My NOSSCR Journey

My NOSSCR Journey

As I begin writing this it was 39 years ago that a letter appeared in Trial Magazine asking if anyone was interested in attending a meeting in New Orleans for attorneys who represented individuals on Social Security Disability claims. What precipitated the letter was the worry about this new concept being introduced called “sequential evaluation.”

Steve Babitsky wrote the letter and he, Rudolph Patterson, now deceased and Cliff Weisberg were the founding fathers of the journey we are all on called NOSSCR. I called Steve when I received the magazine, answered a few questions, and was invited to speak on workers’ compensation offsets. At that first meeting we had no schedule; people were asked when they were ready to speak and then presented.

We had a short business meeting, chose the name we currently have, and selected Steve’s young associate, Nancy Shor as our executive director. We decided to have another meeting six months from then in Boston.

The practices grew as the Reagan Administration tried to terminate 500,000 people per year while making it more difficult for people to win their initial applications. CBS was interested in this issue and interviewed me and several of my clients. One of them appeared with me and host Bill Moyer on TV. . The show was a big hit, the Reagan Administration demanded but was not granted “equal time” to respond which was sometimes required then and the issue of terminations was brought before the nation. My client, whose benefits had been terminated, was reinstated three days after the show aired.

NOSSCR’s membership kept growing and we were listened to in Congress and by the administration. That is because we were always demanding what was best for the claimant, including those who were unrepresented. This helped us be listened to in Congress, by the Administration and by the non-profit partners we were creating throughout the country. Our commitment to the disabled population carried us proudly in many directions.

In the late 80’s Social Security tried to get viscous. They came up with a plan to require the appeal to show every issue that was being appealed and nothing that was not listed on the form or attached memo would be considered. I spoke with the associate commissioner of Social Security several times about this. She was adamant that in any legal proceedings you need to state your cause of action and stick to it and we should follow those rules at Social Security. We were having trouble making her understand that often someone came to us; we filed the appeal, then, after obtaining the evidence, found out all of the conditions that were disabling our clients. Gathering evidence often demonstrated additional reasons for the appeal. Requiring us to blindly state the reasons was unfair let alone what it would do to the unrepresented claimant.

Somehow, the New York Times got a copy of an inter-office memo explaining why the plan would be implemented and wrote a front-page article about the unfair plans of the Social Security Administration. Congress held emergency hearings on the appellate procedures of Social Security and this unfair plan was finally put to rest. We thought our journey would quiet down at that time in the early 90’s but we should have known better. The administration brought up a plan to say they would only consider the conditions alleged on the initial application. If any new conditions were alleged later a new application would have to be filed and the claimant would forfeit the benefits from the initial application until the second one was filed. We once again tried to explain to Social Security that this would be unfair to most claimants because they didn’t know to put every single problem they had on their application. The response was, “Well, people will just have to hire you to file for disability.” Once again, we used our resources to demonstrate how unfair this would be to claimants and the plan, although still considered now by a few people in Congress, was finally scrapped.

It was at this time that I began discussing the possibility of not filing fee petitions on every claim. The Government Accounting Office determined, after a six-month study, the amount of employee hours spent on approving fee petitions with absolutely no savings to the government. They found a miniscule amount of complaints filed regarding fees and we helped create the current fee agreement system. It was anticipated that the maximum fee would increase regularly. When this plan was first implemented no one thought that the fees would remain stagnant as they have.

We next addressed the problem of the delays in processing claims. Social Security had only paper files at the time and its computer system would not handle anything else. It was determined that about 75% of the delay was because the files were constantly on trucks between the district office, Baltimore and the State Agency. Walking into the Social Security Building in Baltimore was amazing to see files everywhere. You couldn’t imagine the disorder at headquarters.

Four years later Susan Brown (no relation) took on the challenge of making Social Security paperless. Through this, NOSSCR had been telling Social Security how much more efficient it will be when this happens.

From 1993 through 1998 we were told that any day Social Security would change its policy and allow firms instead of only individuals to represent claimants on disability claims. We were then told it wouldn’t be any day but it would be soon. I was told recently that OGC was asked to write a position paper on this matter to present to the Administration.

