CONSIDERING THE BIG PICTURE

Ms. Faye Cohen , Esquire
June 19, 2012 — 884 views  

Due to the increasing complexity of law, many lawyers have become experts in very narrow areas of the law.  This expertise may be valuable when dealing with large corporations or government entities, but can be problematic when dealing with individuals.  My legal experience includes practicing with large law firms, which I did many years ago.  If an individual had questions in various areas of the law, we consulted various lawyers in different departments who were knowledgeable in those areas. Of course, contacting many lawyers for legal advice can become expensive, and the expense would normally exceed what a person of average means can afford.  Therefore, I recommend contacting a smaller law firm which handles at least several areas of the law, and do not confine your search for a lawyer to people who advertise in the media or the Internet in only a specific area.

I will provide an example as to why it is a good idea to take a “big picture” approach when one searches for a lawyer. I received a call recently from a woman who had been terminated from her job due to lies her supervisor made up about her. She had complained about this supervisor’s harassment for some time to management, but nothing was ever done.  I told her that she should have contacted a lawyer earlier who might have been able to contact management or ask to be put in touch with the company’s lawyer, to try and resolve the problem. Also, a lawyer may have been able to negotiate with her employer that they not terminate her, but instead place her on disability leave as she was facing surgery, and she would agree not to return after the surgery, and she may have been able to maintain her insurance. Instead, the termination left her without insurance or income.   

After she was terminated she filed a complaint with one of the government agencies complaining of discrimination. These agencies have large caseloads and rarely have or take the time to fully investigate a claim, those claims are rarely investigated by lawyers, and in the best case scenario, the agency process usually takes a minimum of a year. So, once again, it is a good idea to get a lawyer involved in the administrative process as soon as possible because they may be able to resolve the claim in a much shorter period of time. The woman informed me that she was not able to return to work at this time, and in the immediate future due to surgery. I told her that effectively ended her discrimination claim as the employer was not legally required to employ her at an indefinite future date when she was able to return to work, if she was successful in her claim. However, as I probed further I determined that she had suffered a work injury at some point in time, and her current medical situation may be related to the original work injury. As this Firm doesn’t handle worker’s compensation claims for employees, but refers them out, I will be making that referral, and if she hasn’t missed her time deadlines, she may have a valid claim. She also may have a good claim for Social Security disability benefits.

If this woman had contacted a lawyer who only handles discrimination claims and doesn’t have knowledge of disability law or understands worker’s compensation law, and does not think creatively, she would have missed the ability to secure some funds that she will surely need to live on in the future.

This situation is not unusual. I try to think outside the box for every potential and current client who contacts me.  And, for clients who call many lawyers, remember that lawyers are highly trained, experienced practitioners who can help you navigate the complex world in which we live. They cannot guarantee results, but they are generally better equipped to handle matters than laypersons, and they are also cognizant of deadlines that must be met.    

    

Ms. Faye Cohen , Esquire

Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C.

I am Faye Riva Cohen, Esquire and am a Philadelphia attorney who has been practicing law since 1974. I am the president and managing attorney of both the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C. and Legal Research, Inc.