Morgan & Morgan is a juggernaut of businesses – including books, conferences, banks, political campaigns, multiple websites, amusement parks, and charities – all tied together by the world's largest personal injury and commercial law firm.
The law firm was founded in 1988 with two lawyers, two secretaries and a receptionist in Orlando, Florida, by “serial entrepreneur” John Morgan. Today the firm has 500 attorneys, 305 paralegals and 3,000 staff in 50 offices in Florida and 13 other states.
The initial driving force to create the firm is John's brother Tim. Tim was a teen lifeguard at Disney World and was paralyzed when he dove to find a missing girl. Disney fought his worker's compensation claim and offered a meager settlement. “I became enraged and vowed that I would one day be plaintiff's lawyer to get revenge for my brother,” John Morgan says in a book.
- Morgan & Morgan's gross annual revenue is $500 million to $600 million.
- The firm has recovered a total of $5 billion in verdicts and settlements for clients.
- Its case results are 20 times more than what defendants first offered. Presented with pretrial offers of $6,424,875, the firm has recovered $139,047,297 for clients.
“We are a consumer protection firm,” says Matt Morgan, head of Morgan & Morgan's personal injury department, and a son of the founder. “Across the board right now we're seeing a lot of growth.”
The bedrock is personal injury cases. So far in 2019 the firm has recovered $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for 50,000 clients. “Our commitment is getting top dollar for our clients at scale, and negotiating every case as we would personally like it. That's been our secret sauce,” Matt says.
“We are finding that juries, as opposed to insurance adjusters, do a much better job of viewing our clients through a more human lens in evaluating the devastating impact that their lifelong injuries have on them.”
Importantly, juries in Florida are not hampered by tort reform, and the legislature has been reluctant to impose damage caps, as other states have done.
Morgan & Morgan plans aggressive growth in California and New York. The LA office now has 3 attorneys in an office near UCLA. The Manhattan office also has 3 lawyers in an office across the street from Grand Central Station. (Brooklyn is the home of the firm's tech center, where digital advertising is handled.)
The firm has a $100 million annual advertising budget for TV, radio, online ads on Pandora, Spotify and YouTube, cab tops, and billboards. “We've already had 2 million people who have called our firm as of August this year,” Matt says. “So, our marketing is continuing to be effective for us.”
Morgan & Morgan is promoting all 40 of its practice areas, but especially Roundup cancer and other mass tort cases. Matt says that the firm's entrance into mass torts, tobacco litigation and class actions vaulted the firm into the “major leagues.”
Morgan & Morgan has also diversified into social security disability, worker's compensation, admiralty, antitrust, veteran's benefits and overtime and wage claims.
In addition to the main Forthepeople.com website, the firm runs several other law practice sites:
- ClassAction.com's provides accurate, up-to-date information about the products people buy, the services they use, and the medications and medical devices they depend on.
- Whistleblowerattorneys.com focuses on helping whistleblowers recover taxpayer money that was stolen due to fraudulent activity.
- Abogados.com is the Latino team of Morgan & Morgan, defending communities in cases of accidents, injuries or abuses, while offering legal information in Spanish.
- Businesstrialgroup.com is home of the Business Trial Group, which was founded in 2009 and represents businesses and individuals on a contingency-fee basis in commercial disputes. Cases include contracts, securities law, breach of employment, shareholder disputes, professional malpractice, trust and estates, intellectual property, construction, employment, probate, real estate, and other disputes. Most recently, the 22 lawyers in the Business Trial Group recovered $9 million for victims of securities law violations and $14.5 million on behalf of developers for breach of contract and tort claims and many more.
The firm has a market-driven growth strategy. “If an opportunity comes along, we generally move,” Matt says. “If we see clients calling us from a particular location we start to explore moving into those locations.”
“We look in states that allow for fair and just results, what the competition looks like in the market, and if there is a need. Sometimes things just happen – we meet people who align with our values and might start something. We decide on a case-by-case basis.”
The firm's key value is empathy, Matt Morgan says. “We want an attorney who's able to bear the burden of our client's injury, someone who is able to put themselves in shoes of the client and ask themselves what they would want if they were the clients.”