It was at this time, while I was on my firm’s journey and NOSSCR was on its, I had my own frightening scare. The night before I was to leave for New York City for a hearing, I got a headache that was worse than anything you can imagine. In spite of that, I went to the hearing and then went to New Hampshire the next day to visit my daughter.. When I got home I went to an ER where I was misdiagnosed and treated for migraines and meningitis. Eventually I learned that aneurysms had ruptured and when they opened my scalp they fixed of them. I was told prior to surgery I would have less than a five percent chance of surviving the surgery and would probably never work again.

I was in my office two hours a day six weeks after the surgery. Nine weeks after my surgery I attended the NOSSCR’s conference in New York City although I really don’t remember it. But I was a loyal NOSSCR person faithful to our journey.

While all the issues with the administration were going, on the idea of a user fee (which was first thought of in 1982 to be imposed both on represented claimants and their attorneys) was brought up again. It would be charged only to attorneys (non-attorneys did not have withheld fees at this time). We marshalled all of our resources, used all of our “clout” to explain why this was unfair to claimants and killed the idea. Then one day, with no warning, as the budget was being debated in Congress, the user fee was introduced at 6 p.m. and passed overwhelmingly at 6:10 p.m.

We decided that it was time to become more politically active and NOSSCR members began to start collecting political contributions. We made this a bipartisan issue with Democrats contributing to Republicans and Republicans contributing to Democrats.

We held fundraisers for all of the major players in the House and Senate. Some spoke at our conferences or in meetings with NOSSCR members. At this time, we also began talking about expanding withholding to SSI claims by showing members of Congress how many more claimants were represented on Title II claims than on SSI. We finally had the votes in Congress and withholding was won in a bill that also reduced the user fee.

All of this was done in a bipartisan way by showing how we were helping claimants. The NOSSCR journey of doing what is best for the claimant always helps our clients which help the representative. We proved we can make things happen when we show those who make the decisions that we are helping them as well as our clients.

We of course cannot forget the drug and alcohol battle. In the beginning, even those with substance addictions could receive disability benefits. The law then changed to limit them to a maximum of three years of benefits if they were in treatment. Before results could be reviewed on this law, a new law passed that prevented payment of benefits if substance abuse was a material factor contributing to the finding of disability. Shortly after, former Congressman Jim Bunning (R-KY) who was then chair of the Social Security committee stated that, “No one is disabled they are just not motivated. And if they are disabled God is punishing them so why should the government give them any money.” Every December I sent Congressman Bunning a letter that began, “Dear Congressman Bunning: My God forgives your God for doing this to my clients…” and I would then give him descriptions of my most horrific cases of the year (i.e. The nurse bitten by an aids patient who became HIV positive whose husband was hit by a car crossing a street and her son had stage four cancer). Every January former Congressman Steve LaTourette (R-Oh) would call laughing about how upset Bunning was with my letter.

The same battles continue for NOSSCR members on this journey. The Administration still talks of changing the appeal rules. The chair of the Social Security subcommittee in Congress would like disability to be a listings only requirement for claimants to receive payment. The President is trying to change the way judges are hired and take away their job security. The rate of claim approval has gone down dramatically in the last five years.

Our journey must continue to stand up for what we believe is right. Our challenge though, is to continue doing what is best for the claimant, knowing that if we do, our income will be satisfactory.

Unfortunately, Eric Conn created a new challenge for all of us. We are all climbing the Conn Mountain with no peak in sight. His actions created mistrust by Administrative Law Judges, Social Security personnel and politicians throughout the country. They scrutinize each of us as if we could be clones of Conn. It is incumbent upon each of us to continue practicing at the highest standards. To the best of my knowledge there are no other Eric Conns practicing Social Security. NOSSCR members are all repulsed by what he did and many have stepped forward to take care of the claimants harmed by his illegal actions. Once again, NOSSCR members are doing what is best for the claimant. A tradition we can be proud of. That is what Social Security representatives continue to do on their journey to help deserving claimants.

What is next on our journey to advocate for the rights of the disabled? One senator thinks that no one should be allowed to receive more than three years of disability benefits. Another thinks the system should be privatized and a disabled person should only be able to draw out the amount that has been put in from deductions from their pay and matched by their employer. Another thinks that smokers, like people with drug and alcohol addictions, should not be eligible for disability. A proposal in the budget would eliminate direct payment of attorney fees. I cannot even imagine what else people in Congress who do not believe in Social Security would like to do to our clients.

