Brent Goudarzi (left) and Marty Young.
Goudarzi & Young has earned a huge and well-deserved reputation for its results – winning more than $1B for injured individuals, many of them the victims of terrible trucking accidents.
Key to its success is the relationship between its two principals, Brent Goudarzi and Marty Young. Cousins, they grew up together working on their grandfather’s Gilmer, Texas, ranch. Teamwork comes naturally to them.
When Goudarzi traveled 470 miles West to Lubbock to attend Texas Tech after high school graduation, Young enrolled in Kilgore Junior College 20 miles from home. While Goudarzi knew all along he was going to be a lawyer, Young thought he might become a medical doctor.
One visit home, Goudarzi asked, “Marty, you and I are really close, we grew up together. Why don’t you just go to law school and we’ll be partners?”
Young thought that sounded pretty good.
“I changed my major, and the rest is history,” he says. “When I went out to finish my last two years of undergrad at Texas Tech, Brent was starting his first year of law school, so we were roommates.”
Young didn’t bother with internships at other law firms. He took classes year-round, the traditional fall and spring semesters as well as both summer sessions, completing his juris doctorate at Texas Tech in just two and a half years.
“Then I came back home and practiced what we call ‘cowboy law,’” he recalls. “What that means is I did a little bit of everything: personal injury work, some family and some criminal law. Once we got our client base built up, we switched to full-time personal injury litigation.”
And pretty good is a little understated. Goudarzi & Young, the firm the cousins founded, opened its doors in Gilmer – a town of a little more than 5,000 in Upshur County, about two hours east of Dallas – in 1997. Today, it employs six attorneys in addition to the two name partners and has an additional office in Longview, Texas, on Interstate 20 between Dallas and Shreveport, La.
It has represented more than 17,000 clients, many of whom were harmed by safety violations in the trucking industry. In 2019, the firm obtained a $140M settlement, the largest in American history for a single-plaintiff case, for a 39-year-old man whose arms and legs were paralyzed after an 18-wheeler collided with his vehicle. Goudarzi and Young have built an all-too rare law firm, anchored with a true dedication to the region and people from their hometown and offering the best advocacy anywhere.
Lawdragon: Do you remember your first trial?
Marty Young: I do. I was just two years out of law school, and it was in the Upshur County courthouse, a clear-cut liability case. My client had a soft-tissue injury, a black eye from the accident. And I remembered the jury paid me to the penny what I asked for, which was somewhere between $25,000 and $26,000.
My jury foreman was a vet out of Gladewater, Texas. And after the trial, I said to him, “I’m a young lawyer. Is there anything I could have done better?” He was an older man, and he said, “Son, you did a real exceptional job. And when you asked us for the amount of money you asked us for, I thought you were very reasonable and you didn’t stretch the amount and I told the whole jury panel, ‘We’re going to pay to the penny what you asked for.’” And that’s exactly what they did.
LD: That must have made a big impression.
MY: It definitely helped that that was my first trial, and it led me to try many, many cases after that, probably in excess of 100. I tell people I try small cases and big cases. There’s not a case that’s too small and there’s not a case that’s too big. I’ll go try a $20,000 case if I have to. My job is to help the people, and that’s what I intend to do. If it’s important to them, it’s important to me.
LD: What made you decide to take your cousin up on his proposal that you become a lawyer and go into business together?
MY: I saw the way that Corporate America took advantage of ordinary people, basically. I felt in order to level the playing field, people who are injured need an advocate and I felt like I would be a good advocate for them.
The sad thing is that when you get too old or injured to work, Corporate America just sends you out the door and they get a new, younger version of you to come in and take your place. It’s a cycle that continuously repeats itself, and it costs the people who are going out the door their livelihood. They don’t have the financial means to stand up and fight against corporate America. They depend on lawyers who can stand up and fight for them, and that’s what we do here in this office. It is my job to put them on a financially level playing field to fight against these large corporations.
