We are seeing a growing phenomenon of non-Jacksonville attorneys soliciting business in our area. This is especially true in our Social Security disability practice.
These large, out-of-town (and in most instances out-of-state) law firms are hiring internet companies that trick unwary Google searchers into believing that they are applying for disability benefits by supplying their personal information. Once these firms make contact with the potential clients, they have to explain that filling out the internet form was not the same thing as applying for benefits with the Social Security Administration.
How do I know this? Because we hired one such internet company before we discovered the unethical tactics they were using. Once it became apparent to us that prospective clients were being misled, we cut ties with the company immediately.
[quote align=”left” color=”#999999″]…these firms make it impossible for a client to talk to an attorney about their case.[/quote]
Other out-of-state firms are simply flooding the television airwaves with commercials. I was getting my hair cut last week, and even though I was in the barber shop only about 20 minutes, I saw three commercials for out-of-state lawyers, two for Social Security disability and one for personal injury.
Why do I think it’s a bad idea to hire an out-of-town law firm? First of all, from what many of our clients have told us, most of these firms make it impossible for a client to talk to an attorney about their case. When the clients call, nobody will talk to them, and nobody returns their messages. They don’t meet the attorney who is going to handle their case until five minutes before the hearing. When I’m in the waiting room at the hearing office in Jacksonville, I often see attorneys calling out the names of their clients because they’ve never met them in person before and don’t know what they look like.
Secondly, a lawyer who doesn’t practice in Jacksonville on a regular basis isn’t familiar with the judges who hear cases here. Judges are people like everyone else, and each one has quirks and preferences. We know the personality of each local judge, so we can prepare our clients for what to expect in any particular hearing.