Fair Prices, Family Values
By Roger Degerman
Published in Concordia Magazine, Winter 2003-04 Edition.
Few families stick together like the Price brothers do. The four Duluth, Minn., natives followed each other to Concordia and today they're all in Tucson, Ariz. combining talents in their highly successful - and reputable - personal injury law firm, Price and Price.
"There's a great deal of satisfaction in helping the little guy against the big company," says Dan '72. "You have this tremendous burden on your shoulders knowing that your clients' outcomes and often their financial futures are dependent on the services you provide."
The prices represent clients on 400 to 500 cases at any one time, involving everything from slip-and-fall injuries to traffic accidents and wrongful death claims. In a law specialty tarnished by the practices of exploitive and unethical attorneys, the Price firm owns a "very high ethical standards" rating from Marindale Hubbell - a worldwide law association.
"I joke with people about the ambulance-chasing crooked attorneys," says Tim '76. Most people that we deal with know that we're honest; we just try to do things the right way."
Dan and Tim founded Price and Price in 1979, inspired by childhood visits from their uncle John, who had established a successful practice in Tucson.
"We were fortunate that our uncle started a firm 25 years ahead of us that had an impeccable reputation," says Dan. "Whenever people talk about my uncle, the first work they use is 'integrity.' Your name is everything and he started an excellent name for us."
The Price practice doubled in 1991 when brothers John Phillip '79 and Tom '86 joined the firm. The four take on their own cases and work together remarkably well when they need to, exhibiting no evidence of sibling rivalry.
"I can't remember the lat time anybody pulled rank," says Dan. "We don't do that. We consult each other, especially on major cases as we're getting close to trial or settlement."
"From day one, I've had three open doors when I've had questions about a case," says Tom. "And when I'm out of the office, I take confidence in knowing my brothers can handle situation with my clients in the same way I would. You can't say that in most offices."
The Prices take on any case they deem legitimate, bit or small. They've helped hundreds of clients over the years, sometimes making a dramatic, life-changing impact in the process. Such was the case for one of Dan's first clients, a woman referred to him by the pastor at his former church.
"She was laid up in the hospital for the better part of the two years and eventually had to have her leg amputated as the result of a tragic negligent event," says Dan. "She was destitute and faced a lifetime of being on public assistance." Instead, Dan helped the woman secure a settlement worth more than $2 million.
He did the same for a man whose vehicle was rear-ended at 50 miles per hour while sitting at a stoplight. Already a partial quadriplegic, the man lost virtually all of his remaining functional ability as the result of the accident and was besieged by constant pain. It's stories like these that make it difficult for the Prices not to take their clients' cases personally.
"You bet it becomes personal," says Dan. "If you lose, you feel terrible. We want all of our clients to know that we care about them as individuals - they're not just another case."
Indeed, Prices' clients confirm this genuine concern. As one of them recently commented about Dan, "I've never met a (personal injury) lawyer with such a heart. He treats me like a daughter."
Even those on the opposite side of the courtroom from the Prices hold them in high esteem.
"People we would normally refer to as our adversaries - insurance adjusters, defense lawyers - pay us the highest compliment by coming to us when they need someone to represent their loved ones," says John Phillip. "That's happened several times."
The Prices' passion for serving others and their sense of responsibility to do the right thing didn't happen by accident. It's rooted in family values established long ago and a sense of purpose fostered through their education experiences at Concordia.
"Our focus on ethics started at home, where our parents set a very high standard," says Tom. "It's not just by chance that we all grew up to be attorneys with the same belief system."
All four brothers excelled at Concordia where they each participated in varsity sports. Dan and Tim both served as business and advertising managers at the Concordian during their college days as well, and Dan even worked in the Development Office after graduation.
Their affinity for Concordia remains deep, and Dan is especially bold in promoting his alma mater. As one of his Tucson friends put it, "I think I've heard every story about Concordia, He (Dan) is always telling me about the great people there."
As a defensive lineman on the Concordia football team, Dan says he enjoyed the thrill of playing for both Jake Christiansen and Jim Christopherson. And he says assistant football coach and "scouting genius" Finn Grinnaker proved to be a role model for his approach to practicing law.
"He taught me so much about preparing thoroughly, anticipating problems before they occur and dealing with them in advance," he says. "Those kinds of lessons and the values instilled by Concordia have always stayed with me."
Tom says it was Concordia's welcoming and close-knit community that left a lasting impression on him.
"What I took from Concordia is a sense of family. There's closeness there; that's probably why I don't feel that working with my brothers is strange in any way."
The brothers' bond carriers over well beyond office hours. Dan and Tim live in nearby neighborhoods, and all four brothers are active members of Tanque Verde Lutheran Church in Tucson.
They say sharing so much of their lives together is well worth the "price."