Thousands of billboards all over the place, TV commercials, “Call Me Alabama” as a well-known catchphrase, and all the verdicts and wins in the last 20 years — these paint a picture in people’s minds of who I am. But when people meet me, they’re surprised and say,
As a kid, I spent most weekends behind a table at a flea market in Birmingham, Alabama, selling stuff. My father was a peddler at these markets, and he’d say, “Son, I want you to sell $20 or $50 of stuff while I go get us some merchandise.” I loved it because I loved people. I’ve always loved people, and I was out there as a kid honing my people skills.
I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. My dad is from Jerusalem. He came to America through Ellis Island, served in the Navy, then went back to Jerusalem and married my mother. They moved to Birmingham and had me. We’re a Christian family.
Growing up, I was 1000% told by my father that to have a good life, I needed to educate myself. He didn’t go past the sixth grade, so he emphasized education.
In my teens, Dad bought a convenience store, and I went with him into that business. He called them “c-stores,” and one c-store led to a second c-store, and the next thing you know, we had a lot of c-stores. By 20, I was making a couple of hundred grand.
I was rolling, but Dad would say to me, over and over, “You’re never going to do what I do, son. You’re never going to work in a grocery store. Be a doctor or a lawyer.”
He never let up, and so I went to college and then law school — but I never stopped working full-time at the c-stores.
“You’re never going to do what I do, son. You’re never going to work in a grocery store. Be a doctor or a lawyer.”
I worked my way through college, and I worked my way through law school. But I have a good work ethic. I’ve been working since I was 13.
There was one particular thing I faced in the early years that was extra hard. I’d look in the mirror and ask myself a tough question:
They don’t teach you this in law school.
For example, say a woman comes in, and she’s tragically lost her husband in a factory explosion. She’s interviewing two or three firms. But she likes what I say, and I get the case.
But when she leaves, it’s just me. I look into this mirror I have in my office and ask myself,
Many times early in my career, I’d feel the answer was no. I was hard on myself. I was comparing myself to the best law firms in the world.
But I used it to help me identify all the missing pieces to be the best at monetizing and maximizing claims.
I‘d do everything in my power to fill the gaps between where I was and where I wanted my firm to be.
That mirror drove me to get better as an attorney and a business owner.
It drove me to handpick and hire the best trial lawyers in the business. (You can’t take a pack of mules to the horse track, so I didn’t stop till I got thoroughbreds).
It drove me to hire incredible support staff.
That mirror drove me to get the best technology: 3D graphics to show why a tractor-trailer wrecked. Artificial intelligence if it helps to tell our client’s story right so that they have the best opportunity to win their case.
Many people don’t know, but I have $10 million on the street helping people who are hurt pay their bills until their case settles. I have another $10 million covering case expenses. In total, I have more than $50 million working for our clients. Most law firms can’t do that or simply won’t.
I love what I do, which boils down to putting our clients in the best position to win their cases.
Today I can look in the mirror every time and answer, “Yes, we are,” to that question that used to be so difficult.… But my journey of improvement will never be complete. I still look in the mirror and ask myself how we can get better.
One last story. I’ve been working since I started as a kid at those flea markets, but something happened about ten years into being a lawyer. It stopped being work at all. Law became who I am. I’m not an absentee owner; I’m a leader in the trenches. I was recently asked by a journalist, “What are your work hours, Mr. Shunnarah?” I told him the truth: “Eyes open, eyes closed.”
Imagine if baseball teams got awarded fractions of runs for hitting singles. Most teams would just rack up lots of small fractions and would never go for the home run.
I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret. That’s what most personal injury law firms do. They settle too early because they’d rather rack up lots of easy but small wins instead of going the extra mile and getting you every penny you deserve — and more.
That’s not how we operate. If you have a home-run case, we are going to point and call our shot, and hit for the bleachers. We’re not going to settle for a very small amount.
We believe the biggest threat we can make against the greedy insurance companies is to show them we’re willing to go all the way to trial. That’s the home run we’re always aiming for: a huge award decided by a jury of your sympathetic peers.
Why aren’t other firms as aggressive as we are? First, they don’t have the patience—they’re out for a quick buck off of your injury.
Second, other firms aren’t willing to commit the resources we do to fight your case to the end. Because of our success, we have amassed a huge war chest, and we’re ready, willing, and able to dip deeply into it in order to fight for your full reward.
Third, many other firms don’t have the chops. It takes a lot to win a trial. It’s a war. Most firms just aren’t up to the task. They’re not battle ready. If you’re going to war with the 1,000-pound gorillas of the insurance companies, you better be ready to fight. Most other firms aren’t. We do battle every day.