“Turnaround time is a big deal to clients,” said Anders Newton partner Gregg Newton.
In fact, speed and efficiency were core parts of the business model when Newton and Jonathan Anders founded their boutique workers’ compensation defense law firm in Raleigh in 2014
The firm represents employers of all sizes and insurance carriers across the state in workers’ compensation defense matters involving workplace accidents and occupational exposures. It handles claims at all levels of the Industrial Commission, and in state and appellate courts.
“Clients should not have to wait weeks to get an initial evaluation letter. Plaintiffs and plaintiff’s attorneys should receive settlement paperwork as soon as possible,” said Anders.
“Our goal is to improve the bottom line for clients by getting cases off their books quickly, whether it’s moving the case along quickly toward a resolution, settlement or going to court,” said Newton.
Anders and Newton were classmates at Campbell Law School. They spent a combined 34 years at Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP defending workers’ compensation cases.
“We learned early on from our mentors and through experience the importance of personal relationships with our client,” said Newton. “We have been representing most of our clients for many years, and building those personal relationships over time has really enhanced our working relationships.”
“We need to have extremely good relationships with our clients so that we can have open and honest discussions about the facts and merits of a claim, and the probable outcome,” explained Anders.
Newton elaborated that “our clients want us to provide them with a blueprint, as quickly as possible, detailing how we are going to defend, resolve or settle the claim in a way that satisfies their claims handling philosophy. They want to know how we view the end game, and they don’t want to pursue costly litigation that is unlikely to result in reaching that end game.”
“The sooner we have those discussions, the sooner we can determine the best and most cost effective strategy for moving the claim toward resolution,” explained Anders. “I think brutal honesty with our clients goes right to the heart of speed and efficiency.”
Anders and Newton are both personable with a warm sense of humor that effectuates solid relationships with clients. The office atmosphere is informal but serious which allows them have fun, react quickly, and cater to each client’s specific needs.
“Case in point, we quickly prepare and forward draft settlement agreements (i.e., clincher agreements) for clients who have settled claims before referral to defense counsel,” said Anders. “This pro- cess is not as simple as some may think as many pitfalls must be anticipated. Complete knowledge of Industrial Commission rules is required. There are mistakes that can easily be made resulting in unnecessary delay and an unhappy client.”
While the firm is two years old, Anders and Newton have the perspective of having practiced during several business cycles.
“If an economic downturn is prolonged such as after 2008, less claims are filed because employment in general takes hit. However, when employees anticipate lay-off s, the number of claims tends to rise as folks who might not otherwise be motivated to file claims are so motivated,” said Anders.
Newton agrees and points out “that is why we stress the importance of formal workers’ compensation reporting policies that are in writing and signed off on by the employees.”
Entourage of Farm Pets
Anders and Newton said one of the nice things about owning their own firm is the flexibility to spend time with their families.
“It really helps the work-family balance,” said Anders. He lives on a 96-acre farm in Chatham County with his wife, Robin, their 14-year-old daughter, their 11-year-old son, “a full entourage of farm pets. When I’m not waylaid by farm chores (he says with a grin), I enjoy golf, fly fishing and hiking with my family.
Newton and his wife, Elizabeth, have a 6-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son. “Spending quality time with my family really re-charges my battery and makes me a better attorney. Plus, my kids really keep me grounded. While I take my job really seriously, they make sure I don’t take myself too seriously – something my clients seem to appreciate.”
Let Me Focus on the Claim
Both attorneys said they enjoy getting out of the office and meeting with their clients where they do their business. “I enjoy learning about the employers’ operations. There’s so much more to a business than meets the eye,” said Newton.
“We have a lot of admiration for people who own and run businesses. When we get called in, our message is simple – you focus on the business of your business and let me focus on the business of this claim.”