The Primary Care Attorney model: offering clients greater communication, access, and transparency.

August 24, 2015 - Categories: Legal Articles

Access Legal Care uses a unique Primary Care Attorney model that allows us to be accessible, affordable, profitable, and still reach clients across the state of Michigan.

One attorney will be the Primary Care Attorney, and will work with the client throughout the state of Michigan throughout the entire case, and will represent them in court for any evidentiary hearings or trials. However, we use local "Litigation Attorneys" for all other hearings. Using this model, we have provided affordable legal care, including in-person representation, to over 550 clients with over 750 matters, in 28 counties of Michigan, from 2011 to 2015 (time of writing this article).

A couple common questions from clients, then, are:

1. Can I meet my Primary Care Attorney face-to-face when I need to?

2. Can I have my Primary Care Attorney's phone number and call him/her anytime I want?

3. How will I have regular communication with my Primary Care Attorney?

The answers to these questions are as follows.

Primary Care Attorneys serve clients state-wide; thus face-to-face is often not possible.

1. Our Primary Care Attorneys are licensed in the entire state (e.g. Michigan); that allows a Primary Care Attorney to serve clients throughout the state, north to south and east to west.
2. Oftentimes, this means that the Primary Care Attorney may actually live very far away from the client. Thus, face-to-face meetings between the client may be impossible.
However, Primary Care Attorneys are more available than attorneys in traditional law-practice models.
1. Primary Care Attorneys give much greater transparency, more frequent access to the client, and better responsiveness to the client than do attorneys in the more traditional "local law firm" model. This is because:
a. Online messaging anytime/anywhere access. We have online case access for you, the attorney, and the staff members. This online access allows us to share documents with eachother, put in your court dates and other important dates, and also there is an online messaging feature, similar to Facebook messsaging. You simply post a message, day or night, and the Primary Care Attorney will respond to you online within 24 hours.
b. Easy Phone-appointment-scheduling with your Primary Care Attorney. Each client is given a special website address that links directly to your Primary Care Attorney's phone calendar. You simply pick a date/time that is available for you, schedule the appointment, and your attorney will contact you at that date and time. No phone-tag, no leaving messages with your attorney's receptionist and wondering if/when you will ever get a call-back -- you choose the date and time, and the attorney will call you right then!
c. Regular "status updates" online. Many times, the reason a client wants to reach their attorney, is simply because they want a "status update" as to where their case is in the process, what are the next steps, and when are the next steps. At Access Legal Care, the attorney and staff post a message in the online message string, "Case Status and Updates," whenenver anything happens on the case -- whenever a document is received by mail, email, or fax (and it is also shared); whenever opposing attorney or court calls; whenever we finish a document and share it for client's review; whenever we have new information to share; whenever we have mailed out documents or filed them. Every activity gets updated. You get a message via email that your status is updated. You log-in, view what's going on, and therefore don't need to call the attorney or office as much. However, if you have a question about a status update, you just "Post Reply" with your message, and we will respond within 24 hours. Clients love this!
d. In-person meetings if you live local. Certainly, if you live close enough to your Primary Care Attorney that you are ok to drive to their office, that is no problem at all. Your Primary Care Attorney would love to meet you in person.

e. In-person representation from a local Litigation Attorney and your Primary Care Attorney. In addition to having full access to your Primary Care Attorney throughout your case, you will also of course have a Litigation Attorney for non-evidentiary hearings, who will first meet you by phone, and then in person at your court-dates. For your trial or other evidentiary hearing, if one is required by your case, your Primary Care Attorney will handle that trial personally, no matter how far away.
With an online client portal, document-sharing, client/attorney/staff online messaging 24/7, and easy scheduling of phone appointments with your attorney, your Primary Care Attorney's responsiveness, transparency, availability, and accessibility are generally much greater than typical attorneys who may meet the client in-person once at the beginning, and then never seem available again except by phone.
Our clients tell us that they love the easy accessibility to their Primary Care Attorney.
Why this model is BETTER than traditional attorney-models.
With traditional attorneys, you certainly will likely be able to meet them "in-person" at least once. They want you to come into their office where they can not only advise you, but hopefully build a rapport with you. While these are admirable goals, they also are important to that attorney for another reason: their fees and initial retainers are typically very expensive; in fact, most of the time, they are simply unaffordable to the average lower- and moderate-income client. Therefore, they need you to be in person so they can effectively "make the sale."
However, what happens when they make the sale, take your $2500 to $5000 retainer, and now are your lawyer? How often do you get to "see" them in person? How often do you even really care to see them in person? When you want to talk to them, can you post a message online, and know you will get a response within 24 hours? When you want to speak to them, can you schedule time on their calendar -- usually same or next business day -- and know that they will call you?
Unfortunately, once many attorneys "make the sale," then they are very difficult to reach again. You call the office, get a receptionist (or voice mail), leave messages for a return call, and have no idea when the attorney will you back. We've heard stories from clients who have called, and called, and called their attorney, left messages, and have not heard back from them for days -- sometimes weeks!
Not with your Primary Care Attorney. Through online messaging, phone-scheduling that you control, regular status updates online, and the ability to see all of your documents 24/7 online, our clients have greater access to their attorney and their case information than other clients with "local attorneys" typically ever get.
The bottom-line: Affordability, Accessibility, Excellent customer service

The bottom line: although clients often do not get face-to-face access or the phone number for their Primary Care Attorney, they actually get much better customer service, responsiveness, and accessibility with their attorney than clients do who use other attorneys in traditional law firms.

Most importantly, this model allows us to provide affordable, effective legal care to clients throughout Michigan, including the most rural, remote, and under-served towns and counties.

For this reason, the American Bar Association awarded Access Legal Care with the 2013 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access, which is given to one organization per year that shows innovative and successful methods of providing affordable legal care to lower- and moderate-income people who do not qualify for free legal aid, and who cannot afford typical attorneys.

Access Legal Care:
Affordable, effective representation at 40-60% savings
with a caring, accessible Primary Care Attorney