Nate Preston: Taking the Lead on the Battlefield

In the complex realm of personal injury law, attorneys who rise to the top have accrued a unique skillset combining professional excellence with heartfelt empathy and a no-nonsense foundation in litigation. Where the world of personal injury law has developed a reputation for “grinding them out,” (referencing accident cases) a few exceptions prove that professionalism and thorough representation are not dead. Attorney Nate Preston is one such figure, renowned not only for his excellent legal prowess and client compassion, but perhaps even more importantly, his full-throttle trial preparation.

Preston not only sets the tone for the law firm, he also sets an exemplary example for attorneys in his firm representing accident victims. Like most great doyens, Preston leads by setting the standard, purposefully focusing on each client and each case. His ability to speak and write Spanish fluently is also of significant importance in a state where more than one-third of the population is Spanish speaking. Accident victims who have sought Preston’s legal counsel and have requested he pursue their rights, have found he does so with a great deal of vigor and clarity, and with clear, seamless communication. He is an effective advocate for all victims and certainly for those of Latino descent.

“When I was being admitted to the Federal District Court of Arizona, the chief justice shared some thoughts before swearing me in,” Preston says. “He advised, ‘Make sure that you treat every single one of your clients like they are your only client.’ That’s what we try to do. We strive to do our best work on every single case. Each case and every client is the most important, irrespective of what dollar amounts might be involved.

I think client communication is paramount and ensuring they understand the status of their case at all times is crucial.

“There are many different philosophies to perform your profession,” he continues. “I think client communication is paramount and ensuring they understand the status of their case at all times is crucial. But it’s also essential that we counsel our clients and demonstrate that we always have their best interests at heart, and that we will not lead them down a path that doesn’t make sense.”

While many legal practitioners focus solely on the legal aspects of a case, Preston understands the aftermath of a traumatic incident can be physically, emotionally and financially devastating on each victim involved in an accident. He and his team endeavor to provide not only top-tier legal representation, but also a supportive and empathetic presence before, during and after the recovery process.

“Our work and relationships do not end with a resolution,” says Preston. “We maintain communication offering support and guidance as the clients continue to move forward, navigating through their losses and begin to rebuild their lives. We provide advice and expert resources to help guide our clients through proper management of monetary awards and, in general, we remain a source of encouragement once they’ve made it through their personal injury experience.”

A Second Career

There are many interesting factors about the life of Nate Preston, not the least of these being that law is this energetic entrepreneur’s second career. “I was a non-traditional law student,” he says. “Although I had given law a lot of consideration over the years, immediately after college I decided to tackle commercial real estate. It wasn’t until I was married that I seriously began to think about going to law school.”

After attending BYU, where he played varsity football, Preston embarked on a lucrative career with CB Richard Ellis Real Estate (CBRE) in 2006. His degree in business/human development proved useful in a business that relies on both transactional training and keen people skills. Of course, Preston’s naturally affable personality was also a plus. His business grew quickly, and he was soon a broker with CBRE.

“I felt commercial real estate would be an amazing career and my brokerage company was great to work with. My peers were all wonderful people.” he says. “I learned a great deal about being a professional, and accepted the position at a time when it seemed everyone was considering real estate as a career. Unbeknownst to me it was the beginning of a significant real estate recessionary period. Since I had just graduated from college, I didn’t have the relationships or a significant enough footprint in my practice to weather the storm.”

However, he had a sixth sense about the market at the time and was not caught totally unaware. “I saw the market shifting and had a sense that I should probably start preparing myself for a different career,” he adds. “I wasn’t necessarily thinking about law school, but rather, leaning toward a graduate program in either real estate or an MBA.”

Preston was admitted to the Arizona State University Master of Real Estate program.

I enrolled in this master’s degree program thinking the market was going to readjust, and I would subsequently flourish in real estate sales and development,” he says. “I really did enjoy it, but during that time I met a man by the name of Gary Birnbaum, who I believe to be one of the finest lawyers in Phoenix. He had an impressive litigation and real estate background and was one of the brightest professors instructing the master’s program.”

During this transitional period, Preston began dating and married his wife, Brittany. Their relationship assisted Preston in making the law a career choice. Preston began working on various projects with his father-in-law, whom he credits with having the greatest impact on his career (with the exception, of course, of his own parents).

His father-in-law possessed traits that Preston admired and wished to emulate. “We were staying with Brittany’s parents, so I was able to get to know them quickly, especially her dad,” Preston says. “That laid the foundation for what, beyond my parents, is easily the best relationship I’ve ever experienced.”

Brittany was one of nine children. Not only are four of her brothers attorneys, the fifth just graduated from ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Her oldest brother has a career in government and served as chief of staff for the Arizona House of Representatives and the Arizona Senate. He was also a co-chief of staff for Governor Ducey. With this family’s track record, Preston knew he could be confident in the advice he received: “My father-in-law encouraged me to finally follow my heart and go into the law. His knowledge of the law and business acumen was amazing, so I had an excellent mentor through my law school years.”

Ironically, Preston never practiced real estate law for which he had an incredible educational background. During law school, he interned at Baker and MacKenzie, a large international law firm with 77 offices in virtually every country in the world.

“Although Baker and MacKenzie is one of the largest law firms in the world, and the experience was invaluable, I began clerking for the principal attorney at Warnock MacKinlay Law. That is where I represented victims of various types of accidents. My father-in-law agreed with my assessment that this law best suited my personality. I accepted the full-time offer as an attorney. By the time I graduated from law school, the position was waiting for me.