Our NOSSCR journey demands that we always stand up for the individuals who need our help.

The pride Cliff Weisberg, Steve Babitsky and Rudolf Patterson had as they watched NOSSCR grow is something that everyone in the practice must take note of; work to continue their legacy and that of everyone who attended that first meeting 39 years ago; and constantly remember that what we are doing for our clients changes lives.

In my consulting I often ask people what they like best about their clients. Social Security attorneys give an answer that no one else gives. Work comp lawyers, PI attorneys, criminal lawyers, estate planning, no one but Social Security lawyers respond this way. They tell me what they like best about their clients is the hugs.

Representing people on disability claims provides a satisfaction to an attorney that goes beyond just being successful. The journey, when done properly, envelops a feeling, a way of life and a standard of respect for everyone you come in contact. Be proud of your own journey but stand tall and with NOSSCR on its journey to help our clients, our practices and justice in the Social Security world. That’s why we created NOSSCR 39 years ago. We are the main defenders of respect and dignity for our clients. We cannot ever forget that NOSSCR began a journey for the claimants to be treated fairly, represented properly and respected by a system that is so large it has trouble remembering that it is dealing every day with human lives.

Stay on this journey because helping the people you help, the families that need your representation, and the system that is much better for your advocacy, benefits from the journey our organization began 39 years ago.

How to Find Clients as a New Lawyer: Intake Consultation

As a new lawyer working to establish a name for yourself you have a lot of responsibilities. Not only do you have to provide your clients with top-quality service, you have to do it while keeping the lights on and paying those who work for you. Of course, the only way this can happen is having a steady stream of clients who need your help. If you’re unsure about how to make this happen — and, for most new lawyers, this is a real concern — then you might want to consider scheduling an intake consultation with Attorney Consultant, Inc..

Finding New Clients

What is an Intake Consultation?

An intake consultation with Attorney Consultation, Inc. is the perfect way to help new lawyers when it comes to finding new clients. While you may be an expert when it comes to the law, that doesn’t mean that you’re strong in marketing skills. Attorney Consultation, Inc. can help in a number of ways.

Client Intake

The first step when dealing with any client is connect with them in the first place. An intake consultation examines your marketing practices and offers suggestions and strategies from which your firm could benefit. Getting clients to walk through your door, or to pick up the phone and call, is the first step.

Intake Procedures

Once you have connected with the clients, it’s important that you are able to smoothly incorporate their cases into your firm’s current workload. This means quickly processing new clients, taking their initial information and performing the necessary follow-up. Attorney Consultant, Inc. has helped many firms over the years streamline their intake process to help efficiently bring in new clients and get them the help they need.

All in all, finding new clients is the only way that a new lawyer can expect to see his or her firm prosper and grow. Once you connect with those clients, though, the next couple of days are crucial. Talking with the clients, learning the particulars of their case, and getting the necessary resources in place to give them the attention their case deserves.

If you would like to know more about Attorney Consultant, Inc., or how an intake consultation can help your new firm reach out to clients, please don’t hesitate to contact us in order to schedule an intake consultation today.

How to Attract New Clients for Your Law Practice

As a lawyer in a law firm, your business relies on your ability to attract new clients. In order to do this, it is similar to other businesses. You need to have an effective marketing plan. This includes effective branding, website and referral network. It’s also important to specify your area of expertise. Many law practices specialize and focus on only certain kinds of cases. This will help drive your business into greater success.

New Clients

How to attract new clients:

– Build a great website.

A great website will help your law firm stand out from all the others. Work with a graphic designer to help you with colors, layout and branding. You want your website to function well and highlight the most important information about you and your law practice in order to attract new clients.

– Update your blog regularly with relevant topics.

Once your website is in place, make sure to keep it updated. You need to update your blog with relevant information on a regular basis. Focus on topics that are relevant to your clients. Make sure not to focus too much on selling in this area. You want to keep them coming back because your content here is interesting.

– Engage with people through social media.

Social media is a powerhouse for businesses. Make sure to engage with people here and answer any questions within 24 hours.

– Build a great LinkedIn page.

