Mistake #1: Not choosing a qualified Social Security disability lawyer. Today, attorneys specialize in everything from criminal law to corporate mergers. Most attorneys have never handled a Social Security disability case. Avoid lawyers who mainly practice in other areas like personal injury but handle a few disability cases a year.
Mistake #2: Not choosing an AV-rated lawyer. International legal directory Martindale-Hubbell rates lawyers as AV, BV, and CV, with AV being the highest rating given. Why work with a low-rated lawyer when you could work with one rated AV?
Mistake #3: Not choosing a lawyer who has practiced disability law for at least 15 years. No question, all lawyers need to get experience somewhere. Unfortunately, some lawyers get their experience at the expense of their clients. Make sure you choose a lawyer who is has experience and is not new to the practice of Social Security disabiltiy law.
Mistake #4: Not choosing a lawyer who owns and manages his own firm. When you decide to buy a product or service from any business, don’t you receive better treatment when you work with the owner? Why work with an employee lawyer when you can work with the founder and senior partner.
Mistake #5: Choosing a lawyer who practices by himself. For your protection, choose a law firm with at least two lawyers. This way, if you need help in a hurry, and if your primary lawyer isn’t available, the other lawyer in the office can make sure your needs are met.
Mistake #6: Choosing a lawyer who works for a national “mega-firm.” Social Security disability cases in north Georgia are decided by Atlanta based judges at local hearing offices. The big TV advertisers in the Social Security field often send inexperienced lawyers or even freelance contract lawyers to fly in and try cases, including yours. Many times you won’t even meet your mega-firm lawyer until 10 minutes before your case is scheduled. That’s not a good recipe for client satisfaction.
Mistake #7: Choosing a lawyer because you like his advertising. Advertising can help you learn which lawyers offer Social Security disability services. But learning the lawyer’s name is only the beginning. Before you hire an attorney, read his web site and blog, and view his YouTube channel. Call and ask questions, and make sure the lawyer is qualified and competent to handle your case.
Mistake #8: Choosing a lawyer only because he was referred by a friend. Referrals are a common way of learning about good lawyers. But don’t use a referral as your only measurement. Meet with the attorney, ask questions, and make sure you feel comfortable before you decide to hire the lawyer.
Mistake #9: Choosing a lawyer because his office is close to your home. Convenience is a consideration when hiring a lawyer. But don’t put too much importance on the location of the lawyer’s office. In today’s electronic age, nearly all paperwork can be handled by mail, fax or e-mail. It’s far more important that you choose an experienced, qualified lawyer — than to choose a lawyer because his office is down the street.
Mistake #10: Choosing a lawyer you don’t like or don’t trust. Nothing is more important than a lawyer/client relationship built on friendship and trust. If you don’t like or trust a particular lawyer, don’t hire him.
Mistake #11: Choosing a lawyer who provides second-rate service. When you hire a lawyer, you deserve excellent service. Don’t accept anything less.
Mistake #12: Choosing a lawyer who doesn’t return calls. Lawyers are well known for not returning phone calls. Make sure the lawyer you choose returns your calls promptly.
Mistake #13: Choosing a lawyer who charges for phone or office consultations. The lawyer who puts your needs first will talk with you on the phone or in his office for free. If the lawyer insists on a consultation fee, look for another lawyer.
Mistake #14: Choosing a lawyer who really doesn’t want to answer your questions. Pursuing Social Security disability is an important decision that will affect your life for years. You must understand the disability claims process before you choose a lawyer. If a lawyer is annoyed with your questions, find another lawyer.
Mistake #15: Choosing a lawyer who is not respected for his knowledge. Make sure the lawyer you choose speaks at lawyer continuing education events and has a reputation as the “go to” disability lawyer in his city. This is one way to know that your lawyer is competent and qualified to represent you.