Toby Cole’s Story
When he was 18 years old, our friend Toby Cole was in a serious diving accident. The impact left him a quadriplegic — paralyzed from the neck down. His life changed completely overnight.
As he puts it, recovery became his full-time job. A lot of people in Toby’s shoes might have given up on their dreams, but not him. He wanted to get out of the house, so he went to college and then to graduate school! By the time Toby was done taking higher education by storm, he had a law degree and a master in finance degree.
Toby started his career as a defense lawyer for big companies, but today he runs the Cole Law Firm to represent people just like him: victims of catastrophic injuries. “For us to take a case, we look at two things. If we connect with the family and we can help the family … and if we can make a difference. Can we change what happened so the community is safer for other people? We decided that’s what we wanted to focus on, and these are the cases where we can do that,” Toby says.
Making a Difference
“Making a difference” is the Cole Law Firm’s tagline, and it stood out to me right away when I first crossed paths with Toby at a trial lawyer seminar. We bonded over our dedication to treating clients like family. As we began working together on cases, Toby inspired us to look at spinal cord injury cases differently. In the years we’ve known each other, Toby has taught me so much about what it’s like to live as and with someone with a spinal cord injury. He taught me that your day becomes longer — it takes him three hours to get to his office in the morning, so he wakes up at 5 a.m.
He taught me that things are harder for para- and quadriplegics now than they were 30 years ago because of changes to insurance. And he taught me about the importance of a good van, railings, shower seats, and more. Thanks to Toby, we never take a cookie-cutter approach to these cases, and we go way beyond advocating for our clients in the courtroom.
They need more than legal help, and we do absolutely everything we can for them. That includes helping them navigate things as “simple” as the restroom, changing, getting ready in the morning, and getting a ride to our office. We’ve done the research and know who to call to get a power chair fixed or a railing installed.
We believe this work is incredibly important because access and support can make the difference between a lonely life and a fulfilling one. “There’s this big tendency for people in chairs to start cutting things out of their lives,” Toby says. “It’s, ‘Well, I don’t want to go to dinner because it’s too much of a hassle and people are going to stare at me, and someone has to feed me,’ and so you cut that out. And then you don’t go to your high school reunion or you don’t go to dinner with friends, and pretty soon your entire world just revolves around living in your own house.”
Toby adds that his work is about “helping folks realize that, ‘Hey, there is a future out there, and it involves going back to work, and having relationships. Getting married, having a boyfriend, having a girlfriend, having kids. Just across the board fighting to get back to normal and not accepting that my full-time job is being disabled.’”
Toby’s story is awesome. He’s a lawyer, runs his own firm, and is always pushing his limits. He says that’s possible in part because he had support when he was first injured. One of his aunts worked in insurance, and when he was 18, she and another aunt pushed him to look into aid programs that would help put him through college.
“I didn’t even realize that there were people doing that for me, and it makes such a huge, huge difference,” he says. “That’s the thing Russell and his team are so good at. They immerse themselves in ‘What do our people need? How do they need it?’”
How The Button Law Firm Can Help You
If you or someone you love has been badly injured and needs help — any kind of help — my team and I will advocate for you. We’ll listen to you, spend time with you, and help solve the problems that only you can see. Once you connect with us, you’re part of the BLF family for life, and we’ll always have your back.