Benjamin Franklin often said that Sunlight and Fresh Air would cure anything that ails you.
The same can be said about the VA Claims Process, and the law of VA Claims – and of the lawyers that work in Veterans law.
I’m not one to bash lawyers or tear down my profession.
Instead, I believe in making my profession better. How can lawyers make the VA Claims Process – and the reputation of their profession – better?
First, by improving how they interact on Social Media.
The Information Age is changing – and will continue to change – the way we do business as lawyers. Some lawyers are content using social media as the 21st century version of billboards and yellow pages.
Others lawyers view Social Media as something much bigger, and much more powerful.
Second, lawyers have to stop monopolozing information.
Lawyers have a love-hate relationship with information.
On one hand, we hate “information” – it always feels like someone needs it.
“Hey, Chris”, a friend says at a neighbors pool party, “can I bend your ear for a minute about my case?”.
“Hey, Chris,” a Veteran says at a baseball game, “can you explain CUE claims to me?”
“Hey, Chris,” a c0-worker says while I’m working on an appeal brief, “can I get your advice on how to file a Fully-Developed Claim”.
(pssst….if you have a general question about VA law or procedure, submit it to Veterans Mail Call here.)
Until the advent of the internet, we used to lose many hours of valuable time each day explaining repeat tasks like what my law Firm needed to reply to a consult request.
The demand for information got overwhelming, and there are some serious consequences to telling people too much.
(I’m serious…the legal profession has some serious rules about what we can and can’t tell people – our stodgy bar associations assume that most people don’t know the difference between sharing information and giving legal advice).
Anyway, I had to draw some serious lines about who I talked to and when about what.
On the other hand, lawyers love information because it is what – in part – makes us a sought-after commodity.
Information “adds value” to our skills, and commands a financial premium for our time
NOTE: The average rate for the Top 100 law firms in 2013 was $473.12 PER HOUR….the top 25 firms billed $601.31 per hour…that’s not what the ALF makes, by the way…not even by a longshot).
Information about the area of law in which we practice – gained by years, decades, of handling a certain type of case – sets us apart from newcomers that don’t know a C-Clamp from a C-File.
Information about making the other side – an insurance adjuster, or a government beaurucrat, for example – change their position and give our clients financial relief.
Information about how to persuade a judge or a jury to see the case our way.
Caught between this proverbial Scylla and Charybdis (giving too much information or not enough information), I choose a different path.
I want to take the locks off the Information Vaults.
I think the law – and information to understand the law – belongs to the people that have to live in the law every day.
So I intend to unshackle as much information about the VA Claims Process as I can and give it to Veterans free in this Veterans Law Blog.
Where I add a unique value to that information – my assessment based on years of practice or experience, for example – I do intend to charge for that information (a $10 eBook, for example, is far cheaper than the $250/per hour I would have to charge to tell you how to request your C-File or prepare your TDIU claim).
These eBooks teach what I have learned about the VA Claims Process after 7 years of handling Veterans claims.
Confronting the Lawyer’s Professional Fear of Free Information.
I teach a small group of lawyers how to Blog.
In a one-on-one session recently, a lawyer voiced her fear (paraphrased):
“If you give away information on how to navigate the VA Claims Process, aren’t you ‘giving away the farm’ and telling Veterans you aren’t needed or necessary?
Not at all.
Lawyers tend to claim a monopoly on meaning and interpretation of the $100 words: many fear that by giving this information away, we become unnecessary.
I strongly disagree.
I don’t know of a single lawyer that went out of business because they told people TOO much information about the law.
So my philosophy?
“Share, and Share widely. And deeply. And too much. Share until [I] become afraid that [I’m] sharing too much, and then share some more.”
I believe that lawyers become MORE necessary when they share MORE Information.
And there are 2 nice side effects of sharing more information about the VA Claims Process and Veterans Law:
#1: When Lawyers share MORE information about the VA Claims Process and Veterans Law, it is exposed to fresh air and the light of day.
#2: If MORE Veterans understand the law and process better – we begin to develop and share a common language, and we can move a LOT of claims out of the backlog in a very short period of time.
This is my Vision.
Let’s open the doors and windows on the musty old Veterans Law Library – let’s shine the light of day on the terms, terminology and practice of Veterans Law.
How, specifically, will I do this?
I’ve created “Veterans University” on this website, where I will collect and distribute information about the VA Claims Process and Law – from eBooks, to Videos, and more.
It is organized around my belief that there are 8 Steps to Improve your VA Claim or Appeal. None of those 8 Steps are easy, but if you want to Change the Way You Experience the VA Claims Process, they are all necessary.
Take a look at “Veterans University“, and tell me what you think.