Don't like the Law Firm that's handling my SSI Case.

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DiLane
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 68
   Posted 7/13/2009 5:01 PM (GMT -7)   
My SSI hearing is at the end of the month. Yikes! about two weeks ago, I called my lawyer with a simple, reasonable question about my case. I got a bad vibe from him from the time he was assigned to my case last month, but I never expected the way he treated me. He pretended he didn't understand the question, would repeat wrong information back to me that I'd just told him, cut me off in mid-sentence a few times, and out of the blue, in sort of a raised voice said, "What is it exactly that you want?" I had the feeling he was doing something else while talking to me.
Today, I called with two more logical questions. The owner answered and said my lawyer was out and offered to help me. This is the man whom I spoke to last year when I made my first call to the law firm. He had a grandfatherly tone then. New clients speak with him first. He decides if the case is worthy. After that, anyone in the firm answers calls. When a hearing date is set, the client is assigned a lawyer. The owner then treated me poorly and with disrespect. I was floored. Big difference from when he wanted my case almost 18 months ago. I'm not the type to call the firm often, looking for handholding. I would only call when I needed to. If I had a new MRI, saw a new doctor, was prescribed a new medication, etc, I would call and leave a message with the office secretary. I was told to do that. I've done nothing to explain the behavior of my lawyer and the firm's owner.
If I had to do it over, I would never go with this firm. It's a small one that only handles disability cases. Their website raves about treating clients with respect and dignity. What a joke! With my case less than two weeks away, and a signed contract, I have no recourse.

Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Chronic Pain, Hyperthyroidism, Cervical spine issues (DDD, spinal stenosis, bulging discs and more!), Depression, Anxiety.
 
Meds -- Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Lyrica, Motrin, Synthroid, Klonopin


Mrs. Dani
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 2787
   Posted 7/13/2009 5:38 PM (GMT -7)   
 
 
   Dear DILane,
 
   Hey there *huggs* good to see you. Are you okay?  Is just awfull. So close to your court date? What was the questions you were asking him.. if you don't mind my asking? Not that it matters. Noone should be treated like that. Really is very disrespectful and uncalled for behaviour. I hope they do not do anything that adversly effects your case. Do you think they will dropp the ball at the last moment? Well poo.. you really didnt need that right now. smhair   Not goo atall smhair  
 
*huggs*
dani
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,  
And sorry I could not travel both  
And be one traveler, long I stood


DiLane
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 68
   Posted 7/13/2009 7:21 PM (GMT -7)   
Dani Henson said...
 
 
   Dear DILane,
 
   Hey there *huggs* good to see you. Are you okay?  Is just awfull. So close to your court date? What was the questions you were asking him.. if you don't mind my asking? Not that it matters. Noone should be treated like that. Really is very disrespectful and uncalled for behaviour. I hope they do not do anything that adversly effects your case. Do you think they will dropp the ball at the last moment? Well poo.. you really didnt need that right now. smhair   Not goo atall smhair  
 
*huggs*
dani

The question to my lawyer two weeks ago was this. I had a primary care doctor for 13 years until early last year. We had an incredible rapport. She watched my decline. I lost her due to an insurance change. Broke my heart. I thought, perhaps foolishly, that my former doctor could write a letter on my behalf that spoke to my character and how she knew me as a patient. So, I called my lawyer to ask him if he thought it was a good idea. He said since she's not my doctor now that she can't speak for me medically. I told him that I understood that, but I was thinking more of a character witness. He played a cruel little game of pretending he didn't understand what I meant, and even said, "She was your doctor for 9 years or whatever it was." I had told several times in that one call, that she was my doctor for 13 years. I gave up, and said good-bye.
Today, speaking with the firm's owner. These were my questions. When I first applied for SSI last year and was denied, Social Security sent me to a psychiatrist and a neurologist. This time, they did not. I'm curious if that's a good or a bad sign. I'm going for a dual-disability. The second question was about my judge. I googled his name, and it's as if he doesn't exist. I wanted to know if he had a reputation for denying or approving more cases. I wanted just a little information. I realize every case is unique, but I know some judges are tougher than others. I think it's reasonable to want information on your judge.
The owner spent more time telling me why my questions were wrong or whatever he said. Regarding SS not sending me to specialists, he asked me what I would do with the answer. I said "What would I do? I just want to know, that's all." He told me my questions were based in anxiety, and I sounded anxious. Anxiety is one of my medical conditions, so I found that to be a cruel comment. Besides, he brought on my anxiety. I told him that a person doesn't have to have anxiety to ask a question, so this isn't the crazy lady here. I told him that when I'm treated certain ways, I get anxious, everyone does. I told him we all have triggers, and asked him if I sounded anxious when we first started the conversation. I said, "If you had nicely said to me that each case is unique, and that you can't speculate on a judge's personality, I would have understood. " He spent 20 minutes not answering my questions. I asked him if he and I were adversaries because this feels adversarial to me. He told me he makes no money if he doesn't win. I said I don't either. I then told him that my lawyer gave me a hard time a couple of weeks ago when I asked a simple question. The firm's owner wasn't interested in what happened, but went into a rap about how the lawyer was most likely busy working on my case, and I called him with questions. I corrected him and said "One question". He said he couldn't speak to it because he hadn't heard his side. I said, "You haven't heard my side either. You have no idea what happened, yet you're making excuses for him." I told him that it's terrible how I'm made to feel like a criminal for asking a couple of questions.
He then switched gears and told me that my judge is very fair, and they get a good feeling when they see his name. I said, that's all I wanted. He then took on the other question of SS not sending me to specialists. He spoke in legalspeak and went on and on, talking right over my head, and I'm not a stupid person. He ended that with, "Does that answer your question?"
I realize that time is money with lawyers, yet they could have answered my questions in a couple of minutes. They were the ones who escalated it and made it take more time. Today was a terrible experience. It happened almost seven hours ago, and I'm still upset. I am afraid that they will sabotage my case. Then again, that would cost them money. I don't know what to think.

Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Chronic Pain, Hyperthyroidism, Cervical spine issues (DDD, spinal stenosis, bulging discs and more!), Depression, Anxiety.
 
Meds -- Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Lyrica, Motrin, Synthroid, Klonopin


Boxerlover
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 274
   Posted 7/13/2009 7:30 PM (GMT -7)   

Hey Dilane, first off, good luck on your case!!  I had a similiar experience. The lawyer I hired had no partners, it was just him and 2 paralegals. I had 2 meetings with him and then the rest of my coorespondance was with the female paralegal and she and I did not mesh.  She was short with me, made me feel stupid and when I got off the phone I did not have a warm fuzzy feeling!  All turned out good in the end with a succesful win so alls well that ends well! Hang in there and if they get cranky, either tell them to not speak to you like that that you have every right to get answers to your questions, you are the client after all.  Or if you are the non-confrontational kind, you are only a few short weeks of being done and hopefully they have done their job and you will win your case.  I'm sending tons of good juju, good luck!!

Melissa


Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2283
   Posted 7/13/2009 7:41 PM (GMT -7)   
DiLane,
I am so sorry to hear how frustrated you seem to be feeling with your attorney's office. I am in litigation myself right now & can relate to how stressful it can be.

I'm not quite sure what I could say to help you/support you right now. If it helps, I really think based on what you've said that you have a pair of very competent attorneys who are doing everything possible to win your case. I used to work in a law office & frustrating as it may be, the kinds of comments the attorneys made are typical of high-caliber attorneys. There really wouldn't be anything you could do if you had a horrible judge. Knowing that wouldn't help you sleep any better at night. You'd just be stuck worrying about it & wishing there was something you could do to get the case reassigned, but that is almost impossible to ever get done.
You do sound anxious. I don't mean anxiety-disorder anxious (I wouldn't know how to tell that from a short letter), but just the typical anxiety that people often feel before a case. I feel anxious too & when I start to get too worked up, my attorney tells me so. He thinks that somehow that will trigger me to dial down the emotion & not worry so much. It never accomplishes that, but I know he is well-meaning.

Your prior doctor really can't serve as a character witness from my understanding. I'm not sure character witnesses are even allowed in SSI cases. From my understanding, you will be better off having a doctor who is able to testify that right now you are not able to work. Judges really don't care whether you're a nice person or not. They want to know how severe your disability is. If, for example, right now you are the meanest, most horrible person on the planet but can't get out of bed in the morning b/c of your disabilities, the judge would have to decide to grant you SSI. On the other hand, if you were the nicest, most giving, caring person in the world but are able to go to a job as long as the employer made some very minor modifications to the workplace, then the judge would have to deny you SSI. Maybe that doesn't seem fair, but that's the way it works. Probably your attorney could have said that to you in a nicer, simpler way, but ultimately he does seem to know in his own head what needs to be done to win the case.