“I’m a very goal-oriented person and I felt that at this firm the sky’s the limit,” he adds. “I was able to take advantage of that opportunity and when the owners decided to retire, I was approached about purchasing the firm because of the success I had enjoyed as a young attorney, including numerous resolutions in excess of $1 million.”


Nate Preston Family
Preston with his wife, Brittany, during their travels.

I’m a very goal-oriented person and I felt that at this firm the sky’s the limit

With a Little Help From My Friends

Preston and his team at Warnock MacKinlay Law.

Although Preston acknowledges he’s worked hard and always felt a driving need to achieve, he’s also quick to recognize those who helped him make it to where he is today.

“I’ve been very blessed with the amazing people in my life and all the help along the way,” he says. “Of course, always the most significant influence in my legal career was my father-in-law, but I also had significant encouragement and mentoring from the lawyers in the firm, especially during my initial years. I also have to credit my peers, including lawyers from other firms. My family has been incredibly supportive, in particular my amazing wife. She has been my strongest advocate and has assisted with most, if not all, the major decisions I have made in my life. Brittany deserves a great deal of credit for my success. In actuality, she has not only supported me throughout my career, but she is a brilliant individual, graduating with high honors from college. Unlike her brothers, she has not obtained her law degree, but she might have made the best attorney in the family. However, she’s been wonderful to assist and support my goals while she pursues the things that are important to her. She has proven the adage that seems to be valid in marriage: ‘behind every successful man there is a strong and supportive woman.’”

Brittany’s own profession revolves around the travel industry, and she’s built a company that is both lucrative and something that has opened many doors allowing the couple to travel extensively.

“Her business has allowed us to visit more than 40 countries,” he says. “We’ve experienced some unique opportunities. We were engaged in a very unusual experience in Rwanda where we were able to track the endangered mountain gorillas. The safari took us face-to-face with several habituated gorilla families and observed the behavior of these captivating creatures in their natural environment. I was also able to go diving face-to-face with tiger sharks, without a cage, which was perhaps the most surreal experience of my life.”

One Case at a Time

“In the personal injury world there are a lot of law firms out there,” Preston says. “There are a lot of choices. If I were a consumer, and didn’t know who to retain as a lawyer, and saw all the billboards, bus stop benches, TV commercials and what have you, it would be a very difficult and confusing decision to make.

“Of course, everyone says they’re the best,” he adds. “They all say they have all these numerous awards. How many times do you see on a bus or billboard ‘Rated the Best Personal Injury Firm in Arizona?’” Everyone makes claims trying to prove they’re the right choice, so how do you know who’s really the best? Some people are under the impression that all lawyers are created equal. They’re not.”

So, what separates Preston and his law firm from the rest? How does he make sure that his clients truly are getting the very best representation?

“It comes down to the small things,” he says. “A lot of lawyers are just focused on handling as many cases as they can, expending minimal effort and time. While I understand law is a business, you can never sacrifice what’s in the client’s best interest.”

Preston further indicates that a good personal injury attorney knows when it is important to use qualified investigators to prove their case. “We have investigators ready to move at an instant’s notice and spend a great deal of time and effort obtaining statements, photographing all aspects of the accident, measuring important details at the accident scene, examining for vehicle defects and much more with many of our cases. Often, firms simply look at the police accident report, assume what it states is true, and do not do any independent investigation or research. Each case can benefit greatly from having a proper accident investigation carried out by competent and experienced accident investigators. This identifies, and even preserves, the critical evidence required to prove negligence of the other party involved in a crash and the causal relationship to their damages.”

Preston goes on to explain that perhaps the most important quality when a victim selects an attorney is to look for someone who has a strong litigation and mediation background. He expresses frustration toward lawyers who profess to “not be afraid to take it to court” when in fact, they have never actually been in a courtroom. He observes that many attorneys, aiming for quick turnover and high volume, only tackle the pre-litigation facets of a case. Even though many personal injury cases will not be litigated, it is always a good idea to have an attorney in your corner with the necessary experience and skillset to easily negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf, but who is also willing to move forward with litigation if necessary.

Preston has resolved an extensive number of cases in excess of $1 million, and just this year received an award in excess of $5 million for a wonderful Samaritan who stopped at an accident scene and was hit by a third vehicle. “Resolutions such as this are obtained for the victim due to unbelievably hard work, dedication and the willingness to fight for each and every client as if they were our only client. We do not shy away from even the most challenging cases and we battle for our clients until the case has a favorable outcome, whether that be by resolution, mediation, arbitration or trial.”

One very interesting statistic about Preston’s firm is that 60% of their business comes from attorney referrals because they know that Preston and his staff will get the resolution to which the victim is entitled. “For other lawyers to have that confidence in us really matters,” says Preston. “It’s been said that the best cases don’t necessarily go to the best lawyers, they go to the best marketers.”

For Nate Preston, there are no shortcuts. He believes in our justice system, and he understands the only way to make it work is to do the work for each and every client.

We do not shy away from even the most challenging cases and we battle for our clients until the case has a favorable outcome, whether that be by resolution, mediation, arbitration or trial.

At a Glance

Warnock MacKinlay Law
7135 E Camelback Rd
Suite F-240
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

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Favorite Quote

I think client communication is paramount and ensuring they understand the status of their case at all times is crucial.