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Personalized Injury Law Firm – Battling to Relieve Clients’ Burdens

Clayton Williford, Partner in Woods Williford, P.C., relates a story that well defines the approach and the reason for that approach to personal injury law. When he was in the first grade a “punk kid” tripped and kicked a young female classmate. “It just ticked me off and I just went over and beat him up. Afterward my teacher said, ‘Good work.’ Everyone knew he was a bully. It bugged me. I knew what it felt like to be bullied, and I hated it. I still hate it when large insurance companies try to bully people. I’ve had that since I was a kid—the awareness of injustice and a drive to do something about it.”
Partner Briny Wood tells a similar story of how he was moved to become an attorney. He was in his twenties and although attending law school planned a career in the entertainment industry. After graduating from law school, he was employed with an entertainment agency representing writers, producers and directors. “I worked for this guy who was the biggest bully in the entire building. One day I decided I wasn’t going to take this guy’s bullying anymore and I just walked out. I walked away from a job where I had the potential to earn significant money. A month later I passed the bar and never looked back,”
Woods says. Woods says, “We represent all types of people who were injured in accidents, including many children, college professors, blue and white collar workers, police officers, Hollywood agents and producers, doctors, students, and we even represent attorneys and insurance adjusters’ family members. Our clients all have one thing in common; they’re the little guy fighting a giant. They often feel like they’re David taking on a fight with Goliath. To borrow a term from literature, we like to think of ourselves as giant killers.”

A Change in Direction Leads to Changing Lives

Neither partner planned on forming their own personal injury law firm. In fact, Woods says he “just fell in to it.” Williford echoes that with, “I never wanted to be an attorney.” Each man found himself in situations that dramatically reversed those thoughts and career paths. Williford says, “Briny and I changed our professions and directions because we both hated seeing the little guy getting screwed, so we changed to fight for the little guy (person being taken advantage of by the insurance company).”
Woods’ change of heart came after working for several years as a defense attorney at a large insurance company where he also trained insurance adjusters. He grew to disdain being forced to fight against people who were genuinely injured. He realized that many of the individual people and families he fought against really needed the money that the insurance companies were delaying and in many cases denying. He formed Woods Law Group in 2007 to focus on helping injured people receive compensation against the insurance companies.
“Initially insurance defense fell into my lap. After years of doing defense work, I just didn’t feel it was gratifying working for large companies that were taking advantage of innocent victims. That led to the switch to ‘the good side’ where we can help people and feel like we are making a positive impact,” Woods says.
Williford says of his partner, “Briny has his insurance defense experience. He knows how the adjusters speak because he’s trained them. He knows how the other side thinks. You can’t imagine just how valuable that knowledge can be in a legal environment.”
Williford’s undergraduate degree was in pre-medicine and he had planned on a career in the medical field. After earning his undergraduate degree from BYU he worked for five years in multiple hospitals and outpatient physical therapy centers in North Carolina, Utah, and California. The experiences he had led to a mid-course correction in career choices. He says, “I saw how the insurance companies controlled the medical industry and that frustrated me. I decided not to become a doctor or physical therapist because I saw that the insurance companies were unreasonably limiting the much needed care of brain injury and stroke patients.”
“I realized what I enjoyed the most about working with patients was actually just talking to people. I enjoyed hearing their war stories and helping them forget about whatever pain they were in at the time. I realized I could do the same thing as a counselor, as an attorney. That’s what we do. We listen to our clients’ problems and we counsel them, and help them find a positive resolution to their situation. That’s a big part of our practice—being counselors at law and not just attorneys at law,” he says.
That powerful feeling of injustice felt by each attorney, and the equally powerful need to do something about it, drew Clayton Williford and Briny Woods together to form Woods Williford, P.C. in 2007.
“We have recovered about $45,000,000 on behalf of nearly 1000 clients. In order to do our best job for those clients that we represent, we often decline to represent people who call us. Yet, we still take the time to speak to people daily to give advice and make sure they are pointed in the right direction.” Williford says, “Not knowing how to handle a situation gives people a lot of anxiety. By just taking the time to stop and impart knowledge and explain the process, people’s minds are set at ease. We do our best to take the time to help ease that anxiety.” Woods says, “We want to remain small so that we never lose sight of what is really important and we don’t want to become too busy to connect with our individual clients and provide them with the personalized attention they deserve. If we take good care of the clients we have, success will naturally follow.”

