In 2012, three veteran attorneys left their respective law firms with a singular dream in mind: to create a mesothelioma law firm where clients are more than just a case number.
Members Ben Schmickle, Steve Wohlford and Matt Morris knew it would be an uphill climb to make that dream a reality – but they also knew they had the pieces to make it happen. With two paralegals who shared their vision, they got to work. And on June 24, 2012, SWMW Law opened its doors.
“We picked up the phone and started calling, traveling, hustling, and letting people know what we were doing,” Schmickle said. “We knew we had something special – we just needed others to see it, too.”
And soon, they did.
“We kept fighting – not just for ourselves, but for the clients we knew needed us,” Morris said. “We set out on the road for a few months and were able to get mesothelioma case referrals from firms all over the nation.”
With the addition of attorney Lauren Williams in the first year, who would be promoted to Member in 2021, SWMW Law had the experienced leadership group and dedicated support staff to propel the firm into the future.
“Though our partners possessed many years of asbestos and litigation experience, the firm was by and large built from the ground up,” Williams said. “Building, operating, and growing a business, in addition to our ‘day jobs’ as attorneys, was certainly challenging. Some of the tools gained and lessons learned during those challenges have helped mold us into the formidable force we are today.”
The members also attribute the firm’s success to the family atmosphere they’ve worked hard to cultivate.
“We have several attorneys and staff members that have been with us from close to the beginning,” Wohlford said. “My work family feels like family. We work very hard but also set aside the time to connect outside of the office and are friends above all else. It makes our team tighter knit than most companies, and I think it permeates our culture and our firm’s mission.”
That mission, to put people first, continues to drive the firm 10 years later.
Celebrating the 'Wins'
Ten years of putting people first has helped SWMW Law reach exceptional heights. To date, the firm has helped to secure more than $500 million for thousands of clients and their families from all 50 states. It has grown from six people working side-by-side on every aspect of every case to now more than 80 team members. The team includes attorneys, paralegals, nurses, and support professionals with offices in two states and cases pending in multiple jurisdictions across the country. This growth has allowed the firm to help more people by expanding its practice to include serious personal injury claims and other toxic torts, including dangerous herbicides and environmental contaminates, and dangerous drugs and devices that have caused catastrophic harm.
The firm’s commitment to its clients has extended to the community, where it has financially supported 65 different organizations and volunteered its time at countless more.
“We’ve accomplished quite a bit, but our biggest accomplishment has been every thank-you note we get from our clients,” Schmickle said. “Even though those heartfelt thank-you’s are the biggest ‘wins’ for us, every time we get a chance to step back from the whirlwind of our practice, it still hurts to think of all the hardworking clients who have passed and the grieving families left behind due to asbestos and other dangerous products.”
The members are quick to attribute the firm’s success to the entire SWMW Law team.
“I am proud to have some of the most knowledgeable support staff in the entire business who help guide our clients day-to-day toward the finish line, and I’m proud and fortunate to have partners who are some of the best attorneys in the country,” Wohlford said. “We are so lucky to have stars in every facet of our practice. I’d put our team up against anyone in the business.”
SWMW Law’s recipe for success is also due, in part, to the work it does behind-the-scenes.
“We don’t settle for being stagnant or subscribe to the mindset of, ‘That’s how it’s always been done,’” Williams said. “We ask the hard questions, go the extra mile, adapt, and grow. We embrace creativity, new technology, and better policies for our team members.”
While it’s important to take pause and celebrate the past 10 years, SWMW Law is ready for what the future may bring.
“I wanted to start a firm where it wasn’t always just about the bottom line, but about clients, coworkers, friends and family that we touched along the way,” Schmickle said. “We’re doing just that, and we are excited to continue our work and keep growing and improving together.”
Thank you to the thousands of clients and families across the country who have welcomed us into their lives and living rooms, trusting us to put them first and advocate on their behalf. No matter where the future may take us, you will always remain part of our family.
Because People Matter.