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Gary A. Ficek

A Word about our Firm

I have been practicing law since 1981. I started out as an associate in a small firm in my hometown of Dickinson, North Dakota. The firm was a general practice firm but tended to do more plaintiff's work than defense work. I did a fair amount of family law, civil litigation which ran the gamut from construction law to personal injury to unfair trade practices, and criminal law from both the defense and prosecution sides. The firm served as the city attorney for a number of smaller rural communities.

I then worked for a few years as a staff attorney for Social Security's Office of Hearings and Appeals in Fargo. The judges I worked for are all gone now, either relocated or retired. Quite a number of the staffers are still there though. From the start I intended to use the experience to eventually start a practice with a focus on representing persons with social security claims. I did note at that time that the attorneys representing claimants were often the youngest and most inexperienced attorneys at a larger law firm or were general practitioners who did a few cases a year. I also found that I very much missed the contact with clients.

I have been a solo practitioner focusing on Social Security Disability claims since 1990. At first I also did some family law and criminal defense work but the practice quickly evolved away from those fields as the Social Security practice grew.

My philosophy in building the firm was to provide aggressive, ethical representation of my clients. I do not like to lose any case. I will not accept a case if I do not believe there is a way to win the case under the current law or because of certain facts. On the other hand I will not decline a case simply because the odds are long -- I love challenging cases. I respect my clients enough to give them my honest opinion on the merits of their case as well as the challenges they may encounter. I have lost a few potential clients because I didn't tell them what they wanted to hear, but the vast majority of people I have encountered appreciated my frankness.

Nobody likes having to go through the legal process to protect their rights. Most of the people I represent are dealing with a great deal of stress due to the inability to do the work they used to do, financial pressures, the stigma they sometimes feel in having to admit to a disability and not the least having to deal with a seemingly uncaring, unresponsive bureaucracy that the worker has been supporting for years by paying taxes. There is often frustration too as they perceive that others who seem much less disabled seem to have received their benefits without half the time and expense they need to invest. I understand all of those feelings. We direct our energies however towards those things that will maximize the chances for success on the particular case at hand. We deal with an imperfect law administered by imperfect people but we can still strive to obtain the result which is the correct result under the law. Some changes which should be made to the law are within the province of Congress. But personally there is nothing quite so satisfying for me as a lawyer as changing the law just a bit by establishing new case law precedent.