The attorneys at Van Wey Law are heavily experienced in a variety of cases that include everything from personal injury and medical malpractice to dangerous drugs and defective medical products. The Van Wey Law difference is the intense level of personalized service that is given to their clients.
In working her way to founding her own firm, board certified and top personal injury trial lawyer in the state of Texas, Kay Van Wey has had a journey into her law career that is compelling. A horrific incident later in her career redefined what it meant to be a concerned and involved advocate. The sum of her experiences has ultimately placed Van Wey Law in a unique position in relation to its competitors.
The Van Wey Way Van Wey was naturally attracted to the prospect of being an attorney from a young age. “I was a student council nerd in high school,” laughs Van Wey. “I was on the debate team and I ran for congress at the University of Oklahoma. I went to college on a President’s Leadership Scholarship. I was always drawn to advocating for others.”
“When I was in law school, my first job ever in a law firm was for a plaintiff ’s personal injury attorney and I got to see firsthand some of the tragic and horrific things that happened to people and their families,” explains Van Wey.
She still recalls the first case she worked on which involved a young man who lost both his legs after being struck by a drunk driver. Her second job in the legal field was as a legal intern for the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office. She worked on a case where a child was sexually assaulted and tortured. “My parents were horrified that I was getting exposed to a side of life that I had been shielded from growing up,” notes the attorney.
After law school, she did a brief stint in Washington, D.C., working for a Texas congressman but received a call out of the blue one day that would set her course as a trial lawyer. A family friend called to inform her that a position had opened up as an assistant district attorney in her hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma. “I loved working in the nation’s capital, but was thrilled at the prospect of getting into the courtroom and trying cases.” Van Wey returned to her home town and began prosecuting criminal cases. “It seemed I was in the courtroom constantly. I tried over 30 cases in less than two years. I learned to think on my feet,” she says. “My fondest memories are of my parents sitting as spectators in the gallery when I was cutting my teeth as a baby trial lawyer.”
She developed a reputation as a fearless and very persuasive litigator and it was no surprise when a law firm asked her to join them. She joined the firm and practiced personal injury, criminal defense and family law for the next five years of her career. “I tried many cases during my private practice in Lawton. I thoroughly enjoyed my practice and the support of my fellow Lawton lawyers.
I would like to think I helped a lot of people along the way,” Van Wey explains.
When Van Wey was 29 years old, she was offered an appointment as a special district judge in Comanche County, Oklahoma. “I remember the presiding judge calling me into his chambers and telling me I would be the youngest person and the first woman ever to hold this seat,” she states. “I was absolutely elated about the prospect of being a judge, but I wanted to double down on my litigation experience. So, I took an enormous leap of faith and relocated to Dallas where I felt the opportunities for professional growth were greater.”
Founding Van Wey Law Firm Van Wey has been in continuous private practice in Dallas for the past 20 years and the most current incarnation of the firm came to fruition in 2009. “The firm of Van Wey and Johnson was in existence from 1995 until 2010,” Van Wey explains. It was a natural fit for her to want to have her own practice.
“I never fit the mold of a big law firm lawyer,” Van Wey states. “Frankly, I didn’t have the kind of pedigree that a silk stocking law firm would want. I didn’t want to represent big and powerful clients. I always wanted to advocate for the victim, the powerless and down-trodden.”
Over the years Van Wey developed the reputation of being a tenacious personal injury trial lawyer that takes very challenging cases. Van Wey explains, “My grandmother would refer to this as making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”
But she doesn’t always make decisions based solely on financial considerations. “Some cases need to be pursued in order to bring attention to a problem so that other people are not similarly harmed,” says Van Wey. “Some people need help because their lives have been devastated through no fault of their own. My office staff jokes that they are going to prohibit me from meeting with potential clients because I say yes to everyone who needs me.”
A Defining Personal Incident Back in 1994, Van Wey had a life experience that no one should ever have to endure. Her mother was murdered by a stranger who came around her business selling knock-off perfumes. “I became a victim myself and had to go through a lengthy court battle,” explains Van Wey. “At the trial court level, I was treated wonderfully by everyone, many of whom were friends from the legal community in Lawton. However, there were some things that happened at the appellate level that were really low blows. Because of my experiences, I feel an extra need to protect my clients from being re-victimized by the legal system.”
The murderer’s jury reached its verdict in less than an hour. He received the death penalty and was eventually executed.
