MY TOUGHEST CASE: TODD ALAN TOWNSLEY
Personal injury is personal for Lake Charles attorney
Photo by Romero & Romero
Don’t let the big credentials and track record of winning big-figured settlements against the big boys of Corporate America fool you.
Attorney Todd Alan Townsley identifies with The Little Guy — a fact he believes becomes crystal clear the moment clients sit down in his Lake Charles office.
There’s a trace of Horatio Alger in his story. As a child growing up in Bloomington, Indiana, Townsley’s father worked hard and drove a bread truck. His mother never went to college. No one on her side of the family ever went to college, actually. The road map toward the legal profession was actually laid out by Townsley’s uncle, Rex Townsley, an attorney in southwest Louisiana at the time and still to this day (Townsley’s family originally hails from Louisiana).
When it came time to pick a college, Rex pushed his young nephew to apply to the Top 10 law schools in the country, and when Townsley got accepted to all of them, his uncle insisted his nephew attend Harvard — despite the pre-planned notion that Townsley would work for his uncle’s firm post-graduation.
“I could have worked anywhere in the world,” Townsley says. “I had offers in London and Paris, New York and Los Angeles. I think in that point in time, my uncle started getting nervous that I might not come work for him, but I always wanted to do this kind of work.”
The reason is simple. For Townsley, this type of law is personal.
When Townsley was 10 years old, an 18-wheeler ran a stop sign and slammed into Townsley’s father who was out making a bread delivery, breaking his leg in nine places, dislocating his kneecap and injuring his back to the point it required surgery.
“I lived through that, so it’s the type of law I wanted to do,” Townsley says. “It’s rare to go to Harvard and do this type of work. It’s not the most glamorous or prestigious (law) to get groomed for, but I stuck with the plan I always wanted to do.”
Not more than a month after passing the Louisiana Bar and being sworn in, Townsley was thrown to the fire — placed smack in the middle of the types of cases he sought to practice, and now has practiced for more than 25 years — representing a homeowner who lost their residence in a fire. The insurance company alleged arson and refused to pay damages. The case, which was held in U.S. District Court with legendary Judge Edwin Hunter presiding, went to trial. After 30 minutes of deliberating, the jury wrote a note to the judge, which was later announced in chambers to the lawyers.
The note read: “Can we award more than the amount the plaintiff asked for?”
“When you’re representing the plaintiff, which I was,” Townsley says, “those are good questions to hear from the jury.”
The answer, by the way: Yes.
In hindsight, one of his first cases remains the most memorable.
“There are a lot of lawyers who are second or third generation lawyers, but my background and family is blue collar. In my practice, those are the people I’m representing — people working jobs where you’re more likely to be injured,” Townsley says. “I feel I can identify with them from my own story and background. I’ll let them know I understand where they’re coming from and what they’re going through. ‘Hey, I lived that as a child myself’.”
Todd Alan Townsley participated in five cases that resulted in verdicts or settlements in excess of $10 million. Townsley attended Harvard Law School at the same time as former U.S. President Barack Obama.He credits his uncle, Rex Townsley, as his inspiration to go into law.
After earning a B.A. at Indiana University (summa cum laude) in 1988 he continued on to earn a J.D. from Harvard University (cum laude) in 1991.