If I might, what really helped me get along better with my attorney was writing him letters/emails & asking him to do the same with me. That way, I didn't have to try to contain my emotions & he had time to think about how phrase his thoughts to 1) communicate what he needed to communicate to me in clear terms and 2) carefully weigh his words before just saying the first thing that came to mind without regard for how I would perceive it. I think we are both happier for it, but I know that's not a solution for everyone. I'm just putting it out there for you to consider.

I'm wondering whether you are seeing someone to treat your anxiety. If so, maybe this is something you could talk about with your therapist. S/he might have some additional ideas about how you & your attorneys could try to find a way to communicate without them getting frustrated (if they are) or you feeling slighted. I don't know. I hope something I said helps. I really do wish you the best & hope that things go a bit smoother with your attorneys & case in the future.

hugs & prayers,
Frances :)
Moderator -- Depression Forum


PAlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 7/13/2009 10:33 PM (GMT -7)   
DiLane,
I most certainly understand what you're feeling. I had a very bad experience with one attorney - and his partner. It was with a worker's comp case and we ended up losing because he wasn't prepared at the first hearing (the words even came out of his mouth to the judge - "your honor, I'm not prepared...") and when I heard them as I was sitting behind him I realized that meant that I also was not prepared, and I had to take the stand. He had made assumptions about the case without following up on them. I think some of these attorneys just take on stacks of cases to make their money, but have no real desire to spend time with the client helping us to understand - when in reality that may help win the case.

It sounds like you've never met with your attorney in person. Is it possible for you to request a brief meeting in person with him before the hearing? Or as Frances said, e-mail him (but you may not get a response). I would try to calm a bit and think only of the questions or issues that may affect the case at this hearing. Frances did a good job of explaining that in her response. For example, you said you were going for disability based on dual disorders. I don't know what clarity needs to be given to each one (I'm sure not an attorney) but making sure that information is in your attorney's hands would be important. But as Frances said, doctors that aren't treating you right now won't be that relevant, except showing a history of having been treated for a condition, which is done in the records. You just need to know your doctors are saying you're not able to work, and why. I don't think the character stuff is important unless there's been an issue that is challenging your credibility.

The one thing to remember is your attorney wants to win so he gets paid, so focus on what will win the case and any info. you think is not clear that's directly relevant. Things like whatever judge you get you really aren't going to be able to control anyway. But you do want you attorney to have all the information from all your doctors.

I hope you can relax a bit, but I know it's hard.

(((((((DiLane))))))))))

PaLady

DiLane
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 68
   Posted 7/13/2009 11:01 PM (GMT -7)   
((((Hugs to all of YOU)))

Thank you for the kind words, everyone. It means a great deal to me. I guess I'm just afraid that the owner will tell my lawyer that I said he gave me a hard time, and he'll take it out on me. Sounds paranoid, but people do some mean things. Enough of that. Here's my case. I'd appreciate any opinions on my chance of winning.

I'm a 51 year old female. I have severe neck problems. Severe spinal stenosis. high-grade stenoses at levels C5/C6 & C6/C7, DDD and other nasty stuff. I just had an MRI done, and everything has progressed since my last MRI of 1/08. Everything jumped from mild/moderate to severe. I'm seeing a neurosurgeon in September. Two years ago, I wasn't a candidate for surgery, but it wouldn't surprise me if that's changed.

I have Fibromyalgia in a bad way. My entire body hurts, from my feet on up, burning thighs, sore hips, buttocks, everywhere. That started two years ago, and two Rheumatologists and a Psysiatrist have given me a Fibro diagnosis.

I have Osteoarthritis, again all over. I've had that for 10 years.

I suffer from anxiety and depression, stemming mainly from losing my family. My parents became terminally ill in the summer of 2001 and died two months apart in 2002. In 2003, my 49-year old sister died suddenly. My doctor thinks I suffered from PTSD which triggeed the Fibro.

I suffer terribly from pain. My walking is way out of whack. Some days I can't even walk. It's been a nightmare.

That's my story, and unfortunately, I'm stuck with it. I would greatly appreciate any opinions as to my chances. I know I can't work for an hour. It's just a matter of convincing the judge.

Thank you.
Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Chronic Pain, Hyperthyroidism, Cervical spine issues (DDD, spinal stenosis, bulging discs and more!), Depression, Anxiety.
 
