Its Brian Kent here. Thank you for allowing me to present at the webinar. It was my pleasure.
One of the questions I received after the webinar was from an attendee who has contacted two law firms about representation and wanted to know how to choose between them.
Since the Grand Jury report release, I have noticed several law firms from outside of Pennsylvania specifically target clergy abuse survivors here in Pennsylvania with ads on TV and social media. Like my law firm, Laffey Bucci & Kent, they are accepting new clients who are survivors of clergy abuse, even where the statute of limitations has expired. However, I do not know if they are also willing to help survivors with a fund claim.
Here are 10 things I would consider if I were in your shoes:
- Has the law firm actually handled a civil case against the church in the past? If so, what was the outcome?
- Who would be the attorneys you are working with if you do retain them? What percentage of their work involves representing survivors of sexual abuse? What experience do they have?
- Has the firm ever been involved in assisting clergy abuse survivors through a fund process? This is important, as the fund option may be the only recourse depending on how the window legislation moves ahead in 2019.
- Where is the law firm located? Are they familiar with the PA catholic church structure? Are they local so you can meet them if necessary?
- How do they treat their clients? Check their reviews online. Search the name of the firm and reviews. Or ask the firm for references.
- In the event there is no window passed by the legislature, will the firm just drop you, or will they represent you through a church fund process, or other process?
- How many similar cases are they currently working on? Are you just a number in a large pool of people?
- Will the law firm treat the case as a class action or individual civil claim?
- What fees will you need to pay the firm? Is it purely contingency fee? Are you responsible for any fees and expenses should the case not work out?
- If you dismiss the firm from representing you or seek to change counsel, is there a clause that would result in a lien being placed on future recoveries for work performed to date? If so, what are the rates they charge?
Knowing all this information will help you choose a firm that aligns closer to what is important to you. I believe it is important to be transparent so expectations are set. If you do consider my firm as one of the firms you are looking at, we will be sure to outline all of the above so you can make an informed decision as to whether we are a good fit for your needs.
For more information on sexual abuse lawsuits visit: https://abuseguardian.com/
If you have any questions about any of the 10 points above, don’t hesitate to contact me via email: BKent@laffeybuccikent.com or call my office: (215) 544-3580.
2 thoughts on “10 Things To Consider When Choosing A Law Firm To Represent Your Interests As A Clergy Abuse Survivor”
Most importantly, does the lawyer or law firm have the depth of experience in fighting the Catholic Church, the resources to easily gather background information on priests, bishops and cardinals from a national collection of Catholic Directories across the country, the connections with former clerics who act as valuable experts on the inner workings of the Catholic hierarchy both in Pennsylvania and around the country. There are only a few select attorneys who meet this criteria. Survivors should investigate these attorneys because there are thousands of lawyers who handle personal injury matters, but only a handful who have years of experience representing survivors and are dedicated to the movement to protect them as well as children in the future.
Ask your attorney about their involvement in the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or Bishop Accountability. Has the attorney contributed support both legal and financial in making sure these organizations have the funds and resources to continue their fight. I have represented dozens of survivors during the past 9 years. But I made sure I affiliated with these kinds of lawyers before I undertook representation and reached out to Anderson Advocates before undertaking this worthy cause. There are others like him across the country of course. They belong to a group of attorneys from Boston to Los Angeles who work together in these righteous battles and across the world. Those are the attorneys that survivors should have on their side.
I would not consider an attorney’s involvement with SNAP to be a qualifier. SNAP for many years was more effective in keeping survivors from actually networking. I think that Bishop Accountability is a worthy organization to support but SNAP is a self licking ice cream cone.