Discussions regarding politics, religion and current affairs were a part of daily life. There were 7 of us, 5 kids and mom and dad. Our family discussions happened with regularity whenever we were together. Whether gathered around the dinner table, driving in the car or just sitting together in the family room, a subject would come up, one of us would express an opinion about it and away we went.
Everyone was entitled to speak his or her mind. If your opinion differed from someone else’s, you needed to be able to defend it. If your argument wasn’t based on sound logic, if you didn’t have a rational basis for your opinion, someone would inevitably expose those weaknesses. We learned quickly that defending an opinion required careful thinking. Learning this way not only made you think, it was fun.
We were allowed to argue our positions vigorously, but never rudely. If things got grouchy or combative we would have to stop. We didn’t want to stop so we learned how to argue our positions without being hostile to one another.
As I look back on my early experience with those family discussions, I am so grateful. For even as my opinions and arguments were challenged and the weakness and flaws in my rationale or my logic were sometimes exposed, I was never made to feel that I was weak or flawed. Quite the opposite. Instead of feeling diminished, I had the clear impression that I was learning. The more I learned, the better I was at advocating for my position. So when the time came to start seriously considering a career, the choice was easy. I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be an advocate for others.
Right out of law school I started doing personal injury work. But in my first couple of jobs I did mostly defense work. I represented the interests of big insurance companies like Allstate, Travelers, State Farm, Farmers, and AAA. When one of their insureds was sued for negligence, the insurance company would hire the firm I worked for to defend the claim. It was a tremendous learning experience. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t passionate about it.
I remember one case in particular. The insurance company I was working for had offered the injured victim a fairly sizable amount of money to settle short of trial. I tried to convince the plaintiff and her lawyer to take the money but they wouldn’t do it. At trial I recall feeling generally sorry for the poor plaintiff. But my job was to defend my clients interest as best I could. When the jury returned a verdict for substantially less than what we had offered before trial, I looked over and saw the sadness and disappointment in the plaintiff’s expression. It helped me to realize that I was a plaintiff’s lawyer at heart.
I gradually stopped doing defense work and started taking on more and more cases for people who had been injured. For me, it is so much more fulfilling to advocate for injury victims who have had their lives torn apart by the negligence of others.
Insurance companies make trillions of dollars insuring people and enterprises against negligence. Our justice system encourages prudent people and businesses to insure themselves in case they make mistakes and negligently harm others while driving or doing business. Every year insurance companies take in billions in premiums and every year they pay out much, much less to resolve claims. Because I know the tremendous wealth insurance companies are accumulating every year, I love making them pay my clients dearly whenever I can. Few things feel better than taking substantial sums of that money out of insurance company pockets and putting that money into my clients’ pockets–especially those clients who have suffered devastating life changing injuries and losses.
I represent people who because of the negligence of another have suffered serious personal injury or the wrongful death of a family member. I handle primarily cases involving motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice and unsafe products. Over the years, I have collected tens of millions of dollars on behalf of my clients. I am also a member of the exclusive Multimillion Dollar Advocates Forum having resolved a significant number of cases generating multimillion dollar settlements for individual clients.
I could not have been born into a more wonderful family. My dad was a hardworking drywall/stucco contractor and my mother was the most talented pianist and musician I’ve ever known. I was the third of 5 children (two boys, three girls). My dad taught us all how to work and my mom taught us all to sing. I grew up singing in church meetings and wedding receptions all over the east valley. Our price for performing was hard to beat–free.
Throughout my youth I enjoyed performing in a number of different school, church and community musical productions. Eventually I got a paying job as a lead singer and sang in six different rock and roll bands through high school and college. We played at dance parties and nightclubs all over the Phoenix metro area.
I entered college at ASU on a vocal scholarship and performed in several university choirs. I left school after my freshman year to serve a two year church mission. Upon returning to college I began my pre-law studies in earnest. I kept my hand in music by continuing to perform in rock and roll bands. I eventually graduated from ASU with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
As an undergraduate I met and married my beautiful wife Kathi. Best thing that ever happened to me. Little did we know that we’d have 8 fantastic children but we did, and they are. We had two before law school and one the year after law school. We scattered the next 5 over the next 15 years. We started with a boy followed by 5 girls then two more boys. Thinking about any of our 8 marvelous children fills me with pride and joy.
I went to law school at Pepperdine University School of Law. I enjoyed studying all the areas of law, but soon recognized that Torts (the study of personal injury law) was my wheelhouse. My last two years of law school, I worked as a law clerk for a highly respected insurance defense firm in Orange County, California. I was hired as an attorney by the firm following law school graduation.
Upon graduating from law school I decided to take the bar exam in both California and Arizona to keep my options open. I enjoyed practicing law in California but always believed that I would eventually return to Arizona and practice law in my home state — and I did. After returning to Arizona I continued to do some insurance defense work but eventually transitioned into handling plaintiff’s personal injury work exclusively.
I have been honored to have obtained a number of record setting jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of my clients. Over the years, I have enjoyed the association and friendship of some tremendous trial attorneys. I now have the great joy and honor of practicing law at Cluff Injury Lawyers with two of my children Brig, our firm’s managing partner and exceptionally gifted trial lawyer, and Katie, an incredibly bright and dedicated young attorney.
I continue to be passionate about practicing personal injury law. I have been blessed to have represented some truly wonderful people whose lives were torn apart by devastating injury and sometimes tragic death. Helping seriously injured people get life changing money to piece their lives back together and move forward is one of my greatest passions.
Too often greedy insurance companies treat accident victims like numbers. I tell my clients, “If they’re going to treat you like a number, let’s make it a BIG NUMBER.”
Sports: I’ve played golf and tennis most of my life. I still try to play both at twice a month (emphasis on the word “try”). I can shoot in the 70’s on occasion if my swing is “on” and golf course conditions are friendly. My singles tennis game is not what it once was, but I can be a serviceable doubles partner.
I’m an avid follower of football, basketball, golf and tennis. I’ll even watch an occasional Diamondbacks game. My sports allegiances lie with our home teams. I root for all of them. I love following the Sun Devils, Cardinals, Suns, Diamondbacks and Coyotes. I can’t watch all the games but I always keep track of how they are doing.
Philosophy: I love thinking. I enjoy reading and hearing the thoughts of great thinkers. I love pondering about both things natural and transcendent. My beliefs about natural things are firmly based in science, insofar as I understand the science. My beliefs about transcendent things are firmly based in my hopes, insofar as I understand myself.
Music: My mom was the greatest musician I have ever known. I inherited her love for music but unfortunately not much of her musical talent. I can sing, but that’s about it. I play a little guitar and have written a few songs but for the most part my mom’s exceptional musical talent skipped a generation. All of my kids are better musicians than me. Some are exceptionally gifted. I did pass one thing on to my children–everyone of them is a diehard Beatles fan.
Pepperdine University, College of Law–Juris Doctorate Degree
Arizona State University, College of Business
Bachelor of Science Degree
Major in Business Administration, Minor in Marketing