The only way you can get justice is you have to go to a courthouse and you have to be willing to try lawsuits. And nobody tries more lawsuits than me and my partner do. Period. And nobody gets the results we get. To be a good lawyer, you have to be able to relate to the little guy.
LD: You’re right. It’s easy for lawyers to lose their ability to do that, regardless of their backgrounds. But you’re still the people from the town you came from. How do you do that after all the success you’ve had?
MY: Well, I’m from a blue-collar family, not a white-collar family, and I still consider myself blue-collar when I go out in the community. I mean, I know the community looks up to me, what I’ve done for them, but I consider myself being one of them and it’s my job to help them when I can.
LD: What was the biggest verdict you ever got?
MY: It was a case that Brent and I tried together, and we won $260M. When it’s a big case, we always work together, and we have a whole team – it’s not just the two of us. He and I work with all the witnesses, pick the jury and make the opening statement. But the case is always a team effort: Three or four sets of eyes and three or four brains are much better than one set of eyes and one set of brains. Everybody knows that. And we value the other lawyers that work with us: We all have a different skill set.
Brent’s very good at cross-examination. That’s what he enjoys doing. I enjoy working with the client. When we try the big cases I do the direct examination. That means when we put our client up, I’m the one who spends the time with them and really gets into how everything has affected them.
LD: Lawyers coast-to-coast admire how you get such large verdicts for what are, typically, single plaintiffs. What do you think it is that sets your firm apart?
MY: Preparation, preparation, preparation. You have to pay attention to the small details because in every trial there’s some detail that the other side is going to misstate, misquote or forget, and you can bring it to the jury’s attention. You never know what it’s going to be, because every trial’s different. But when you work harder than the other side, it’s going to pay off for you. Maybe not every single time, but the harder you work, the luckier you get. Anybody that works knows that.
We can go around in our community and people can say, “Y’all have done very well. Good verdict.” And we’re very humble and say, “We’ve been lucky,” and they know it. They say, “No, you’re not lucky. You work hard.” So really, the harder you work, the more you prepare, the better you can represent your clients and the better results you’re going to get. When we try a big lawsuit, we may be holed up for a month preparing, working from 8:00 in the morning till 10:00 or 11:00 at night for many weeks. And I can assure you the other side is not doing that.
LD: When I visited your office, it was a beehive and I can envision that as you’re getting ready for a trial, everybody’s all in.
MY: When I have a trial for a client, it’s really not only a trial for that client, it affects all my current clients because when I try that case, if I can get really good results, it’s going to affect what I can settle my other clients’ cases for. If you have a winning track record, you get settlements that are bigger. If I go to trial and I consistently get beat, then it’s going to affect my value to my existing clients or my future clients. Therefore, every trial I have, it’s a zero-sum game. I have to win and I’m going to prepare to win.
LD: You’re really doing such a service for the clients you help, especially in the trucking industry where there are so many bad accidents and safety doesn’t get the attention that’s needed. Ultimately, what you’re doing helps everyone who’s on the roads.
MY: No question. And you know what? You take any form of personal injury law, whether it’s product liability, medical malpractice, 18-wheeler litigation or small-car wreck litigation. We’re all trying to make society safer for all of us. Whether it’s making the 18-wheeler companies do what they’re supposed to be doing with the Federal Motor Carrier Act, or whether it’s product liability where they’re making products safer for the consumer, the public, the parents, the children, whatever.
LD: What do you love most about being a lawyer and what you’ve been able to do so far?
MY: Probably the freedom to work on the types of cases that I enjoy, the personal-injury cases. Like I said, when I started out, I did cowboy law and I didn’t enjoy criminal law or family law that much. I knew personal injury law was what I enjoy doing. That’s why we gravitated toward that. I’ve just enjoyed being able to help people. I have people who have been seriously injured, whose lives are forever changed, and they have one shot at justice. That’s it.