Getting Personal to Get Results

Personal touch and one-on-one communication between the client and the attorney who actually works the case is a core principle of Woods Williford. “We show our clients that they’re not just a number and we show that care through open and regular communication. Of course we have legal staff that speak to the clients frequently, but the attorney is available to speak to the client when they need advice and guidance. Unfortunately, there are many TV, radio, and billboard law firms that started out small, but have grown into Goliath firms, filled with bureaucracy, and call mazes that they once vowed to fight.” You will never get stuck in a call maze with our firm. The attorneys actually speak to the clients at Woods Williford. We just want to make sure that each one of our clients gets that individualized attention,” Woods says.
Williford adds, “We work to see that our client’s net proceeds are larger than our fees. Unfortunately there are many attorneys who spend outrageous amounts in costs, take their fees, and leave little for their clients. We care about what our clients get.”

An example of that approach involved a client with serious injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. In many similar cases there is just not enough insurance to cover the needs of the client.
In this case the health insurance wanted $900,000 back out of the $1.5 million insurance policy limits. Instead of just taking legal fees and leaving the man with only $100,000 in his pocket, Woods Williford found that the insurance company was trying to take money that they were not legally entitled to under their contract. Woods Williford was able to get the insurance company to take only $10,000, which left the client with a million dollars instead of $100,000 in his pocket. “In some cases an attorney will just take his fee and move on and not worry about those things. We really fight hard on those cases where there isn’t enough insurance money to make sure that the client gets money in his pocket. We want to make sure people are better off by hiring us than without hiring an attorney at all.” Williford says.
In many cases the goal for the client is to get a reduction in liens so that health insurance doesn’t take all the money, Woods says. “We often have cases that are worth millions of dollars. Unfortunately, if there aren’t millions of dollars in insurance coverage available, then most of the time the cases are stuck with whatever the policy limits may be. A Goliath firm only wants to handle the case where the millions of dollars insurance policy matches the millions of dollar injuries. We are equipped to handle those cases, but the majority of the time, the millions of dollar injuries are stuck with a smaller policy limit. Oftentimes these cases need more attention because it is our job to make sure that our client walks away with the most money possible.”

With Woods being the father of two, and Williford being the father of five children, the attorneys have a soft spot in their hearts for children’s cases. Williford says, “It’s very difficult to see your child go through pain and trauma. I love being able to help those families secure settlements which are often placed in annuities for the child to have access to when they reach certain stages of adulthood. These structured settlements allow children, who are often disadvantaged due to someone else injuring them, to pay for college or get a jumpstart to the harsh financial adult life.
Woods and Williford agree that they find the personal relationships and reactions to their work wonderful compensation for their efforts. Woods says, “For me it’s client satisfaction. When we have a client, even in a small case, when a client sends us a good testimonial or a thank you letter at the end of a case, we feel all the effort is worth it. It makes us happy that we did a good job for them. That’s especially true when they refer someone else to us. That’s always a compliment.” Williford adds, “What’s most satisfying for me is the personal response, the human reaction. I handed over a check to a client recently and she gave me a big hug. She was in tears. It wasn’t a big case, but for her it was totally overwhelming. She had no idea how to deal with it. We tell our clients not to worry. We take whatever situation they have and handle the legal details so they can focus on their healing. We can take care of the rest.”
While Woods and Williford are proud to treat clients and staff as members of the family, they also have families and interests outside the office. Woods, a self-described outdoor junkie, enjoys many forms of exercise, including hot yoga, running, camping and 4-Wheel Drive off-roading. He is an active member in a non-profit organization that commemorates California history, primarily in the regions of Death Valley, Mojave Desert, and historic mining regions. He grew up in Los Angeles, and moved to Orange County after living in Northern California for 12 years. He and his wife have two children.
Williford also enjoys the outdoors with his family, particularly surfing with the kids. He grew up in North Carolina, met his wife who is an Orange County native and moved here to be close to family. He and his wife have five children. He is active in his church helping those in the need. He has also been a volunteer in coaching soccer and youth scouting leader. But back in the office and in working with those in a David vs. Goliath situation, the focus remains the same as it was when they were young: stand up to and defeat the bullies.

Briny Woods
Clayton Williford
Woods Williford, P.C.
16520 Bake Parkway, Suite 260
Irvine, CA 92618

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