Some people are born to be lawyers. They’re groomed from an early age to attend the best schools, build networks of influential people, and leverage family connections to their advantage. Jany Martínez-Ward is not one of those lawyers.
Nearly two decades ago, Martínez-Ward, then a fourteen-year-old, together with her mother and her infant brother, made a perilous journey to get to the US, from Cuba to Venezuela, and then from Venezuela through Mexico. Her family fleeing oppression, war, and social instability. While crossing the US border, the family was apprehended. Scared, confused, and speaking no English, Martínez-Ward and her brother were ripped away from their mother and placed in foster care, not knowing their future.
She couldn’t fully comprehend what was happening then, but she understood that other people were making life-altering decisions for her and her family. At that young age, Martinez-Ward recognized an awesome and frightening power that other people held over her family. She didn’t know what it all meant, but the experience deeply imprinted on her. She vowed then that she didn’t want anyone to feel the helplessness and overwhelm she felt at that time.
Though her early life was marked by the deep childhood trauma of seeing her mother arrested, followed by stints in foster care, the hardships didn’t end there. When she arrived in Miami, she was discounted by teachers who told her, a child who could barely speak English, that she’d never become an attorney.
Martinez-Ward was determined to defy the odds. Driven by her tenacious spirit and unwavering commitment to advocating for the Hispanic community, Martínez-Ward founded The Ward Law Group, PL. “I looked for a way to have the biggest positive impact on my Hispanic community. I was troubled to see how immigrants were afraid of the legal system and afraid to seek the basic justice that so many people here take for granted.”
She had considered immigration as a practice but realized that to have a bigger impact, she should help immigrants who were injured. “I saw that after car accidents, my people, sometimes the very vulnerable and poor, were forced to deal with insurance companies.
They were outmanned and outgunned after a tragic car wreck. I had to do something about it.” So, she then formed what has become one of Florida’s largest law firms, focusing exclusively on Spanish-speaking clients injured in car accidents.
In thinking about what drives her on her journey, Martínez-Ward often reflects on a time when she had very little. “I remember a time in law school my mom was working multiple jobs, and I barely had money for gas. I wanted a soda, so I stopped at a gas station. I was a penny short for a soda, and the cashier refused to sell me the soda. I realized right then that a penny matters. That’s why I fight for my clients, because every penny matters.”
Martinez-Ward now reflects on one of her early cases where she couldn’t help. An immigrant housekeeper seriously injured her shoulder. After she was discharged from the hospital, the insurance company sent someone to her house to get her to settle the claim. The housekeeper accepted a few thousand dollars leaving her with massive outstanding medical bills and an injured shoulder. “That was wrong. I couldn’t help her because the client had already signed a settlement document that she didn’t fully understand. Unfortunately for Spanish speakers, that’s the law.”
Today, Martinez-Ward has achieved that mission— but her work is far from finished. She has gone from a girl who was a penny short to a mission-driven attorney building a powerful law firm that has secured over $500 million in settlements in recent years. She works hard to ensure no client has shorted a penny from the compensation they’re owed. The firm’s achievements include a recent confidential settlement in excess of $100 million —one of the largest of its kind in the country.
Today, Martínez-Ward focuses on helping Hispanic clients that have been injured. She also serves as The Ward Law Group’s chief marketing officer and head of the Pre-litigation Division. She is an ardent advocate for the Hispanic community and serves as a trusted advisor for those across the state and nation who have questions about changing laws and regulations. Her advocacy and reputation for getting results are the main drivers of the firm’s success, which has enjoyed greater than 50% year-over-year growth for the last several years.
Her dedication and excellence have been recognized by numerous groups and organizations. Martinez-Ward was listed among National Trial Lawyers’ top 40 under 40 for 2018 and 2019. She was also recognized as a Top Lawyer in 2019 by South Florida Legal Guide. In 2018, The American Institute of Personal Injury Lawyers named one of their ten best attorneys. Most recently, Best Lawyers named her one of their “Lawyers of the Year for 2022.”
Moreover, her firm has been awarded Best Places to Work for the last two years by local newspapers.
Throughout her career, Martinez-Ward has gained a mastery of the field of personal injury law. As a result, the Florida Bar has asked her to be an author of the chapter in its Handbook for lawyers entitled “Practice and Procedure in the Handling of Automobile Cases.”
In 2022, The Ward Law Group celebrated ten years of success with a star-studded bash at the Temple House in Miami Beach featuring DJ Africa and Latin Grammy award singer Farruko as the night’s main entertainment.
And though Martínez-Ward has much to celebrate, she has no plans on stopping. “My future goals at The Ward Law Group include serving thousands of clients a month, exceeding our current annual settlements of $150 million per year, and developing and further expanding our operation in Texas, New York, New Jersey, wherever there are large numbers of Spanish-speakers,” said Martínez-Ward.
While her vision for the future of The Ward Law Group inspires her daily work, it is her advocacy and support of displaced people that she is most passionate about. Understanding the profound effects of displacement firsthand, Martínez-Ward has made it her life’s mission to ensure those displaced have an advocate. She hopes to create a non-profit that will assist and protect displaced, and especially orphan, immigrants by giving them the support and resources needed to live a dignified life.
“My family was forced to flee as a matter of survival,” said Martínez-Ward. “I understand the fear, confusion, and loneliness people feel arriving in the US. They don’t know who they can trust and if anyone cares what happens to them. I hope to show them they’re valued by creating a network of people and resources, so no one ever has to feel the way I felt as a child arriving in a scary place.”
As she forges ahead with her eyes on the future Martínez-Ward is also thankful for the gift of hindsight and reflection. “This is the greatest country in the world because here, justice matters, and justice isn’t dictated by the color of someone’s skin or where they were born. In America, everyone has a right to justice.” Being a penny short years ago has created a profound gratitude for the abundance she has today and shaped her compassion for the marginalized.
For further information about Jany Martinez-Ward and the Ward Law Group, visit: https://www.855dolor55.com/en
Article presented by Tom White
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