Aug. 23, 2013
I was at the Columbus hearing office recently and counted the number of Claimant’s Representatives who were present in the lobby. There were eight. Of the eight, ONLY TWO of us were from the Columbus area. The rest had either flown or driven in from offices in other states or remote cities, and several were completely unfamiliar to me. I don’t know how many of them were attorneys versus non-attorneys, but a few of them appeared to be quite young.
In an age when we celebrate our local farmers, small businesses, and service providers, I am constantly dumbfounded by the apparent success of the national law firms and national non-attorney advocate offices who seem to be prospering in our local market.
But aside from “Shopping Local,” here are a few other good reasons to put your trust in our office.
1.) We always attend your hearing in person with you.
You might be surprised to learn that some representatives from national firms attend hearings by video, so that the chair next to you in the courtroom is empty.
2.) All of our advocates are ATTORNEYS.
The Social Security Administration allows non-attorney “advocates” to represent claimants, and even to charge the same amount of fees as attorney representatives. However, these advocates are not licensed attorneys, they are not bound to follow the Rules of Ethics and Professional Responsibility that lawyers are required to follow, nor can they be disciplined for poor behaviors by the Ohio Supreme Court. As attorneys, the ethical rules strictly prohibit us from making statements in advertising that might be misinterpreted, statements that relate to our rates of success, for example. And because they are not licensed attorneys, non-attorney advocates are not allowed to offer legal advice or file lawsuits in federal court, which means that you might find yourself left in the lurch if your case requires litigation beyond the administrative process.
3.) The attorney that you meet with in the beginning will retain responsibility for your case.
When you’re dealing with a large multi-state entity, it may be impossible to know who your hearing lawyer will be until you show up in the court house lobby. Our office makes every effort to ensure that the lawyer you meet with on Day One is the lawyer who retains responsibility all the way through until your case is concluded. While sometimes scheduling conflicts do occur, you can typically look forward to a familiar smile on the day of your hearing. And perhaps more importantly, the LEAST experienced attorney at our office has been representing disabled claimants before the Social Security Administration for 16 years. So even if there is an unexpected change, you can rest assured that your hearing attorney is highly experienced and has the skills necessary to advocate for you in the courtroom.
4.) Local experience means familiarity with the local judges and experts who will hear your case.
Working with the same judges and experts over and over and over means that we get to know what makes them tick. This helps us to prepare our most effective presentation of cases, and means that we can explain to you in advance what process and procedure to expect during your particular hearing. We know how certain experts will testify on particular issues and how to effectively cross examine on others. And because we come to the same hearing offices so frequently, we can also point out the best places to park, the public restrooms, and the closest coffee shop.
5.) We have an office dog.
And not just ANY office dog, we have the world’s cutest office dog. If you don’t believe me, come see him. And you can actually do that, because we’re LOCAL.