Michael Liner

Michael Liner: The Face of Ohio Disability Law

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AALM: Do you have any mentors or professors that encouraged you along the way?

Liner: For me law school, in reality, was the first job I had as an associate attorney working at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg in Cleveland. I learned a lot more in that job than I did in law school. I worked at the firm for a little over two years before starting my own practice in 2013, and my mentor David Nager (a fantastic workers’ compensation attorney) knew very little about disability law. However, Dave taught me everything my law school classes did not about running a successful law practice. I learned from him to value my clients like gold, work tirelessly to make a file perfect, and how important it is to respect co-counsel relationships. These are all lessons from Dave which quickly made my firm a success.

AALM: What do you find particularly rewarding about your practice?

Liner: I have the greatest job in the world. When I do my job well, my clients keep a roof over their head, food on their table, and clothing on their family’s back. For many of my clients, a disability application is something they feel ashamed of filing. However, we ultimately restore dignity to their life.

AALM: Tell us a little bit about your staff and your working relationship.

Liner: I don’t have a staff; I have a team. Though I may be the de facto leader in the office and am the one to sign the paychecks, everyone has a voice. We have an office manual, which we call our “playbook.” I wrote the first draft of the playbook five years ago. However, the current format of the book—which outlines our systems and procedures for everything we do as an office, starting from the greeting you get when we answer our phones to what our office’s holidays are—is the product of input from each and every member of the team.

AALM: How would you describe the firm you’ve created?

Liner: Game changing. Our office is almost entirely “automated” at this point, which means I can sleep at night knowing that despite our significant caseload, there is almost no room for human error in our cases. My goal by the end of this year is to be able to answer the most common questions asked by clients with an informational video that my office will provide. I like to use technology to make a painful process as painless as possible for my clients. I attend a lot of conferences and seminars, but very few of them have to do with law. Instead, I prefer to learn how to improve the client experience.

AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving?

Liner: Last spring, we started an initiative called “Liner Legal Largest Loser,” a 12-week wellness challenge based on the NBC television program “Biggest Loser.” Since obesity is the number one cause of disability in America, we wanted to help our clients face their health challenges head on—in addition to helping them navigate the challenging process of being approved for disability benefits.

Through our smartphone app (cheap plug: to download the app, simply text ‘SSD to 36260) and an email drip campaign, each week we released meal plans and videos on how to eat healthy while staying within a food stamp budget, as well as exercises that could be done even from one’s couch. We gave out weekly prizes as well as prizes at the end for challenge winners.

In the end, over 500 people enrolled in the program, reporting a combined weight loss of more than 1500 pounds. As the “face” of the program, I have lost close to 90 pounds since we began the challenge last April. At the end of the 12 weeks, I was getting emails from clients telling me that they had been diabetic when they started the wellness challenge and thanks to me, they no longer needed medication.

AALM: What case most defined or redefined your practice?

Liner: What defines me and the way I practice law the most are the cases I have lost, not the cases I have won. When I win a case, I feel satisfied and inspired by the good I have done for my client, but I move on to the next case. When I lose a case, on the other hand, there is a fire that burns in the pit of my stomach that fuels me in a way that is indescribable. I carry the burden of the cases I have lost around with me, which is why I know my clients are making the right choice when they hire my firm, because nobody works harder than I do to avoid the sinking feeling of an unfavorable outcome.

AALM: Are there any changes ahead that you’re excited about?

Liner: We are growing! When we opened our doors, it was just me along with one full-time and one part-time paralegal. Today, Liner Legal is a well-oiled machine with another skilled disability litigator, Andrew November, on board and a support staff of 10 to fight alongside us. In the coming months we plan to add another attorney to the mix to keep up with the demand for our services. Do you know someone who you think might be a good fit for our team? Please send us their resume!

AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future?

Liner: In six short years, we have become one of the largest social security disability law firms in Ohio, fighting benefit denials by the federal government which are truly off ensive. We next want to conquer the long-term disability (LTD) space, and combat the same despicable denials made by private insurance carriers. These cases are personal to us—our first LTD clients were family members. This is a very niche practice area, but we have the resources, experience, and the fortitude to get the results our clients deserve and need.

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