I recently read a blog post by North Carolina divorce lawyer Lee Rosen, entitled How a Two-Minute Call Changes Your Clients' Opinion of You. Mr. Rosen explains that in North Carolina, an absolute divorce or Qualified Domestic Relations Order requires substantial waiting period for the client, and during much of that time there is really nothing going on with the case. But some of his clients were miserable during that waiting period, because they did not know the status of their case and imagined the worst. So Mr. Rosen assigned a paralegal the task of calling every client each week regarding the status of the case. Often the call is simply "we are waiting for X." But that simple status phone call turned around his clients' attitudes.
I, of course, saw a parallel between that divorce client waiting for a final decree and a Social Security disability client waiting for a hearing. The disability Reconsideration process in Maine can take several months. The subsequent wait for a hearing can be 12 months or more. During most of this time, there is not much going on with a disability claim. So for several months, the client is simply waiting for a hearing. Not only that, but our clients are also unable to work due to disability, and often have stress over health and financial issues.
I realized after reading the post that I wanted to keep my clients better informed of the status of their claims during this period when they were waiting for a hearing. Even if there was nothing new to report, I wanted to give our clients more frequent updates regarding the status of their claims, and ensure each client knew exactly where they were in the disability claim process. So I hired a legal assistant, who among other tasks, contacts each client regularly to provide an update on the status of the claim, and to check in about the client's medical condition. Sometimes the client has a question for me; sometimes the status call is all that is needed. We also use this opportunity to ask if the client has any upcoming appointments with medical providers who could complete a medical source statement.
I wish I had done it earlier. Our clients appreciate the extra communication, and the practice runs more smoothly because we have very current updates on each and every client.