Meds -- Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Lyrica, Motrin, Synthroid, Klonopin


Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2283
   Posted 7/13/2009 11:32 PM (GMT -7)   
DiLane,
You can Search the Forum for other people's experience with SSI cases. It seems pretty hit-or-miss to me. Certainly depression & other mental health issues seem to carry more weight with the courts in finding in favor of the person applying for SSI than simple CP cases. A lot of times it seems to take multiple attempts to get the SSI paid. I'm sure others who have made it through the process can better tell you what they've tried, but even at that it seems like 2 people can do exactly the same thing in different states & get 2 completely different outcomes. So I think probably the best you can do is gather as many documents showing your disability as possible, especially mental health disabilities, review those materials thoroughly with your attorney & then hunt for 4-leaf clovers.:)

It seems like those who are rightly owed SSI do eventually get it, but sometimes it is a practice in patience. Hang in there & try not to let the stress of it all get to you too much. Spend some time each day practicing meditation & doing things that are relaxing for you.

Blessings,
Frances
Moderator -- Depression Forum


straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 13470
   Posted 7/14/2009 12:58 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi Dilane,

I cannot add a whole lot here, Frances has done a wonderful job in her posts to you. It is a shame you were spoken to in the manner that you were. High caliber or not, thats no excuse. I have worked in the legal field over 20 years and know that is not how clients are handled when they have questions. In their particular field their clients are their bread and butter. I will say this, I would stop worrying about the atty getting his bvd's in a wad because you said he was rude or whatever. This guy will go to your hearing and do what he was hired to do. He is not going to go in there and sabotage your case, why, because he is not going to risk his license for any client. I think you were right, he probably was in the middle of something else when you called, but that's still no excuse to speak to someone like that.

As for the old man of the group, you can bet he keeps a tally on the wins in his office. He also keeps a reign on who is not winning their cases and I am sure they are short term employees. Like one of them said, if they don't win your case, they do not get paid one penny, so remember that, winning these cases is how he collects his paycheck every week or however their payday is set up. So keep that in mind when you start doubting things. Try to calm yourself the best you can.

I can answer your question about the old PCP. No, a letter from him/her would have no bearing on your claim. Your medical records for care as a result of your disability is the only thing that they are interested in. Character references are not part of a SSD claim.

As for not being able to find out info on the judge, he could be a visiting judge. I know many times we had visiting judges brought in to get some of the back log moved. This happens alot in areas where they are way behind on getting hearings set because of the backlog.

Really, no one here can say if they think you will be awarded benefits. We have no way of knowing that kind of info. As long as your conditions fall under SS guidelines and you have medical evidence to support this, your chances are as good as anyone elses.  

I would just try to calm myself as much as I can. I know in another post of your you spoke of how anxious you were because of the pending hearing. This hearing is informal, no trick questions, so try to relax.


Straydog/Susie
Moderator Chronic Pain
 
crohns disease dx 2002 & small bowel resection, still looking for remission whatever that is, chronic pain 22 yrs, added ulcerative colitis 6-05 to the mix, high blood pressure 28 yrs, aortic heart valve insuffiency, depression, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis lumbar spine, scoliosis lumbar spine, peripheral neuropathy hands & feet, COPD & on oxygen therapy, lupus & decreased circulation in both legs. Swveral other health issues just not enough roo to list it all. Too many surgeries to list and too many medications to list. Currently on 16 different daily medications. Intrathecal pain pump implanted June 05.


Jim1969
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 2042
   Posted 7/14/2009 8:18 AM (GMT -7)   
Unfortunately many people who are very knowledgeable in their fields have a hard time communicating with others who do not share their level of experience and education. You will find this with doctors, lawyers, auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians, etc. It doesn't mean they are incompetent, only that they lack good overall communication skills.

To be honest, in a case like yours, "character" witnesses won't do you any good. The court is only going to care what can be proven, or as Sgt Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, "Just the facts". You have not done anything wrong and you are not on trial.

Just try to relax as much as possible. These people know what they are doing, what needs to be done, and if they agreed to take your case they must think you have a good chance of winning regardless of who the judge may be. Any lawyer who is even remotely competent is going to prepare a case based on a worse case scenario. That way they are ready no matter what may come.
2 confirmed herniated lumbar discs. Spinal Arthritis. Spinal Stenosis, diabetic peripheral nueropathy.


DiLane
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 68
   Posted 7/18/2009 1:59 AM (GMT -7)   
Here's an update. When I got the date for my hearing last month, my lawyer told me that we would speak on the phone just prior to my hearing. He said he would tell me how to answer questions in ways to the judge's liking, etc. He said I would be fully prepared. Shortly thereafter I received a letter from the firm officially informing me of my hearing date. There's a paragraph that reads exactly as this:
 
I need to go over your case with you on the phone several days before the hearing. Please call us today to schedule this telephone conference with me. The conference needs to be just prior to the hearing because by then I will have reviewed all the medical records and the papers we will have copied from the file at Social Security. It is very important you that are available to us by phone so that the preparation of your case can be done. Please let us know if have more than one phone number for reaching you.
 
