Arkadelphia's Chaney Law Firm Built on Family Ties

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jul. 8, 2013 12:00 am  

And the firm, with a staff of seven, is busy. Don Chaney said he has to turn down cases because the firm doesn’t have the time to take them.

Nathan Chaney handles the intellectual property lawsuits and has clients across the country. His wife, Hilary, 37, works part time and is assigned the Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income appeals.

Don Chaney, 60, declined to divulge the firm’s revenue.

But winning cases is key to the survival of the business, which takes personal injury cases for a contingency fee. If the case settles before it reaches trial, the firm receives 30 percent of the settlement amount. But if the firm wins the case at trial — or just before the trial starts — it will receive 40 percent.

An insurance company, however, can drag its feet on reaching a settlement, Don Chaney said. “Not only are you investing a substantial amount of time, but also it can be a substantial amount of money,” he said.

Preparing for a personal injury case could cost the firm $50,000, and the investment can be several hundreds of thousands of dollars for a medical malpractice claim. “Cash flow is affected,” Don Chaney said. “Compensation is related to cash flow, so there could be feast or famine” in some years.

Dad’s Early Days

Growing up in northeast Arkansas, Don Chaney wanted to be a country lawyer.

His father died when he was 10. At the time of his death, Chaney’s father was involved with insurance sales. Don Chaney’s mother managed a small manufacturing company before she retired.

After graduating from the law school at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1977, Don Chaney returned home to practice at the law firm of Cathey Goodwin Hamilton in Paragould.

He wasn’t there long. He left the area in 1979 to start a firm in Arkadelphia with another attorney, Bill Wright. That firm grew to seven lawyers.

“After a period of time, you figure out what you don’t like to do and what you like to do,” Don Chaney said. “Eventually I figured out I liked fighting for the ordinary citizen.”



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