 from Nash Properties LLC.
BankTennesee signed a 15-year lease for 5,062 square feet on the ground floor in 2008.
Now only the third floor remains unfinished. Finard has office space on the top floor with other space set aside for executive suites, says Henry Stratton, vice president of brokerage services for Colliers International Colliers InternationalCalgary passes Toronto on prosperity scaleColliers hires new managing director for Dallas officeDFW commercial real estate deals. Follow this company who represented the Daniels in their search.
Increasingly, many law firms have abandoned Downtown Memphis for higher-end properties in East Memphis after the city's financial and business district has moved east, Stratton notes.
The center of the metropolitan area is around I-240 and Poplar, hence the dramatic growth of commercial and retail development in that area and where a number of law firms have relocated or expanded their presence in the last few years.
"Unless there's a need for the courts, as in the case of personal injury or bankruptcy, there's no need to be Downtown," Stratton says.