Per instruction, I called to schedule my conference call, and my lawyer told me we didn't need to schedule just then. I would have felt better having it scheduled, but I didn't say anything. Today, I received the exact same letter, only that paragraph is not there. All the new letter does is tell me where and when to meet my lawyer on the day of the hearing. It's an hour and 15 minutes before the hearing. The previous letter stated the same thing.
 
I called to speak with my lawyer and was told he was on the phone. It was almost 4 (that's when I got my mail). Another lawyer answered. I asked him to please ask my lawyer to return my call. He asked was what it was regarding. I told him that my hearing date is less than two weeks away, and I'd like to schedule my conference call. My lawyer did not return my call. I find this strange because the letter was a duplicate, minus that important paragraph. The letter looks "complete", with Time, Date, Address of Hearing, Judge's name, and when and where to meet my lawyer. What happened to that "very important telephone conference"? It has a "See you then" type of look to it. This lawyer is difficult to get a hold of, so what if he dodges me, and I don't get my conference? This is not the way I envisioned this happen.
 
Thoughts please? I hope I'm overreacting. Something tells me I'm not.


Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Chronic Pain, Hyperthyroidism, Cervical spine issues (DDD, spinal stenosis, bulging discs and more!), Depression, Anxiety.
 
Meds -- Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Lyrica, Motrin, Synthroid, Klonopin


straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 13470
   Posted 7/18/2009 9:53 AM (GMT -7)   
Does your atty have a paralegal? If so, then call her on Monday andtell her you have the letter stating to call for the phone conference and you would like to schedule it. If you are told by her its too soon to schedule it, then ask what date would she suggest you call back to get it scheduled. My thinking is, since they prep their clients this way they try to leave his calendat open for clients that have hearings set before yours. I feel he will talk with you & prep you within a couple of days of the hearing so it will be fresh in your mind. We scheduled our clients to come in like that it was fresh in their minds what was discussed. I do not believe he is on the dodge, busy yes, Again, he has some one higher up to answer to on the cases and losing a case when thats where their bread & butter is, he best have a very good explanantion, personality conflict is not a good reason, if one exists. He will prepare your case like any other clients and look out for your best interest. Like I said before he will not risk his bar card for you or any other client, he worked too hard in school to get it. Law school is not easy by a long shot. Try to relax the best you can, you are letting anxiety eat you alive on this on this one. Stop the what if's its eating your lunch,lol.
Straydog/Susie
Moderator Chronic Pain
 
crohns disease dx 2002 & small bowel resection, still looking for remission whatever that is, chronic pain 22 yrs, added ulcerative colitis 6-05 to the mix, high blood pressure 28 yrs, aortic heart valve insuffiency, depression, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis lumbar spine, scoliosis lumbar spine, peripheral neuropathy hands & feet, COPD & on oxygen therapy, lupus & decreased circulation in both legs. Several other health issues just not enough room to list it all. Too many surgeries to list and too many medications to list. Currently on 16 different daily medications. Intrathecal pain pump implanted June 05.


PAlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 7/18/2009 12:49 PM (GMT -7)   
But Susie, if this lawyer is so busy, why wouldn't they at least schedule the phone conference? I mean, they could just schedule the day if not a time, if he wasn't sure what his schedule was.

I know you've got tons of experience here, and I really to defer to that, but since I had a bad experience with a law firm similar to DiLane's and my lawyer (and therefore, me) wasn't prepared it was a mess. But not messy enough to make for a huge complaint, if you know what I'm saying. Even after it was over (and my lawyer recommended I withdraw the complaint since we would likely lose) my lawyer said "maybe" he hadn't been the best lawyer. Maybe???

Anyway, I guess I kind of sympathize with DiLane, and don't completely trust that with so many cases to handle, if a lawyer maybe sense a client asks too many questions (like we don't have a right to?) and just doesn't blindly trust him/her, one lost case out of hundreds is no big deal.

I think some law firms - and this is only my opinon, as I don't have the knowledge you do - take on tons of cases and that way if they lose some or let some slide it's no big deal.

Maybe I'm off base. Hopefully, the paralegal can at least talk with DiLane and help her understand how it's going to work and so she can feel comfortable she'll at least get a chance to talk to this guy.