In addition to potential clients researching you on your website, they may also look into your LinkedIn profile. Make sure this is updated and contains information about your legal expertise.

– Offer free webinars.

By offering free webinars, it will entice people to interact with you. If you can teach them something, they will remember you and are more likely to work with you in the future.

– Ask for referrals and give referrals.

Ask your past and current clients for referrals. If you make sure to do a great job with all your clients, they will be more likely to recommend you to others they know. If you have someone contact you who has a case that isn’t in your field of expertise, refer them to a law practice that specializes in that field. This will help you stand out and show that you care about people instead of just your bottom line.

By putting effort in with different areas of your business, you will help it grow. Make sure you have a great website and referrals to back you up and you will attract new clients to your law practice.

Intake Law Consultation

Intake Law consultations are incredibly important in your law firm. This is the first in-person interaction with a potential client. A well established process should be in place for efficient decision making.

Good screening requires thorough and accurate information. It gives you the opportunity to evaluate the case, as well as the client. The client intake consultation can begin with the initial phone conversation.

intake law consultation	Client Intake Forms

You know that you need forms for client intake. Ensure your intake forms are of high quality. You should incorporated a template document requiring the essential information, as to not forget to document anything important.

Incoming Call Forms

A client may call you to inquire about their case. It is advised that you have a specific form for the person taking the call to document information. The data gathered during the call should be thorough enough to make a decision on whether or not the firm will want to take the case.

Processes and procedures should be in place to gather necessary information quickly. A quick response to the client is crucial, therefore the phone client intake process needs to be efficient. Make sure that all necessary information is gathered in order to respond to the client in a timely manner.

Office Forms

These are the forms that you will want to gather concrete and personal information such as: social security numbers, legal names (both past and present), spouse names and other necessary but sensitive information. This is the information that cannot be received from a phone conversation.

Intake Evaluation

There are many questions and concerns that need to be addressed during the consultation and afterward during the evaluation period. You need to ensure that the case is desirable for your firm. You also need to consider the client that you will be representing.

There are many reasons to not take a case. Be aware of your natural and professional instincts. You may not agree with the client’s decisions. If you think the client is lying, then you should not represent them. If the matter is outside of your expertise, you may not want to take the case.

Client intake law consultations are crucial in all law firms. When you consult with a law firm consultant, they can advise you with the best client intake practices. They have the experience and the knowledge to provide you with efficient intake strategies.

Lawyers’ Contingency Fee Agreement

Have you recently been injured? Do you have money owed to you? You need an attorney’s knowledge and experience to help you win your case, but you may not know how you will pay for it. There is a law firm contingency fee agreement that allows you to get the representation that you need to win your case.

law firm contingency fee agreement

Contingency Fee A law firm contingency fee occurs when a lawyer agrees to take a case and receive payment only when it is won. That is correct! You do not have to pay the lawyer until they have won your case and put money in your pocket. If the case is not won, then the lawyer does not get paid. A law firm contingency fee agreement will benefit you when you do not have the funds to pay the attorney up front.

Cases that Qualify

Whether or not an attorney offers a contingency fee agreement is completely up to them. There are many cases that can qualify for this agreement.

1) Car accidents.

2) Work accidents.

3) Personal injuries.

4) Unemployment.

5) SSI Disability.

These are just a few cases that may qualify for this type of payment agreement. If you are in one of these situations, you should definitely consult with an attorney. Even if you do not see your legal situation on this short list, you should still contact legal assistance. It is best to consult with a lawyer regarding your own personal case.

There are also legal situations that will not be available for this agreement:


1) Immigration.

2) Legal separations or divorce.

3) Business.

4) Copyrights.

There are many other situations that do not qualify. Again, contact legal assistance with any questions, as consultations are usually complementary.


The fees that lawyers charge will vary. However, the most common contingency fee is 33%. Some lawyers charge more, but you may find one that actually charges less. The fee is entirely determined by the attorney. They should disclose their fee during your initial consultation with them.


There are many benefits when you work with a law firm’s contingency agreement. You may not have the money to pay the lawyer, but this agreement allows you to receive representation when you need it most. You will have an experienced attorney working on your behalf.

