By Shay Moser
Photos by Kimberly Carrillo
For six years, Zach Thornley worked for a corporate defense firm handling 120 to 150 cases at a time. Now he focuses on fewer cases delivering personalized, client-centered service.
Since opening Thornley Law Firm in Phoenix in April 2021, he’s been conducting thorough evaluations of each case that comes into his office, putting his many wins in court to represent people in criminal, real estate, and personal injury law at an affordable cost.
“When it comes to large corporate firms, you don’t always get what you pay for,” Thornley says. “Large firms employ line attorneys who are paid a salary. Then, to squeeze as much of that salary money out of the attorneys, they load them up with an unbelievable number of cases. The client is just another file added to a pile.”
To give perspective, Thornley explains that the public defender’s office assigns roughly 35 to 45 cases to public defender attorneys. Whereas large firms routinely assign 120 to 150 cases to their attorneys. “You’re better off with a public defender than spending your money on an overworked attorney,” he says.
Life as a Budding Lawyer
Thornley’s path to the big firm began in law school, where he interned with prosecutors in the Gila County dangerous drugs division and with prosecutors of Avondale, Tolleson, and Buckeye, where he prosecuted cases as an Arizona Supreme Court Certified Limited Practice Student.
Thornley represented a client facing life in prison in his first jury trial, acquitting him of all counts after a three-week trial. He’s obtained dismissals in many misdemeanor cases and not-guilty outcomes for clients that didn’t commit the crime for which they were charged. Thornley has also successfully resolved several serious felonies, aggressively pursued clients’ rights, and represented those facing probation violations and restitution issues.
Over the years, his training and understanding of law enforcement practices helped him lead clients through sensitive government investigations. Thornley has extensive experience with law enforcement agencies throughout Arizona, dissecting issues that arise when law enforcement fails to conduct a thorough and ethical investigation.
He’s held an active real estate license since 2013, assisting with transactions, issues with homeowner’s associations, and property disputes.
Thornley earned a reputation at a big law firm for successfully representing clients in various criminal matters and effectively guiding clients through the most severe crimes, including murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, and more. His representation of clients also includes those facing misdemeanors and serious felonies with possible life sentences.
“I’ve been in nearly every superior court in Arizona,” says Thornley. “I understand when people are charged how it can affect their lives, the amount of money they pay. The big law firm has a hoity-toity image, and people pay top dollar for it. But it didn’t sit right with me that people spent tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, for an attorney that didn’t have much time to spend on their case.”
Big Law v. Small Law
The opening statements on the Thornley Law website are peace of mind and relentless representation.
Defending the statement, Thornley says, “I’m committed to each client until there is a successful resolution. With our firm, you get direct access to me. You’re not just a file in a pile. We care about helping clients and aim to get results.”
What does this look like in practice?
“We’re not the shining house on the hill — and that’s a good thing because it’s a distraction,” Thornley says. “The big firms distract from the fact that clients are getting an overworked attorney who can’t devote enough time to their case. We spend a lot of personal time with our clients. They’re going to pay more for less service somewhere else. I don’t think many people realize this; they go with the big law firm that pops up at the top of their Google search, thinking they must be the best.”
Most of Thornley’s clients even have his cell phone number to contact him anytime with questions and concerns.
“Personal injury claims are personal,” Thornley says, adding that big firms, or billboard firms, as he calls them, “want to move people through their case as fast as possible because they don’t get paid until it’s resolved. That money goes toward the firm’s marketing budget. So, fighting for an additional $30,000 with the insurance company is not worth their time, but that’s a lot of money for the average person.”
Thornley Law Firm understands that every dollar matters and will fight for all its clients’ claims. Besides representing people charged with a crime, it also represents people under criminal investigation before a charge has been filed.
“If the cops are investigating someone because they’re a lead or a suspect, we represent people in those situations,” Thornley says.
Thornley Law also represents people with post-conviction relief to repair the consequences of decriminalized crimes on their records.
“I’m a big supporter of vets,” Thornley says. “If a vet has any prior convictions that can be expunged or we can restore their civil rights, voting rights, or gun rights, we do it for free.”
For immediate legal advice, visit thornleylawfirm.com. Call to set up a free consultation at 602-686-5223.
“During the consult, I give potential clients enough information that they feel comfortable knowing I’m the right attorney for them,” says Thornley. “People feel comfortable with me given the information I shared. They say, ‘Other attorneys I’ve spoken to didn’t help me feel comfortable.’”
This content is sponsored by Thornley Law.