PaLady

DiLane
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 68
   Posted 7/18/2009 5:14 PM (GMT -7)   
There's no reason that my lawyer can't schedule my telephone conference, no matter what he has going on. My case is around the corner. As I stated, the entire paragraph regarding the telephone conference was omitted from the letter. The letter ended stating that he would see me on the day of my hearing, and included directions and a map how to get there. I've worked with lawyers before. I was the executrix of my parent's estate. That firm saved my parent's home from Medicaid, as they were both in a nursing home. Each lawyer was nicer than the last one.
Also, the higher up that my lawyer answers to is the one who was rude to me on the phone last week. I never asked a lot of questions, only the ones I stated in my original post. Three questions in all. I've done nothing wrong here.
If I sound serious, it's because this is a serious matter, and there's a lot at stake. With all due respect, I defer to myself and my good instincts. I worked in a corporate setting for 20+ years. Something is wrong here. In a separate letter yesterday, they sent a copy of our financial contract, with my signature, "For your records". I have a copy of all the paperwork involving my case, in a file in my desk. They sent it to me last year. Also, all of their correspondence is signed by the owner of the company, even if it's from my lawyer; or at least it bears his name. I was looking at the paperwork from the firm last year. Every single paper was signed, "Very truly yours". Both letters yesterday were signed, for the first time, "Sincerely". Just something I noticed that could mean nothing.
I have been hurt and betrayed by loved ones in ways people can't imagine. Someone once told me that I belong on Oprah. My husband worked for his parents for over 40 years, for peanuts. He was always told that they were all "working towards the future". Killed himself in their restaurant, 12-hours days, only Mondays off, and took care of their numerous properties. As tenants would leave, he would do apartments over, handle the rentals. His mother is still alive, living in a mansion, collecting huge sums of rental income. When my husband finally told his mother, almost six years ago, that it was his time, she told him that it was all hers. He never got anything in writing, so he was out. Every word I just wrote is true. I know it's said that nobody can take advantage of you without your permission; however, my husband had blind faith in his parents. His sisters and everyone sided with the Queen, and they even badmouth him, with lies. He's in his late 60s nows, has a body racked with pain, and only a SS check for retirement.
Years ago, I furnished my nephew and his wife's condo. This is my late sister's son. I quietly bought her engagement ring, gave them a car, money, etc. When I got sick and the money was gone, they dumped me. This broke my heart, as I have no family. I have other stories, but I'll show mercy and stop, lol. The point to this is that I believe that anything is possible when it comes to people. You bet I'm cynical. I believe it's possible these lawyers could throw me under the bus and hide their tracks. My case isn't that profitable, and I'm not exactly dealing with gentlemen here.
Thanks for listening.


Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Chronic Pain, Hyperthyroidism, Cervical spine issues (DDD, spinal stenosis, bulging discs and more!), Depression, Anxiety.
 
Meds -- Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Lyrica, Motrin, Synthroid, Klonopin

Post Edited (DiLane) : 7/18/2009 6:19:57 PM (GMT-6)


PAlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 7/18/2009 5:22 PM (GMT -7)   
DiLane,
This would make me uneasy, too. If there's a paralegal at the firm you could talk to, maybe that's better than nothing.

Sending you a copy of the signed agreement to me says they want to remind you that you can't get another attorney without consequences. Just my opinion though. The lousy lawyer I had ended up charging me $200 for the transcript of the first hearing where he wasn't prepared. And it was a "cost" not part of the fee, so I had to pay it. Learned the hard way.

I get this is a big deal for you DiLane. My SSD application is to me, too. I guess my bad experience is why I'm doing everything I possibly can to try to go it without an attorney, even though I've got to learn a lot on my own. Can't hurt. If I get denied a couple of times then I may change my mind.

I do wish you all the best!

PaLady

Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2283
   Posted 7/18/2009 10:28 PM (GMT -7)   
DiLane,
Nobody can tell you what to do. If you are not comfortable, you need to either work that out with your attorney, or find other representation.
But as far as why it is slightly different from the previous letters, my best guess would be that a different person prepared the letter. It sounds like the attorney decided to meet you prior to the hearing. If I were preparing a letter for an attorney who said to send out a form letter telling the client he would like to meet with the client face-to-face for an hour or so before trial, I would delete the standard language about calling to set up a phone conference b/c the face time would replace the phone conference, so that may explain that.
As for the signature, that really is decided by the secretary, not by the attorney & it means absolutely nothing. Older secretaries were trained to sign law firm letters "very truly yours", newer secretaries often use less archaic sounding language. But the way the letter is signed is never, ever contains any kind of hidden message about how the attorney feels about you. The attorney does not choose the closing. He might not even see the letters before they are sent out since it is considered routine correspondence & most law secretaries would either just sign the letter for the attorney or would put a couple dozen letters on the attorney's desk with flags showing where to sign. I really wouldn't read anything at all into the closing. If your attorney was unhappy with you, I'd say you'd hear so in so many words. Attorneys do not beat around the bush. They do not pretend that things are okay when they're not. Sometimes they can be accused of being too brusque, harsh, forward or so forth, but it would be really unusual for an attorney to be dishonest.
If your attorney is being dishonest, you need to cut your losses & fire him. A lying attorney is a guarantee of many problems. It doesn't sound like your attorney has been dishonest with you, but like I said, only you can make that determination.

