An Interview With Chere Estrin
Be amazingly responsive: This involves having the technology to be able to receive, identify and respond to calls, emails and, nowadays most importantly, text messages incredibly fast. So often, clients and referral partners comment on how quickly I respond to their questions or concerns. People aren’t used to this — especially from lawyers. These people will be your biggest cheerleaders and you can convert those feelings of goodwill into online reviews, referrals and repeat customers.
Rick DeMedeiros of DeMedeiros Injury Law
The legal field is known to be extremely competitive. Lawyers are often smart, ambitious, and highly educated. That being said, what does it take to stand out and become a “Top Lawyer” in your specific field of law? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law”, we are talking to top lawyers who share what it takes to excel and stand out in your industry.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rick DeMedeiros.
Rick DeMedeiros, the Founder of DeMedeiros Injury Law, is a workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, a certified mediator, and a YouTuber who recently started his own channel called, The Work Comp Guy. Rick is passionate about helping injured workers and has been recognized consecutive years by Super Lawyers Magazine as a top-rated attorney in his field, an honor reserved for only 5% of Georgia attorneys. Rick lives in suburban Atlanta with his wife and two young daughters. – Chere Estrin
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law? Did you want to be an attorney “when you grew up”?
Yes, from high school on, I knew I wanted to be an attorney, but I wasn’t entirely sure in which area I would specialize. In college, I thought I’d end up doing something related with real estate. However, by the time I graduated from law school, I was already gravitating toward workers’ compensation. I spent the first five years after law school representing insurance companies, but did not find the work rewarding — at all. So, in 2009, I left and began representing injured workers exclusively.
Can you tell us a bit about the nature of your practice and what you focus on?
Across the board, workers are taken for granted on a daily basis, and even more so when they are injured on the job. Since I’m fluent in Spanish, a good portion of my clients are Hispanic and these cases are even more rewarding as this community in particular has often been marginalized and taken advantage of when it comes to how they are treated. Helping injured workers is my niche. It may sound cheesy, but it means a lot to me knowing that I had a direct, positive impact on someone’s life and their future.
You are a successful attorney. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? What unique qualities do you have that others may not? Can you please share a story or example for each?
1. Being a good listener. Lawyers love to hear themselves talk, but so often much is missed because we don’t know how to actively listen. This doesn’t just mean letting your client talk and waiting to jump in with what you want to say. Actively listening means understanding what they’re saying, but also what they mean — which are not always the same thing.
I once had a client who called upset about one late check. Now, this is quite common in workers’ comp, but he was really, really upset. Like — going off the deep end — upset. As I listened to him closely, I realized he wasn’t really upset about the check per se, he was upset and ashamed that he felt like he was failing as a man and as the provider of the house. His injury had impacted not only his body, but also his mind and his ego — his perceived feelings of worth of what it meant to be a “man” had been shattered. When I really heard what he was saying, I was able to address the real source of his pain and we talked it out. He was able to calm down and realized that his injury did not define him — neither as a man nor as a human being.
2. Compassion. It’s easy to become cynical and I can’t deny it happens to all of us — myself included. We hear the same stories day after day, week after week, year after year. It’s easy to get jaded and cynical. But I try to realize that, while I’ve dealt with these issues many times before, my clients are often dealing with a disabling work injury for the first time. People can tell when you’re rushed and I try to spread out my client meetings so they feel like they are my only client. People deserve to be treated like human beings — not a case file.
I once had an incredibly cynical client — former military — salt-of-the-earth kind of guy. He’d previously had a bad experience with a local attorney and was jaded. I couldn’t even guess how many times I spoke with him over the course of his case. Each conversation was a minimum of 45 minutes — often much more. After his case settled, I’d still reach out to him and his wife to check-in on him and see how he was doing. On more than one occasion, he has commented to me how much it meant to him that I would call him — just to see how he was doing — even though, as he put it, “you had already made your money. You didn’t have to call me, but you did — and it meant the world to me that you really did care.”
3. Responsive. You’d be shocked the reaction you get when you respond to a client within 5 minutes. Now, am I able to drop what I’m doing and do this all the time? Of course not. However, nowadays most of my communication with clients happens via text message or email, so if I see a client question come through on my case management software, I will try to answer the question immediately. This avoids having to write myself a reminder to call back or respond later. So often I have had clients react like, “wow! I’ve never had a lawyer be as responsive as you — thanks!” Clients know you’re busy and when you take the time to respond sooner, rather than later — they appreciate it so much.
Case in point — I had a client who had many issues going on with regard to his medical treatment getting delayed, opposing counsel was playing all sorts of games, and the client was having a hard time at home with family issues as well. We eventually resolved his case issues and got him a great settlement. To this day, he still refers me clients based solely on the fact that I was so responsive and would never let a day pass without returning his messages.
Do you think you have had luck in your success? Can you explain what you mean?
Yes, absolutely. They say luck happens when opportunity meets preparation. I would say luck happens when opportunity meets preparation and purpose. You have to know what you want and which direction will take you there. Purpose means being able to spot the right opportunity — not just any opportunity — and capitalizing on it. When this happens, it looks like it was just pure luck. Let them think that!
Do you think where you went to school has any bearing on your success? How important is it for a lawyer to go to a top-tier school?
Is success in the law dependent on going to a top-tier school? Absolutely not. …..Read the rest of the article on The Estrin Report
About the interviewer:
Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top national and international staffing organization and MediSums, medical records summarizing. She is the Co-Founding Member and Vice-President of the Organization Legal Professionals providing online legal technology training.
Chere has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur, Above the Law and others.
Chere is a recipient of the Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award, a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award and a Los Angeles Paralegal Association Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient She is a former administrator at an AmLaw 100 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company.
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