Since the lawyer is taking a risk with your case using the contingency fee agreement, they will only accept your case if they believe that they will win it. You should know during the consultation, or shortly after, if your case has been accepted. Contact a lawyer today to ask about their contingency agreement.

Don’t Rely on General Business Advice for Getting Legal Clients

One of the most vital things that an attorney needs to do for their practice is bringing in new clients. Turning a prospect into a client is not always the easiest thing to do, especially for a new practice. One of the ways that an attorney can improve how they bring in new clients is by attending intake workshops for attorneys. This attorney consultant intake workshop can change the way that you prospect and sign clients.

Business Advice for Getting Legal Clients Why Attend Intake Workshops for Attorneys

There are all types of professional development courses available to business owners that can help them to bring in more clients. These classes are all well and good, but attending a workshop geared towards attorneys will make it easier to apply what you learn to your business. You won’t have to piece together how to best fit the information given to a general business to your law practice. This attorney consultant intake workshop will focus solely on how your law office can improve.

Who Should Attend?

Any attorney that is looking to fill out more of their schedule by bringing in more clients can be benefitted by attending this intake workshop. It can change that way that your practice runs entirely just by tweaking how you are currently handling your daily tasks. This workshop is also a great tool for your team to learn. Send in the advocates or support staff to give them better tools in running the law office more effectively.

What Can You Learn

Over the eight hours of the workshop, you’ll learn several different techniques that will help you to find clients better. We look at what you do as prospecting to harvest better leads that turn into clients. You may be doing something ineffectively with how you respond to people that respond to your office. Some of the tips that you’ll learn about include how to better respond to people that call your office, how to better respond to Internet leads that come in from your advertising and website, and how to capture people’s attention when they try contacting your office at times when your office is closed. Each of these actions can change the narrative, and help to harvest that prospect into a client. This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg in how you can maximize your legal practice.

Register Soon

The time is now to change the way that your practice brings in new clients. Keep your schedule full with clients with just a few tweaks to the way that you do things. Register today for an upcoming attorney consultant intake workshop to change your life.

How Can Law Firm Management Services Benefit My Firm?

Managing clients, operations, marketing, and new business development is challenging for any organization. Law firms that are already busy handling a high volume of clients and cases can benefit from a law firm management service. Law firm management services help organize clients in a way that an attorney might not realize can be done. By hiring a management firm, your firm’s efficiency will skyrocket. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits.

An attorney may be an exceptional counselor to his or her clients, but that doesn’t mean that the attorney is good at running business operations of the firm. Management services ultimately increase the profitability of your law firm by finding ways to reduce costs. Busy attorneys do not have time to make sure that business operations are running at the most cost-efficient level. A management team will evaluate a law firm’s expenses, identify where any cost savings can be achieved, and work with the law firm to execute those measures.

For example, you may find that it would be more profitable to collaborate with other law firms in certain cases if your attorneys do not have specialty qualifications needed. This will ensure your client is getting the best representation and allow your firm to focus on cases within your expertise instead of spending additional time, which impacts the firm’s bottom line. It’s important to have contractual agreements with any law firms that would be involved in the collaboration.

Also, a management firm will assess existing cases to determine which ones are most profitable. Given a firm’s capabilities, financial, and professional goals, the management services team evaluates how the lawyers and staff work to find the cases that are more labor intensive but less profitable. This helps the firm target cases in the future that will be more profitable for the business.

Another benefit of hiring a law firm management service is the focus on acquiring new business and new clients. To stay financially viable, it’s clear that a law firm needs clients. With demanding schedules and a full roster of existing clients, it’s nearly impossible for attorneys to do the marketing needed to grow new business. That’s where the service management team comes into play. The right mix of advertising that reaches your target audience will help your law firm grow. Understanding how to target those individuals is a key factor in that new business growth.

Gaining More Time for Your Clients Through Law Firm Management

Practicing law is a profession, but the law firm business should be treated as a business. There is a structure in which a law firm should be managed in order to make the most progress and in order to make the most time for clients. Without clients, the business won’t be successful.


Most firms have a managing partner or president. The management position of a firm has become very complex and requires a management president to devote a lot of time to the position to his or her own firm. In a growing number of large firms, it can be hard to stand out and have the best management team. Also, it’s hard to have enough time to devote to all aspects of your firm if you’re doing it all by yourself, or with a few colleagues.