I would say that a new secretary could explain why you got a copy of the contract as well. When I started my last job, the prior secretary had not kept good records of what letters, documents, copies, etc. had been sent out to which clients. In some cases I could figure it out, in others, I had to just send out those items again to the clients b/c there was no telling whether they had ever gotten copies that were owed to them. I suppose I could have called all of those clients, but that would have taken a lot of time. The clients all want updates on their cases; I didn't have access to updates as a secretary so then they would launch into lengthy explanations of their cases & ask my opinion, which of course I couldn't give; after a few of those, I decided it would be much more efficient to just mail out anything there weren't records of to the clients & sort out any resulting confusion later. As it turned out, many clients don't even keep copies of things so they really didn't even know whether or not they had ever received a copy in the first place.

Susie does have a good suggestion about talking with a paralegal. And if you feel the paralegal is not good enough, then keep calling the law office until you talk to your attorney. If you make at least 3 documented attempts to call your attorney, each time giving him at least a 24-hour period to return your phone call, then you can report the issue to your local Bar Association. You can find your local bar listed on http://www.abanet.org

Hope everything works out for you.

peace,
Frances
Moderator -- Depression Forum


DiLane
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 68
   Posted 7/18/2009 11:00 PM (GMT -7)   
Just for clarification, Frances. The original letter stated that we would have a telephone conference for coaching a few days before the hearing, and also meet an hour and 15 minutes before the hearing. That's the letter I received last month. The letter I received yesterday mentioned only the time before the hearing, and the telephone conference was not mentioned. The letter closed with "We'll meet.......", with directions and a map. The letter was final, and the "very important" telephone conference was gone.
This firm doesn't have secretaries They have paralegals, who may prepare the letters, or the lawyers often prepare a quick letter. As I stated, the way it was signed may or may not indicate something. I find it odd that every single previous letter was signed, 'Very truly yours' while both letters that I received yesterday were signed 'Sincerely'.
I disagree on signatures. I saw it myself for many years. If my boss really liked a client, the signature would reflect that, while difficult clients' letters were signed a very simple 'Sincerely'. I think it's too late to change lawyers, and I do have a contract.
Next week will be very telling, and I truly hope things shake out well for me. Thank you for your thoughts and well wishes, Frances.
PaLady, thanks for seeing what I see. It's just good to hear the opinion of someone who got screwed. I'm sorry for what happened to you. It happens every day. I'm not shooting the moon here. They're taking away my preparation time. The time before the hearing is to go over the file, not for coaching. The way things are going, my lawyer probably won't show up, lol. What a thought.


Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Chronic Pain, Hyperthyroidism, Cervical spine issues (DDD, spinal stenosis, bulging discs and more!), Depression, Anxiety.
 
Meds -- Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Lyrica, Motrin, Synthroid, Klonopin


straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 13470
   Posted 7/19/2009 7:37 AM (GMT -7)   

Dilane,

Please do not think I am defending your atty, by no means am I doing that. If it were me I would have fired them probably a week after I met with them or most likely not hired them to begin with. No, this is not how we treated a client, no there was never a "prep" by phone for anything, my boss hated the phone. You wanted to talk to him, you called me and I gave you an appt, real simple. In 18 yrs my boss never scheduled an appt for anything, thats what he hired me to do and he would tell you to call back and ask for me simply because he did not know how to put a call on hold & transfer the phone call lol.  The man had no clue how to operate the phone system at the office, other than to place a call out or pick up a call and alot of times that was done wrong with alot of cussing & hollering because he screwed it up lol. True story. I made his haircut appts, his dr appt, I scheduled his surgery because of colon cancer, I scheduled his life. We were very laid back in office, our waiting room was fulll every morning, he worked till noon every day and thats its. He owned the place and we had our trial layers who handled litigation. We had two sections in the firm, pre-lit & lit. He & I were prelit. He never typed, wrote or dictated a letter in 18 yrs either that I worked for him, let alone sign a letter. He never read a letter, thats what he paid me to do lol. He paid me very well to take care of him and his practice. Litigation the same way. Our attys were taken care of and so was our clients. I settled cases, I was  a licensed insurance adjuster (he sent me to school) which alot of plaintiff firms started doing in the 80's. I knew how to evaulate a claim. Our clients trusted us very much, if a client had a problem it generally got resolved, if not then no one would ever make that person happy and there are those kinds out there.