“I am just so incredibly conscious of the way I deal with people,” Van Wey says. “I even tell my staff, ‘We’re getting some death scene or autopsy photos. This is someone’s loved one. We are not passing these around the office like it’s one of those criminal law TV shows.” She has profound respect for her clients and has an extra level of understanding and sensitivity toward every aspect of her cases that perhaps no other attorney has. “I have dealt closely with crime victims, injury victims and the families of wrongful death victims. I have been a victim myself, so I totally relate to people in a very personal way,” she states. Van Wey instills this culture in her entire legal team. “We have a client first mentality, as it should be. It is alarming how many clients come to us from other law firms and they say we are the first people who have actually talked to them and taken the time to get to know them.”
Every experience that Van Wey has been through – personally and professionally – has woven the fabric of the lawyer she is today. She says, “I don’t shy away from really big, intimidating defendants. I don’t shy away from huge challenges. I don’t shy away from my client’s pain. I am probably crazy to stay in the medical malpractice field after tort reform, but I am thriving. Through my experiences I have gained a steely resolve so that I can withstand the stress and pressure of litigating complex cases.”
It is interesting how the universe brings you what you need. I think there are certain clients that need my firm and I know that I benefit immensely from being on this journey with my clients. They become part of me. It is their stories and their experiences that keep me grounded and keep me willing to suit up for battle over and over again. With every client, case and victory I become stronger and that much more valuable to my clients,” states Van Wey.
High Profile Cases Van Wey adds, “There have been many wrongful death cases over the years where someone has tragically lost a loved one and those clients are near and dear to all of our hearts here at the firm.”
In one case that Van Wey handled about 12 years ago, she represented two young girls who lost their mother in a medical malpractice incident. “One of those girls contacted me in the last few months; she is graduating college and she’s going to law school. She says she’s going because of me and I’m so flattered. There are two other kids who were children when their dad was killed in a car wreck. They are now grown up and we still stay in touch. I have deep, long-standing relationships with a lot of my clients,” Van Wey says. “I keep a file folder of sweet cards and pictures my clients have sent me over the years. If I am ever having a really bad day, I go to my file and re-read the notes my clients have sent me.”
Referrals and Collaborations Because of the firm’s reputation of excellence for advocacy, other attorneys refer cases to Van Wey Law with confidence. “It is a good feeling knowing that other respected lawyers put their confidence in me and my team and I take that honor very seriously,” explains Van Wey. “I have referred cases to other lawyers as well and I understand firsthand the importance of a solid and knowledgeable attorney referral. I know I have had issues in the past where I have to call repeatedly for the status of the case. Or, I feel embarrassed for my client when I referred a case to a lawyer who didn’t do a good job or didn’t keep the client informed.” To the Van Wey team, the importance of listening to the client and being proactive and responsive is just as important as their legal expertise.
“When attorneys are able to work together and refer clients to one another, in the end it is the client who wins,” Van Wey states. “I actually like most lawyers. I feel we are kindred spirits. I really enjoy collaborating with other lawyers on cases.”
The Van Wey Law Team The Van Wey Law staff also includes attorneys Marissa Maggio and Julie DeWeese and medical legal consultant, Beth Huntington. “We have a team approach to our cases,” explains Van Wey. “I’m the coach and quarterback. We have a very close-knit team and many of my staff members have been with me for many years.
We meet regularly about our cases. I drive the strategy. I am really lucky to work with such smart, dedicated and talented team members. Every member of the team brings their own special talents. “Both Marissa and Julie are very hard working, very dedicated and caring individuals who see their mission as much more than a job. They are really dedicated to the causes that we care about,” Van Wey adds.
In addition, Van Wey is excited about a new addition to the team. Registered nurse and former hospital risk manager Beth Huntington is joining the firm as the medical legal consultant. “Even though Beth and I worked on opposite sides of the docket, we both have always had a common goal of patient safety,” explains Van Wey. “She brings incredible perspective and a wealth of experience to the team for hospital and medical malpractice cases.”
The Van Wey team has taken on a variety of unique cases over the years. “What Van Wey Law is known for are big significant cases that have garnered local and national media attention,” says Van Wey. “However, we work just as hard and care just as deeply about someone whose case isn’t necessarily newsworthy. I say that we’re small enough to care and big enough to win because we are experienced enough and have enough resources that we can take on big cases but still we remain small enough to know and deeply care for our clients,” finishes Van Wey.