Personal injury attorney on challenges: `I'd like mine supersized, please'

 David Christensen is a marathon man. Actually, marathons typify his love of supersized challenges. But he decided to start small – with China.

  Christensen earned a master’s degree in Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan, and became just another entrepreneur starting his own company. The difference was that his company imported from the country with the largest and most isolated population on earth – China.
 The business proved to be quite a challenge because the United States had just normalized relations with China (1979) a few years before Christensen began importing electronics and toys from the communist state.
 “There were no western businesses in China back then,” says Christensen, now head of David Christensen Law, a personal injury law firm based in Southfield. “The Chinese didn’t have their own personal automobiles, and they all wore the same plain types of clothes. I had no business experience – and the Chinese didn’t either – but I enjoyed the challenge of making the business work.”
 Christensen liked the import industry, but transitioned into the mortgage business where he dealt with lawyers at house closings. Intrigued by the law, he earned a juris doctor from the University of Michigan Law School, with honors.
 Drawn to the challenge of size again, he joined a large law firm with 50 areas of practice, but found himself just one of many lawyers. Christensen wanted to have the autonomy to play a greater role in cases so he joined a small firm with only four lawyers, but he began taking on the large insurance companies in auto accident cases.
 “I seem drawn to big arenas, but I still feel an individual can make a difference,” he says, “whether doing business with a large nation or a large insurance company.”
Christensen became an important part of building the firm into the 19-lawyer operation it is today. He saw many clients who didn’t know where to turn after a serious car or truck accident. Gradually, he wanted to become more personally involved in advising clients on how they would pay health providers to take care of them, how they would pay bills to take care of their families and how they would safeguard their future.
He then formed David Christensen Law so he could play a greater role in cases as an individual.
 “I try to put myself in the place of my clients,” says Christensen. “It helps me understand their anxiety, their pain and their needs so I can best help them.”
  He continues to take on the large insurance companies. In fact, Christensen says he has never lost to an insurance company in his decades of personal injury practice. Currently, he serves as chairman of the Michigan Association for Justice’s No-fault Committee, chairman of the Negligence Section of the Michigan State Bar, and is a member of the Council of Chief Justices on Civil Justice. In 2012, Christensen was chosen as a “Leader in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
He recently represented a woman whose car was rear ended by a cement truck and driven into a utility pole. Because of the accident, the woman had to have three spinal fusion back surgeries, a hip fusion and shoulder surgery, and also suffered a significant traumatic brain injury. She is no longer able to work or live independently. Christensen won a $17.8 million jury award to take care of her and safeguard her future.
  Outside the office, Christensen also has served as chairman of the board of the Help Source Agency in Ann Arbor, which provided social safety nets that included Big Brothers and Big Sisters, substance abuse programs, teen pregnancy programs, and group homes for abused and neglected teens.
 When the economy nosedived in recent years, Help Source was dissolved, but Christensen helped spin off all of the agencies without closing any of them.
 “I was lucky to be with caring people,” Christensen says. “We all worked one day at a time on the big challenge of dismantling Help Source while still preserving its services for people in need.” 

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