Furthermore, I do not agree with how your atty's office handles things, but my answer to that is every office is different on how they do things. Lawyers good or bad have one thing in common, they are greedy just like drs. Losing a case is a big deal, especially in a place like that when as I said its their bread & butter. Rude or not they do not want to lose a case. Frances hit on some good points about how many offices run things, I know how we did and it was not like that. I would probably never make a good client because I know how I would expect to be treated, the way I treated our clients. They spent more time with me than they did my boss ,lol. They trusted me and I heard more personal problems than I should have, but I would always listen, If I did not have an answer I got the answer for them. I realize not all offices do this too. In other words our clients were our paychecks and we handled them with kid gloves. We did not advertise on tv, thats repulsive the ones that do, we did not take out a $60,000 ad in the yellow pages, his business was built on word of mouth.

I know PaLady apparently had a bad experience with an atty and that happens. I can tell you or anyone else, there are no two cases alike, no for sure cases, no slam-dunk cases, each case has a different set of facts and the cases are won based on the merits of the case. We did take some cases that were denied in the very beginning but with the understanding that did not mean hiring the atty was an instant win, We had to take the case to a full blown trial with a jury of 12 people. Those 12 people decided the fate of the claim. They would either win or pour us out. If we lost, then the firm lost money, it was the firms money funding the case, So, we were very selective in what we took in. Most SS attys do not take cases on unless they feel they can win at the hearing level. This is just good business sense. Why take a case on that you don't think you can win, that makes no sense and it is costing that firm money. Granted I would not be happy like you over how this meeting business is turning out, but knowing from a business side I still say the guy will do you a good job at the hearing. You don't throw good money after bad.
 
I will tell anyone, if you ever need an atty-do your homework. There are many ways of checking out attys. Most towns have a local bar association that does nothing but give out names of atty that handle different types of cases. You call in and tell them what you need, they give you names & phones numbers of attys that handle that particular type of work. Stick with a board certified atty. That means he is certified in his field, he does continuing education courses that keeps his certification up and I am not talking about online courses either. Do not sign one sheet of paper unless it has been fully explained to you, you must read it, if you are unsure ask to take the paperwork home to review and then you can read it and take your time. Then call to bring the paperwork in and always ask for a copy of what you signed, you are entitled to it. Do not let someone hurry you along on signing anything either.
 
Dilane I agree, its probably too late to change attys. I think you would have a difficult time finding an atty to come aboard on such short notice. I would not ask to have my hearing canceled because its up to the judge to agree to it and they do not like canceling hearings because of the backlog.  
 
Personally I would much rather meet with the atty in person to go over my SS claim rather than a telephone conference. i don't believe in those, sorry. I would be more interested in meeting him in person. Yes, form letters are a must and I did change up how I ended the letters. One day may be one way and different the next, I had no rule on how to end the letter. A paralegal is pretty much the same as a secretary difference being of schooling and they get paid more money. Many firms hire paralegals only based on their education, now a days the market is flooded with paralegals looking for work. I was a paralegal and I had a secretary. Nine times out of ten he has never seen those letters he just knows they exist. Unless its a one person operation attys do not type letters.  The calendar was our lifeline and my secretary was not allowed to jack with it, I took care of it.
 
All and all I still think he will do a good job at the hearing unless he is a slime ball which you should have picked up on at the first meeting.  I wish I could help you more.
 



Straydog/Susie
Moderator Chronic Pain
 
crohns disease dx 2002 & small bowel resection, still looking for remission whatever that is, chronic pain 22 yrs, added ulcerative colitis 6-05 to the mix, high blood pressure 28 yrs, aortic heart valve insuffiency, depression, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis lumbar spine, scoliosis lumbar spine, peripheral neuropathy hands & feet, COPD & on oxygen therapy, lupus & decreased circulation in both legs. Several other health issues just not enough room to list it all. Too many surgeries to list and too many medications to list. Currently on 16 different daily medications. Intrathecal pain pump implanted June 05.

Post Edited (straydog) : 7/19/2009 8:52:10 AM (GMT-6)

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