Six years ago, Ferrer, Poirot & Wansbrough transitioned completely from personal injury to complex torts. Since then, they have become a national leader with one of the largest case inventories in the
country. Recently, we sat down with Jesse Ferrer to discuss the firm’s success and where he sees the complex tort industry headed.
In early 2007, your firm discontinued all auto spending in Dallas, TX, switching the firm’s focus to complex torts. What circumstances led to that decision and how hard was the transition?
The transition to complex torts began in 2000 as a matter of survival. Since the early 1990s, I noticed the change in Texas politics from a solidly Democratic legislature to a Republican-dominated legislature. Along with the Republican Party’s dominance came redistricting and new laws limiting workers and injured victims’ access to the Courts and monetary awards. It became harder and harder to win motor vehicle accidents and medical malpractice claims in the Dallas County Courts, and the competition amongst attorneys for car accident cases became more competitive and more expensive. Our options were either to move to another state with a more favorable jurisdiction, or focus on complex torts not necessarily tied to Texas. We chose the latter, reengineering our staff, workspace, and finances to make it happen.
By 2007, we had completely halted all MVA spending in Dallas. In that same year, Zyprexa settled, giving us our first big tort win. That turning point allowed us to give up auto and heavily invest in torts from then on out.
How did the transition to torts affect the partnership between you, Joe, and Aaron?
I’m lucky to have partners who have allowed me to keep building rather than slow down. They trust me to decide what to invest in and when. We’re a good team, each with an important role. The transition went fairly smoothly since all three of us agreed it was time to change. Once we made that decision, we never looked back. I’m the optimistic one with the broad vision. Joe focuses on the big cases and monitoring statutes to make sure everything is running smoothly. Aaron transitioned really well from being our hands-on attorney who signed local Texas cases to now crisscrossing the country most days of the year to meet with clients. He has terrific people skills and is unbeatable at making our clients feel
comfortable with our firm.
You’re credited with saying, “Spend everything you’ve got and hope it pays off.” What’s the philosophy behind that statement?
Well, that statement is simplifying it a bit, but I truly believe it’s hard to dabble in torts. You have to bet on almost everything in order to make it work. And I’ve been really fortunate in the fact that I haven’t picked many losers. I would estimate that 90% of our investments have paid off. Part of that success stems from staying away from generics and over-the-counter medications. It also helps that we have a good, patient, hardworking team.
Where do you think the complex tort industry is headed in the next 5-10 years?
I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. Unfortunately for the American people, there seems to be no end to potentially harmful drugs reaching them in the mass market. It seems for every new drug that hits the market, the FDA releases another warning. And as long as that continues, we’ll continue to fight for victims’ rights.
I encourage all my fellow trial lawyers to join me in supporting candidates who will fight for victims’ rights, maintain our right to a jury trial, and access to the Courts.