Update on How to Get the Best Representation… Beware!
How to Get the Best Representation
Why You Need A Florida Bar Licensed Attorney
Is your representative an attorney? This seems to be a silly question but often those who we meet with either do not know or mistakenly think their representative is an attorney when the representative actually is NOT! Also many individuals we see with Social Security claims may mistakenly have a representative not licensed in the State of Florida.
Beware that some Florida law firms are sending paralegals, NOT an attorney, to Hearings before the SSA. We believe for a Florida law firm to advertise that they do Social Security claims and then send a file clerk or paralegal with you to a hearing is unethical and misleading. We reiterate if you do not initially meet with the attorney who will be representing you then you should seek other representation!
Because the Social Security claim is a Federal/ “administrative claim” the law allows for less stringent guidelines, then the State of Florida for example, for those to represent you in your legal proceedings up to the “Hearing” level. Unfortunately the less stringent Federal/administrative standards often mislead claimant’s in regards to representative qualifications. The Social Security Protection Act of 2004 has attempted to partially regulate those non-attorney representatives however, implementation will be a long process and is less than remedial at best.
The Three Step common sense approach to choosing a representative is an easy checklist: (1) You should meet with the attorney who will be representing you! If you do not meet with the actual attorney and have not discussed the “strategy” of winning your claim then you may want to seek other counsel; (2) Review the representative’s qualifications, is he or she licensed in the State of Florida? How many Social Security cases has the representative personally handled?; (3) Does your representative have offices where you can see him/her when there are issues about the claim, such as for a pre-hearing interview and for the “legal brief” that should be submitted to the Judge prior to your hearing. Often claimant’s may not speak to and/or see their representative until the hearing which can cause serious ramifications in regards to the decision. Also a legal brief should be submitted to the Judge prior to the hearing. Ask your representative if he/she will be submitting a “legal brief” to the Judge!
The Florida Bar exists to protect you from unethical, unqualified and improperly trained representation. It exists for your protection and can act as a mediator and yes, complaint department when attorney-client problems arise. Failing to have a Florida Bar Licensed Attorney will not allow you to utilize the “safety net” of the Florida Bar procedures for your protection.
If you are wondering whether your representative is a Florida Bar licensed attorney you can call us at 813-657-9175 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 813-657-9175 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or e-mail us from this site and/or go to www.FLABAR.org and look your representative up on that website. Do not assume that if your representative is with a law firm that he or she is an attorney, VERIFY IT, flabar.org.
By: David W. Magann, Esq.