Recently, I went online and did a search for “disability lawyers”. As expected, the search produced hundreds of results. For someone looking for a disability lawyer, the options initially seem overwhelming. However, with a little more in-depth investigation one soon discovers that many of these web sites actually advertise for nationally based firms that handle disability cases all over the country, not just Maine or New Hampshire. Let me offer 3 advantages of choosing a small local firm that routinely handles cases in the state in which your hearing will be heard.
1. Experience with the judges that will decide your case. Since we only handle cases in Maine and New Hampshire, it’s likely we have presented cases before the judge deciding your case – not once, but many times. This means we are familiar with a judge’s style in conducting the hearing including what types of questions a particular judge likes to ask, and whether he or she is likely to issue a bench decision.
2. In-person client contact. Many firms handling disability cases are so-called “high volume” practices with several attorneys juggling multiple hearings per day or flying to hearings in multiple states. Since we are a small and local practice, we are able meet with our clients in-person and well in advance of the hearing. If your attorney is arriving from out of town or busy handling multiple hearings, chances are your first meeting with your attorney will occur just a few minutes prior to your actual hearing. Meeting your attorney in a relaxed, non-pressured environment well before the hearing is highly preferable to having your first meeting just a few minutes before you see the judge.
3. Extensive attorney involvement. To handle large case volumes, many firms heavily utilize either paralegals or case managers to prepare your case, with the attorney only becoming involved just prior to the hearing. I have a great legal assistant who keeps in touch with clients regularly and obtains the medical records neeeded to prove a disability case. However, the essential case preparation is done by the attorney. Early in the process, I determine what medical records and medical source statements are needed from your doctors, and develop a winning theory for your case.
In summary, I believe it’s the preparation that happens well before your hearing that can distinguish a small local firm. Keep that in mind when selecting the right attorney for you.