Motorcycle riders have a totally different vehicle, so why shouldn’t they have a totally different attorney? Upstate native and lawyer J. Kirk Fisher realized this unique situation was the perfect jumping-off point for his niche practice: Iron Horse Lawyers.
Fisher, a motorcycle rider since childhood, sat down in his converted garage office space, complete with impeccably restored 1962 Triumph convertible sports car and Harley-Davidson motorcycle, to talk with UBJ about his growing business.
How was the idea for Iron Horse Lawyers born?
I had gone to Las Vegas for a brain injury seminar and met a group from an Arizona firm called Law Tigers that rode [motorcycles]. I thought they were motorcycle accident reconstruction engineers, but they explained there was a real need for lawyers to handle motorcycle accident cases. It took me about 30 seconds to realize it was a brilliant idea. I was looking for something different in practice of law; I have an environmental law degree and the demand for that had fallen off.
In 2009, I signed on for a three-year contract with Law Tigers. The name caused some problems [in South Carolina], though, because everyone thought it had to do with Clemson. So in July 2012, I started Iron Horse Lawyers.
How do you connect with clients?
We cover the entire state and I attend bike nights, poker runs and rallies. When I launched the practice, I was working about 100 hours a week. I also have three marketing staff members. From March through September, we are working somewhere every weekend. I ride with this community and have developed very deep friendships with a lot of them. It has become a part of my life, as well.
What sort of reaction do you get at events?
Many people are surprised that I’m there. I actually ride my motorcycle to the event. Some other lawyers who do this never attend – you just see the pretty model they hired to man the tent. The face-to-face meeting has actually been a great part of our success.
I rode minibikes at first when I was growing up, and have ridden off and on throughout my life. I was injured in a skiing accident, which is much like being injured in a motorcycle accident. I turned my foot 180 degrees, was on crutches for eight months and had two surgeries. Being able to have some empathy or sympathy for what they’re experiencing and comforting them that it’s going to be okay, I think is very important for my clients. The majority of my clients have my cellphone number; I’m very reachable and approachable. I’ve had people call me and I can hear the ambulance coming in the background.
Why is it important for a rider to have an attorney like you?
What makes a motorcycle work is very different from how a car works. If you ride, you have a better understanding of that. An accident often involves broken bones and brain injury. If a rider doesn’t have contact with a vehicle, the insurance adjuster will rule it not the vehicle driver’s fault. However, I explain that a rider will intentionally put down the bike to avoid a collision. The worst thing that can happen is a “high-side ejection” where you hit and go tumbling through the air. It’s better to do a “low-side exit” where you are close to the ground and separate yourself from the motorcycle.
We are looking into establishing satellite offices in the Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach areas. We’re going to grow slowly, not too fast.
What other activities are you involved in?
We’re currently very involved in partnering with the Motorcycle Awareness Alliance, the folks behind the “Look Twice, Save a Life” campaign. I’ve worked with them on a new South Carolina [special] license plate. We are also working to get away from stereotypes about riders – they come from all walks of life. You should look twice, it’s someone’s father, brother, mother, daughter or wife on that bike and it’s not worth someone else’s life so you can be 10 seconds faster to your destination.
Where will we find you on the weekends?
I like to work on sports cars and my Land Rover. I go off-roading and camping. I go with an informal club and we take our sons and daughters out camping. And I snow ski as much as I can.