Law firms practicing Social Security disability law come in all shapes and sizes, from "nation-wide" practices to one person offices. Is there a right size? In my view, a law firm should be “right-sized” for the needs of its clients.
More important than size however, is the distinguishing characteristics of the lawyer and firm. Look for these important qualities:
- Specialization. Seek a lawyer that spends most of his or her time doing this kind of work. Social Security disability claims are not like other legal cases. It is not a place for dabblers.
- Experience. Believe me, you do not want to be the client of the lawyer I saw last week, who did not know the location of the bathroom at the hearing office. Seriously, if your representative has not spent enough time at the hearing office to know where the bathroom is, imagine what else is unknown. Your lawyer should have conducted dozens, hopefully hundreds, of disability hearings.
- A local or regional presence. Your lawyer should know, have experience with, and have a relationship with the administrative law judges that may decide your claim. Also, familiarity with the professional staff at the Social Security offices is very helpful.
- Attorney involvement early in the process. Your lawyer should not wait until a hearing is scheduled to get involved in the claim. You may miss opportunities to develop the claim, to obtain opinions from treating providers, and to frame the issues in the disability claim. Early involvement by the lawyer is advantageous. Furthermore, for claimants with physical limitations who are age 55 or over, a lawyer should be involved when the claim is first filed.
- Responsiveness. Are you getting the answers you need? You should not be kept in the dark about your case. Regular communication with your lawyer and law firm staff are helpful to your claim.
Keep these qualities in mind as you choose a Social Security disability lawyer. There is a permanent page on this site, with a link on the sidebar, that provides with more details about choosing a disability lawyer.