'I'm in the Right Place'
How Laura Brown found her niche handling birth injury cases
Published in 2019 Texas Super Lawyers magazine
By Carlos Harrison on September 6, 2019
Laura Brown didn’t really plan on following her father and grandfather into the law. But the pre-med training she got before switching to the family’s legal legacy has certainly come in handy.
“You have that fundamental basis of understanding of anatomy, physiology, histology,” she says. “So I may get a new topic that I haven’t had before, but I have that basic understanding of the process and, with some reading and studying, it’s pretty natural to pick up and understand on a fairly deep level what’s happened and why.”
She not only fights for her clients—she fights for herself. The Waco personal injury lawyer, who focuses on birth injury litigation, also happens to be a black-belt kickboxer. She also dives (scuba and sky) and skis (water and snow).
Brown is a born-and-bred Texan from Clarksville, a city of roughly 3,000, barely 3 miles square, in the Piney Woods region between Paris and Texarkana. Her dad and grandfather were both trial lawyers who practiced a little of everything and were known in the community as “the father and the son.”
Brown’s brother is also an attorney.
Still, Brown headed off to Baylor with law “in the back of my mind,” but with medicine fighting for first place. She studied biology, and when she graduated, applied to both medical and law school. Baylor Law answered first.
“Honestly, I was not sure I made the right choice until, at the end of our first year at Baylor, we had a required moot court competition,” she says. “You have to do your first official oral argument at the end of your first year. In that competition I realized, ‘I’m in the right place.’ From that point forward, it was just, ‘How do I get to the courtroom?’”
After graduation, she spent eight years doing civil litigation defense work. She gravitated steadily toward cases involving serious injuries and medical negligence on behalf of plaintiffs.
“Once I got to the point that I was representing people who had really been injured seriously, that’s when it just clicked,” she says. “That’s my niche. That’s where I want to be; that’s where I think I need to be; that’s where I think I was made to be.”
Her record is good supporting evidence. Her two most recent verdicts ended with $16.3 million in Fort Worth (after a $100,000 settlement offer), and $10.3 million in Brownsville.
The first one involved a wrongful death in a car wreck; the second was a birth injury case. The complexity and the challenge “was just intellectually riveting,” she says. But more important was who she was fighting for.
“In these cases when they’re legitimate birth injury cases, where there was something that could have been done to prevent the injury,” Brown says, “you have a child that’s completely innocent in the entire process, but they have suffered an injury that’s going to affect them and their families for the rest of their lives. To be able to represent a child in that situation is a privilege.”
Nowadays, as a partner at Williams Brown in Waco, she says, birth trauma cases make up about 80 percent of her practice, in Texas and beyond. The rest is a mixture of other medical and plaintiff’s trucking cases.
An adjunct professor at Baylor Law School and incoming co-chair for the American Association for Justice’s birth trauma litigation group, Brown still finds time to get her kicks—literally. She started kickboxing for personal training, but says her instructor,
Cody Jones, saw “it was a little different for me than for the other people who were just in there for the exercise.” He paired her with a competitive kickboxer to practice. “I just loved it,” she says. She’s been kicking ever since.
She also flies, whenever she gets the chance, with her former flight school instructor—her husband, Mark, a professional United Airlines pilot. “I always joke that I got two licenses out of it,” she says.
It looks like their children may be carrying on a couple of family traditions. Tanner, 16, wants to start flying lessons and is thinking of becoming a pilot. Taylor is starting in biology at Baylor this fall, but already planning on law school.
Which means Taylor might become the fourth generation of lawyers in the family. If so, her mother hopes her daughter will find as much fulfillment as she does in each personal injury case.
“It is a situation where people have suffered something that they could never prepare for, they can’t imagine, and it changes the course of their lives,” Brown says. “Those people need somebody to champion them in the courtroom, but also to help them through every step of the way.”
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