Morgan & Morgan doesn't acquire other law firms. “Acquiring other law firms means acquiring other mindsets. There are like to be more headaches than value.”
The firm uses Litify software for case management, intake, documents, and detailed reports. “We would not be able to grow without Litify. It gives us full transparency into our files. It's based on SalesForce software and is cloud-based,” Matt says. “It revolutionizes the way we are able to handle cases. We can see our inventory and act on the data points. Litify ensures that each case is handled exactly the way that we would want our own case handled.”
Litify also tracks inbound referrals. Other lawyers referred 3,800 cases in 2018, and the firm has paid millions in referral fees.
Morgan & Morgan is a family firm, including John's wife Ultima Morgan, a corporate litigator with 39 years of experience (they met in law school). In addition, son Mike Morgan runs the product liability and mass torts department. Son Dan Morgan practices personal injury law in Orlando and advises professional athletes and entertainers. Daughter Katie Morgan is a managing partner at Monarch Structured Settlements.
Big impact on the community
Success has brought the family a luxurious lifestyle of private jets, limousines, trips to Paris, and stays in fancy hotels. John's net worth was $730 million in 2018, according to Superhub.com. Matt and Daniel's Instagram accounts give viewers a glimpse of their lives. In one photo, the family is enjoying a private performance by Jimmy Buffet at the Morgan's 18,000 square foot mansion.
The family fortune enables John Morgan to be active in other businesses, politics and charitable work – burnishing the firm's reputation.
Supporting the needy has been an effective tool to build goodwill. The family donated $2 million to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, which distributes food to more than 500 nonprofit agencies. The value of the food stores in the Morgan & Morgan Hunger Relief center over the next 2 years will exceed $1.4 billion.
The firm formed the For The People Scholarship, which helps students looking to get into law as a career. The scholarships helps pay the tuition for first-year law students who are committed to making their community a better place.
John and his wife Ultima recently donated $1 million to the University of Florida Levin College of Law.
The charity work is no doubt inspired by John Morgan's childhood in poverty. Born in 1956 in Kentucky, John Morgan was the first of five children to an unemployed father and alcoholic mother. “We were never homeless, but you knew it was bad,” John said in a 2003 interview. “The lights would get cut off or the phone cut off.
John became the head of the household as a teenager, staying home from school to care for his siblings, and to drive them to a motel so they could get away from their mother's drinking binges.
An industrious young man, Morgan sold greeting cards, candy and flowers to neighbors and holiday poinsettias to churches. He worked at a Dairy Queen and performed as Goofy and the Big Bad Wolf at Disney World. Meanwhile monitored his sibling's grades and was a top student himself.
John earned a BA in 1978 and a law degree in 1982 from the University of Florida. He paid his law school tuition by selling Yellow Page ads. He was president of Florida Blue Key, a society of leaders that supports the University of Florida, where he made lifelong friends. John started law practice at a PI firm in Orlando, and three years later founded his own firm with another former Blue Key president. By 1988 he founded Morgan & Morgan.
Marijuana and minimum wage
Morgan is a huge political donor whose fundraising skills are a legend in Florida politics. John counts presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton as friends. He usually supports Democrats but has also written checks for Republicans.
In 2013 John partnered with United for Care in campaigning successfully to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. His support is personal; it helped relieve the pain of his father, who had emphysema and cancer, and his disabled brother Tim.
John contributed $7 million to the effort. It took four years and two elections, and finally a medical marijuana initiative was passed in 2016, with a resounding 71 percent of the vote.
His son Matt says, “Ever since I was a boy, my father said he disagreed that marijuana was illegal for medicinal purposes. He's also been talking about increasing the minimum wage since I can remember. We believe the Florida minimum wage of $8.46 per hour is not fair.” He is supporting an initiative to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour on the ballot in 2020.
“The reason my dad initiated the political campaigns because he believes it's the right thing to do for Florida, and the goodwill does carry over to potential clients looking for a lawyer. His track record of winning public issues has also been appealing to potential clients,” Matt says.
“I am not a lawyer but rather a successful business owner,” John writes. “Grow or die has long been the personal mantra for my firm and all of my other business ventures.”
