Kenneth Phillips, Solo Practitioner by LawCrossing


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   LAW STAR                                                                                      1. 800.973.1177

                            Kenneth Phillips, Solo Practitioner
                            [by Regan Morris]
                            Kenneth Phillips may have the most specialized legal practice in the nation; he only works on dog-bite cases and is
                            often called the king of dog-bite law.

While studying at the University of Southern       woman, who was attacked as the dog owner’s        “I became very well known. It led to more
California School of Law, Phillips said he         watched, Phillips said.                           clients, more people coming to the dog-bite
never dreamed of moving into personal                                                                law website,” he said. “They went online and
injury law. He started his career as an            “At that point, I was very interested because     saw this legal website about one topic. And
entertainment lawyer, a logical choice             I realized as I was doing my research that        when they read through the website, it was
for someone living in Los Angeles, his             there had never been an attorney who came         the opposite of every other legal website,
hometown.                                          into the field of dog-bite law and studied it     because instead of it saying, ‘Caution, this
                                                   as a field separate from other types of tort      is not for legal advice. Go find a lawyer,’ it
But then his cousin was injured in a printing-     cases,” he said.                                  said, ‘Write to me. I’ll give you legal advice
press accident at his high school in 980. As                                                        for free.’”
the lawyer in the family, Phillips was asked       The Los Angeles Times recently called
to handle his young cousin’s case. Phillips        Phillips “perhaps the nation’s best-known         The site is also unusual because it does
won a six-figure settlement for the boy,           practitioner of terrier torts.” His career went   not list Phillips’ phone number or address.
whose hand was crushed.                            to the dogs full time in 998, when he started    Because he wants the site to be educational
                                                   the website                    first and foremost, he asks potential clients
That started a new career for Phillips. He                                                           to email for more information.
                                                   According to Phillips, the term “dog-bite law”
said the case gave him a great sense of
                                                   didn’t exist before he coined it. His website
personal satisfaction, so he shifted his                                                             The site is full of advice for victims and
                                                   has attracted thousands of dog-bite victims,
practice from entertainment law to personal                                                          statistics from what Phillips calls an
                                                   lawyers, and others interested in dog-bite
injury.                                                                                              “epidemic” of dog bites. There are almost 5
                                                                                                     million dog-bite victims annually, he says,
Phillips, who still resides in Los Angeles,                                                          with about 800,000 of those needing medical
                                                   Phillips, who owns a Yorkshire terrier and
handled his first dog-bite case in the early                                                         attention. One thousand people per day seek
                                                   says he loves dogs, only represents people
990s, after a woman’s nose was ripped                                                               hospital treatment for dog bites, and between
                                                   seriously injured in dog-bite attacks. But he
off and eaten by a mixed-breed dog at a                                                              5 and 20 people die from dog attacks each
                                                   provides free legal advice on other dog-bite
Christmas party.                                                                                     year. Dog-bite losses exceed $ billion per
                                                   issues through his website. The website, he
                                                                                                     year, with insurance companies shelling out
                                                   says, has been instrumental in promoting
“I realized I hadn’t thought before about just                                                       $345 million of that, he says.
                                                   his practice. Dogs generally bite people as
how serious a dog bite could be,” he said. “I
                                                   a result of bad owners or bad breeding. Too
mean, they are always presented in movies                                                            Phillips encouraged attorneys to be open-
                                                   many owners don’t take responsibility for
as being just the funniest things in the                                                             minded in their careers and says he is
                                                   their dogs; and that is why people get bitten,
world; and in at least one Norman Rockwell                                                           stunned how his career turned out, but
                                                   he says.
painting, it’s just what happens to the trouser                                                      couldn’t be happier. Phillips says he had a
cuff of a mailman.”                                His website has attracted great media             biased impression of personal injury law as a
                                                   interest. Shortly after he started the site,      young man because he believes in personal
Soon after winning the case involving              the Recorder profiled Phillips in 999.           responsibility. But now he thinks personal
the woman who lost her nose to the dog,            Soon after, he appeared on the Today show         injury law is a perfect way to encourage
Phillips took on a case involving a pit bull       and was featured in People Magazine. He           personal responsibility—for example, by
who mauled a woman’s leg, causing serious          frequently comments on network news as a          forcing dog owners to be responsible for
damage. The dogs lived next door to the            legal analyst on dog-bite cases.                  their pets.

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   LAW STAR                                                                                 1. 800.973.1177

Phillips started his legal career as a clerk     view of dogs, when this is more the Ralph       liability, says many in the profession were
on the California Supreme Court for Justice      Nader view of dogs.”                            surprised by his choice to give away legal
William P. Clark, Jr., who later served as                                                       advice. But he says the strategy worked
Secretary of the Interior under President        People needed to be warned and educated,        because he is helping people and creating a
Ronald Reagan. Phillips also worked as a         he said. Phillips says he spends several        reputation as the leading expert on dog-bite
research assistant for legal author Melville     hours a day answering questions from people     law.
Nimmer and in the legal department of 20th       across the country about dog-bite litigation
Century Fox.                                     and their rights. Although he only represents   “I liked entertainment law; it wasn’t that. I
                                                 people bitten by dogs, Phillips wrote an        just felt that I could really make a difference
Phillips compares himself to Ralph Nader         e-book for people whose dogs have been          in personal injury and really help people,”
and says the consumer rights activist is         attacked by another dog. It is called What to   he said. “You have to find what makes you
a personal inspiration in his life’s work.       Do if Your Dog is Injured or Killed.            happy.”
Phillips says he felt obligated to give away
free legal advice for dog-bite victims because   Phillips, who also gives seminars to canine
too many people only saw “the Walt Disney        professionals to teach them how to avoid


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