Raleigh personal injury lawyers Kimberly Miller and Will Owens were at a crossroads. They were working together litigating personal injury cases for a large, Raleigh-based, high volume law firm. After five years, they both loved the practice of personal injury law, but each was looking to make a career move.
“It just so happened that the star’s aligned,” said Owens of the decision to launch Owens & Miller PLLC with Miller in 2011. “We were both at the same stage of life both on a personal level and a professional level. We shared the same values and long term vision.” They also knew each other from Campbell Law School.
“Our core vision was to remain purposefully small. We want to provide the concierge level client service that is possible with a boutique firm that focuses not on a large volume of client matters, but rather on a smaller number of higher quality cases,” said Owens. After eight years, it is still a two-lawyer firm with a staff of three. “While other injury firms have grown by adding attorneys and case volume, we’ve grown through the ability to handle larger cases,” said Miller. The firm has had cases listed in Lawyers Weekly’s top 25 verdicts and settlements over the last few years.
“We wanted to replicate the processes and procedures that made the large firm we were with move very efficiently, and provide that benefit to people who chose to have a smaller law firm represent them,” said Miller. “We want clients to walk away feeling like, ‘they made me feel like family and that they cared about me and were my advocates.”
“We want them to feel like they got a fair shake,” said Owens. “I tell clients at the very beginning; you may not get back to 100% from a physical standpoint. Though you may never get back to where you were before the accident happened, monetary damages are the only remedy available under the law for these types of cases,” said Miller. “And as long as the client walks away feeling like they got a fair recovery and they are happy with the services we provided, that is what I call a successful outcome.”
FLUID AND AGILE
The firm handles a broad array of personal injury cases, but their sweet spot is motor vehicle accidents that result in a catastrophic injury or a wrongful death.
“Our mantra is, do one thing and do it well, so by handling only injury cases, we are not distracted by trying to figure out other practice areas. We do not dabble. As a result, we are able to hyper focus on injury law, and provide efficient service and quality results,” said Owens.
“Results don’t just happen. It is a process. From intake to negotiation to litigation to claim resolution, Owens & Miller is a well-oiled machine. Whether it is retrieving medical records or scheduling depositions/mediations, our staff has mastered each aspect of the injury claim resolution timeline process. As a result, we are both fluid and agile. From the time we take on a client’s case, it assigned to either Owens or Miller and their respective paralegal, and the case never gets transferred to another associate or “team” within the firm.”
The net result is efficiency with quicker resolution of cases and better results. “We communicate regularly with our clients throughout the life cycle of their case, so the case is not sitting stagnant for any period of time,” said Miller. “When the ball is in our court, it should be moving.”
CAPABLE OF TACKLING “THE BIG ONE”
“When a lawyer with less injury law experience gets a phone call from a potential injury client that the lawyer thinks may be “the big one”, but that lawyer is not comfortable handling the matter solo, we take pride that our firm gets the next phone call from that attorney,” said Owens. “We have both the practical injury litigation experience and the financial resources to co-counsel on larger cases.”
“We want our colleagues to know that we are here and ready to help work up the larger injury and wrongful death claims. Our biggest source of cases, is, and has been for eight years, other attorneys,” said Miller.
Owens said their practice is well suited to co-counsel with lawyers less experienced in injury law who may have very successful practices in other areas of the law, but not the bandwidth or processes/procedures to get a large personal injury case over the finish line.
“Some law firms are simply not accustomed to advancing large amounts of their own money to hire experts and such. Associating with an experienced injury firm with the resources to properly work up the case is a win-win-win for everybody… the associating law firm, our law firm, and most importantly, the client.”
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS…
“Our humble beginnings give us perspective in dealing with clients (and jurors) from all walks of life,” said Owens. “I grew up on a dirt road in Oxford, NC. My parents were both schoolteachers. We weren’t rich, but we weren’t poor.”
Miller was raised in Lexington, NC, and as she always likes to say, “home of the Barbecue Festival.”
“In our firm, whether we are representing a factory worker or an executive from RTP, our backgrounds enable us to relate to everyone,” said Owens.
STRONGER THAN EVER…
“Will and I decided from the beginning that we are a true partnership, and we are here for one another. We’re in this together, through the thick and the thin” said Miller. Having worked together for 13 years, Owens and Miller, along with their respective families, have been through the highest of life’s highs, and the lowest of life’s lows together. When Miller and her husband, attorney Jason Miller, gave birth to their children, the Owenses were there to celebrate, and Will was there to hold down the fort at the office. While Owens’s wife, Samantha, courageously fought, and later succumbed to breast cancer, the Millers were there professionally and personally. “When we formed our partnership, we did so to enjoy the good times, but also to weather life’s storms…we have celebrated, and we have grieved, and we have come out on the other side. We are still here, and we are stronger than ever,” said Miller.
In person, Kimberly Miller and Will Owens each have a down-home charm and a sincerity that is reassuring. Both are outgoing and possess easy smiles and a warmth that would make it easy for a client to open up to.
They are fixtures at Wake County Bar Association events. Miller will be on the board of directors in 2020. They both have chaired alumni associations, Miller at Campbell Law and Owens for UNCW where he had been an undergrad.
When Miller chaired the annual WCBA Bar awards show last November, Owens kept the home fires burning at the firm. “The bar awards was probably one of the most rewarding things I have ever done,” said Miller. “We raised $127,500 for Legal Aid who really needs it. For every 8,000 people in North Carolina who qualify for legal aid, there is one attorney available to them for basic civil needs such as housing, domestic violence, and family law.”
…TO ROCKIN’ IT OUT
“There are a lot of great attorneys in this town. Many may be here now, but their long-term plan is to move back home or retire and move to the beach or mountains,” said Owens. “We’re plugged into the Raleigh community. This is our home. When we started the firm, we asked ourselves, where do we want to be in 15, 20, or 30 years? The answer for both of us was that our strategic vision was, we’re gonna be right here in Raleigh rockin’ it out practicing personal injury law. We are glad the stars aligned. We are here. We are stronger than ever, and we’re not going anywhere.”