John Morgan's entrepreneurial drive has led him to a variety of non-law businesses:
- Managing general partner of WonderWorks amusement parks in 6 cities nationwide. Featuring an upside-down house, laser tag and a simulator ride, the parks combine education with fun.
- Owner of several Marriott Hotels.
- Owner of apartment complexes, shopping centers, and undeveloped land.
- A partner of Beech Outdoor Advertising, which owns billboards across Florida.
- Co-founder and part-owner of CenterState Banks of Florida, which is traded on Nasdaq.
- Part owner of Legends Sports Management Co., which manages events for professional and college sports teams, NASCAR, Indian casinos, Farm Aid, attractions, entertainment, and conventions.
- Practice Made Perfect, a lawyer marketing firm, advertising agency, law firm management company.
Tort reform in other states propelled John to create Practice Made Perfect 20 years ago. It is designed for attorneys to make connections and learn what it takes to run a successful personal injury practice.
PMP held its 12th annual attorney retreat on June 26-28 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. Presentations covered trial strategies, handling conflicts, protecting your brand and social media marketing.
The program ties in perfectly with his two books, You Can't Teach Hungry: Creating the Multimillion Dollar Law Firm, first published in 2011 and available on Amazon for $45, and You Can't Teach Vision, The Twenty-First Century Law Firm, published in 2015 and available for $85 online.
The books provide an insight into John's success, philosophy, business methods and the groundwork for an enduring law practice. “I tell people that if I have to explain to them what You can't Teach Hungry means…there is no way you could grasp the book and all of its meanings,” he writes.
One interesting firm management technique John uses is to compile an internal ranking of all the firm's lawyers based on the amount of revenue they've earned. Nobody wants to be at the bottom.
“Building a law firm is much like building a circus,” John writes. “As you begin to build your law firm, think of it as building The Greatest Show on Earth.”
Morgan & Morgan's advertising and marketing is monumental. Anyone who calls the firm hears the founder's voice saying, “Thank you for calling Morgan & Morgan. This is John Morgan. If you're calling for a free consultation please press one, for anything else, please stay on the line.”
There is no need to remember the phone number. Just dial #LAW (or #529 to set an appointment. A team of intake specialists send an investigator to the caller's home within 24 hours. Their job is getting clients to sign with Morgan & Morgan.
The firm's Facebook page has an impressive 66,350 followers. Importantly, reviews by 1,451 people give the firm 3.5 out of 5 stars. Updated nearly every day, the page has nearly 300 videos and recounts successful outcomes, lawyer introductions, and charitable gifts. John Morgan has earned the affectionate hashtag #PotDaddy on Facebook.
The firm Twitter account has 10,700 followers. The 8,475 posts cover legal news stories and retweets from other Morgan & Morgan Twitter accounts. Matt Morgan has met the Dalai Lama and retweets the posts of the spiritual leader.
Morgan & Morgan's YouTube account has gotten 4 million views since 2009. Among the 200 videos online, the most popular are:
- “All that Glitters,” is a commercial with 954,844 views. “All lawyers are not the same. Some never go to trial and the insurance companies knows who they are. Remember, all that glitters are not gold,” John says.
- “Morgan and Morgan 3.0” has 782,697 views. It is an offbeat commercial showing numerous attorneys repeating “Morgan & Morgan” over and over again.
- Attorney Kathryn Barnett's commercial “Nashville” with 690,428 views. “If you've been hurt, call us. You'll get the understanding of a local team with the power of a national firm,” she says.
Perhaps the firm's best marketing initiative is the 2019 “Verdicts Magazine,” an 84-page publication recounting the firm's courtroom successes. The top case is Brown v. RJ Reynold, a tobacco lawsuit where the clients lost a husband and father to smoking. The pretrial offer was only $100,000. Four of the firm's lawyers recovered a $13.4 million verdict.
The magazine also highlights the $50,000 settlement for the Deaf and Disability Rights Group against the Florida Department of Education. The battle resulted in substantial changeswXG XSXQS12``E4RDC A
Summing it all up, John Morgan writes, “It's all there — the hard work that each and every one of our 500 attorneys and more than 2,500 support staff have put in to ensure the tens of thousands of people we help each year get the best possible verdict or settlement they can. We wish people didn't need us, but they do, and we take our position as advocates and fighters very seriously.”