That’s why it’s a good idea to hire a law firm management service. This service will take care of all the odds and ends that consume so much of your time. They will do things like advertising, billing, and making sure that your firm is meeting all the necessary requirements.


When you hire a law firm management service, you automatically gain time. You will have so much more time for your clients, and your clients should always be the main focus of your firm. When clients feel appreciated and needed, they will be more willing to approach your firm and use your services.


Shared responsibility always supports growth and time management. When you add people to the team at your law firm, you will create more time and money for everyone who participates. It’s always best to let others help you, that way you can focus on the most important aspect of your business–the clients.

  Bringing outsiders into management will also benefit your law firm as whole because it will generate new ideas and thoughts that can grow your business. Everyone wins!  

Hire a law firm management service to improve your business today! You won’t regret it!



Are you getting all of the gold out of your marketing? The answer is probably a resounding NO!

When I consult for firms, no matter what the initial purpose of the consultation, I usually find that they are not maximizing the results of their marketing. Most are not as egregious as that of a client that I recently helped. This attorney was concerned that he was not getting enough clients from his new television ads in spite of some kick-ass commercials. I can complement the commercials since I wrote them.

I had the firm record every call that came in from the ads. The problems were incredible.

  • Problem one:The firm policy was to have a person who was at best moderately trained screen the call to determine if they wanted to represent the caller
    • If the caller was approved by that screener they would be called back by an attorney.
    • In the two hours I sat in the call center cases that were going to be rejected ultimately settled for $84,000.
    • The next problem was that 25% of the prospects were not there when called back by an attorney or intake specialist.

  • Problem two: One of the screeners sounded as if the people were lucky to have someone to talk to.
    • She acted too busy to spend much time talking with them.
    • She sounded as if every caller was lying and she was going to catch them.

  • Problem three: Anywhere from 40% to 70% of the calls went to voice mail.
    • 80% of them hung up.
    • When the hang-ups were called back they were not interested or had already found an attorney.

The next issue is firm owners who trust non-attorneys or associates to determine who the firm will not represent. This may be a good policy but not without occasionally calling some of the people who were rejected to determine if the correct decision was made, that they were spoken to with respect and were satisfied with the reasons given for not being represented. If intake calls are recorded it is incumbent upon the firm owner to listen to some of the calls by each of the people doing intake. Determine the quality of work being done by the people making the first impression on prospective clients.

The people answering your phones and screening the new clients are the face of your firm. When they reject callers with good cases it is your wallet that is thinner. When they do not treat the caller with the proper kindness and respect, that person my find a different attorney and you miss out on a client with a good case.

Intake is huge. You have three seconds to make a good first impression. All but one firm I have consulted for. For various reasons, has let good clients slip away. Look at your procedures carefully to make sure your firm signs up the clients you want.

Screen your Clients for Mass Torts

The major area where firms are losing money is failing to screen for mass torts. I recently taught an estate planning firm to look for drug cases and they have gotten one women into the Lipitor class and two men into the testosterone class. It’s a simple process but you are losing a lot of money if you don’t pay attention to the mass tort potential of the people who call your firm for representation. They may not have a case you can handle but they still may be eligible for one of the mass tort classes.

Every person who calls about any case in any area of law should be screened for mass tort potential. This is gold on your shelf that you are just letting slip away. When new class actions are filed you can send a letter or email to every current and former client to see if they or anyone they know has ever used that drug.

A client of mine with a social security practice found 861 children who had used Risperdal. He didn’t have the staff to call them all but hired two college students to do the screening. Sixteen of his former clients got into the class action lawsuit. That will be a huge co-counsel fee for him someday because of that records search.

Teach your intake specialists to take the extra few minutes and ask the questions necessary of your prospects and clients to determine their potential to join a class action case. If they had a hip replacement, ask what kind of hip it was. If they used a medication for erectile dysfunction find out if they have had a melanoma.

How do you make sure your intake personnel do this? My recommendation is that you give a $25 bonus for each person they screen who is accepted into a class. Money talks and this little bonus will do wonders for getting your people to respond properly to your new intake procedures.

The difference might be hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to your firm in co-counsel fees. That’s definitely worth an extra few minutes with each prospective client who calls your firm.