Brian Riley, one of Morgan & Morgan’s talented attorneys, is committed to representing victims involved in motor vehicle accidents, premise liability, dog bite, and wrongful death cases. Before joining our team, he achieved record-breaking results at his mid-sized personal injury firm in both pre-litigation and litigation. Mr. Riley sets himself apart from his colleagues by valuing the victim’s story in the situation, and that empathy drives desirable results.
Listening to a client during one of the most challenging moments of their life can offer you key information about their case and, for them, some very beneficial peace of mind.
Mr. Riley has proven that he’s an asset to our team and to the clients who rely on him. We had a chance to speak with him, and the interview is transcribed below.
This interview was lightly edited for clarity.
What made you want to become an attorney?
Brian: Great question. The one thing that drove me to become an attorney was that my dad was involved in a case as a plaintiff in a hotly contested matter. He was a victim of a pretty horrible situation in 2005, and a lawsuit started in 2007. This particular case ended up going to the Arizona Supreme Court, and they had oral arguments where I was able to watch the attorneys debate and get completely grilled by the judges. I just thought it was really interesting to be part of the process.
After seeing what happened with my dad, thinking about it, and eventually graduating from college, I said, “You know what, I’m pretty sure I can do this. I think I can be an attorney. I think I’d like to help people who find themselves in really bad situations.” That’s when I decided to apply to law school.
I saw in your bio on the Morgan & Morgan website that passion is one of your strong points. Do you think that really helps a case to get the outcome you're looking for?
Brian: I'm all about the results, right? I mean, that's the easiest thing to look at, the objective evidence, what the attorneys are doing, what the results are. But it really starts with listening to my clients from the first time I get a chance to speak with them. Finding out what happened, what they're currently going through, and then taking a step back to allow them to talk, vent, and feel that they were able to get a ton off their chest at the end of our very first conversation. But, at the same time, I was listening.
I make sure that I try to channel what they've said into the results that I know they want to get, which are directly in line with what I'm trying to get. That's how I would say passion plays a role; I just take it right from the start. When I get their case, I try to figure out what happened, determine how it’s affecting them, and calculate how I can make sure they’re getting what they deserve at the end of the day.
Moments before this interview, I got a phone call from somebody that I represented maybe three or four years ago. It turns out that he was in a bad accident this morning, and when I saw his name come up on the caller ID, I thought to myself, "Oh no, he's only calling me because something happened.” It turns out he was involved in an accident this morning, and like the back of my hand, I was already asking him questions about the weight he told me he was trying to lose.
I immediately began figuring out what type of car he was in and determining if that was the same car from the past accident. He’s what I would consider an eggshell plaintiff, and having had surgeries in the past, he needs to get to his surgeon as soon as possible to make sure that nothing was distorted in this recent wreck.
We were able to pick up almost right where we left off and continue that great relationship from three or four years ago, even though he and I probably haven't thought about each other too much since then. I knew what was going on at least three or four years ago, so I was able to help him out today.
What's the typical type of case that you deal with?
Brian: It’s typically car accidents, slip and falls, trip and falls, and dog bite accidents in Arizona. I've also litigated brain injury cases, drive-by shootings, wrongful death, and cases regarding negligent security. There’s a common theme of “wrong place, wrong time” across the majority of my cases.
Is there a particular case that changed you or really affected the way you see things, cases or people?
Brian: I can tell you that I learn something from every single case I handle, whether it’s good, bad, or otherwise. It allows me to learn what to continue to do with other cases, and if there’s something I want to change, I make sure to change it. So, I certainly feel like I’ve been able to build up a solid palette of different issues and cases I can handle, and that’s helped me become a stronger, more confident attorney today.
Do you have an example of a small case making a big impact?
Brian: I have a funny story about a case involving multiple defendants, insurance parties, and insurance companies for my client who had a TMJ condition that bothered her constantly. I got the case from another attorney who said, “You know, this case is too much for me to handle,” after receiving word that the insurance company both denied the injury and said they weren’t at fault.
That case came to my desk four days before the statute of limitations that was about to go. The woman was about to be without an attorney, and after meeting with her, I knew that even though the information we had didn't necessarily support a strong case, there was a strong case. We needed to find a way to understand what she was going through and then revisit the issue to ultimately find some type of resolution.
This was a case where the full result was maybe only $150,000, but I certainly believe to this day that she deserved more. It was one of those things where I can kind of look back and pat myself on the back and say, "Here's a case that was brought to me by an attorney who was ready to give it up, and I was able to make a significant impact in this person's life and really turn the whole thing around."
Suppose you could give advice to yourself just as you started practicing law, something that you've learned along the way that you deem very valuable. What would you tell yourself then?
Brian: My number one piece of advice would be to have a lot of confidence and be willing to take risks. You should know that if you fall on your face, you just have to get back up as quickly as you possibly can. If I had to go back, I probably was a little bit overconfident when I started. I felt like I could take on the world, but I had to sit back and say, “Wait, you know what? Let’s take a second look at the law, and what we’re doing, then we can build from a good foundation.”
My advice to anyone who’s first starting is to have humble confidence.
How has your experience with Morgan & Morgan been so far?
Brian: It's been like a breath of fresh air. I'm still pretty young in terms of my career, and being here has set me up to be the attorney that I want to become in the future. Everybody I’ve worked with has been amazing in terms of being supportive and really wanting to stick their neck out for you to make sure that you're good and comfortable. It was certainly the best move I've made this year.