7 Misconceptions Veterans Have When Hiring an Attorney

Friday will mark my third anniversary with this law firm. When I first agreed to work with a law firm, I’ll admit that I was thinking things were going to be a lot different than they are. I had visions in my head of the hit TV Show “Damages.” However, after a few hours here I realized that Ellen Page was never showing up, and my constant quoting of John Goodman’s character made me an outcast. In fact, after a little over a day here, I realized that this place is nothing like any of the ideas I had in my head.

Not even the Judge Judy fan fiction I created while studying Criminal Justice in undergrad came close to the reality. The truth is, at least in my case, working in a law firm is no different than working any other regular office. Our attorneys are regular people who are actually quite approachable. Our office has birthday parties, fantasy football leagues, and most of them are pretty well adjusted. This trip down memory lane made me realize something…If I had these thoughts of working with a law firm as a career, Veterans might actually have similar feelings. Well, they probably don’t write Judge Judy fan fiction as that seems pretty esoteric, but they are likely to have some misconceptions about what we do. I decided to ask around our VA department to see what they have encountered, what I found was surprising. Here is a list of the 7 biggest misconceptions Veterans have when hiring an attorney.

  1. Attorneys will speed up the process. Oh, how I wish this was true. I have discussed this previously, but an attorney cannot speed up your case. The only way for a case to be sped up is to be facing financial hardship or to be terminally ill. With that being said though, we do a lot to keep your case from slowing down.
  2. My attorney is dragging their feet so that they get more back pay. Nope, this one isn’t even close to being true. We don’t like this long wait either. The idea that we would let a claim sit to increase the back pay is preposterous. Granted, I did not attend a fancy business school, but the logistics of a firm intentionally making a case go on for back pay would likely cost us more in the long run. If anything, it makes a lot more sense to get a new client, get their back pay as quickly as possible and then complete their claim as soon as possible so as to make room for new clients. To put it simply, it would cost us way too much money to let a bunch of clients linger in order to get a slightly higher amount of back pay.
  3. We are in “cahoots” with the VA. Not so much. Granted, we have a great working relationship with several people at different VA Regional Offices throughout the US. However, for the most part, we get just as irritated with the VA as you do. It should be stated that the individuals working at the VA aren’t responsible for the issues we have, it’s the process as a whole that is the problem. Regardless, we don’t have secret meeting s with the VA about your claim.
  4. When I hire an attorney, they have immediate access to my records at the VA. This is at the tippy top of my list of things that I wish were true. It would be infinitely more helpful for us if we could just log into the VA database and see all of your records. The reason this can’t happen is that no such database exists yet. The VA does not currently have electronic filing for your records. We have to submit a request to the VA, and then someone there magically gathers your records and ships them to us in a box via the mail. That is the regular mail, not the electronic kind that has been popular since 1994. Hopefully these changes occur soon, but for now, its old school.
  5. I’m just a dollar sign to you. This may be true at other law firms, and we understand why you might feel that way, especially if you have been pursuing your claims for a while, but it’s not true here. As I mentioned in the opening sentence of this blog, I have been here for three years now. In that time I have made personal relationships with several of our clients. Granted, my job does not allow for much access with our current clients, but I really get to know Veterans at the beginning of our intake process. When it comes to our case managers, things are much more personal. They travel this journey with you and are relieved when you get a favorable decision. Our attorneys get personal too. If you have been represented by Heather Vanhoose you know how excited she gets when she gets to tell a Veteran his claim was approved.
  6. That we will attend medical exams at the VA. I have explained before that there are differences in the Veterans Benefits Administration and Veterans Healthcare Administration. Though I don’t like plug my own work shamelessly, that blog is definitely worth a read. Many people don’t understand the difference though, and they believe hiring us for a disability claim means we will go to medical exams as well. This is not the case. Simply put, we aren’t doctors, and our presence at medical exams would not really factor into the outcome of your case. Granted we do review all medical records and set up independent medical exams, but we do not attend exams with you.
  7. Attorneys won’t do anything to help me get approved. I object! I can only speak for the firm in which I am employed, Jan Dils Attorneys at Law, but this is false when it comes to what we do for Veterans. The following is a list of what we do: request and review all medical records, request and review your claim file from the VA, attend and represent Veterans at hearings at the DRO, BVA, and CAVAC levels, file appeals, submit evidence, provide independent medical exams, and much more. We also are there for our clients when they have questions about what’s going on with their claim. Keeping clients informed may not seem important, but for a Veteran who has waited years to get approved it means a lot to know they haven’t been forgotten. We have heard this from several of our clients.

The bottom line is we love what we do here. For the past three years, I have really enjoyed getting to know Veterans from every branch, era, and part of the country imaginable. I want that to continue, so give me a call for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457. Or, if you would rather that I give you a call, fill out this form. 

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