'Never been done before': Houston injury lawyer's show on Discovery looks at the pre-trial process – Houston Chronicle

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A Houston-based lawyer’s new show on Discovery ID called Power of Attorney: Don Worley centers around a 12-part docuseries that examines and recreates the civil litigation attorney’s pre-trial process.
Houstonh-based lawyer Don Worley is featured in a new Discovery 12-part docuseries called the “Power of Attorney: Don Worley.” The series began recently on Oct. 1 at 5 p.m. on Investigation Discovery. The docuseries is set in Houston and follows Worley, a civil litigation attorney, and his pre-trial process.
To Don Worley, a great lawyer is one that comes prepared.
The Houston-based lawyer’s new show on Discovery ID called Power of Attorney: Don Worley centers around that idea, as the 12-part docuseries examines and recreates the civil litigation attorney’s pre-trial process.
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In each 30-minute episode, Worley and his team will meet an attorney who needs help financing and investigating a high-stakes lawsuit, which then leads to a mock trial to learn what they need to know to win the case or settle.
Worley described the show as both educational and dramatic with bits of funny moments.
“There’s nothing like it on TV,” Worley said. “It’s about the process of how a trial lawyer prepares for trial and what all goes into a case before it gets to the courthouse.”
The first episode, Case of the Exploding Gas Can, aired on October 1. Some of the other episodes that have already aired include: an episode about a woman who was suffering from an illness waking up alive in the morgue; Worley’s team trying to prove a gas company is at fault for a deadly explosion; an episode about a bounce house that flew away, injuring a child; and the latest to air on November 5- The Botched Butt Surgery, about an exotic dancer’s plastic surgery procedure going wrong.
Worley says the producers took “bits and pieces” from real cases to make the show realistic but still retain elements of drama and intrigue.
“They tried to pick cases with facts that might be interesting for television, as opposed to someone just getting hit by a car,” Worley said.
The show also takes place in Houston and features imagery of the city and restaurants the characters go to throughout each episode.
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The cast is also made of real lawyers, which includes lawyer William Barfield, who works with Worley, playing the role of “Bulldog Bill”, a defense lawyer.
“They’re real investigators, real lawyers, real experts,” Worley said. “We do this day to day so we are playing a little version of ourselves.”
Before becoming a lawyer, Worley was an actor and stand-up comedian who toured with improv groups and performed in clubs across the country.
“Making my $600 a week, and all you can drink, I decided I really want to do more,” Worley said. “I was naïve and thought that lawyers went to trial every day after seeing lawyers on television.”
Worley decided to use the skills he’s developed and learned by being an actor and comedian and transfer into a position where he could help people.
“I think walking out and being comfortable in front of a group of strangers you’ve never met before when you first speak is invaluable,” Worley said. “Whether you walk out to a hundred or a thousand people who don’t know you and you don’t know them and you have to engage them instantly, I think that skill is very valuable in communicating with a jury or even a judge.”
Worley also said his background gave him thick skin.
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“Sometimes the joke works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Worley said. “Sometimes you win in front of a judge and sometimes you lose. You can’t take it personally. It’s just the facts of the case.”
Worley graduated from the University of Houston Law Center in 1997 while also earning an MBA degree from the C.T. Bauer College of Business.
While in law school, Worley received a clerkship job from the Chaffin Law Firm, a firm specializing in personal injury and commercial litigation. That’s where Worley said he learned the ropes and found the type of law he wanted to specialize in.
“I really enjoyed it because I’m helping people who, because of the negligence of others, lost their ability to work, didn’t have any money and really needed someone to help them,” Worley said. “And I feel like I’m making our community a safer place by making sure people are more careful with what they do.”
“If they have the threat of having to pay someone, either their insurance company having to pay or them actually having to pay out of their pocket to make a wrong a right, then maybe they will be extra careful and make the community safer from the start,” Worley said.
Worley has since helped run an award-winning personal injury law firm and has been included in the list of Nationwide Leading Attorneys in Newsweek Magazine (2012) and Leaders in Personal Injury Law in Time Magazine (2013). He was also admitted into the Million Dollar Advocates Forum in 2018, a forum for attorneys who have recovered multiple settlements and verdicts for clients over $1,000,000.
The McDonald-Worley law firm is located at 1770 St. James Place.
Worley has always believed there was room in Hollywood for a reality TV lawyer show but thinks it has never really worked out until now. Worley used his Hollywood connections from his acting background and was eventually introduced to a reality TV show producer who helped come up with a script.
“We came up with a formula on how the show would work and how it would be different from everything on television today,” said Worley, “and how we could make it interesting and also show the process of how a trial lawyer prepares a case to help someone and counsels that person on whether they should settle a case or go to a jury of their peers and see what the jury says.”
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The show begins with a lawyer bringing Worley a client. Worley and the lawyer go back and forth on how they’re going to represent the client and what the division of the fee will be, and then they help work the case. They also have an investigator investigate the case’s evidence, the case will have an expert who comes in and gives their opinion on what the person did or did not do or what they should have done.
Then they do a mock trial where the client testifies, the expert testifies, then Barfield comes in as the defense lawyer and attempts to point out problems with the case. They bring in a focus group to deliberate the case, the team takes notes, and the focus group renders a verdict. The team brings the verdict back to the client where they can then decide if they should negotiate a settlement or bring the case to trial.
“There’s some dramatic elements made for television,” Worley said, “like the dramatic music and time between each of us thinking if that’s a fair deal or not, or the drama between me and another lawyer who is trying to decide whether I’m going to accept what they’re proposing or not.”
“When in reality, it’s a pretty easy negotiation of what the fee split’s going to be.”
Go to https://www.investigationdiscovery.com/tv-shows/power-of-attorney-don-worley/ for more information.
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Ryan Nickerson is a digital reporter covering trending news for the Houston Chronicle.
Previously, he was a reporter for Houston Community Newspapers covering the Bellaire and Memorial areas. Ryan graduated from Texas Southern University, enjoys riding his bike, is passionate about sports, and loves black and white movies.
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